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Why Drugstore Makeup Aisles Don’t Have Inclusive Foundation Ranges

This is an op-ed by Allure contributor Tynan Sinks. It explores the topic of inclusivity in makeup and its influence on consumer accessibility on a direct, mass level.

Living in a post-Fenty Beauty world, you’d think that every makeup brand has always led the charge for inclusivity, but that hasn’t always been the case. Just a little over a year ago, the conversation about makeup inclusivity went from a rumbling din to a cacophonous roar. The age-old excuse of darker shades not selling wasn’t only debunked, it was fully overturned. Everyone wants makeup to match their skin tone and now beauty brands were being forced to oblige or get passed up for those that did.

Now, that’s not to say that there were never brands creating products for all skin tones. Professional, prestige brands like M.A.C. and Make Up For Ever have always made shades for all skin tones. But that’s the thing, there were only a few and usually, those were studio and pro-oriented lines. With as many brands that were available in the department stores and drugstores alike, only a handful of them had options for people with deeper skin tones.

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The past year has seen almost every beauty brand that makes foundations and concealers scrambling to create new, deeper shades, and fill in the typical gap between what is usually eighteen light shades and maybe three deeper ones, for a full gradient of shades, instead of a typical collection that skews favorably towards the paler end of the spectrum.

The fickle consumer in me thinks that this is just another way for companies to bank off of faux inclusivity, but at the end of the day, all inclusion is beneficial, no matter what it took to get there.

Now that drugstore brands are making a wider range of shades, why is it that, in many regions around the U.S., they’re still not available in stores? If you, like me, do not live in New York or L.A., you might notice that while all of these new shades are being promoted and celebrated, many of them aren’t actually making it to our drugstores. Why is that?

Drugstore beauty is essential because, while some may not live near a Sephora, Ulta, or Riley Rose, drugstores are much easier to come by in many parts of the country. Some of the best products in beauty right now are waiting for you at the drugstore, and one is able to put together a perfect routine for them, no matter what that might look like, with affordable, accessible products.

To get another perspective on just why this is all so important, I asked some of my favorite women of color in beauty about why this matters, and what they would like the future of drugstore beauty to look like.

Beauty influencer and YouTuber from Texas, Ivy Kungu, said, “I’m glad this is being talked about more because it’s so important. I feel like if brands are going come out with the shades — A. They’re often forcing people of color to pay more for the same product if shipping costs are involved, which almost negates the purpose of purchasing a drugstore foundation in the first place; B. People may be unaware that the brand has their shade, which perpetuates the myth that people of color don’t buy makeup and encourages this vicious cycle to continue; and C. It’s difficult to buy face makeup online as is, so the process is just more frustrating for us.

“It’s getting better in a post-Fenty Beauty world because a few brands have seen the light and are really trying to show off their new foundation shade expansions (it would be nice if this shade expansion energy could be carried into other products but that’s a story for another day), but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.”


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