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GR8NESS expert Expert Reviewed
Close up of makeup foundation tube spilling pigment
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Shades of Inequality: Are Makeup Manufacturers Addressing Diversity?

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Classic ivory, fair ivory, natural ivory, ivory, porcelain, and fair porcelain. No, I’m not repeating myself. Those are the actual first six shades of a major cosmetic company’s latest foundation line. (Spoiler alert: they’re all essentially the same shade of white.)

This isn’t news to anyone following the ever-evolving drama of the beauty community, or more importantly, to the women and men of color searching for their shade among the sea of ivory.

Just this past year, a multi-million dollar cosmetics company, Tarte, shocked fans when they released their long-awaited Shape Tape foundation with just 15 shades – only three of which catered to dark skin tones.

In 2019, is it possible that makeup manufacturers can be leaving out an entire demographic with their products?

The State of the Foundation Aisle

Searching for a deeper toned foundation in the drugstore is like spotting a shooting star: rare, and if you blink too fast, you’ll miss it. For years, lighter skin tones have been able to grab any shade of ivory, porcelain, or beige that matched their skin. But for Latinx and people of color, options were few and far between.

Head over to a pricier store like MAC or Sephora, and you’re more likely to find an inclusive shade range (for double the price). Higher-end brands such as MAC and Makeup Forever have been crafting foundations, concealers, and powders for multi-tone medium and dark skin tones for over 20 years. But, for the most part, mainstream brands haven’t seemed to catch up.

The Explosion of Fenty

It seems intuitive that complexion products and eye shadow palettes should all cater to the world’s unique skin tones. Someone who understood this clearly? The good-girl-gone-bad herself, Rihanna.

In September of 2017, the singer released her Fenty Beauty line. Complete with 40 shades of Pro Filt’R foundation that spanned evenly across the spectrum, from the fairest to the deepest skin tones, the launch was accompanied by a marketing campaign that made its point of view loud and clear.

When it comes to Fenty Beauty, it’s not just the deep shades flying off the shelf. For Latinx and Mediterranean beauty lovers, the line means being able to find medium shades with undertones that match their skin – not just the cool and warm tones typically found at the drugstore.

So, Diversity is… Trendy Now?

In today’s age of inclusivity, the “foundation for all” shouldn’t have been a revolutionary idea. Yet, with so many beauty lovers starved of accessible makeup that actually worked for their complexion, that’s exactly what it was. What’s followed can only be dubbed “the Fenty effect.”

There’s been a chain reaction of brands launching more inclusive shades in response to the new Fenty standard. From luxury lines like Dior to affordable brands like Maybelline and CoverGirl, manufacturers now carry at least 40 shades of foundation – PUR Cosmetics even has 100.

Moreover, the opportunity has arisen for black and Latinx influencers to collaborate with beauty brands that cater to them inclusively.

So, is the makeup aisle truly inclusive? Time will have to tell. But from here, the future finally looks multi-colored.

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Grace
GR8NESS Writer
Grace is a self-proclaimed plant aficionado and self care advocate. At any given time, you can catch her penning new pieces about the latest house plant hacks, home décor, trends in the beauty space, and self care tips that promote better sleeping and even better living. Catch her snapping pictures of her newest succulents or out on the trails in her new home of Colorado.
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