Ladies, have any of you ever walked into a drug store searching for a decent foundation only to discover that your shade is unavailable? Surely legitimate makeup stores ought to have a wider selection, right? Well, that is sometimes the case–especially for women with lighter complexions, but women with darker skin are still often left in the dust. Well, perhaps independent makeup companies online have some answers. That’s what a number of excited customers were thinking before Tarte Cosmetics unveiled their new highly-anticipated “Shape Tape” foundation.
On January 21st of this year, Tarte Cosmetics released their “Shape Tape” foundation to the world. “Shape Tape” foundation comes in two different formula types: one hydrates the skin while the other leaves a matte finish. The matte foundation currently has 17 shades while the hydrating foundation holds 18. The price for one shade is about $39.90, but may vary in price depending on which retailer you purchase it from. Tarte’s website explains that both foundations last upwards of 12 hours, completely covering any blemishes and pores while leaving skin silky smooth.
According to most reviews online, the foundation does exactly what Tarte claims it can do. Objectively speaking, the foundation is very good, albeit a little pricey. Despite the product’s undeniable effectiveness, some makeup gurus and fans were hesitant to even try the new foundation once photos of its limited shade range were published online. Once consumers realized that both foundations consisted of 80% light shades while only three to five were dedicated to women of darker complexions, the makeup community exploded. The shade range for the hydrating foundation is the featured image for this article. Expectedly, consumers were outraged.
Since receiving waves upon waves of backlash after revealing the incredibly limited shade range, Tarte published an apology on Instagram saying, “We wanted to get the product out as fast as possible and we made the decision to move forward before all of the shades were ready to go… We lost sight of what’s really important in this industry, and for those who feel alienated in our community, we want to personally apologize.” Tarte had previously released their “Shape Tape” concealers, which sold incredibly well. It was clear to Tarte that creating a new foundation line was absolutely necessary, due to the incredible success of their concealers. They completely lost sight of what was important to consumers, though, as they explained in their apology. Releasing their foundation this way was flat-out insulting to the makeup community.
Jeffree Star, makeup guru and owner of Jeffree Star Cosmetics, posted a video on YouTube demonstrating the makeup and sharing his own opinions about the shade range. In response to Tarte’s lackluster apology, Jeffree suggested, “Don’t bother putting out this foundation until you are ready with a full, inclusive line.” NikkiTutorials, another famous makeup guru on YouTube, posted a video reviewing the foundation and later removed it. She explained on Twitter that “The Tarte shade range is an absolute mess and I should’ve spoken up about it more than I did.” Jackie Aina, another popular YouTuber who does makeup tutorials, posted an in-depth video in which she tested multiple shades on her own skin, sometimes mixing shades to get the closest match. Being a woman of color, the only three dark shades did not work at all for her, which was very concerning considering how light her skin really is on the skin-tone spectrum.
Clearly the makeup industry has a problem with racial inclusivity. This is especially commonplace in foundation lines. Tarte Cosmetics isn’t the only makeup company to produce such limited shade ranges, however. YSL got a lot of flack for releasing their new foundation line with 22 shades back in August of 2017. Still, products like Rihanna’s “Fenty Beauty” line are destroying competitors with a fully inclusive shade range with 40+ shades for just about every skin tone. Even Maybelline’s “Fit Me” foundation line is far more diverse than Tarte or YSL with another 40+ shades, at a fraction of the cost.
There are lots of risks in the business of makeup. When it comes to concealers and foundations, bringing a fully inclusive line to the market can be a challenge. If a makeup company focuses too much time on bringing in a plethora of new shades, their profit is likely to drop. Like any other business, Tarte has to think of who their target audience is. However, if I can remember correctly, women with darker skin tones want to wear makeup just as much as women with lighter skin tones. Thus, people with all skin colors should be their target audience. The same goes for any makeup company.
Racial inclusivity should always be a main concern for any company producing a foundation line. Foundations with measly 10-15 shades, most of which are for white people, have become an utter joke. Considering the widespread popularity of makeup, Tarte’s shade range is downright insulting. If companies like Tarte and YSL fail to realize this soon, more and more of their once-loyal customers will start to boycott their products.