When Rihanna first launched Fenty Beauty in 2017 with 40 shades of foundation (now 50), she unknowingly set the beauty world ablaze.

She finally gave people of color some options when it came to their makeup, rather than having to constantly mix their own foundations to create their own shade. She was heaped with praise and, ever since, the rest of the beauty world has been trying to play catch-up.

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Every brand is currently trying to outdo each other, releasing more and more foundation and concealer shades. Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez launched with 48 shades, Clinique is currently up to 30 shades, and Huda Beauty has 39.

But, as Nikki Lopez, Digital Creator and founder of the #ShadySeries, pointed out: more shades doesn’t necessarily mean more inclusivity.

Nikki’s #ShadySeries uses analytical tools to determine just how “inclusive” a beauty brand actually is (you can read more about her process on the second slide of this Instagram post).

And what she’s found probably won’t shock you: many beauty brands have simply added more light shades to their collection, rather than actually expanding their shade range to include more options for darker skin tones.

fenty beauty foundation

In an exclusive interview with Femestella, Nikki told me that she was inspired by an article by The Pudding, which explored what it actually meant to be “inclusive” in the beauty industry. Since then, she’s used her platform “as a way to enlighten others on what it means to say, there’s still more work that needs to be done in the beauty industry.”

In only a few months, Nikki has examined popular brands like Clinique, Ilia Beauty, Supergoop, and more. Most analyses have proven just how few options are given to people with darker skin tones (if any). But perhaps the most shocking analysis? Nikki said,

“Honestly, it was Glossier’s skin tint. Ugh. I highly recommend you follow @outtathegloss! Information worth sharing and knowing. It was disappointing to know Glossier to have been familiarized as having democratized beauty only to find out that it wasn’t true. When I analyzed their shade range, it just added to it for me. Since then, I’ll always remember it as a brand [that] shocked me.”

rare beauty foundation

Other brands that seemingly failed the test were Ilia Beauty, Nars, and Exa Beauty — all of which only offered one foundation shade in the most common darkness range of 20-30.

So, I asked her, is anyone getting it right? She told me,

“Despite me having done these analyses, it’s not really up for me to say who’s doing it right. Like I always advocate, ‘there’s still more to do,’ etc. It’s applicable in every aspect of the beauty industry. If there’s ever one company you believe that’s doing it right, please let me know! I’d love to analyze it for the ‘gram!”

(She currently takes requests via DM)

nars foundation

Regardless of how you feel about how any one particular brand is doing, it’s clear that, overall, the beauty industry is still in need of a major overhaul. Nikki agrees:

“While brands are feeling more pressure to offer more shades, I’m afraid that oftentimes one key concept is sometimes overlooked — it took pressure to expand. I don’t know if they’re going in the right direction but what I do know is that there should be more representation for the darker end of the spectrum, no questions asked.”

As for Nikki’s personal go-to?

“I’m not much of a foundation wearer so I’m the last person to recommend a go-to; however, I’ll always be a fan of Maybelline BB Cream and the ‘natural’ finish it gives me.”

To see more of Nikki’s #ShadySeries, head to her Instagram account here.

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