This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
Despite the fact that women of color have been using, loving, and wearing makeup for centuries , 2017 seemed to be the year everyone collectively woke up to this realization. It took Rihanna lending her influential voice — and dropping a line of 40 inclusive foundations herself — to put a fire underneath the brands that have, up until this point, gotten away with selling limited shade ranges. Some have risen to the task and expanded their offerings; others, not so much.
Now, thanks to the social media megaphone, you can bet that when a new product hitting the market does not align with the public’s growing and valid demand for more options, people will call you out. So, it wasn’t a complete surprise that as soon as news leaked that IT Cosmetics was releasing a collection of Bye Bye Foundations next month, the first thing fans noticed was the limited color range.
Coming from a company with more than 9,630,000 mentions on YouTube and a top-seller spot at both Ulta and Sephora, the frustration makes sense: Out of the 12 available shades, only three will cater to deep skin tones. People immediately took to Twitter to address the line’s lack of inclusivity: “Are you for real with the shade range?” one asked. Another commented, “Wow look no deep shades, can’t say I’m surprised.”
What makes this case particularly curious, though, is that, being owned by L’Oréal, IT Cosmetics should have access to its Multicultural Beauty Lab (previously called the Women of Color Lab). The division confirmed to Refinery29 that it works side-by-side to develop the foundation shades for Lancôme, L’Oréal Paris, Maybelline New York, and Nyx Professional Makeup — all of which offer a wide spectrum of colors. But, according to a rep for the lab, this division does not currently not work with IT Cosmetics, but is “planning to in the near future.”
Adds Balanda Atis, the manager for the Multicultural Beauty Lab at L’Oréal : “We’re constantly evaluating our product lines and expanding our offerings. Our work is transformative – it’s not only bringing more diversity to products, it’s helping to change attitudes about makeup. There can be and should be options for everyone.”
IT did not immediately respond to our request for comment on the backlash, but a rep for the brand did say that they are working on a new complexion product that will be available in 40+ shades early next year. “Expanding our shade range is our top priority at IT and our mission is to make sure every single woman and man can wear IT,” they wrote via email.
But the news does beg the question: Why not sooner? And what will it take, if not a multi-platinum-selling recording artist leading the way, to prove that broader spectrums of foundations do sell — in record numbers, at that — for things to change?
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