More shades to come

Ria Parikh | Staff Writer

A couple years ago, I was at the MAC store, and I asked the employee for a bronzer. She took a look at my face, paused, and said, “I’m not sure if we have any that’ll work for you. Sorry.” On that particular day, she happened to be right. I walked around the store, tested every bronzer, and concluded that they were too light for me. 

Although things have probably gotten better since then in terms of shade range, it was obviously disheartening to see that there was nothing for my skin tone, and it was more disappointing to know that there was also nothing for the millions of people whose skin tones were much deeper than mine.

I didn’t really remember that this happened until I watched a YouTube video the other day by Nyma Tang, someone who is known for falling within the range of the two deepest shades of most foundations. In the video, she went to Sephora and bought the deepest shade of every single bronzer. None of them worked. Not one. 

In fact, no bronzer was even close to working for her. People wear bronzer not to darken their skin, but to add dimension by creating a bigger contrast between the high points and low points on their face. Everyone deserves to have that opportunity, regardless of how dark their skin already is. 

Some would say that putting emphasis on makeup is silly, knowing that there much greater problems in the world. To them I would say that they are right, there are bigger problems than makeup, but our society has unfortunately equated makeup with beauty and beauty with self worth. 

Therefore, it is important to give everyone access to something that might make them feel beautiful–bronzer, foundation, concealer, or whatever else anyone wants to wear. As Tang said in her video, it’s not that anyone needs to wear anything, but if someone wants to, the opportunity should be there.

Although there have been marked improvements in the inclusion of all skin tones for foundation, with recent makeup companies, there is a still a long way to go. In February of last year, Tarte released the Shape Tape foundation, which was heavily criticized for its very unequal shade range. 

There were about 15 shades, but very few were catered to people of color, making it very hard for a lot of us to find a shade that actually matched our skin tone. Tarte eventually reclaunched the line with the phrase “You asked, we listened”, referring to their expansion of the shade range due to the criticism. Therein lies the problem, though: we shouldn’t have to ask. 

In 2018-19, when we have made strides in so many other areas, it’s ridiculous to me that makeup companies as widely used as Tarte — and they aren’t the only ones — still need to be asked to equally include foundation options for people of color.

Before I go on, I want to clarify that I do not think that any of this is intentional. I highly doubt that makeup companies want to exclude a whole group of people, and I am glad that they have acted on the backlash they received. 

The more we bring to light these issues and the more conversations we have, the more we can revolutionize the makeup world, and give people an equal access to what makes them feel beautiful. 

I think that because of the biases and views of our society, something as seemingly trivial as makeup has the opportunity to make a powerful statement. 

Right now, it’s almost as if some companies view inclusion as an afterthought, and if we have these conversations to try and update what is normal, we can make inclusion easier and more effortless, within and outside of race, within and outside of makeup.