Over the past year, beauty brands have put a large focus on creating extensive shade ranges for foundation and concealing products. Most recently, attention turned to Kim Kardashian West, who launched a collection of concealers with 16 shades. The Internet was quick to drag her for lacking an extensive spectrum. But the star, who recently said she and her family don’t “see color,” maintains that she kept not just skin tones, but skin types and ages in mind when creating her line.
Kardashian West launched her new range of concealers, along with baking and brightening powders, in 16 shades in four different categories: light, medium, dark and deep dark. In each range, the star created one cool and one warm tone, providing what she hopes will be something for everyone. Twitter users, however, criticized the range, calling the lack of hues “pathetic” and “disrespectful.”
According to Kardashian West, who made sure to shoot her campaign on a variety of different women, she wanted focus on making a product that works for not just every skin tone, but also all of ages and skin types.
“We really had to make sure that the concealer worked on different skin types and ages as well, so it was important to show that in the campaign,” she tells Allure, adding that she infused the products with anti-aging ingredients to benefit the skin is well.
So how does Kim’s shade range match up to the market competition?
Kardashian West’s collection, which only contains four “deep” shades, is not as extensive compared to her sister Kylie’s concealer range she launched earlier this year under the Kylie Cosmetics empire.
Kylie launched nearly double the number of shades as her older sister, releasing 30 colors that range from light to deep. And when placed alongside the majority of concealers on the market, Kylie’s range is in fact one of the largest.
Some contenders include cult-loved makeup brand NYX’s concealer pots, which come in 24 shades, as does Clinique’s Beyond Perfecting Foundation. Milani’s Conceal + Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation and Concealer has a robust range as well, with 19 shades.
When Rihanna famously created her Fenty Beauty makeup line last year, she introduced a range of 40 foundation shades off the bat, with 10 of those made specifically for deep and very deep skin tones. However, in her Match Stick Matte Skinstick range, there is half the amount of shades, with 20 colors that can be used for contouring and/or concealing.
Viola Davis praised the singer for creating such a wide range of shades. “I don’t feel like I have to get something five shades lighter, or mix two shades together in order to get my shade. And it feels like my natural skin,” she told Refinery29. “It’s full coverage, and I’m honored by the fact that I’m recognized in this beauty line. I thank Rihanna for that.”
Make Up For Ever, which also offers a range of 40 foundation shades, only carries up to 14 concealer shades in their various formulas.
The brand spoke out on Instagram when fans went wild over Rihanna’s foundation assortment, saying, “40 shades is nothing new to us -👄- Since 2015, the #ultraHDfoundation released 40 shades for everyone’s unique skin tone understanding the difference between red and yellow undertones. With expertise, time and passion – we shall continue to develop and improve our products for pros, for you, for everyone…”
Rihanna responded with some subtle shade, commenting, “lol. still ashy.”
So why is there such a large gap between the range of concealer shades when compared to foundation shades across the board? Make Up For Ever’s Executive Director of Education and Artistry, Patrick Eichler, explains that such a large range is not always necessary when it comes to covering up and using concealer as a spot treatment.
“Foundation is formulated to be used on the entire face and concealer is formulated to be used only on specific areas where needed,” he tells PeopleStyle. “As we know, no one’s face is the same shade all over. Because concealer is used to cover discolorations, like redness or purple tones, the shades match the ‘neutral’ tones of corresponding skin shades, thus fewer shades are required.”
And Bare Minerals, who carries 30 shades of foundation in its BarePro line follows a similar strategy, with 15 concealer shades in the same line. “Concealer shades are not typically 1:1 with foundations – it’s more like 1:3 (concealer shades to Foundation shades),” explains a representative from the brand.
For many brands, growth is still on the horizon. Neutrogena’s face, Kerry Washington, only recently was able to wear a foundation shade from the skincare company — after she pushed the pros at Neutrogena to expand the collection.
“I’m most happy about my own color because I get to wear it,” she told PeopleStyle about her shade, Cocoa. “I’m really proud of the shade expansion. I think the Chestnut shade is also so beautiful. But I am most proud of the color I get to wear. What was so special to me is that our innovation and our technology is all about looking as good when you take off the makeup off as when you have it on.”