2017 was the year Rihanna (the blessed one) launched Fenty cosmetics, and with that, shook up the entire beauty world. Not only because her products were fairly affordable for high-end makeup and had overall great quality, but her shade range of foundation included 40 different colors for pretty much every undertone possible. It was a win for not only black female business owners but for inclusion in makeup. Other brands like Huda Beauty, Bobbi Brown, L'Oreal, and Estée Lauder have all made efforts to offer inclusive shade ranges. So when Tarte launched its new line of Shape Tape foundations, which only had 3 shades for WOC out of 15 shades, the internet was not having it.
For those of you who have zero knowledge/interest about the beauty industry and don't follow all of the makeup artists on YouTube, the past weekend and a little bit beyond has been filled with controversy because of Tarte. Over the past year, Tarte has been a big player in the makeup world because of their Shape Tape concealer, which along with NARS, is probably the holy grail of high-end concealers among makeup artists. So when news hit that they were going to expand with Shape Tape foundation based on the same formula, it instantly became one of the most anticipated products of 2018. Until the first swatches came out.
Popsugar swatched all of the shades and it was quickly revealed that for both of their different formulas of foundation (one is a matte and one is a hydrating foundation) out of the 15 available shades there were only 3 shades for women on the darker side of the spectrum.
Jackie Aina (Jackie Jackie Jackie) dragged Tarte quite viciously for this lack of oversight and for the huge failing of the existing shades that are supposed to be for darker people. It also includes her and guest co-host, Alissa Ashley reading out all of the shades before their dual exasperation at the darkest shade being "Mahogany," because of course it is.
What the swatches show is that of the three darker foundations, all of them have a very red undertone, which makes it hard for darker women of any race with literally any other undertone to use the products. The light tan/medium shades don't account for different shades of East Asian women, Indigenous women, Latinx women. Nada. All the reviews that address the issue of quality vs. representation have been very honest in acknowledging that the product is legitimately good. The problem is that the shade range is insultingly limited. And in 2018, with newer brands stepping up to the plate, there is no excuse.
Not only is the shade range insultingly limited, but it also shows how underappreciated women of color and black women are to the makeup community. This is despite the fact that, according to industry reports, black women contribute more to the makeup industry dollars wise than their white counterparts:
According to Nielsen, African-Americans currently hold a buying power of $1 trillion, a number that's estimated to reach $1.3 trillion by 2017. And they're blowing a lot of those bills on cosmetics, spending nine times more on ethnic-targeted beauty and grooming products than the general market. Black women, in particular, spend an estimated $7.5 billion annually on beauty products, shelling out 80% more on cosmetics and twice as much on skin care as their non-Black counterparts. Yet, they've been grossly underserved by the cosmetics industry throughout history.
Tarte has already responded, admitting that they made a gross error in ... an Instagram story? Thankfully, the contents of the Instagram story were reported by outlets including Popsugar, who shared it on their site:
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 too little too late, but we can assure you this was not meant in any kind of malicious way. We all just got caught up in #shapetapenation and seeing your tweets asking for it ... We wanted to get the product out as fast as possible, and 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 as fast as we can, at any cost. WE CAN AND WILL DO BETTER.
Well, hopefully, Tarte will do better, but until then there are thankfully other brands that promote beauty for all skin types, as well as beauty bloggers who speak out about these things. And in solidarity with those women, if you want more information on what is going on with Tarte, as well as some good shady conversation, here are some of the dope women who called out the crap when they saw it.
It is already really hard to be a beauty blogger reviewer and a WOC on YouTube, so calling out brands, especially really important ones in the beauty world like Tarte, is a big deal. So I was glad to not only see WOC speaking out, but also allies. In this capitalist world, we have to fight with our dollars, and black women are letting everyone know that until this changes, maybe Tarte isn't the place to give your money.
(via Youtube, image: Youtube screengrabs)