The ugly face of the beauty industry: an inclusivity scandal

Charlotte Loughlin discusses Tarte Cosmetics’ newest foundation and its “embarassing” shade range which fails to be inclusive to POC.

In January, Tarte Cosmetics came under fire from the beauty community after the release of its much-anticipated Shape Tape Foundation in both matte and hydrating formulas. The Foundation, inspired by Tarte’s cult-favourite concealer, which is sold every 20 seconds and is unsurprisingly America’s bestselling concealer, was produced in what can only be described as an embarrassingly limited shade range.

Tarte introduced the Foundation by providing swatches of it in 15 colours, which immediately caught the attention of beauty gurus, makeup artists (MUA’s) and consumers alike. Many were left questioning how a cosmetics company, in 2018, can launch such an inadequate product. With many variants for paler skin, including “fair neutral, fair light neutral and light neutral’, and only a couple for darker skin, it is unsurprising that the company has received intense backlash.

Some have argued that Tarte’s shade range was a marketing ploy to gain more media coverage to boost sales. However, considering the Shape Tape release was after Fenty Beauty launched a foundation in 40 shades and was highly praised for its acknowledgement of the vast spectrum of skin colours, it is questionable whether Tarte would want to risk their relatively unscathed reputation for an already highly sought-after product.

Although the formulas of the Tarte foundations have been praised by MUA’s and beauty gurus, many have decided to utilise their platforms and followings to bring awareness to the lack of diversity in the makeup industry by refusing to endorse the Shape Tape Foundation until the company provides a full, inclusive shade range. Nyma Tang, a popular Youtuber and MUA, took to her channel to condemn the shade range, calling the darker shades “ashy” and guilty of a blatant erasure of a whole spectrum of people.

Despite these developments, it is important to note that many of the MUA’s criticising Tarte are also those attending Benefit Cosmetics’ all inclusive holidays. Benefit Cosmetics have a poor shade range as well, with almost no inclusion or representation in their measly 9 shade ‘hello flawless! Oxygen wow’ foundation range for POC. Nevertheless, it is a turning point that MUA’s are recognising the errors made by Tarte at least and using their platforms to bring awareness to the issues of representation and inclusion in the makeup industry.

Talking to POPSUGAR, a Tarte representative said that “even when Shape Tape Foundation was revealed, new colours were already in the works,” adding that “additional shades are added seasonally” since “your complexion tends to be paler in the winter and darker in the summer months”. Tarte Cosmetics have since released an apology, in the form of an Instagram story, stating that ten more shades will be revealed soon but this has left many questioning why men and women of colour are an afterthought.

It is fair to say that all companies, not just Tarte Cosmetics, need to take a leaf out of Fenty Beauty’s book and seriously reevaluate their white-washed shade ranges. There are not just ten different skin colours in the world and everyone deserves representation.

Charlotte Loughlin

Photo credit: Pixabay