By Rosemary Akpan
Tarte Cosmetics’ highly-anticipated Shape Tape Foundation came as a shock to many beauty lovers once they discovered the line lacked shade diversity. Out of the 15 shades released, only three from the line were suitable for darker complexions.
The line included two separate types of foundations; one for oily skin and another for dry. However, many could not overlook the line’s uniform set of pigments that looked past consumers of colour.
“Initially, I was surprised because I feel like other high-end makeup brands would have looked at a company like Fenty Beauty, being inclusive within their first launch, and would attempt to emulate that,” says media studies student, Janiece Campbell.
Tarte was founded in 2000 by Maureen Kelly. Their Shape Tape concealers were a huge success in the beauty world. It was for this reason that many makeup enthusiasts were disappointed by the new Shape Tape foundation line.
“For an already established company like Tarte to release what they did, I thought that wasn’t acceptable at all,” said Campbell.
This isn’t the first time a beauty brand has faced a major backlash from the beauty community. In 2015, Marc Jacobs’ Re(marc)able Full Cover Foundation caused an uproar on social media when it was revealed that 19 of his 22 shades were for those with fairer skin. Too Faced also experienced a similar backlash in 2015 with their Born This Way Foundation. Initially releasing a limited amount of shades catering to lighter complexions, the brand is now working on expanding their range with the help of beauty guru and YouTuber Jackie Aina.
University of Toronto student Yashi Ballal finds the new Tarte line to be “isolating” as a woman of colour with an Indian background.
“A lot of times, brown people get attacked for complaining that there aren’t enough shades,” said Ballal. “But a lot of Indians, especially from the south are pretty dark in complexion and have a lot of hyperpigmentation.” She explained how limited foundation shades add to the already present colourism darker people face in her community.
“We see three or four brownish shades and we just tend to gravitate towards the lighter one,” Ballal said. “I think it just feeds into the already convoluted concept in India where lighter skin is [considered] better.”
Colourism is defined as prejudice or discrimination against individuals with darker skin tones, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group. South Asians aren’t the only people who face colourism in their community. According to Time, colourism is a societal ill felt around the world, including in Latin America, Asia, the Caribbean and Africa.
In the wake of the controversy, Tarte released an apology via Instagram which stated, “it may be too little too late, but we can assure you this was not meant in any kind of malicious way.” Tarte’s apology stated that the brand didn’t spend enough time working on the foundation, as they “wanted to get the product out as soon as possible.” They stressed that they “will do better” next time.
Although the apology seemed sincere, freelance makeup artist Chizoba Oriuwa questioned the likelihood of Tarte making a successful comeback.
“Even if they do bring in the darker shades, it will still feel like an afterthought, and nobody wants to feel like an afterthought,” said Oriuwa.
Moving forward, Oriuwa suggests brands everywhere consider what it means to be diverse in today’s world before releasing a product.
“Make the launch inclusive and make a variety of undertones like you do for people who are not of colour,” said Oriuwa.
Tarte stated they will be releasing 10 more shades in the coming weeks.
This piece was edited by Aya Baradie.