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Aesthetically Pleasing Racism

Written May 31st - June 5th 2020 

I feel it’s necessary to address how the aesthetics industry is overwhelmingly white – built and run on the idea that white skin and features are the highest standard of beauty - and presents darker skin as risky, difficult to service, and a niche market. As a white woman, customer, student, and aesthetician I see the dismissal and denial that is the beating heart of racism in the beauty circuit that I have belonged to for 10 years.   

I’ve reflected during these weeks as the public has again demanded accountability, racial justice, and change and found myself wondering why the beauty industry is still very much segregated. Aesthetic training, licensing, and educational systems are vastly outdated and not reflective of real skincare or inclusive of real skin, especially Black skin. The industry needs to be actively inclusive, not passively exclusive of Black skin.

I was lucky to have attended a diverse aesthetic school with new wave teaching and more time spent on Black skin than corporate agendas, but it’s not enough. I’ve seen Black women passed onto other providers; I’ve seen aestheticians too scared to work on Black skin altogether for lack of training or bad training because Black skin is all too often breezed over or left out of aesthetic curriculums and seminars; I’ve seen Black women not have complete product options; I’ve seen Black women either forgotten or exploited for marketing and not treated as worthy customers in the beauty biz; I’ve seen how the industry labels Black women as a “difficult” skin tone to service or match when the truth is it is not riskier or more difficult it is only different than white and simply not taught extensively or at all.  The list goes on in every department because the system and too many aestheticians are not reaching for equality or inclusion.  It’s no wonder WOC don’t enter our white-owned establishments much, even though the door is “wide open” and we say we are “accepting”.  Because white spaces, white social media accounts, white-trained aestheticians, and white-targeted product lines are not inviting to WOC.  Regardless of community demographics, because that’s a common excuse, ignoring Black skin is oppression and it frames the ugly reality of racism in the beauty biz.  Individuals of all melanin production ranges deserve care, service, passion, research and expert treatment and it’s our job to give that to everyone.  All hands in the industry must take responsibility to seek training and consciously serve customers of all races and skin colors with intent. It was never enough to be not racist - ignorance doesn’t protect our industry or studios - it upholds systemic white supremacy. 

I am disappointed to see prominent brands and studios hiding behind performative hashtags still blind or refusing to acknowledge and reckon with their role in sustaining the racist hierarchy of color in this country. A black square or hashtag signifies a moment of awareness, donations signify a moment of investment, but this moment calls for daily actions and changes to our industry because racism exists here. The aesthetics industry is not exempt from anti-racist work. It is our work to wake up and dismantle outright and underlying racists policies and procedures, because carrying on and keeping things as they always have been only nurtures the same white privileges and the cost of staying the same is Black oppression and worse Black lives. The beauty industry standards need to do better and as an aesthetician and new business owner I will do better. 

Here’s how The Lemon Drop will fuel inclusive skincare practices:

-Every service for every melanin.  

-Full spectrum of skin-color options and quality products for all types of skin. 

-Inclusive marketing reflecting the inclusive business. 

-Demand and receive comprehensive Black skincare training from skincare lines. 

-Do away with inaccurate labels such as difficult or risky or problematic. 

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