Widening the Spectrum

The beauty community is finally becoming melanin-inclusive and positive.

Light, medium, and deep. These were the three major foundation shades offered by makeup companies up until nearly a decade ago. At most, cosmetic brands would offer six to eight shades, not accounting for the fairest or deepest skin. For the extremely pale, even the lightest shades would appear too dark or orange, whereas the darkest foundation shades were much  too light and ashy on darker skin tones. The far ends of the spectrum have been neglected for decades, because of the unfair beauty standard that light to medium is skin most desirable, and therefore more willingly accommodated.

Although contemporary makeup lines continue to modestly expand their shade range, in September 2017, Fenty Beauty launched an extensive selection of 40 unique foundations. Almost everyone can find their exact color because not only did Rihanna expand the general range, she also offered a variety of undertones within each shade. Cool, neutral, or warm-toned, porcelain to espresso, every face can now be made up seamlessly. Fenty Beauty’s emphasis on inclusion and diversity gave the cosmetics industry a much-needed wake-up call to not only accept but celebrate all cultures, backgrounds, and individual faces.

Fenty Beauty started a colorful revolution, prompting other brands to follow along and introduce new products that cater to the demographics that had been excluded for so long. This year, Nigerian beauty guru Jackie Aina collaborated with Too Faced to formulate an additional nine shades for the Born This Way Foundation collection. Too Faced simultaneously released two new lighter shades to accommodate the fairest complexions, completing the line with a grand total of 35 options. Just before the summer of 2018, ColourPop Cosmetics released their No Filter Foundation with a whopping 42 shades. Ulta Beauty recently began carrying Flesh, a makeup company that prides itself on its wide range of skin tones, which is made clear by the name.

Complementing the progressive expansion of foundation lines, several companies have been founded by women of color, made specifically for women and men of color. Black Up is a brand that specializes in tan to dark skin tones and is carried by Sephora. Their product line exceeds foundation, including consumer favorites, such as highlighter, concealer, and powders, which are usually formulated too light for their customers. Beauty Bakerie is another company created by and specifically for women of color. Perhaps it is the promotion of inclusivity, or maybe it’s their bakery-themed packaging, Beauty Bakerie has an impressive presence on instagram with a staggering count of 608,000 followers.

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