Beyond Western Standards: The Emergence of African Brands in the Beauty Market

By Lindelwa Masuku

Beauty is more than skin deep, it's rooted in politics. This is especially true for the skincare and cosmetics industry in Africa, where a lack of investment, support, and representation has led to a minimal impact on the global market.

Despite these challenges, there are a growing number of African entrepreneurs, like Portia M, who are breaking barriers and making a name for themselves in the industry.

Portia M, an award-winning cosmetics brand by Portia Mngomezulu, is one such example. The brand focuses on providing natural, organic, and cruelty-free skincare products, including a line made from the African fruit, Marula. 

As one of the few black South African female entrepreneurs in the skincare and cosmetics industry, Portia M is competing with the likes of international brands such as Estee Lauder, Elizabeth Arden, L'Oréal, and Neutrogena.

One of the major challenges for African startups in the beauty sector is obtaining funding and resources to develop and market their products. Additionally, the industry is dominated by a few large multinational corporations, making it difficult for small, local businesses to compete. This is where Portia M's unique use of Marula sets her apart, giving her an edge to win customers and compete with African skincare brands.

The lack of representation and diversity in the industry is also a major issue. Many major beauty brands have been criticised for their lack of inclusivity and for not catering to the needs of diverse skin tones and hair types. This has led to a lack of representation for African consumers in the industry. 

The industry is heavily influenced by Western beauty standards, which often do not align with the traditional beauty practices and preferences of many African cultures. This can make it difficult for African companies to market their products and appeal to a global audience.

Despite these challenges, there is a growing number of African entrepreneurs and companies who are making strides in the skincare and cosmetics industry. With increased support and investment, they have the potential to make a significant impact in the global market. 

It's time for the industry to recognize the value of diversity and representation, and invest in the potential of African entrepreneurs and companies.

In the words of Portia M, "I believed in the product before I expected anyone else to, and that has made all the difference." 

It's time for the industry to believe in the potential of African skincare and cosmetics, and support the growth of these brands.

Skin-Politics returns next week for another dose of the weekly beauty prescription. 

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