How is it that high end beauty brands are still so ignorant of POC?
Tarte cosmetics shook the beauty world when they announced that they were launching the foundation version of their best selling Shape Tape concealer. So as soon as I opened my inbox and saw an email from Tarte with the subject header: THE WAIT IS OVER!!! (finally) I quickly clicked on the email and followed through to the website to see the foundation.
It was disappointing to say the least.
It’s quite brave to release a highly anticipated foundation with only 15 shades, in light of Fenty Beauty’s 40 shade foundation range. Or, just really uninformed. Scrolling through my twitter feed, I saw many people voicing their concerns over the brand’s limited shade range and it seemingly became too much for Tarte to handle and thus the comments section was disabled in their Instagram post promoting the foundation. They were actively silencing the voices of those who need to be heard. Major misstep. Companies are allowed to make mistakes. It happens, but the brands who win at earning loyal customers are those that are transparent, honest and engage, even when the topic is controversial, with their customers. And Tarte seem to have gotten a hold of this notion, as later, their Instagram story was updated in an attempt to address the comments over the shade range.
Transcript from Tarte Cosmetics Instagram story.
“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 a full representation of all of you” “It may be a little too late, but we can assure you this was not meant in any kind of malicious way.” “We all just got so caught up in #shapetapenation and seeing your tweets asking for it…” “We wanted to get the product out as fast as possible, & we made the decision to move forward before all the shades were ready to go.” “We know there is no excuse, & we take full responsibility for launching this way.” “We lost sight of what’s really important in this industry, & for those who feel alienated in our community, we want to personally apologize.” “We’re doing everything in our power to bring those unfinished shades to the market as fast as we can, at any cost.” “We CAN and WILL DO BETTER.”
Later, an article on POPSUGAR was released, and a Tarte spokesperson explained this:
“Even when Shape Tape Foundation was revealed, the new colours were already in the works. Additional shades are usually added seasonally, which makes sense because your complexion tends to be paler in the Winter and darker in the Summer months.”
I mean, that has to be the most ignorant comment made. It’s like saying people of colour just have a dark tan. It has nothing to do with skin tones, a skin tone isn’t seasonal. And why do you need to put out dark shades later? Are caucasian people only allowed to buy your products first? Are people of colour then considered an afterthought to you? This is just a pathetic, thoughtless and rushed apology that people in 2018 have no time for.
Nothing hurts quite like not seeing yourself represented in the media. The media consumes our everyday lives. It is a fluid, overarching concept, accessible by everyone. So why aren’t all people represented? As a brown girl myself, I know first hand how it feels like. It is really disheartening that the beauty industry still fails to even consider people with darker skin at all. It is not breaking news to know that people of colour come in an array of shades, and within those shades there are a number of undertones.
Another big beauty brand, YSL released campaign photos of their new concealer, and it went viral. It doesn’t take a genius to quickly see why.
And then there was a launch of their foundations.
Source: Instagram, via @yslbeauty
It really does appear apparent from these photos that people of darker skin colour come as an afterthought, or are merely used to indicate the ‘diversity’ of a brand. So basically an advertising ploy. I mean, look at the concealer swatches on the darker person’s arm! They don’t even match her skin at all!
High end brands such as Tarte and YSL can do much better for their customers by actively listening to customers and their concerns. Most brands make similar blunders when it comes to diversity, so employing more people of colour to work on research and development teams, marketing, public relations, and reaching out to more influencers of colour is a definite must. Take ‘Too Faced’ for example. After receiving backlash for their foundation range, or rather, lack thereof, they reached out to influencer Jackie Aina to work together and expand the colour range. That is thought-based, researched and mindful marketing and outreach, which has thus far, undoubtedly won consumers over.
And, it goes without saying, we owe a massive thank you to Rihanna for launching her Fenty Beauty line, which includes 40 shades of foundation, with different undertones, to suit every person of colour. And because of her influence, (or perhaps not) Huda Beauty launched a foundation range with 30 different shades and Kylie Cosmetics released concealers, also with 30 shades.
Source: Instagram, via @hudabeauty and @trendmood1, respectively.
So yes, we have come a long way but, we still have a long way to go. The lack of contact that the mainstream media has with people who are different, adds to the bigger issue of racial discrimination. The best thing brands can do is to place more importance on acknowledging customers, valuing them and treating them equally, rather than making as much money as quickly as possible. If you cannot make an all-inclusive shade range, why even bother? People of a darker skin tone are often thought of as “other” and not the norm. These microaggressions can lead to general attitudes that turn into policies and behaviours that negatively impact people of colour.