Skincare and Inclusivity

4 min readFeb 1, 2022

When It Comes to Making Products That are Inclusive of all Skin Types and Tones, the Skin-Care Industry Still Has a Long Way to Go

Inclusivity has become a non-negotiable in the skincare industry as a result of the new standard established by Kleer Brand’s emphasis on skincare for the Modern Thinker. However, although advancements in skincare may lead you to assume that beauty as a whole has made significant strides toward true inclusivity, diversity within the skin-care sector must still be valued.

“In our society, ‘good skin’ has become a status symbol, and communities of color have been left behind,” says Kriston Shah, CEO and founder of Kleer Brand. Black people spend an estimated $465 million annually on skin care in the United States — yet, despite their purchasing power, the bulk of popular skin care products are made for Caucasian skin. While certain products, such as cleansers and moisturizers, may work for all complexions and colors, Kriston believes that darker skin has unique therapeutic demands that the market in large is failing to address.

According to a Kleer Brand poll of 1,500 women of color, 63% felt “neglected” by the marketplace and that “there aren’t enough useful solutions for them.”

Although darker skin tones are more prone to discolouration and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) than Caucasian skin, over-the-counter treatments that address these concerns are few and far between. “You may see a product that solicits, ’50 to 90% of people felt their brown spots dimmed in four weeks,’ but that really means 90% of people with skin types one through three — and that’s not difficult to do,” Kriston explains, referring to the Fitzpatrick scale, a classification system that ranks skin colors from lightest (type one) to darkest (type six). “It may not work for someone with dark complexion, since their black patches are considerably more pigmented and more difficult to heal.” She notes that even ingredients that are effective at fading discolouration in darker skin, such as niacinamide, Vitamin C, and hydroquinone, may induce ghosting or a lightening “halo effect” surrounding spot-treated regions if not properly applied. Certainly not a perfect solution.

While the industry’s dearth of inclusivity is readily apparent in its product lines, the concern goes much deeper: For far too long, people of color have been largely absent in medicine, medical research, and decision-making roles at cosmetic companies, which is represented in the brands and ingredients we see on the shelves.

According to Kriston, “having more firms, such as Kleer, adopt inclusive planning, from product creation to clinical testing, that includes individuals with darker complexions will benefit the industry.” While the FDA requires clinical trials for topical treatments to include a variety of skin tones, OTC and cosmetic products are free from these restrictions. “I certainly believe that when beauty companies do research, they will not involve as many individuals of color as they should,” says Sima K, a 30-year veteran Aesthetician.

Kriston notes that when Kleer conducts clinical studies, “we are concerned with safety and effectiveness, and safety becomes even more critical for skin of color, since melanocytes are more reactive, and any irritation might result in hyperpigmentation.” She continues, “the effects of a product might vary based on your skin’s Fitzpatrick score. While a Vitamin C moisturizer or niacinamide product is perfectly fine for someone with skin types two or three, hydroquinone, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Extract, or Citrullus Lanatus (Watermelon) Fruit Extract may be a better option for someone with skin types four or five”. I know so many people who have suffered as a result of poorly formulated products, who have spent their money on something and then find themselves needing to heal their skin due to irritation.

The outcome appears that way because the input is incorrect: the majority of product development teams are not diverse… Therefore, when consumers want more inclusiveness in goods, they should inquire about the composition of these groups, since you cannot expect individuals to remedy an issue they do not comprehend.

Having said that, it is not all bad news: While the industry as a whole has continued to fall short, certain researchers are prioritizing melanin-rich skin. The Skin of Color Society, created in 2004, has undertaken several research on the unique requirements of skin of color, including how to handle black spots, dry or oily skin, and acne in darker skin tones. The aim is that by increasing representation at the top, the cosmetics industry, and, more crucially, its customers of color — would be able to see more products that really fulfill their requirements.




Modern skincare should actually…care. About sustainability, inclusivity, and compassion. About the ingredients it uses and the partners it chooses.