Cosmetic brand Youthforia’s latest release revives concerns about inclusivity in beauty

Black beauty influencers weighed in after Youthforia responded to concerns about its foundation range with a shade resembling "tar in a bottle."

Youthforia, Black beauty influencers, inclusivity, diverse makeup brands, inclusive beauty brands,
Youthforia is under fire again over its Date Night Skin Tint foundation. (Photo: Youthforia)

When the clean, sustainable beauty brand Youthforia launched its new Date Night Skin Tint foundation with just 15 shades in October, the brand received immediate backlash for its lack of color range. In response, the brand recently released shades representing 10 additional skin tones. However, for some, these new shades simply added insult to injury.

Amid the updated shade range, which still remains largely exclusive of darker skin tones, Black beauty influencers have been calling out the brand for the lack of nuance in its approach. One influencer, Golloria George, claims the darkest shade the brand released, 600, resembles black craft paint.

“Which side of my face is the black face paint or the Youthforia foundation? Tea — you can’t tell. You know why? Tar in a bottle,” George said in a TikTok as she tested out the product. George further explained that she’s cooler than 590, the only shade before 600, which means the brand still does not carry her shade. 

“When we say we want you guys to make shades for us, we don’t mean [for you] to go to the lab and ask for ‘minstrel show black,’” George added. “What we mean is for you to take the browns that you have made and create undertones. Do what you need to do in the lab so it’s a darker shade of brown.”

Within two days, the influencer’s video had racked up over 24 million views, 2 million likes, and thousands of comments and shares.

George was one of several online personalities who tried the brand’s darkest shade in October, only to find the range only extended to a deep caramel at the time. Now that the brand has released 10 additional shades that still don’t work for her, George told Time magazine she was frustrated they had missed the mark again.

“That just says a lot about the ethos of the brand. It rubbed me the wrong way, and I thought, ‘This is really hurtful,’” she told the publication.

George isn’t the only one concerned; Awuoi Matiop, a makeup influencer from South Sudan, also found Youthforia’s range unnecessarily exclusive.

“This should be a crime,” Matiop said while testing out the product in her own TikTok video. “This is what we get when we ask to be included in the beauty industry.”

The timeline for Youthforia’s foundation rollout has also been controversial. After receiving backlash in October, the brand’s co-founder, Fiona Co Chan, responded in a since-deleted video, explaining that the first 15 shades were a “proof of concept” to see if the brand would be successful. Her response was met with more criticism, pointing out the continued prioritization of fairer skin by cosmetic brands.

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In March, Chan posted yet another video to Youthforia’s TikTok page, declaring that she was having trouble finding a model to test out the brand’s darkest shade. She called out modeling agencies for not having more diverse talent and explained how, after the brand held a casting call, it still couldn’t find anyone.

After TikToker Wumi Afuye gave her honest review of the darkest shade in a video, she gave an update on Wednesday, April 24, saying the brand had reached out to her directly. 

“Seeing some confusion on our TikTok from people who are suggesting that our darkest shade of foundation (Shade 600) is ‘black face paint’ and not meant for real people,” reads the message. “We created shade 600 as part of our ten-shade expansion this past March. We heard everyone loud and clear last October that our shades were not dark enough or inclusive enough.”

The message further explains that Chan “worked super hard, calling in favors with all of her manufacturers to get this created in four months instead of the regular 18 months.” 

On Thursday, April 25, Chan posted another video from Dubai, in which she said she had managed to find two Black men who could model the new shade. After the two men were introduced, the video cut to them testing the product; however, it remains unclear if the color-matching was successful. In one shot, as one of the men poured the foundation on the top of his hand, the color appeared to be a mismatch.

As of press time, Youthforia has not responded to multiple requests for comment from theGrio; this story will be updated as needed.