Beauty Mogul Rihanna Wasn’t Allowed to Wear Makeup Growing up

Even before she entered the makeup world officially, Rihanna was admired for her beauty. In addition to being a talented musician, many envy her flawless skin and impeccable style. But she’s proven just as good at running a business as she is at making hit records. 

Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty makeup line made a massive mark on an industry that too often adheres to a narrow standard, leaving people of color on the margins. The mogul’s interest in cosmetics comes from her upbringing, even though she wasn’t allowed to wear it as a child.

Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty is a groundbreaking makeup line

Rihanna makeup
Rihanna poses for a picture as she celebrates her beauty brands fenty beauty and fenty skin at Goya Studios on February 11, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. | Mike Coppola/Getty Images

The secret to Fenty Beauty’s success is simple: It’s one of the few luxury brands that actively caters to nonwhite skin tones. Most major brands have disregarded the cosmetic needs of Black and brown people for a long time. In conjunction with LVMH, Rihanna noticed the hole in the market and filled it with well-received products. 

Fenty Beauty offers 40 shades of foundation, giving customers more choices to look and present to the world. For an audience that has been underserved for decades, the acknowledgment was the most convincing selling point imaginable.

Combine that with the readily affordable price and Rihanna’s inherent star power, and you have all the ingredients of an instant hit. Company sales were over $550 million in their first full year, and the brand has only become more popular over time. 

Rihanna’s interest in makeup came from her mother’s work

Just after the launch of Fenty Beauty in 2017, Rihanna did an interview with InStyle about her inspiration for the makeup line, generating confidence, and her general approach to personal style. She describes foundation as the “very first makeup product I fell in love with” after wearing some for a pageant she participated in during her childhood in Barbados

“I will never forget the feeling I had after seeing how even my skin looked when she put foundation on my face. And I remember my brother being so upset. He was like, “You’re gonna put that on every day?” I loved it. It’s like Photoshop. I like my makeup to look like skin—really good skin”, she remembered. 

Rihanna’s mother, Monica Fenty, used to work in the cosmetics department of a store in their native home, and she also did makeup for weddings. Despite the prevalence of materials around the house, Rihanna was not allowed to wear makeup until she turned 16 unless it was for a special occasion. 

During a 2020 video interview with Access Hollywood, the star responded to a question about if she plans to set the same rules for her own kids . “I don’t know about 16. There are other ways to wear makeup, like lip gloss or lipstick and cream blushes, stuff that’s fun and easy”, she says. “But yeah, they’re not going to be wearing makeup to school. I have to draw the line somewhere!”

Her empire spans several industries

Rihanna’s talent and curatorial eye work in tandem to make her the wealthiest female musician alive. To the dismay of her fans, new music from her remains a myth of legend at this point. And, given everything else in her life, it’s best not to expect any updates soon.

 Her Savage X Fenty lingerie line is inclusive and prosperous, following the path of Fenty Beauty to pleasing fans. Not to mention Rihanna’s bank account —  she became a billionaire in 2021. And she is about to become a mother for the first time with her boyfriend A$AP Rocky. It looks like soon we’ll see how Rihanna handles introducing makeup to her offspring.

RELATED: Barbados Ditched Queen Elizabeth and Named Rihanna Their National Hero