Life and Style’s Yasmine Kennedy expresses her disappointment towards the limited shades released for Tarte Cosmetics’ new Shape Tape foundation

Written by Yasmine Kennedy
Published
Images by Tarte Cosmetics

Following the incredible success of the Tarte Shape Tape concealer, the long-awaited sister product; the Shape Tape foundation has recently been released. It comes in both a matte and hydrating formula to accommodate for different skin types; however it seems to be missing half the shades. The marketing of the foundation on the Tarte website includes images of women with fair skin to extremely deep skin tones, implying that the foundation is inclusive and available to all. This is extremely misleading as in fact the initial release contained 14 shades and now contains a still limited 18, only 3 of which are catered to women or men of colour. From an incredibly successful beauty company with a great ethos of cruelty free products, it is shameful and upsetting for an assumption to be made that a total of 3 shades will successfully accommodate all people of colour.

The Tarte website includes images of women with fair skin to extremely deep skin tones, implying that the foundation is inclusive and available to all

Thankfully after the backlash from social media influencers, bloggers and YouTubers, Tarte did address the issue with a statement claiming that lighter shades were to be released in winter and darker shades to be released in summer. I find this a poor and confusing excuse to attempt to cover up the fact that, for this particular foundation, black people were an afterthought and not in any way a priority. There can be no logical reason to explain why lighter-skinned people have the privilege to try the foundation first.
In a time when high street brands such as L’Oreal carry the True Match foundation in 30 shades at under half the price, this is truly inexcusable. Tarte also mentioned that they like to take time and to find perfect shades with the exact undertone before they are released. In response to this, if the shade range of the foundation is not yet complete then the foundation should not have been released unfinished.

If the shade range of the foundation is not yet complete then the foundation should not have been released unfinished

And of course with the iconic release of Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty line came foundation in a staggering 40 shades, with a range of different undertones for the palest skin tones to the deepest no matter what the season. While Rihanna is of course a music artist and makeup and beauty is not where her expertise lie, however her initial release of the foundation included all 40 shades, and was not in any way unfairly staggered. This is from a startup beauty company with no previous foundation releases or experience, in comparison to Tarte, a company founded in 2000; 18 years ago, with a history of over 5 foundation releases in the past. The instant success of Fenty Beauty should stand as an inspiration and be a massive reminder to all beauty companies that women and men of all skin tones should have equal opportunities to try any new products on the market.

It is extremely hard to understand the logic of beauty companies clearly excluding men and women of colour in their foundation releases. African American women spend an average of $7.5 billion each year on beauty products, so the demand and the business is there. Social media is arguably the most useful resource for companies to utilize to advertise their products. Black influencers like Patricia Bright, Jackie Aina, Nyma Tang with a combined following of over 5 million, have actually positively reviewed the formula of the foundation even though there is no shade that perfectly matches any of them. But they have explicitly advised followers to not buy the product to take a stand against the lack of inclusivity. This is detrimental for Tarte’s sales, and will be especially noticeable after the tremendous success of the concealer which is currently the number one concealer in America.

It is extremely hard to understand the logic of beauty companies clearly excluding men and women of colour in their foundation releases

It is empowering to see the disapproval of the release and should encourage an overdue and necessary step forward in the industry for all foundations to include diverse shades and to no longer alienate certain skin tones. Such a complete erasure of multiple races is offensive, and this mistake needs to be corrected and ensured to not be repeated by Tarte or any other beauty company in the future. It is crucial and essential for all women and men to be represented in every release, every time.

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