In August, Hailey Bieber posted a video on TikTok announcing her go-to lip combo for the fall: brown lip liner topped off with lip gloss. She dubbed the look ‘brownie glazed lips’— and so opened Pandora's box of reactions.
Ask any brown woman and they’ll tell you that ‘brownie glazed lips’ are a staple. From India to the Caribbean to South America and everywhere in between, gloss, brown lipstick and liner have been used to define and accentuate lips for decades. Back in the 80s and 90s, it was the signature look for Chola girls. In the late 90s and 00s, the combo was recreated by women of color across the globe as they tried to recreate another makeup trend: nude lips. Since most nudes in the market resembled pinks and peaches, those with deeper skin tones had to get creative.
And now years later, the same lip combo is heralded as a new trend— one made popular by a white model. We’re not saying it’s Hailey’s fault. Nowhere did she say that she invented the combo. But it still begs the question… why are brown girl friendly beauty hacks only made popular in the mainstream when co-opted by white peers? And why do those white peers get credit, brand deals, and social media attention when the original Black and brown women who created the techniques are excluded?
This isn’t an isolated incident.
Long nails with creative art were once seen as “ghetto” when worn by Black and Latinx women. But in recent years, they’ve become the norm. Black women with intricate braiding styles still experience discrimination, while their white counterparts are called fashionable for donning box braids— take Kim Kardashian’s Fulani-esque ‘Bo Derek braids’ for example.
Just this summer, the ‘clean girl aesthetic’ reigned supreme on social media, defined by no-makeup makeup, a slicked back bun, and small gold hoops. Visit any Black, Latinx, or South Asian community and you’ll find scores of women rocking the look— not because it’s trendy, but because it’s been practiced for decades.
Most recently, an eye lining technique called ‘tightliner’ has been making the rounds. Tightlining is the practice of lining both your upper and lower waterlines to get a dramatic, but clean look for your eyes. With tutorials popping up across social media for this “new” makeup hack, we can’t help but think back to how South Asian women (and even young girls) have been doing this for centuries— wearing kohl or kajal to outline their eyes.
Don’t get us wrong, we aren’t here to gatekeep our beauty secrets. But we’d be a lot more willing to share them if we got due credit. The problem with co-opting these techniques to trends is that it excludes brown women from the conversation altogether.