Last year, the makeup community was shocked and delighted when Fenty Beauty released a line of foundations that included 40 shades catering from the lightest skin to the darkest – if you’ve read my column before, you know I think highly of this brand.
However, it brought an interesting conversation back to the spotlight: Why haven’t other brands strived to be as inclusive as Fenty is? Makeup brands have made the excuse in the past that the darker shades just don’t sell. However, within a week of the Fenty launch, all of the darker shades were sold out.
In early December, Tarte Cosmetics began hyping up their upcoming release – Shape Tape Foundation. The brand announced there would be “matte” and “hydrating” formulas and each would have 15 different shades.
The Shape Tape Concealer is a cult favorite among makeup lovers. So, there was understandable excitement among makeup lovers when Tarte announced this foundation release – until swatches of each shade were shared via social media.
On Jan. 12, the foundation was released and the shade range was, like the sterile walls of a hospital, blindingly white.
From the lightest being “Porcelain” and the darkest “Mahogany,” Tarte released a meager 15 shades, but only three were dark enough for people of color.
Tarte’s website boasts the foundation was released in 30 shades … but not really. While the “matte” and “hydrating” formulas each have 15 shades … they are duplicates of one another.
It didn’t take long for popular YouTubers to use their platform to discuss the issue. YouTubers Jackie Aina and Alissa Ashley collaborated on a video and discussed that not only did none of the three shades work for their skin, but even the shades that were dark left them looking orange and red.
On Jan. 17, after Tarte had disabled the comments section of its Instagram page, the company took to Instagram Stories to issue an apology: “We want to let you know we hear you. You all know by now that we revealed our much-anticipated shape tape foundation & the final shade range that we launched was definitely not representation of all of you. It may be too little too late, but we can assure you this was not meant in any kind of malicious way.”
But like every Instagram Story, the message was forever lost in cyberspace after 24 hours. Well, makeup lovers could only “hear you” for those 24 hours.
Tarte then announced the company would be releasing “ten additional shades,” so presumably five, but there was no mention in that announcement if the shades will cater to darker skin tones.
These foundations still have not been launched.
As a white woman, I never have trouble finding shades that suit my skin tone. Down every aisle in Sephora, there’s a model with my complexion promoting a product.
At its essence, makeup is about the expression of art and beauty. Makeup artists cannot express themselves if they do not see themselves represented on the bottles that are sold in makeup stores across the country.
What are makeup brands saying when they show only one standard of beauty – a white standard?
Makeup brands need to be taking the time to curate foundation shades that work not only for light skin, but for all skin tones. While I have never had to go searching for a foundation shade, here is a list of makeup brands that have (way) more than 15 shades of foundation: Fenty, Makeup Forever, Wet ’n Wild, Estée Lauder, L’Oréal, Lancôme, Kat Von D and Bare Minerals.