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IT Cosmetics is the latest beauty brand to face backlash for a lack of inclusivity with their new line of foundation

The latest range lacks diversity

Chelsea Ritschel
in New York
Tuesday 30 January 2018 19:12 GMT
(Instagram @itcosmetics)
(Instagram @itcosmetics)

IT Cosmetics is the latest in a string of beauty brands to miss the mark after it released pictures of their new line of foundations on social media - and there were only three darker shades.

In addition to provoking backlash for the lack of inclusivity, IT Cosmetics choice to create only light shades in its Bye Bye Foundations range has also raised important questions about the beauty industry, its relationship to diversity, and whether it is still harder to create foundation shades that cater to all people.

With brands like Fenty Beauty, MAC, Bobbi Brown, and Maybelline all successfully creating broad ranges of foundation colours, IT Cosmetics newest line just does not make sense.

In the beauty industry, the excuse for a lack of shades that cater to women of colour has long been the shades are simply harder to make.

Factors such as price, time, and lack of proper formula have all been used as excuses as to why brands cannot create these darker colours. But while these factors may have been an influence in the past, they can no longer pass for an excuse.

When Tarte Cosmetics faced backlash following their Shape Tape Foundation range, the brand quickly announced that they actually had plans to release 10 more shades - not in response to the criticism, but simply part of the plan all along.

But do these shades really take longer and cost more money to perfect?

In the past, yes. But in 2018, it doesn’t appear likely.

Andrea Arterberry, who wrote about the lack of foundation inclusivity for women of colour in Cosmopolitan, investigated the issue and what she found was surprising.

According to Arterberry, creating the foundation is “more complicated than you might think.”

In the past, it was actually harder to create foundation shades for women of colour, because as Balanda Atis, a scientist with L'Oréal USA told Arterberry, “While brands might succeed in making darker shades, they didn't always get the undertones or the depth right.”

This is because, typically, most shades are created from four pigments: white, yellow, red and black.

And for darker shades, some makeup chemists did struggle to mix the pigments to accurately reflect deeper skin tones.

However, in recent years there have been huge advances in the beauty industry - such as the creation of L'Oréal's Women of Color Lab, “a team devoted to formulating cosmetics for different ethnicities” in 2014.

And MAC Cosmetics, one of the most renowned makeup brands, has been successfully creating dark shades for years.

According to Nick Gavrelis, vice president of global product development for MAC Cosmetics, the brand’s success relies heavily on its makeup artists - who alert them of which shades are needed most.

Many other brands have also stepped up to create inclusive shade lines and a lot of them, including L'Oréal, have been successful.

So why are brands with the resources still ignoring women of colour?

Although the omission of darker shades used to be chalked up to a mistake or lack of resources to get the colours right, the excuse is no longer acceptable.

No longer a mistake, the choice to overlook darker shades has become just that - a choice.

In 2016, IT Cosmetics was sold to L'Oréal for $1bn - which makes the brand’s newest line especially disturbing.

And the connection to the billion-dollar brand did not go unnoticed.

As part of a multi-billion dollar beauty company, IT Cosmetics more than had the resources available to create a line that was inclusive.

And yet, the new line was revealed despite the resources, despite the two years spent developing the 12-skin tone range, and despite the CEO’s outspoken dedication to beauty inclusivity in the industry.

On the IT Cosmetics website, the brand’s co-founder and CEO, Jamie Kern Lima, discusses the brand’s commitment “as a beauty company to change the conversation about what’s beautiful. Because beauty is personal and infinite and it doesn’t have one definition or look.”

But judging by the colours included in the line of Bye Bye Foundation, it seems IT Cosmetics thinks beauty does have one look - and it is white.

The Independent has contacted the brand for comment.

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