Tarte Cosmetics recently launched the foundation version of its bestselling Shape Tape concealer. The new product comes in a matte version, which promises to smooth enlarged pores and imperfections and absorb oil and shine, as well as a hydrating formula that vows the same benefits but also offers a dose of hyaluronic acid to provide moisture and a dewy finish.
It sounds like a dream come true, especially when you see the amazing before and after photos, except for one thing: the limited 15-shade range. For a company like Tarte to release just 15 shades of a much anticipated foundation in these post-Fenty Beauty days is brave. Or really uninformed. The brand is currently receiving a ton of backlash from fans for the lack of diversity.
— Makeup For WOC (@MakeupForWOC) January 13, 2018
Me trying to figure out how it’s possible to make 10 shades of beige. pic.twitter.com/nrey5RmlnX
— Maya Boles (@mayaboles) January 13, 2018
they really had to turn off the comments on their page. I wish they would respond instead of acting like the backlash isn’t happening. The first step to solving a problem is admitting that there is one in the first place. pic.twitter.com/3RU7Wm3h9F
— CocoaSwatches (@CocoaSwatches) January 16, 2018
The tarte shape tape foundation shade range is LAUGHABLE pic.twitter.com/l2LSUFdoSG
— MAKEUP✨ (@glowkit) January 13, 2018
it’s goes from caramel STRAIGHT to dark where’s the range ??
— nicole (@Nicolenam76) January 13, 2018
Though people voiced their concerns over the brand’s limited shade range (to note, Tarte has faced criticism in the past for its lack of options on the darker end of the makeup spectrum), it seemingly became too much for Tarte to handle, and the comments were disabled on an Instagram post promoting the foundation. This is a major misstep in this age of beauty brands being directly connected to consumers via social media. Companies are allowed to make mistakes (it happens), but the brands who win at earning loyal customers are those that are transparent and engage even when the topic feels like a tough one to discuss.
Plus-size fashion retailer Eloquii does a good job of this — it regularly asks for feedback from its customers and listens when fans have concerns. It recently received a ton of praise for extending its size range.
Nothing hurts quite like not seeing yourself represented in media. It’s disheartening that the beauty industry finally seems to understand the effects of unrealistic beauty standards on young girls and women (CVS recently announced a ban on airbrushing from its beauty imagery) but still treats people with darker skin as afterthoughts or fails to even consider us at all.
As a beauty lover with darker skin, this launch feels exactly like Groundhog Day. It’s not breaking news to know that people of color come in an array of shades, and within those shades there are a number of undertones. Looking at the Tarte Shape Tape Foundation, there are so many nuances in the lighter shades to where it might take a trained eye to see how they actually differ. Not to mention, the three darker shades are the same hues from previous foundation launches that drew flack from would-be fans.
Tarte has since told PopSugar that the company does intend to launch additional shades; however, no word on what those shades will be and if they’ll be on the darker end of the spectrum.
Steps brands such as Tarte can take to avoid this type of makeup mishap include actively listening to fans and addressing their concerns. Most brands make the same missteps when it comes to diversity, so employing more people of color to work on research and development teams, marketing, public relations, etc., and reaching out to more influencers of color is a must. Pantene did this ahead of its Gold Series launch by putting together a team of African-American scientists, dermatologists, and hairstylists to create the line. Being thoughtful in its marketing and outreach, thus far, has undoubtedly won consumers over.
To many it may seem frivolous because it’s “just makeup,” but the lack of contact that the mainstream has with people who are different adds to the bigger racial discrimination issue. Think about it: If you’re in the “majority” and you’re not constantly seeing people different from you in things you do or interact with daily, you’re less likely to think of anyone else. Black women are often thought of as “other” and not the norm. (Yet our buying power says otherwise.) These microaggressions can lead to general attitudes that turn into policies and behaviors that negatively impact people of color.
It’s time to make a change.
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