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What’s Going On With Darker Foundation Shades?

Maria Borges is making headlines as the new face of L’Oreal Paris. From the mesmerizing eyes to the lit-from-within skin, her face makes me pause on sight. I’m ecstatic.

I wanted to share exactly how L’Oreal addresses inclusiveness in their foundation and the trend I’m seeing. L’Oreal’s True Match Super Blendable Makeup illustrates it well. One product, three different formulas depending on the shade.

A multi-formula product.

L’Oreal is saying that ingredients have to differ to deliver the same results (like a particular finish) across every shade. So, selling multiple formulas under a single name is a way for a brand to offer a wide variety of shades.

Anastasia Beverly Hills’ Stick Foundation uses the multi-formula solution. The product is made up of six (SIX!) different ingredient formulas; all sold under one name and promising to deliver the same results.

Let’s look at Covergirl, which takes a different strategy. Covergirl splits the deeper shades off into the Queen Collection and gives the formulas a different name. In my opinion, Covergirl’s Outlast All Day 3-in-1 Foundation and Covergirl’s Queen Collection All Day Flawless Foundation could be sold as one product. There are only slight differences in the two formulas. Covergirl splitting it’s inventory into a collection like this, to recognize skin tones that were once overlooked at the drugstore, is the norm for the brand. And from a PR perspective, eliminating the Queen Collection name would demand a major campaign explaining exactly why. (I just made a *yikes face* at the thought of the fallout.) Well, despite Covergirl’s dilemma, there’s no doubt we see a subtle shift in the way inclusion is treated. The new norm is packaging the secret sauce, whatever that may include, in one bottle, under one name.

Pigment File’s search is ingredient driven. I’m rolling out a function that alerts you when there are different formulas within a single product. The formula for your shade might include one of your deal breaking ingredients.

Maybelline is a great example of the problem.

Maybelline Fit Me Dewy + Smooth and
Maybelline Fit Me Dewy + Smooth SPF 18.

This is one product, but to make the darkest shades, the brand excluded sunscreen. Shoppers either expect sunscreen or they don’t, and the distinction should be super clear. To show the difference they’re listed as two products here and the format is way too confusing. But soon you’ll see this product on one page, with an easy way to identify the disparities.


Maybelline appoints a black supermodel as a spokesperson for a multi-formula product. Jourdan Dunn!

We’re at a critical point for inclusiveness. It seems the multi-formula approach will quickly become the expected standard. We’ll be ready.

–Keena Newell