Last year, I wrote a piece about my excitement at the increasing diversity in the beauty industry. Launches from Fenty Beauty, Huda Beauty, and Kylie Cosmetics ignited a conversation that was a long time coming. Although many brands, such as L’Oreal True Match, Bobbi Brown, Nars, Lancome, and Estee Lauder already had extensive shade ranges, the recent high profile launches from big names like Rihanna and Kylie Jenner in the past few months really brought the issue of creating foundation shades for all to the forefront of discussion in the beauty industry. Having thirty to forty shades of complexion products is no longer an exception or rarity; it has become the expectation.
That is why I was so disappointed to see Tarte’s dismal Shape Tape Foundation launch. The highly anticipated foundation, supposed to work in tandem with Tarte’s best selling Shape Tape Concealer, comes in two formulas: hydrating and matte. The foundations boast a pitiful range of fifteen shades, with only three to four shades that cater those of a deeper skin tone. The remaining twelve shades are all varying hues of beige, with differing undertones and color nuances that look very promising: for about 1% of the population. The dark shades seem to be an afterthought, tacked on at the last minute and very out of place amidst a sea of creamy vanillas, light sands, and fair neutrals.
Youtubers of all skin tones were quick to call Tarte out on their less than stellar shade range. Popular YouTubers such as Alissa Ashley, Jackie Aina, Patricia Bright, and MakeupShayla all expressed disappointment in the lack of deep shades. Most popular has been the joint video starring Jackie and Alissa, who collaborated together to say that Tarte’s latest release is a “blatant erasure of a whole spectrum of people.” They were not here for any of Tarte’s apologies or backtracking, stating, “there literally are no excuses.”
Tarte has responded to the controversy by claiming they have ten more shades in the works.
What makes me angry about a statement like that is that people of color are obviously an afterthought. They are not important enough to be included and represented in the initial launch. Jackie, Alissa, Patricia and the many other POC beauty Youtubers who expressed disappointment with Tarte’s blatant exclusion explained their frustrations so eloquently, stating that for so long they have been ignored by beauty brands. Now, with so many diverse launches and important discussions about race and colorism in the beauty industry being paid attention to, this Tarte launch felt like a slap in the face, and a decisive step backward. Tarte should know better. They are not a new brand. Newer brands like Fenty were able to launch forty shades from the get-go. Tarte has the money and the resources to create shades for all, they just simply chose not too.
Obviously, I could find my shade in the Tarte foundation if I wanted to. It’s sitting on a shelf somewhere, a bottle of either a Fair Sand, Fair Neutral, or a Fair-Light Neutral just waiting to be purchased. However, I’ll never know which shade of fair I really am, as I don’t plan on purchasing this product. I’m a little sad about it, too; I purchased the Tarte Shape Tape concealer a few months ago, and I really liked it. Now, every time I use it, I get a bitter sort of taste in my mouth. But, since this blatant act of erasure does not affect me personally; this is not my fight to be the face of. While I am upset, I know I play a supportive role; my job is to support and empower the women who Tarte has disrespected. So, first of all, I’m going to sit back and listen. I’m going to listen to the women who have been underrepresented for so long speak their truth, and hopefully, other brands will listen and learn from Tarte’s mistakes. I will take the advice of Patricia Bright and spend my money elsewhere. In her video about the Tarte launch, she included an important message of positivity, saying that rather than dwelling on the controversy of the Shape Tape foundation, she will focus her attention on brands that do celebrate every skin tone and invest her money there. I will support brands who respect the beauty of all, and who understand the importance of diversity.