Foundations Found Fickle

Sofia Gilmore-Montero, News Editor

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Everyone that wears makeup knows shade matching foundations is a struggle. You can go to Sephora or any number of higher-end makeup stores and get a machine to match you, but most of those are way too expensive or somehow don’t match you as well as you wanted.  Going to the drug store is better for the wallet, but not having testers makes it way too difficult to shade match, and a lot of people with sensitive skin find drugstore foundations irritating.

Needless to say, if you purchase makeup or watch makeup channels on Youtube, you know the saying “Fifty Shades of Beige” applies to the average experience.  Recently, Tarte came out with two foundations of the Shape Tape range and came under fire by critics for its very poor shade selection. The Shape Tape Matte Foundation costs $39 and only has 18 shades, 6 of which are considered “dark.”  Dark is an ambiguous adjective in the beauty industry, as it can be added before an adjective or noun to imply a slight difference in tone and shade to another existing color. Therefore, Dark Beige might be one shade darker than Medium Beige which is one shade darker than Neutral Beige, but Dark Beige might still be virtually light on the universal spectrum of skin tones.  

The Ulta website says that three of these six dark shades are only available online, so you can’t even see in stores if they would match you.  There was a social media outburst, mostly on Twitter, after the announcement of the foundation, as many consumers were eagerly anticipating a foundation version of what Tarte claims is “America’s #1 concealer.”  Along with Tarte, there are plenty of other brands who shade range is pretty exclusive.

Dior is another brand who deserves some heat.  The Diorskin Forever Undercover 24-Hour Full Coverage Water-Based Foundation is $52 and comes in 24 shades, six of which are considered dark.  While they have more shades than the Tarte foundation, they still only have six suitably dark foundation shades! The range starts with 01 Ivory and ends at 080 Ebony.  The saddest part? 24 shades is the most extensive shade selection Dior has for their foundations. Diorskin Forever Perfect Makeup Everlasting Wear-Pore Refining Effect also comes in 24 shades, but the other nine foundations on the Dior website come in an average of nine different shades.

The last new product that should be called to attention is the Touche Éclat All-In-One Glow Tinted Moisturizer by Yves Saint Laurent.  Their website divides their shade selection into three different tones for you: Light (with 6 shades), Medium (with 3 shades) and Deep (with 3 shades)..  This makes it easier to see just how little shade selection there is for darker skin tones. The craziest part is the bias in the descriptions: all except the last two (the two deepest shades) have small descriptions that would help someone try to figure out what their shade is when buying online.  For the darkest shades, it just says “B90 Ebony – Deep 3.” So, with no help, how is anyone supposed to figure out if this shade works for them?

“Some brands don’t take the time to care about their customers,” said Anissa Horhn, a junior history major. “I understand that the majority of consumers of makeup might be in that beige skin tone population, but I don’t know, just include everyone.  I wear makeup every day!”

Horhn said that she likes when foundation shades go by numbers, except for Nars, because she doesn’t feel that naming the colors after cities is offensive, but “aesthetic.”

Nars Sheer Glow Foundation is one of those products that offers shades that are mostly light and medium, containing five light shades of varying undertones, six medium shades, four medium-dark shades, and five dark tones.  To give this brand its due credit, the shades that they consider “dark” shades aren’t just slightly different forms of beige, unlike some “dark” shades in other brands. Each shade is named after a city; the lightest shade is called Siberia and the darkest shade is called Khartoum, which is the capital of Sudan.  The potential cause for offense shouldn’t have to be pointed out, although some people, like Horhn, find the colors being named after cities to be less offensive than the typical variations of terms like “Cocoa,” “Chocolate” and “Coffee” to imply darker shades.

Another frustrating aspect to the naming of foundations is the fact that each brand has its own shade system, and each brand can make “Cocoa” a different shade color.  Media outlet Buzzfeed did an experiment recently where two people tested different brands of foundations that had the same color name in them. They proved, what they already knew to be true from first-hand experience, that each “Almond” and “Nude” shade vary in color, tone, and oxidation, in both drugstore and high end brands.

In contrast, there are two products that have a decently great shade selection: the new Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation and the classic Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Foundation.  Fenty Beauty offers a selection of 40 shades and Fit Me also has 40 shades (according to their website).

“I think that brands are just now starting to care about customers with darker skin tones.  Obviously, Fenty was revolutionary; not only did it show deep appreciation for women and men with darker skin tones, it went ever farther and developed shades for people with very light skin, which is also underrepresented in the makeup world,” said Sydney Truxillo, a junior English major.

Ultimately, the perfect foundation should come in over 40 shades, the more the better, and to not offend anyone, should be named according to number.



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