Is diversity still an issue in colour cosmetics?

Why are some brands still not catering for darker skin tones?

It has been years since talks about lack of diversity in colour cosmetics began, so why are some brands still being accused of falling short of the mark?

With 16 different shades, bareMinerals’ Complexion Rescue tinted hydrating gel cream range caters to a wider selection of skin tones than most. Despite this, the brand found itself in hot water last month when an Instagram post showing a swatch of all the shades on three different skin tones was shared by retailer Sephora. “Wow, way to actually show you don’t have nearly enough darker tones,” one commenter said. Another added: “I really wish that cosmetic companies would realise that there are more than just three to four shades of brown.” The outrage caused by the post reached news sites worldwide.

And bareMinerals is not alone. Earlier this year Maybelline was called out by British blogger Nadia Grey, in a post titled: ‘Why is Maybelline ignoring women of colour?’. Grey had seen adverts for the brand’s new Dream Velvet foundation online starring London- born model Jourdan Dunn. But when the blogger looked to purchase the foundation on the Boots website, she found that the product was only available in six shades – none of which were suitable for women of colour. Grey said: “Maybelline has taken a black British woman and used her in their adverts to sell products, but Jourdan couldn’t walk into Boots or Superdrug and buy the same product she is advertising.” Maybelline has since said that it plans to add Dunn’s shade to the UK range, but is this enough, or should brands be doing more?

Some brands are starting to listen; YSL has launched its Le Teint Touche Éclat foundation in 22 different shades, while Max Factor’s Miracle Match is available in 18 shades. Neutrogena has added ten new shades to its foundation collection; however, this didn’t happen organically. The Johnson & Johnson brand faced criticism in 2013 when it signed actress Kerry Washington as a Creative Consultant, with many consumers pointing out that the brand did not cater to the star’s skin tone.

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