By this point so much has been said and written about how Fenty Beauty changed the makeup game in 2017. And with good reason. The launch of their Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation in 40 shades is now widely considered a hallmark moment in beauty. It sent an unequivocal message to the larger community of brands, corporations, and advertisers that coverage products should be formulated, produced, and distributed equally for all skin tones. To highlight this point further, Fenty produced an equal 10 shades per skin tone category (light, medium, tan, deep) for the grand total of 40 shades. The bottom line: no one (or nearly no one) felt left behind this time.
While the concept of 40 foundation shades wasn’t invented by Rihanna or Fenty (heritage and pro brands like Estee Lauder and Make Up For Ever, respectively, have historically produced extensive foundation lines with upwards of 35 to 40 shades), they were the first to successfully market or call out said concept. The Pro Filt’r launch awakened and revived the dialogue between brands and frustrated consumers who felt systematically excluded from certain segments of the beauty industry.
It’s a conversation that’s now clearly here to stay.
The issue of companies not producing enough shades for either the very lightest skin tones, or in most cases the darkest skin tones, isn’t confined to just a few brands nor is it confined to just one segment of the makeup industry. Truthfully it’s been an issue across the board from luxury/high-end, to more middle-market brands, and in the drugstore. Drugstore brands have been particularly notorious for this in the past. Historically they’ve crammed most of their foundation & concealer shades into narrow buckets, and produced ranges of perhaps 10-15 shades that have left a lot of the makeup-wearing population out in the dark. (Off the top of my head Wet n’ Wild Photo Focus Concealer comes to mind. Really poor selection of shades.)
But the tide is certainly shifting since the Fenty launch. More consumers, more influencers, and more thought-leaders in the beauty community are speaking up and demanding more of companies and brands not only in regards to product ranges but also in regards to marketing imagery. They want to know that brands are formulating products not for just for those with light to medium skin tones. They want to see more people with medium to darker to deepest skin tones in beauty ads and campaigns. Quite simply, they want to be represented; they want to be included.
While 2018 started off on the wrong foot with the Tarte Shape Tape Foundation fiasco, I feel that this has been the year of inclusive foundation launches as both high-end and drugstore brands work to either mimic Fenty’s approach or best it. Below I’ve compiled just a few of the stand-out foundation launches that we’ve seen so far in 2018. These launches offer a broader range of shades that are more equally distributed from fair to deep skin tones.
Just a few things to note. Firstly, this is not an exhaustive list (plus the year isn’t over anyway). Secondly, this is not meant to be a traditional review of these foundations, especially since I’ve never tried any of them personally. This is just a commentary on how the heightened conversation around inclusivity in makeup has influenced recent product launches.
BEAUTY BAKERIE CAKE MIX DEMI-MATTE FOUNDATION – Shop here
- 30 shades total ranging from fair to deep
Like Fenty, Beauty Bakerie brought out an equal amount shades across skin tone categories for their widely celebrated Cake Mix Foundation launch back in April (their magic number is 5). While they launched a lesser amount of shades total than Fenty did, they spread their line across a slightly broader category range; meaning 5 fair, 5 light, 5 medium, 5 tan, 5 dark, and 5 deep shades. As a black-owned indie brand that’s gaining massive traction on social media, Beauty Bakerie took it one step further and reversed the standard convention of listing shades from lightest to darkest; their range is listed darkest to lightest. It’s subtle, but it’s brimming with meaning and significance at the same time.
NARS NATURAL RADIANT LONGWEAR FOUNDATION – Shop here
- 33 shades total ranging from fair to deep
While this launch from NARS may not have the most equal distribution across skin tones, it’s much more wide-ranging in comparison to some of their earlier launches like the Sheer Glow Foundation (20 shades) and the Luminous Weightless Foundation (also 20 shades), with more undertones represented as well.
DIOR BACKSTAGE FACE AND BODY FOUNDATION – Shop here
- 40 shades total ranging from fair to deepest
This is Dior’s most recent foundation launch inspired by makeup artist secrets and backstage beauty, that includes what they call “16 intensities” and 6 undertones within a total of 40 shades (the magic number now). Looking at the visual above, it’s undoubtedly an impressive range. And if you take a quick peek at the other Dior complexion products currently on the market, the Backstage Face and Body is much more expansive in comparison. Diorskin Forever stands at 24 shades with significantly less variety in dark/deep skin tones.
COVER FX POWER PLAY FOUNDATION – Shop here
- 40 shades total ranging from fair to deepest
Of all the visuals included in this post, this one holds the most weight to me. Look at that color range! Truly impressive. And Cover FX really wants you to know that too. If you scroll through their Instagram feed and take a look at the marketing on this product, the messaging is all to do with the vastness of the shade and undertone range (“ your perfect match awaits”) (“foundation for all”).
COVERGIRL TRUBLEND MATTE MADE FOUNDATION – Shop here
- 40 shades total ranging from porcelain to deep
CoverGirl made news this year with one of the largest drugstore foundation offerings after Maybelline’s expansion of the Fit Me range in 2017. The TruBlend Matte Made Foundation comes in at the magical 40 shade-number, making it broader than even L’Oreal’s True Match range. At less than $10 a bottle for both TruBlend and Fit Me, it’s reassuring to consumers of all skin tones that the more affordable brands are taking the issue of shade range seriously.
COLOURPOP NO FILTER NATURAL MATTE FOUNDATION – Shop here
- 42 shades total ranging from fair to deep-dark
Finally, ColourPop. With the largest offering of this entire list, the new No Filter Natural Matte Foundation comes in at a bulky 42 shades which are distributed equally amongst 6 skin tone categories, ranging from fair to deep-dark. This is another visual that has both great aesthetic and emotional impact when you stop to think just how many options ColourPop is offering to its customers at an extremely affordable price ($12/bottle). If any brand could best Fenty’s range, it would be ColourPop; a brand that has immense community, marketing and financial power within the industry and an extremely quick turn-around to market.
What is your opinion on inclusiveness in beauty? Do you think it’s at a good place now or do we have some distance to go still? Would love to hear your thoughts and opinions.