Inclusivity has been the buzzword in the makeup industry recently, and there's a new standard when it comes to the breadth of shades that are offered and how those shades are advertised. Several brands have even faced backlash from customers and influencers for not keeping up. Whether it's failing to reach the magic number of 40 foundations (a benchmark set by Fenty Beauty in 2017) or Photoshopping campaign images, no company is safe from being held accountable by the beauty-loving community. Even Kim Kardashian's longtime makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic (a.k.a @makeupbymario) is making his thoughts known about the need for more diversity in the beauty aisle, especially in campaign images.
"Where are the Asian women? The Arab women? Where are the women from my country [Albania]? I feel like we could see a lot more Latinas. We don't see a lot of that diversity," the Bronx-born makeup artist tells Refinery29 at the Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder Glow Launch Party in Los Angeles. "I feel like [brands] choose a token girl of a different shade, and they'll throw her in. We definitely need to see more inclusivity — it's not just Black women."
When it comes to shade range, Dedivanovic is glad the options are expanding for the consumer overall, but he says it's a problem he can't really identify with as a professional makeup artist. "I would never carry 40 shades of foundation in my kit," he says. "I have 12 or 13, and I mix that so I don't approach makeup as if I'm going to find one color and apply it."
I feel like [brands] choose a token girl of a different shade, and they'll throw her in.
This is why the influencer voice has become an important one. Many popular YouTubers have come forward to share their opinions on product launches. These powerful viewpoints have led to companies releasing public apologies or upgrading their shade ranges across collections. Brands are also seeking out influencers like Jackie Aina and Alissa Ashley to help with product development before they launch.
It's for these reasons that social media stars have earned Dedivanovic's respect, even though he says some of his peers — longtime makeup artists — aren't on the same page. "It's a very controversial subject because a lot of them, like me, have been around for like 18+ years, and they feel like [Instagram] really ruined the industry," he says. "These new kids come along, and they're superstars overnight. Whereas with us, we had to work 10-12 years to even be noticed by everyone."
But Dedivanovic, who's a proud follower of vloggers like NikkieTutorials and James Charles on YouTube, is not one to be shady. In his mind, there's room for everyone in the beauty community. "If someone young is getting noticed, what is he/she supposed to do? Hide in their house and say no to every opportunity? Of course they're going to take it, more power to them. I can't hate on that."
In fact, Dedivanovic looks at Instagram as a driving force for his own career — not a battlefield. "Before Instagram, I was just 100% a celebrity makeup artist. After Instagram, all these different, amazing opportunities came along, and I'm now able to do so much more in addition to being a celebrity makeup artist," says Dedivanovic, who boasts over 5 million followers on the social media app and signed on as a Laura Mercier brand ambassador last year. "It's really allowed me to achieve a level of success that I don't think I would have been able to achieve had Instagram not been around."
Travel and accommodations were provided by Laura Mercier for the purpose of writing this story.