Youthforia: A Lesson in Beauty Inclusivity 

by Akosua Baah 

In September of 2023, Youthforia, a beauty brand popular for its color-changing blush, released its Date Night Skin Tint serum. The complexion product had fifteen shades and was marketed as “a foundation for everyone”, but the release quickly came under fire for its lack of inclusivity for darker skin tones. The company’s CEO, Fiona Cho Chan, took to TikTok after the initial uproar, citing her position as a small business owner and lack of resources as the reason for the launch’s absence of dark shades. She later promised to take to the lab and formulate new shades to fit a wider audience.

Date Night Skin Tint's initial shade range

By March of 2024, the Date Night Skin Tint was rereleased, featuring five promising new shades for darker skin tones. But when black influencers tried out the darkest shade, 600, they found that it was a purely black foundation with no undertones or depth. Where all other shades had a mixture of blues, reds, yellows, whites, and greens to create varying tones, Shade 600 only included the pigment CI 7749, which is described by beauty experts as a “pure black pigment”. The color black does not appear naturally in humans, meaning that no matter how deep someone’s skin is, they are still made up of different shades of brown. In other words, there is no one on earth who can wear Youthforia’s new darkest shade.

Youthforia’s initial darkest shade compared to their current darkest shade, as worn by creator Golloria on TikTok

 Youthforia’s inattention to the needs of dark-skinned consumers has been apparent from the start when the creation of dark shades was placed on the back burner in the initial launch. But, this new release paints an even more sinister picture, as it reveals that even after being provided a second chance, Youthforia still does not offer the same attention given to lighter skin tones when catering to darker complexions. Even during the recent advertisement campaign, the company’s CEO was shown finding people in a mall to model Shade 600 and later capturing promotional photos at a passport picture station. This is all in comparison to the process involved with  Date Night’s lighter shades, which were worn by professional models and photographed in a full-blown studio. 

Youthforia’s promotional video for the Date Night Skin Tint which was filmed in a mall. Shade 600 does not match the model, despite being used in photos

It’s sad to say that Youthforia’s actions are not uncommon in the beauty industry. Companies like Tarte, YSL, and the BeatyBlender have been called out for their lack of diversity since the early 2000s. Many other brands still wait to release darker shades until after their initial launches, leaving huge gaps in the market for darker-skinned makeup lovers. 

Shades of Tarte’s Face Tape Foundation, released in 2018, less than one year after Fenty’s range launched.

However, strides are being made towards a more inclusive community. Brands like Fenty Beauty, which came out with the Pro Filter Foundation in 2017, are evidence of a newfound shift in the beauty world. The release had a groundbreaking 40 shades which were spread evenly across all depths. Later, the company even added 10 shades, further pushing the boundaries of inclusion within the beauty industry. Brands like Fenty prove that inclusion is possible in makeup, and in releasing a shade like 600, Youthforia cements itself as yet another brand that does not see dark-skinned consumers as worthy or important.