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Inclusive beauty brand All Shades Matter is flipping the script on foundation. While most makeup brands tend to launch with light and medium shades and only expand into darker shades later on, if ever, All Shades Matter is starting at the opposite end of the spectrum. 

The beauty brand launched online this week with four shades of foundation available for pre-sale: medium, medium-dark, dark-deep, and deep. It plans to add more medium and dark shades over the next few months before moving into lighter shades in future.

“We want to be known as a brand for people of colour when it comes to foundation,” Shaanti Wallbridge, one of the co-founders of All Shades Matter, told Inside Retail. “As we expand and grow, our range will grow.” 

More than an afterthought

Wallbridge started All Shades Matter with her longtime friend Tali Mason. Both adopted from India by Australian parents, the two women have always struggled to find foundations that match their skin colour. 

“Sadly, [people of colour] are the afterthought of every other brand,” Wallbridge said. 

“They’ll put in one product to make it look like they’ve got a shade range, which is just to tick the box, or [they’ll put] a person of colour in their imagery, but their shade range doesn’t even cover that person, so it’s not really aligned.” 

While some mainstream makeup brands do offer diverse shades of foundation, their darker shades often aren’t stocked in supermarkets, pharmacies, and beauty retailers, where most people buy makeup. 

This is often attributed to limited shelf space in stores and lack of demand from consumers. But it doesn’t jibe with the rapid rise of inclusive makeup brands like Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty, which launched with 40 foundation shades in 2017 and is now valued at US$2.8 billion. 

Starting to change

Some retailers have started to recognise the problem and take steps to correct it. In March, Adore Beauty launched the Global Shades initiative to increase the range of foundation and concealer shades it offers.  

The idea came from Shanthi Murugan, Adore Beauty’s head of campaign and strategy, who – back in 2017 – couldn’t find a single foundation on the site that was dark enough to suit her skin. After Murugan shared her experience with the company’s founder Kate Morris, the online retailer changed its buying practices. 

“I suddenly realised that the series of simple decisions that the business had made to try and manage inventory levels and cashflow, such as only ordering stock of the most popular eight or 10 shades of any makeup product, had led to the exclusion of most people of colour,” Morris wrote in a post on LinkedIn.

Coles and Woolworths have also started stocking darker shades of foundation online and in some of their stores in response to the Make the Space petition, which has gained over 6000 signatures since launching in April. 

But there’s still a long way to go as evidenced by the recent backlash to popular skincare brand Ultra Violette, which launched its first tinted sunscreen last month and was quickly criticised for not offering a diverse enough range of shades. 

Big plans to expand

As more retailers wake up to the demand for darker shades of foundation, inclusive beauty brands like All Shades Matter stand to benefit. Despite the fact that they only started taking orders this week, Wallbridge and Mason say they’ve already been approached by a retailer that is keen to stock their brand. 

“We need to be mindful that it’s not just for look. We need to make sure they actually care about our brand, not just what they get out of it,” Wallbridge said. “In saying that, it’s an amazing opportunity.”

For now, the co-founders are waiting to see whether the pre-sale goes well enough for them to quit their day jobs and start working on All Shades Matter full time. If it does, the sky’s the limit.

“We have a lot of ideas for expansion,” Wallbridge said. “Ideally, we’d love to have a bricks-and-mortar flagship store.”

The post Why All Shades Matter wants to be known as a brand for people of colour appeared first on Inside Retail.