Tarte’s Foundation Fiasco Proves Diversity Is a Requirement
After the launch of Tarte’s Shape Tape Concealer, makeup addicts, junkies, and professionals began hoarding the product until it amassed a cult status. The concealer grew to fame for being able to cover just about every dark under eye circle and uneven skin tone that you could throw at it. It was a home run for the brand, which has seen unprecedented growth in recent years – partially thanks to an expansive influencer program. When Tarte announced that they would be releasing an accompanying Shape Tape Foundation – the internet lost its sh*t.
Until it came out.
The foundation has been causing a buzz on the internet, especially among beauty consumers and influencers, for its limited shade range. There are 15 different shades available; only two are suitable for darker skin tones. By contrast, that means that thirteen of the fifteen available shades are aimed towards a lighter skin tone and the different undertones.
Even as little as a few years ago, this would be a perfectly acceptable shade range for a new foundation. Launching a new product is particularly costly for a brand and oftentimes, products are released in smaller batches in order to test consumer sentiment. In 2018, this is no longer the case – launching such a limited shade range (especially for a product that already had an avid fan base) is irresponsible and downright discriminatory.
Diversity is not an option in the beauty industry in 2018. It’s a requirement. With the launch of Fenty Beauty in early 2017, Rihanna proved that an extensive shade range is profitable. (It has long been the lament of the beauty industry that darker shades “don’t sell”, which was the “reason” for their limited shade ranges. Note the strategic sarcastic air quotes). Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty launched a new foundation product – similar to Tarte’s launch – with a whopping forty shades. It sold out almost immediately and a year later, consumers are struggling to find their favorite shades as they continue to sell at a rapid-fire pace.
The disappointment was palpable. Tarte-favorite influencers Makeup Shayla and NikkiTutorials both took to their YouTube channels to express their dissent over the limited shade range. Consumers took to Twitter faster than they took to the original Shape Tape Concealer.
The shade-range-debate has been occurring for years in the beauty industry. The problem is that it should have never been a debate. Creating a product that has a limited skin tone range is discriminatory at best and neglects a major part of the beauty market… except it’s not even a “major part of the beauty market,” it’s people. The simmering message behind these limited ranges tells consumers that if their skin tone isn’t viewed as profitable enough (also a myth), they aren’t worth it.
Tarte has yet to address the criticism head-on.
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