Fenty made me do it: Inclusivity in the beauty world

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.

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All shades in the Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Soft Longwear Foundation range (Image source: allure.com)

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

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Image Source: Hiplatina.com
  • 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

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Image Source: narscosmetics.com
  • 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 FOUNDATIONShop here 

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Image Source: magi-mania.de
  • 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

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Image Source: beautyalmanac.com
  • 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

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Image Source: thebeautyinfluencers.com
  • 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 

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Image Source: allure.com
  • 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.

xo, Erica

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Imitation or rip off? The case of Revolution Beauty

If you’re a makeup lover, you live for a great dupe. (If you’re a makeup newbie, ‘dupe’ is short for duplicate. When you apply that to makeup you’re talking about products that are either very similar or near identical both in color and texture.) It’s very challenging these days to have a truly original idea in makeup whether it comes to unique packaging, formulas, or color schemes. In a sense, we’ve seen a variation of everything before. And the drugstore has historically been a goldmine for dupes to many high-demand and expensive products. Take for example, the similarities between the Cover FX Custom Cover Drops and NYX’s Total Control Drop Foundation; both boast the ability to customize your foundation coverage with a thin, watery formula that’s delivered through a glass stopper. So if you had the option to buy a similar foundation for $14 (NYX) or $44 (Cover FX), chances are you’d go with the lower-priced item.

Many in the beauty community make the case that the drugstore or other lower-cost retailers help democratize the experience that higher-end makeup products provide. If you love the color and ornate packaging of a Tom Ford lipstick but don’t have the budget to buy one, L’Oreal or Maybelline can provide you with a similar experience if you buy one of their lipsticks. I personally see nothing wrong with this way of thinking, nor do I see a problem with L’Oreal or Maybelline creating more affordable lipsticks that may by happenstance be similar to higher-end ones. But things get a little more contentious when you study what UK drugstore brand Revolution Beauty (formerly known as Makeup Revolution) has done throughout its past.

As someone who lives in the U.S., Revolution seemed to come bounding onto the beauty scene very suddenly a few years back. At first they occupied a small end-cap in Ulta, and now they take up nearly half an aisle; their popularity has exploded. They are generally well-received by social media influencers and consumers who praise their low price points and gobble up their seemingly endless makeup releases.  So where is the problem exactly? If you peruse Revolution’s site, amongst their vast offerings you’ll find several products that go well beyond the imitation or ‘duplication’ of well-known higher-priced items; these products could easily be considered rip off’s of said higher-priced items.

In 2017, Twitter shouted Revolution out for copying the iconic rose-gold, fluted packaging associated with the Charlotte Tilbury brand for their Renaissance Lipsticks Luxe launch. Quite famously in the same year, Kat Von D tried publicly shaming them via Instagram for blatantly copying her best-selling Shade & Light Eye Contour Palette. While the packaging on the Revolution Ultra Eye Contour Light and Shade is different and much cheaper than the Shade & Light, everything else from the color selection to the sequencing of colors are nearly identical between the palettes (I’m sure the formula isn’t identical though). Revolution’s response was matter-of-fact and unapologetic: they are in the business of making dupes so that makeup can be accessible to all.

It doesn’t stop there. Revolution has essentially copied other popular products from Too Faced, Ben Nye, Kylie Cosmetics & KKW Beauty as well.  Here are just a few visuals for comparison.

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Original Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette – $49.00 (Source: Ulta)
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Revolution version: I Heart Revolution I ❤️ Chocolate Palette – $15.00 (Source: makeupmusthaves.nl)
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Original Too Faced Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bar Palette – $49.00 (Source: Mecca AUS)
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Revolution version: I Heart Revolution I ❤️ Chocolate Salted Caramel Palette – $15.00 (Source: makeupmusthaves.nl)
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Original Shade & Light Eye Contour Palette from Kat Von D Beauty – $48.00 (Source: Pop Sugar AU)
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Revolution version: Ultra Eye Contour Light & Shade – $15.00 (Source: Pop Sugar AU)
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Original KKW Beauty Creme Contour & Highlight Set (with brush) – $48.00 (Source: Pinterest)
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Revolution version: Creme Contour & Highlight Set (with brush) – $20.00 (Source: Revolution Beauty)

 

From comparing the packaging and the overall execution of the Revolution products in all the cases above, you can see that they’re similar enough to be identified as a lower-priced ‘dupe’ for those very popular higher-priced makeup items, but also different enough not to put themselves under the threat of copyright infringement. Revolution has figured out a way to successfully skirt this fine line so they can quickly capture the popularity of other makeup brands. Customers don’t have to wait for makeup artists or social media influencers to tell them that these Revolution products are ‘dupes’ for luxury items; they can make that association much quicker for themselves if the packaging and layout look similar enough or nearly identical.

I haven’t tried any of the Revolution products pictured above. I know most people talk about their great quality, but I would rather put my money towards other drugstore items or even other Revolution items that didn’t so blatantly appropriate others’ successes. I don’t hate Revolution Beauty. I happily use their Conceal and Define Concealer regularly, which everyone says is a dupe for Shape Tape but I don’t personally agree on that. I just find some of their business practices troublesome.

I do think makeup should be accessible to all incomes. I do think drugstore brands should be able to recreate luxurious experiences at more affordable costs. But that doesn’t mean drugstore brands can’t be innovative, and it doesn’t mean drugstore brands should take what Too Faced, Kat Von D, or KKW Beauty is producing, change the packaging ever so slightly, and call it their own.

I really would love to hear your opinion on Revolution Beauty. Do you think what they do is wrong in these instances, or just another example of lower-cost duplication?

Xo, Erica

Why indie beauty is important; plus brands I want to try

I’m not sure if anyone else has the same experience but between shopping for makeup at either the drugstore or huge retailers like Sephora or Ulta, I unfortunately don’t get much exposure to more independent or smaller beauty brands. By independent I’m referring to brands that are not owned by the big giants like L’Oreal, Estée Lauder, Shiseido, Coty, LVMH or Unilever, for example. While these corporations may be the biggest players in terms of distribution, product offerings, revenue & brand awareness, they are definitely not alone in the field anymore. In actuality the world of beauty is a highly dynamic and ever-evolving one that has widened tremendously thanks to the rise in e-commerce businesses, social media saturation & community-building, and the changing values of its consumer base.

Continue reading “Why indie beauty is important; plus brands I want to try”

Can we hit pause on highlighter, please?

After a few years, highlighter is still having a huge moment in the makeup world. It’s everywhere I look when I shop for makeup, in every conceivable form: powders, creams, gels or liquids in big pans, small pans, palettes, bottles, & mini’s. And in almost every color from gold to pink to peach to purple and blue. I would say every second or third tutorial I watch on YouTube or Instagram, or ad image I see online, features highlighter prominently. Either it’s slathered onto the skin so it can be seen in heaven or layered on top of creams or liquids to give an almost supernatural effect. (To read more about my thoughts on Instagram makeup, click here). “Blinding” skin is in and matte skin is BAD, people. Or at least that’s the message I’m getting.

Continue reading “Can we hit pause on highlighter, please?”

A Meditation on “Instagram Makeup”

I don’t know about you, but (surprise, surprise) my Instagram feed is one large makeup advertisement. I’m constantly inundated with updates on new launches, old favorites and collaborations from brands like Lancome, Benefit, ColourPop & Kiko Milano (just to name a select few). I wouldn’t have it any other way, but with every scroll it drives the point home that “Instagram makeup” is not something that I will personally strive to master.

Continue reading “A Meditation on “Instagram Makeup””