Adore Beauty calls for change in the beauty industry

Leading online beauty retailer, Adore Beauty, has this week launched its Global Shades initiative, calling for inclusivity in the beauty industry.

The company has penned an open letter to all Australians that puts a spotlight on the lack of available beauty product options for people of colour, acknowledging that as an Australian beauty retailer, Adore Beauty has been a part of the problem.

The letter also calls for everyone to work together and ignite genuine change, by enabling all Australians to have equal access to foundations and concealers regardless of their skin tone by the end of 2021. 

Maria Thattil, Miss Universe Australia 2020, has joined forces with Adore Beauty as its Global Shades campaign ambassador, to help drive conversation around the issue and empower change, alongside changemakers, Flex Mami (Lil Ahenkan), Malaan, Jazz Txo, Desiboy and Ashira (Ash).

To learn more about the campaign, BD recently sat down with Thattil, who gave us the low-down on everything, from what Global Shades involves, to how she believes society can help drive change in the beauty industry.

What can you tell us about Adore Beauty’s new Global Shades initiative?

Global Shades is an initiative calling for genuine and transformational change. Currently, Black, Indigenous and people of colour are excluded from the beauty industry, unable to find products that cater to their varied skin tones. This isn’t a matter of logistics nor is it a commercial challenge, the underlying problem is that the Australian beauty industry caters to Anglo-Celtic perceptions of beauty, which is why the inequity exists.

The initiative is about educating Australians on the issue, generating awareness and conversation around it, and driving real change by encouraging all Australians to sign up to our petition and galvanise change.

Adore Beauty’s goal is to provide as much diversity as possible for consumers so that everyone can feel included and confident in their own skin, starting with catering to the full spectrum of complexion beauty products.

Global Shades has begun as an audit of the complexion makeup products available to BIPOC Australians but the journey doesn’t end there. An inclusive beauty industry is our goal.

Are you able to share a bit about yourself and how you become involved in the initiative?

I am Miss Universe Australia 2020, a writer, a speaker, a creator and a life coach in training. My creative career began five years ago when I was formerly working as a makeup artist, and I couldn’t find makeup in shades that catered to me or my clients.

I am extremely humbled and proud to be a part of Adore Beauty’s movement and help to call on everyone in the Australian beauty industry to champion a more inclusive and progressive future - that caters to the people it belongs to. Adore Beauty’s approach began when they decided to listen to a person of colour who verbalised their experience, the issue and that has been key to humanising it and driving change.

This is a human issue after all - and to drive a more inclusive industry that reflects the humans it is trying to serve, Australia needs to go beyond just featuring BIPOC in their campaigns. We need them represented behind the scenes, making decisions, as consumers that are catered to and seeing that feed into the products and services that are being offered.

What do you hope to achieve by teaming up with Adore Beauty?

I hope that by using my platform and partnering with Adore Beauty, the message and stories are amplified - particularly as a woman of colour who is serving as the national representative of Australia in a global sphere right now. We hope that this movement will share the voices of BIPOC Australians and their experiences, and reach as many Australians as possible to educate. It is critical that whether Australians identify as a BIPOC or not, they support the action because we are all involved in driving change. You either experience the inequity or experience privileges and for that reason, it takes a collective effort to dismantle and progress.

Global Shades isn’t a marketing campaign - its a call for change. It was important to Adore Beauty to hear the lived experiences of BIPOC to tell true, real, authentic stories to illustrate the problem. A very stark problem that most people aren’t even aware of - and it is harder to solve a problem, if you don’t know it exists.

How do you think society can help drive change when it comes to inclusivity in beauty?

To drive a more inclusive and progressive beauty industry, we all have a part to play whether we are seeking to educate or get educated, and be more conscious of social and cultural inequities. One such inequity is the barrier that the beauty industry faces in limited access to education.

In Australia, professionals aren’t fully educated on the art of makeup or hairdressing for BIPOC. The lack of education means that we are continuing to build an industry that doesn’t see or cater to an entire valued segment of our population.

So this is a human rights movement. To drive recognition of BIPOC Australians as VALUED AUSTRALIANS who deserve the same experience and access to beauty products. This is about true inclusion and anything less is an issue we need to make right. We aim to elevate these marginalised voices and show Australia and the world that we want and need global shades.

What do you think has driven change so far?

I believe genuine change has been driven by:

1. Raising awareness of the issue within Australia.
2. Education all Australians on the lived experiences of Black, Indigenous and people of colour.
3. Enabling access to the products, resources and training that is required to support BIPOC inclusion.
4, Representation of BIPOC in the Australian landscape.

The barriers to BIPOC consumers include access. Access to products that serve them. Access to professionals who know how to care for them. Access to agency, a mic for their voices and decision making spheres so they can speak for their own communities. If we aim to educate and increase ACCESS, we can solve this problem.

Do you think more brands and retailers will jump on board to empower this change?

We hope that the industry as a whole will build and support an image of Australian beauty that actually reflects the rich, authentic and varied diversity of its people. Rebuilding perceptions of what Australia looks like and who Australians are is key to breaking these barriers that BIPOC Australians face.

We certainly hope that more brands and retailers will jump on board, support the Global Shades movement and empower real change. Adore Beauty acknowledges they need to do better, and wants to work with the Australian public and beauty industry to recognise, empower and provide access to global shades.

What advice would you give to someone who doesn’t feel represented in the beauty industry?

In the beauty industry, it is important to note that each market is given access to shades deemed suitable for that population. The advice I would give to anyone who doesn’t feel represented in the Australian beauty industry is this: don’t internalise the exclusion that is not your fault and that is undeserved. You DO deserve better, we are fighting for that, and know that your voice is an imperative part of a collective of growing voices that are championing an industry that reflects what Australian actually is: and that includes YOU.

Adore Beauty has taken the first step to ensure that they sell all foundation and concealer shades, making it available to Australia. The call for change now highlights the influence and power in action. By encouraging Australians to support Adore Beauty’s drive for inclusivity, we are asking those who believe beauty in Australia should include everyone to join us and sign our petition at to show the world and our nation that we need and want all globally available shades.

Adore Beauty collaborated alongside Sabina McKenna as Art Director, who is the founder of BIPOC Arts organisation Where are you from?, to bring the story to life as part of the Global Shades initiative.