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Youthforia faces backlash for releasing ‘jet black’ foundation after customers ask for more inclusive shades

Beauty brand Youthforia aimed to appease customers by releasing an inclusive range of its liquid foundation. However, the extended range of foundation shades have now upset fans even more

Meredith Clark
New York
Tuesday 30 April 2024 20:12 BST
Related: Bobbi Brown ‘shades’ TikTok makeup influencer’s review of new foundation

Youthforia, a clean makeup brand that purports to make makeup products you can sleep in, is at the centre of online controversy over the release of its extended range of foundation shades.

It all began when the makeup brand, founded by Fiona Co Chan in 2021, launched its “Date Night Skin Tint Serum Foundation” in August 2023. The liquid foundation, which is described as a “light to medium coverage serum foundation” that “melts into skin for glass skin finish,” was launched with 15 shades. The range contained only four medium to deep shades, the darkest one appearing to be fit for someone with a golden-brown complexion.

Youthforia’s lack of inclusive shades prompted many beauty lovers to urge the company to release an extended shade range.

“To be honest I’m disappointed,” one customer commented on Youthforia’s Instagram post announcing the launch. “I LOVE your products BUT shade range for this launch isn’t there. That’s not enough shades for people of colour. I’m hoping in the future we will expand this line.”

“Highly disappointed in the shade range, once again feeling like POC don’t matter,” another person said.

In response, Chan explained in a since-deleted TikTok that the brand had planned on launching the foundation with a wide variety of skin shades, but ultimately tested out the product launch with limited shades first. “After launching my fair share of flops, it was always my intention to launch this as a proof of concept, see if people even liked the base formula,” Chan said.

That all changed in March, when Youthforia finally released its long-awaited extended shade range for its Date Night Skin Tint Serum Foundation. The brand added 10 new shades to its skin tint foundation, ranging from 250 light medium to 600 deep. The release of Youthforia’s extended range seemed to be a win for beauty lovers everywhere, that is, until customers actually began to test the product for themselves.

In a viral video posted by influencer Golloria George (@golloria) on TikTok, the beauty blogger shared footage of herself testing out the serum foundation’s shade on her dark complexion - compared to actual “jet black” face paint. “Which side of my face is black face paint or the Youthforia foundation? You can’t tell,” she said in the viral clip, which has been viewed more than 12m times since it was posted on 29 April.

Some internet users expressed their confusion over the backlash to Youthforia’s darkest foundation shade, questioning why customers were angry that a beauty brand had released an inclusive range of makeup products. But, according to experts, it’s the composition of the product that is causing concern.

Javon Ford, a Los Angeles-based cosmetic chemist with more than 426,000 followers on TikTok, explained in a video why the chemical make-up of Youthforia’s 600 shade makes it impossible to use. He pointed out that one of Youthforia’s lightest foundation shades includes the chemical ingredients needed to “make a lighter shade of foundation” - CI 77492, CI 77491, and CI 77499, as well as red, yellow, and black iron oxides. Ford compared the ingredients of Youthforia’s light shade foundation to its darkest shade, which consists of only one pigment: CI 77499.

“No other colourants. This foundation literally only has pure black pigment,” Ford said.

Not only does the shade contain just one pigment, but its black iron oxide make-up is incredibly difficult to mix with other shades. The cosmetic chemist explained that attempting to mix the foundation shade with any other colour would just turn it to grey, while also failing to consider that many people have warm, cool, or neutral undertones to their skin.

“Skin tones typically have some combination of eumelanin and pheomelanin. The pheomelanin is where we get the red and yellow undertones. And this problem is so avoidable,” he added, citing inclusive beauty brands such as Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty, which launched in September 2017 with an impressive 40-shade foundation range.

“This brand does not care about us,” Ford said.

Youthforia has yet to publicly address the backlash to its Date Night Skin Tint Serum Foundation. The product is still available to purchase for $48 on Ulta Beauty’s website.

The Independent has contacted Youthforia for comment.

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