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Tarte Cosmetics Learns It Doesn’t Pay To Ignore Women Of Color


Last week, Tarte rolled out its new Shape Tape Foundation — an all-over-face counterpart to the brand’s much-loved Shape Tape Concealer.


Last week, Tarte Cosmetics rolled out its new Shape Tape Foundation, an all-over-face counterpart to the brand’s much-loved Shape Tape Concealer.

Of the 15 shades released, only three are in deeper tones. The online reaction from beauty bloggers, social media influencers, and makeup fans was swift and severe.

Beauty blogger Patricia Bright said she felt the package she received from the company with shades that were supposed to match her face were like receiving crumbs from the table.

Jackie Aina tried to mix two of the darker shades to make it work, and it did not match her face.

In response, Tarte has apologized and said it will release 10 new shades.

It may be too little too late, but we can assure you this was not meant in any kind of malicious way. 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.

YouTuber Nyma Tang questioned whether Tarte’s move to put out very few darker shades at first was intentional.

“I genuinely believe that Tarte coming out with the Shape Tape Foundation with the shade range that it has was done purposefully in my opinion,” she said. “It was something they did to garner more attention to the launch of this foundation.”

While it can’t feel great to be on the receiving end of this kind of publicity, the silver lining here is influential beauty bloggers demanding to buy Tarte products. The company could already have known this might happen, however. The makeup world is in a very different place in 2018 than it was just a year ago, thanks to the inclusive range of shades in Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty line, which has spurred a wider range of offerings from other cosmetic companies.

Rihanna’s line was sold out for multiple weeks in a row at many stores because it made products aimed at black women. Tarte should have gotten a clue and noticed that African-American women also have cosmetics money to spend, and that catering to that market is a win-win for customers and company.

Weird publicity stunt theories aside, this push and pull between Tarte and its consumers appears to be a healthy thing. Tarte unveils a new line of products, would-be customers get angry and demand more shades, and the cosmetic company delivers. The outrage surrounding Tarte’s Shape Tape Foundation sends a message to the cosmetics industry: it pays to be inclusive.