Here's the Problem With KKW Beauty Concealers Not Being Shade-Inclusive

Updated 04/04/18
KKW Beauty

The longer I stare at the above image, the more appalled I become at the serious lack of awareness in the beauty industry when it comes to catering to women of color. In fact, it's a glaring blind spot that's been a recurring issue for ages. Time and again, women of color are tokenized yet not held to the same standard as our white counterparts.

Why is it okay to advertise an image of a strikingly gorgeous dark-skinned model with an arm full of swatches that don't come close to matching her skin tone? Why is her deep skin tone exploited to drive sales of KKW Beauty concealers that clearly don't represent an array of deep skin tones? It's infuriating that in 2018, beauty brands are getting by doing the bare minimum. Multimillion-dollar, celebrity-endorsed companies are promoting products that exclude black women.

Not to make you more upset with more context, but it's necessary. Back in March, when KKW Beauty debuted the news on Twitter that its collection would feature a line of 16 concealers created with Kim Kardashian West's personal makeup artist, Mario Dedivanovic, the internet lit up with outraged fans reacting to this image. People were sharing their grievances about the lack of representation along with the exploitation of women with dark skin tones.

Recently, Kardashian West responded to the backlash in an interview with Refinery29 calling her concealers "pretty inclusive." "I think my brand is always evolving," she said to Refinery 29. "We did so much research, and the majority of makeup companies have, I think, six concealer shades. Mario definitely tested them with a variety of skin tones. Because it is concealer, you use shades lighter than your skin tone.

"I thought that 16 shades was a really good range to start. I think compared to all the other brands—I think the top 10 brands have six—I thought [16] was pretty inclusive and that we had a good range. However, I do hear people when I see that there is something that they want. Our concealers did really well, so we are working on expanding our shade range. I definitely want there to be something for everyone. I love paying attention. I want to be inclusive for everyone."

The purpose of concealer is to cover blemishes, and not all women want concealer lighter than their skin tone, so to defend the brand's lack of inclusivity by limiting the use of concealer is wrong. Secondly, prioritizing quantity over quality is not an excuse. My deep skin tone is lighter than the model's pictured above, and all of the undertones were too red and pink to work for my complexion. So I know women with even deeper complexions won't find a match or will need to rework this concealer with a different foundation or brand.

Kardashian West did confirm that she'd be releasing more shades. Unfortunately, this is not the first time this has happened, and it will not be the last. A few months back, Tarte and It Cosmetics fell subject to major backlash after releasing foundations with very limited shade ranges.

KKW Beauty

Thankfully, the beauty world does have shade-inclusive brands that have always made women of color a priority. Beauty brands like MAC, Fenty Beauty, Make Up For Ever, Nars, Lancôme, Cover FX, and more have offered a wide range of shades for all skin tones since their inception.

MAC has a Studio Fix franchise with over 50 shades of Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation and over 40 of the Fluid Foundation line. "The notion that we're hitting all skin tones, and keeping in mind all skin types, has been important since the beginning," says Nick Gavrelis, senior VP of global product development for MAC.

"There are people of all skin tones living in almost every pocket of the world. MAC is constantly refining and adding to its shade range as a result of conversations with our consumers and artist community. You can't say there is a perennial shade range forever. All ethnic backgrounds are blending and creating roots. It's evolution—not just of the brand, of humankind."

It's my hope that in the years to come, women of all skin tones will have an option to indulge in every beauty brand because they're represented and because they deserve that option.

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