Tarte’s Shape Tape Foundation Fails the Diverse Shade Range Test

Tarte’s Shape Tape Foundation Fails the Diverse Shade Range Test
Photo: ImaxTree

Here we go again. The recent uptick in diverse foundation shades is a much welcomed, overdue and needed change in the beauty industry. But there’s still work to be done, as evidenced by the ongoing wave of  faulty advertising and embarassingly small color ranges from reputable brands. 

When tarte Cosmetics first unveiled its  Shape Tape Matte and Hydrating Foundations to pair with their cult favorite Shape Tape Contour Concealer, people were ecstatic. But since its release earlier this week, there’s been floods of backlash against the “laughable” 15 option shade range. Twitter users, Instagrammers, and bloggers alike have denounced the product and asked people of power (like beauty gurus and bloggers like Nikkietutorials) to do their part and not endorse the foundation.

On Reddit’s Beauty Guru Chatter, there’s an entire megathread dedicated to the topic with eight linked reviews in the original post. For instance, Makeupshayla’s review shows her swatching the darkest three shades on her face, where she laughs and says, “It blows my mind that these are the three darkest shades.”

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The review that has garnered the most attention is a joint one by Youtubers Jackie Aina and Alissa Ashley. Their opening to the video says everything you need to know about how the vloggers feel: they dub Kanye West’s announcement on live television “Bush hates black people,” to instead say “Tarte hates black people.” They also call the brand’s latest release a“blatant erasure of a whole spectrum of people,” while adding that “there literally are no excuses.”

On Wednesday, Tarte responded to the backlash in a lengthy Instagram story saying, “We want to let you know we hear you… You all know by now that we revealed our much anticipated shape tape foundation & the final shade range that we launched was definitely not representation of all of you. It may be too little too late, but we can assure you this was not meant in any kind of malicious way.”

They continued, “We all just got so caught up in #shapetapenation and seeing your tweets asking for it… We wanted to get the product out as fast as possible, & we made the decision to move forward before all the shades were ready to go. We know there is no excuse, & we take full responsibility for launching this way. We lost sight of what’s really important in this industry, & for those who feel alienated in our community, we want to personally apologize. We’re doing everything in our power to bring those unfinished shades to market as fast as we can, at any cost. We CAN and WILL DO BETTER.”

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Although the postings express sorrow and acknowledgment of their actions, people are questioning why they chose a disappearing platform for an apology. At this time, it doesn’t seem like tarte is pleasing anyone with anything. As a last call for hope, tarte claims to be releasing 10 additional shades, but without a mention of when.

It also doesn’t help that the brand came under fire again for the shade names within their new Shape Your Money Maker Eye & Cheek Palette. As pointed out by Revelist, the monikers encourage a healthy lifestyle (“Flex,” “Tone Up,” “Cardio”), but one in particular–“Slim”–seems a bit insensitive and serves as a reminder of the pressure to look a certain size.

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At the end of the day, neither of these mess-ups are acceptable, but at least we have people standing up and not accepting the industry’s old ways of prioritizing unrealistic beauty standards. This outrage is a step forward, and hopefully, it’s a resounding message for brands to always be inclusive.