There’s no denying that in the beauty world, 2017 was the year of Rihanna. When the singer released her highly anticipated Fenty Beauty makeup line, it caused waves in the industry, sparking a monumental change that was a long time coming. How? Simply by launching with 40 shades of foundation.
“Foundation is one of those areas in the beauty industry that has a big void for women at extreme ends of the shade spectrum,” explained Rihanna. “There’s this middle ground that’s covered really, really well. But then if you’re very pale or very dark, there aren’t a lot of options. And so, I wanted to make sure that women of all skin tones were covered, so they could be included in what I created.”
And that she did.
There’s this middle ground that’s covered really, really well. But then if you’re very pale or very dark, there aren’t a lot of options.
Although Fenty Beauty wasn’t the first brand to launch with 40+ shades of foundation, it’s definitely the one that put inclusivity on the map and started a conversation, pushing other major players to do the same. Aptly named the “Fenty Effect”, beauty brands are now either adding more shades to existing lines or following in RiRi’s footsteps by launching foundations with 40 shades. And it’s about time. This is fast becoming the industry standard as some brands are learning the hard way.
When Tarte launched its ‘Shape Tape’ foundation at the start of the year with only 15 shades, bloggers and consumers took to social media to express their disappointment at the lack of thought given to darker complexions. Conveniently, the brand extended its line of the ‘Amazonian Clay Foundation’ from 25 to 40 shades a few months later…
It’s clear the pressure is on for brands to step up and acknowledge the need for diversity – not just in campaign imagery, but in the products themselves. Last week, MAC announced that it was launching more shades and undertones of its ‘Studio Fix Foundation’ than any other, following suit from brands such as Lancôme, Estée Lauder, and Smashbox adding more shades to their collections.
Linda Wells also announced that she’s launching her own beauty line under the Revlon umbrella. Flesh, as its name suggests, is about all flesh tones. It will be one of the most inclusive beauty lines on the market, encompassing all skin tones and colors in everything from its 40 foundation shades to its highlighters and palettes. The good news is that, slowly but surely, change is happening. And thanks to these foundation lines, 40 shades of beige no longer has a place in the beauty industry.
While it’s true that Fenty Beauty wasn’t the first to launch with 40 shades, it was the brand that redefined the term ‘inclusivity’ as we know it. It’s also one of the only brands to launch with a full spectrum of shades as most add to existing lines with time. Rihanna’s aim was to cater to a wide variety of skin tones, and it’s clear she was onto something – the darkest shade of her foundation was the first to sell out.
“Obsessive research”, exclusive insights from leading makeup artists, and extensive testing on real women of all colors led to the creation of the ‘Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation’. Its super lightweight texture blends seamlessly into skin to diffuse shine and large pores whilst creating a soft, matte finish.
Not only did Dior surprise fans with the recent launch of a more affordable beauty line by the name of Dior Backstage, it went one step further by bringing out 40 shades of the ‘Dior Backstage Face & Body Foundation’ that includes 16 intensities and six undertones. The brand’s most inclusive range yet was created after Peter Philips, Dior Makeup’s Creative & Image Director, saw the need for more.
“It’s my star product. I wanted 16 different intensities, but particularly wanted six undertones: pink, olive, yellow, beige… In total, there are 40 colors, so every woman can find the shade that best matches her skin tone,” he explains. Whether you want a natural, nude glow or a high-coverage finish, this ultra-buildable foundation does it all.
Tarte came out with an impressive shade extension of its ‘Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Foundation’ this May, upping its game from 25 shades to 40. Although most fans praised the brand for listening to customers’ needs and adding darker shades, there were some who felt it was a little too late. “Imagine being a multi-million dollar company and not making shades for skin tones other than white to slightly tan, then acting like having shades come out six months later for people who are darker than white somehow makes up for their exclusion,” was one such comment.
Powered by natural Amazonian clay, vitamin E, and mineral pigments, this vegan and cruelty-free foundation helps balance skin and control oil whilst providing full, long-wear coverage.
Launching new shades of its ‘Studio Skin’ foundation, Smashbox also listened to customer feedback and doubled its existing line to encompass a broad range of undertones from the palest porcelain to the deepest complexions. So whether you’re fair, light, medium, or dark/deep, one of its 40 shades is for you.
Its oil-free formula offers medium to full coverage that is easily buildable and lasts for 24 hours without oxidizing. You can also use it for a sheer coverage finish, simply by warming the product between your fingertips before using them for application – a great all-rounder for all skin colors.
MAC has always prided itself on being one of the most inclusive beauty brands in the world, embodying all ages, races, and genders from day one. It therefore comes as no surprise that it has expanded its ‘Studio Fix’ foundation range to a whopping 64 shades, with a new campaign featuring a diverse and powerful international cast to boot.
Celebrating “Every Shade of You”, there are even more shades of the ‘Studio Fix’ concealer, powder foundation, and color palettes, too. The oil-controlling formula of this foundation makes it the perfect pick for anyone battling greasy skin or excess shine. It minimizes the appearance of pores, offers SPF15 protection, and lasts for a full 24 hours!
This year also saw Estée Lauder expand its best-selling ‘Double Wear’ foundation line to encompass a grand total of 56 shades, showing that even the old-timers need to get with the times.
Offering eight levels of intensity – from the lightest ‘1CO Shell’ to the richly dark ‘8N1 Espresso’ – this marks a huge moment in the makeup industry and a first (but hopefully not the last) for the brand. Even better news is that all women can now use one of the world’s leading foundations, which provides a full-coverage finish that won’t budge in heat or humidity (hurrah).
Championing diversity with its brand new foundation line, Cover FX launched its ‘Power Play Foundation’ with a full 40 shades along with the hashtag #NudeIsNotBeige. It even went one step further by taking different skin types into consideration, creating a formula specifically made with oily skin in mind.
This vegan, cruelty-free foundation is dubbed a “modern matte”, creating a matte but luminous finish that doesn’t leave skin looking flat and lifeless. It’s also waterproof and sweatproof, and controls shine without drying out the skin – a summer staple if you ask us.
Make Up For Ever
Make Up For Ever’s best-selling HD foundation has featured 40 shades for a while now – a fact that it felt the need to point out following the release of Fenty Beauty. The brand took to Instagram to say, “40 shades is nothing new to us. Since 2015, the #ultraHDfoundation released 40 shades for everyone’s unique skin tone understanding the difference between red and yellow undertones.”
Thanks to its advanced light-diffusing formula and exclusive 4K complex, this foundation blurs imperfections and creates a flawless, natural finish even under the harshest of lights. Say hello to amazing, selfie-ready skin in seconds.
Yup, you guessed it: Lancôme has also extended its foundation range, and now offers 40 shades of its best-selling ‘Teint Idole Ultra 24H Long Wear Foundation’. It took to Instagram to reveal new campaign images featuring women of all ethnicities alongside empowering captions that echo this new, all-inclusive message: “When it comes to foundation, every woman is on a quest to find the perfect shade. With 40 ‘Teint Idole Ultra Wear’ shades, you’re all set to find the one that’s made-to-measure for you.”
Lancôme even added 13 new shades specifically designed with Asian skin tones in mind this July. Thanks to “EternalSoft Polymers” that allow increased comfort with ultra-long wear, and NAI pigments that help maintain skin’s pH levels to ensure color stays true all day, this is one seriously fierce foundation.