The world of beauty is often seen as fashion’s more forgiving, accessible sister. Without restrictions on body size or shape and a huge array of high-quality products available at every price point, plus more recent ventures into shade inclusive makeup, it’s easy to assume that beauty is a party that everyone is invited to. But for some of the frequently forgotten disabled population, an estimated 15% of people globally, products can become impossible to enjoy due to a lack of accessibility consideration during product design.
Slowly but surely, this is beginning to change. P&G owned skincare brand Olay recently launched their Easy Open Lid, developed with consumers with a wide variety of disabilities in mind, including dexterity issues, limb difference and visual impairment. The new lid features a winged cap designed to be easy to open, an extra-grip raised lid and a high contrast product label complete with Braille text reading ‘face cream.’ Senior Vice President of Olay Chris Heiert stated: “As a global brand, it’s our responsibility to ensure that all consumers have access to products that serve their needs and fit seamlessly into their daily lives.” As part of its ongoing mission to create a more inclusive beauty industry, Olay has also opted not to patent its new lid, with the aim of sharing the design with the wider beauty community to help rival companies develop more accessible packaging.
But skincare isn’t the only space to be increasing its inclusivity. Taking their efforts a step further after the release of their tactile shampoo and conditioner bottles, Herbal Essences have introduced an Amazon Alexa tool allowing visually impaired consumers to ask questions about products, ingredients and personal recommendations, who otherwise may have been unable to. Not to be left behind, Pantene recently recruited blind influencer Lucy Edwards as their ambassador, with a goal to revolutionise its packaging in-store, incorporating NaviLens technology and bolstering its existing ties with the Royal National Institute of Blind People. Regarding her ambassadorship, Lucy quoted: “Just because I can’t see, doesn’t mean I don’t want to look and feel beautiful. The beauty industry until this point has not been inclusive and I’m so excited to be making a change to this alongside Pantene.”
Why is this important? A simple yet thoughtful change to packaging by a conglomerate such as P&G is a great leap towards improving disability access to everyday beauty products. This change has been overdue for some time; enhancing inclusivity in this way does not exclude those who are able-bodied, but simply improves the experience for every consumer. Projects enacting positive social or environmental change are often undertaken by smaller, indie brands, and while important at every level, the biggest impact can often be made from the top down, starting with the mass market space. Looking and feeling our best is an experience deserved by all, and brands with a little ingenious product design have the power to make that sentiment a reality.