Pat McGrath Is the First-Ever Makeup Artist to Receive Damehood

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Pat McGrath's New Beauty Campaign Is a Lesson in Inclusivity
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Black Women Entrepreneurs Pat McGrath
Photo: Courtesy of Pat McGrath

Pat McGrath has been (well-deservedly) named in the New Year Honours list. The 50-year-old Northampton native has been made a Dame for services to the fashion and beauty industry and diversity. She’s a familiar face in the world of high fashion, creating magical beauty looks for brands like Valentino, Dior, and Prada. In 2017, she launched her own make-up line, Pat McGrath Labs, which was valued at one billion dollars by 2018.

McGrath’s style is all about color and bold experimentation. She prioritizes inclusivity and her products cater for a wide range of skin tones – perhaps born out of experience, as McGrath often speaks in interviews about struggling to find makeup to match her skin in the 1970s and 1980s.

In conversation with Savoir Flair, she says: “I am truly delighted and humbled to be given this wonderful honor. My mother’s obsession with beauty and fashion ignited my passion for this amazing industry and I feel blessed to have the privilege of working with some of the most extraordinary people throughout my career.”

“Color across the spectrum is my life’s work and inspiration and I celebrate individuality particularly with my brand Pat McGrath Labs, so I am especially honored that this award is also for diversity.”

McGrath isn’t the only black woman shaking up the beauty industry. Scroll down to discover three other black women entrepreneurs of the beauty world.




No conversation about beauty would be complete without mentioning Rihanna. In 2017, the popstar launched Fenty Beauty, disrupting the industry with the broad range of foundation shades on offer.

The brand’s influence has since been dubbed the ‘Fenty effect’, making it the new normal for make-up brands to have an inclusive and diverse product range, leaving no one behind.

Back in 2017, Rihanna told The Times: “There’s a void for women with all types of extreme complexions. The middle ground is covered really, really well, but if you’re too pale or too dark, there’s not a lot of options.”

Sharon Chuter

Former beauty executive Sharon Chuter is the brains behind make-up brand Uoma Beauty, and like Rihanna, she champions diversity in everything she does.

Chuter is keen to bring about real change in the industry, and earlier this year established the #PullUpForChange campaign. After brands joined Blackout Tuesday and posted a black square on their Instagram pages in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protests, Chuter asked them to publish the number of black people they employed, particularly in leadership roles. Big companies got involved, including Shiseido, Revlon, Estee Lauder, and Kylie Cosmetics.

Chuter wrote on Instagram: “Show us you really mean it and you are ready to stop being a part of the system of oppression and marginalization.”

She tells Fashionista: “People always make this inclusivity thing look like it’s a big deal. But at the end of the day, your business has to be reflective of the world that you live in. If you want to serve a global customer, the world is diverse — of course, it makes sense to have a diverse team.”


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Charlotte Mensah

Charlotte Mensah is a legend in haircare: she’s been awarded British Afro Hairdresser of the Year three times and is the first black woman to be inducted into the British Hairdressing Hall of Fame.

Her clients include authors Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Zadie Smith, and actress Michaela Coel, and she’s bringing Afro hair to the forefront. Mensah released her first book Good Hair: The Essential Guide To Afro, Textured And Curly Hair this year, and continues to work on her charity LOVE (Ladies of Visionary Empowerment), which helps provide educational opportunities for women in Africa.

She tells the Guardian: “For so long, there were all these European standards and stereotypical images of what black hair looked like and what it meant. But for me, all hair is good hair, whether it is coily, straight, 10 inches, or down to your waist.”


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A post shared by Charlotte Mensah (@charlottemensah)

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