Menu Menu

TikTok sparks conversations about disability in the beauty industry

Rare Beauty has received praise from disabled customers for their easy-to-use packaging, sparking critical conversations about the beauty industry’s lack of inclusivity. 

Since launching in 2020, Selena Gomez’ beauty brand ‘Rare Beauty’ has enjoyed staggering success. With sleek branding, shade variety, and trend-worthy products, the makeup line made $60 million in its first year.

The brand has built itself around a mantra of inclusivity, both in its inclusive shade range and emphasis on ‘minimalism’, hoping to break down ‘unrealistic standards of beauty’ in an increasingly digital world.

Gomez has been a proprietor of self-love during her time in the spotlight, and regularly shares images of herself makeup-free on social media. Her public battle with lupus has also made her an inspiration to millions suffering with chronic illness, as she helps to normalise relatively unknown diseases.

But Rare Beauty has recently received praise online for another reason. Beyond their inclusive product shades and media campaigns, disabled customers are celebrating the brand’s consideration of physical ability when it comes to packaging design.

TikTok user Christen Roos went viral on the app last week when she highlighted the design of Rare Beauty’s liquid blush. Roos describes herself as a ‘short armed person,’ and often finds it challenging to open her favourite beauty products due to weak hand muscles.

The 37-year-old was born with a rare genetic disorder that impacts her bones and muscles, making it frustratingly difficult to use beauty products, despite her love of makeup.

Roos’ video was a response to another TikTok user calling out Rare Beauty for their ‘messy’ packaging, complaining that the product got ‘everywhere’ when you opened the bottle.

‘Why are you yelling, and being so aggressive?’ Roos responded. ‘I recently discovered that Rare Beaty designed their packaging specifically with people with disabilities in mind.’

Rare Beauty features a distinctive bottle-lid with a disc design, making it easy to grip and open.

‘Holy moly’ Roos said in response to the packaging, ‘look what the world is when we’re more inclusive.’

Others with disabilities have taken to social media to celebrate Rare Beauty’s consideration of all kinds of customers, from those with low vision to limb amputations.

But as encouraging as these instances inclusivity are, they’ve sparked critical conversations about the makeup-industry’s relationship with disabled customers.

‘I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought makeup, got it home, and then couldn’t open it,’ Roos told her followers.

The positive reaction to her video has encouraged Roos to create more ‘makeup accessibility critiques,’ filling a gap where disabled beauty-lovers are lacking inclusive tutorials and open conversations.

Rare Beauty’s website notes that products are designed ‘to Selena’s personal preferences to emphasise ease of use’. Gomez’s lupus diagnosis means she often suffers from shaky hands and other mobility issues, which make accessible products and packaging a prerequisite.

Mariadeliz Santiago, another disabled Rare Beauty customer, hopes more brands follow suit.

‘Disabled individuals have the right to have fun and engage in leisure activities like makeup that are accessible’ she told Buzzfeed. Santiago has struggled to make a name for herself on social media as a beauty influencer, blaming a lack of awareness and inclusivity within the makeup space.

‘A lot of people on social media see disability as a curiosity, as a means of entertainment. It’s hard because I have a passion for beauty yet some people aren’t on my page for the reasons that I want them to be.’

The more that brands like Rare Beauty consider disabled customers, the more their experiences are normalised, and the more individuals can share in the joy of makeup.

Brittany Wisowaty, a 21-year-old cosmetologist with visible chronic illness, believes Gen-Z’s buying power and desire for conscious, inclusive brands will shift the needle.

‘Engaging with the beauty industry can be extremely valuable when you live in a world that makes you feel so different,’ Wisowaty said. ‘Makeup can be a refuge for disabled people.’