NUDEST Awards: Makeup Brands That Could Be More Inclusive
True inclusivity goes beyond shade range. It involves diverse marketing, thoughtful social media engagement and carefully selected administrative and creative teams.
While the extent of a brand’s shade range is one of the best indications of inclusivity, ignoring other aspects makes for an incomplete story. At times, the image a brand portrays is at odds with their makeup’s progress in shade diversity, and the NUDEST Awards takes these other factors seriously.
When calculating the winners of this year’s NUDEST Awards, there were some brands that had exceptional shade offerings, but were lacking in the holistic inclusivity we require. Progress often involves making mistakes along the way. While context is important to understand each brand’s journey, it does not mean they will be excluded from future NUDEST Awards.
In 2018, Too Faced collaborated with beauty vlogger Jackie Aina to expand their Born This Way foundation line, increasing its shade options from 24 to 35. Three of those shades were darker than “Cocoa,” the previously deepest shade, which made for one of the most extensive and darkest shade ranges currently on the market.
However, controversy surrounded Too Faced co-founder and Chief Creative Officer Jerrod Blandino later that same year when he uploaded an Instagram story featuring a cake that said “Rich Lives Matter.” A guest brought the cake to Blandino’s husband’s birthday celebration, but many saw his perceived endorsement of the message as a tone-deaf mockery of the Black Lives Matter movement. Blandino later issued an apology, but consumers still felt betrayed by his blatant insensitivity towards such an important social movement.
While Tarte may be best known for its iconic Shape Tape concealer, its Creaseless Under Eye concealer currently comes in 30 shades ranging from very fair to very rich. The concealer has definitely come a long way; in 2018 it was reformulated, repackaged and expanded from its original, meager 14 shades. It made for some of the lightest and darkest concealer colors available among mainstream brands.
It’s reintroduction, though, was overshadowed by one of the biggest controversies in makeup history — the launch of the Shape Tape foundation. After months of anticipation for a new addition to the Shape Tape family, many makeup enthusiasts were disappointed to say the least. Offering two formulas with 15 shades each, only three options could potentially match dark and rich skin tones; the foundation was the epitome of 50 Shades of Beige. Tarte eventually said in an exclusive interview with PopSugar that 10 more shades were in the works and would be released in the summer when people usually become more tan. This now discontinued flop was replaced with 50 shades of the Face Tape foundation, giving consumers a much wider shade range.
Kat Von D Beauty
Brands named after their founders are forever tied to the image of that person, and Kat Von D Beauty is a perfect example.
Although their Lock-It concealer comes in only 21 shades with large gaps in between tones, it is one of the few brands that offers a pure white concealer. This versatile shade can not only be used to lighten other products, but also serves as an eyeshadow and lipstick base too.
Still, this lightest shade isn’t enough to cover the major controversy surrounding Kat Von D herself. In 2018, the tattoo artist turned beauty entrepreneur announced in a now-deleted Instagram post that she and her husband would not be vaccinating their then unborn child in accordance with their vegan lifestyle. The backlash was immediate, with many pointing out that her influencer and anti-vaxxer status was a dangerous combination. This debate brought up past instances when Kat Von D made racist and anti-Semetic remarks and associated with people who did the same. She then released a video that addressed these issues in which she implied her Latinx heritage made her incapable of being racist.
To add insult to injury, her brand’s official Instagram account posted a promotional image of the Lock-It concealer in a cotton field with a caption stating the product will “do all the hard work for you.” The post came only a few months after her anti-vaxxing announcement and was extremely tone-deaf, considering cotton’s ties to the U.S. slave industry.