The offending photo on Sephora’s Instagram. (Photo: @sephora/Instagram)
Fans are accusing cosmetics brand bareMinerals of not offering enough shades for dark skin tones in its new 16-foundation Complexion Rescue line. The controversy started when beauty retailer Sephora posted a picture of three women’s arms representing three different skin tones. Swatches of makeup can be seen on each arm, but the account’s followers were not satisfied with the diversity of shades.
“Why are there only two shades for black people? Reevaluate your priorities, friends,” wrote @westcoastaesthetic. “Dark skin tones shouldn’t be an afterthought!! Like honestly how many beiges porcelains and light tans do you need?” asked @glindlas.
Others noted that the line is not inclusive of very pale tones either. “It’s not pale people friendly, though,” chimed in @kristin.laflin. “I see a whole lot of pink skin tones and not a lot of yellows or dark options,” added @hannahpres1.
While the majority of comments argue this two-sided conundrum, some commenters are happy with the selection. “Thank you for doing multiple skin tones!” wrote @glitteryshutterbug. “People need to stop being divisive. Cosmetics companies can’t please/cater to absolutely every skin tone,” added @imprincesslolly.
A few weeks ago, beauty blog Revelist called out Almay, whose tag line is “The American Look,” for not including women of color in its makeup lines. “With a shade selection ranging from ivory to warm (a deep bisque shade), Almay’s options clearly cater to light-skinned women,” the site claimed, while quoting a statement from Almay that said, “We make getting this natural beauty look easy and safe. We are very proud of our American heritage and to be a truly American brand.” Revelist retorted, “Almay’s look doesn’t apply, unless you’re 50 shades of beige.”
In December, Cosmopolitan asked, “Why Are Women of Color Still Having Trouble Finding Foundation?” The writer talks of going to her local Walmart in a futile effort to find foundation in her color, which she describes as light-skinned black. “Think Beyoncé,” she wrote. If high-end brand MAC could offer a diverse selection of shades, why couldn’t drug store brands? (The writer quoted a beauty industry analyst at the NPD Group as saying, “They [MAC] offer a wide range of skin tones at their stores [located across the U.S.], and women buy them.” Indeed, Studio Fix Fluid Foundation is a beloved product for women of color.) The article noted that L’Oreal, Make Up For Ever, Clinique, and Lancome have all launched lines catering to darker skin tones.
Speaking of MAC, in February, the company shared a photo of a black model wearing MAC’s Matte Royal lip color — a deep purple. This time, it was the public that came under fire for shocking racist comments on the brand’s Instagram page. The company said in a statement, “MAC stands for and respects All Ages, All Races, All Sexes. We do not tolerate any abusive comments in our community.”
As Yahoo reported, fashion and beauty blogger Ofunne Amaka “is on a mission to change that.” The 26-year-old launched an Instagram account, @cocoaswatches, where she tests and demonstrates how different makeup products look on her dark skin — providing a neutral testing platform that calls out brands for better or worse.
Hearteningly, more major companies are rising to the challenge of serving women of all colors in the beauty industry, from existing brands like CoverGirl Queen and NARS (try its Radiant Creamy Concealer and All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation) to companies designed specifically for black skin, like Iman Cosmetics, Black Opal Beauty, and Shea Moisture Cosmetics.
As for the bareMinerals controversy, Yahoo Beauty reached out to the company (and to Sephora) and is awaiting comment.