Earlier this year, singer Rihanna received a major award.
It wasn’t an American Music Award, a Brit, an MTV Music Award or even a Grammy – she has eight of these alone already.
The singer was an awarded a spot on Time Magazine‘s Best Inventions of 2017 list thanks to her makeup brand, Fenty Beauty.
It was official confirmation of what many already knew. With her debut makeup range, Rihanna had done what many established brands had never been able to. She'd revolutionised the beauty industry.
Her formula was simple - design an inclusive range of makeup that any makeup lover, no matter what their skin colour, could enjoy.
Her foundation range carried 40 shades that catered to women on both ends of the colour scale and beyond, filling a gap that many beauty lovers all over the world, including here in Australia, had long been complaining of.
"I wanted things that I love then I also wanted things that girls of all skin tones could fall in love with. In every product I was like, ‘There needs to be something for a dark-skinned girl; there needs to be something for a really pale girl; there needs to be something in-between'," she told Refinery 29 after the brand's launch in September.
"There’s red undertones, green undertones, blue undertones, pink undertones, yellow undertones—you never know, so you want people to appreciate the product and not feel like: ‘Oh that’s cute, but it only looks good on her.’”
The results spoke for themselves.
Newsweek reported the brand earned $72 million in media value - money the company generates from social media - in one month alone, putting it ahead of major brands including Urban Decay and Kylie Cosmetics.
The rave reviews, particularly from women of colour, came in their thousands. Meanwhile, an image of a Sephora counter with all the darker shades sold out overwhelmingly disproved claims made by other brands that the demand just wasn't there for them. It had been their explanation and justification for why their own colour ranges were so limited.
Brands that did already cater for a wide range of skin tones, including MAC and Make Up Forever, were quick to publicise that fact, which some Fenty fans and even Rihanna herself took to be a dig at the brand.
Kylie Jenner's Kylie Cosmetics is the latest brand to be accused of "copying" Fenty after she announced a 30-shade "inclusive" concealer collection as the newest addition to her makeup range.
If Fenty Beauty didn’t drop a few months ago, the darkest shade would have been Warm Tan. Recognize your icons and what they do for you. https://t.co/xXbOlQI7pU
— FreshFaceHoney ???? (@TheeOnlyOciera) December 7, 2017
Please let it be known KYLIE WOULD NOT HAVE HAD "30 inclusive shades" if it wasn't for Fenty beauty's sale results, please notice the difference in someone who genuinely cares to be inclusive and someone who does it because they see it can be profitable.
— Adaj (@ChicaExtrana_) December 7, 2017
— Ry (@uselessryan) December 7, 2017
"Please let it be known KYLIE WOULD NOT HAVE HAD '30 inclusive shades' if it wasn't for Fenty beauty's sale results, please notice the difference in someone who genuinely cares to be inclusive and someone who does it because they see it can be profitable," one fan tweeted after the announcement this week.
Others were quick to point out that makeup usually takes months in production before its launch so it's quite possible this was in the works before Fenty's October release. Marquaysa Battle wrote for the Revelist that some doubt Jenner's genuine intentions thanks to her history of "racial insensitivity and borrowing from black culture".
However, comparisons to Rihanna's trailblazing launch are inevitable for any brands who now follow, or appear to follow, her lead. She's shown that inclusitivity in beauty can be seriously profitable, and no doubt hers has proved even more so thanks to fans' belief that her reasons for doing so were genuine.
"I never could have anticipated the emotional connection that women are having with the products and the brand as a whole," the singer told Time after her inclusion on the best inventions list.
"Some are finding their shade of foundation for the first time, getting emotional at the counter. That’s something I will never get over."
@badgalriri stepped out on Rihanna Drive in that #FENTYBEAUTY like... 1. #PROFILTRPRIMER 2. #PROFILTR Foundation in 340 3. Concealer: #PROFILTR Foundation in 320 4. Highlight: #KILLAWATT in #HUSTLABABY 5. Blush: #MATCHSTIX in #CHILIMANGO 6. Contour: #MATCHSTIX in #TRUFFLE 7. #INIVISIMATTE Makeup by #fentybeauty global makeup artist @priscillaono.
While beauty brands that decide to bring out greater shade ranges may run the risk of being labelled "copycats", the truth is that more diversity and inclusivity in makeup and beauty can only better the industry.
It also confirms that The Fenty Effect isn't just a trend - it's a revolution.