Last February I posed the question "Why is Maybelline ignoring women of colour?" to the cosmetics brand.
I wrote about it on my blog and the post gained some traction and restarted the decades-long conversation about the lack of availability of foundation for darker skinned women in the UK.
I singled out Maybelline at the time as a symptom of a wider issue, an issue that I first experienced as a teenage girl. I, like many other women of colour, could not walk into Boots or Superdrug and find any foundation shade suitable to use.
There was always a sea of slight variations of beige, but for anyone darker, to these brands, you simply didn't exist. I was disappointed that I was still having to talk about this as a grown woman in 2016; where billion dollar corporations were still hiding behind their excuses and not providing shades for darker skinned women.
Last week saw the release of Rihanna's highly anticipated makeup line "Fenty Beauty".
Social media has been at fever pitch with hype and excitement and rightfully so, it started with the introductory campaign featuring a diverse group of women. She made it crystal clear that this was an inclusive brand and that it wasn't just about paying lip service about diversity but proudly displaying all types of women.
Rihanna has done something truly ground breaking, out of the gate she has released an unprecedented 40 shades of foundation to cater to every possible skin tone and shade.
At the launch of Fenty Beauty she explained her motivations:
"There's so many different shades -- there's red undertones, there's green undertones, there's blue undertones, there's pink undertones... You want people to appreciate the product and not feel like, 'Oh that's cute, but it only looks good on her.'"
She could have taken the easy way out like established beauty brands do, and offered a token shade of "dark" to suit multiple skin tones but she understood the frustrations of women everywhere and the feeling of not being included. Fenty Beauty has shown very clearly that not only is it achievable to create foundation for every possible skin colour and undertone but that there is a very clear demand. Reports on Twitter show that the darker shades are selling out online and in stores.
I also saw for myself in Harvey Nichols (where the brand is exclusively sold) that the majority of the darker shades were sold out.
Fenty Beauty Harvey Nichols Leeds - Nadia Gomos
Makeup brands don't realise that when they refuse to cater to all women they are signalling to those women "you are an after thought" and "you do not matter" they are excluding themselves from a large market and those women will go to makeup brands that actually acknowledge they exist.
Things are slowly improving, Maybelline UK listened to what I said and took on board the frustration and anger and made huge changes and extended their lines of foundations to include darker shades.
Cosmetic brands under Estee Lauder and L'Oreal have increased their range of shades on offer. However, there is still so much to be done and there are still brands in the UK who have been around for decades like Rimmel and Bourjois who simply refuse to cater to non white skin tones.
Fenty Beauty, a new and unestablished brand is able to provide 40 shades proves that it can be done and those old, tired excuses simply hold no water.