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  • Ella Noonan

YSL - All Hours concealer - certainly not for all skin tones


With Rihanna taking the world by storm with Fenty Beauty and its choice of 40 foundation shades to choose from, it shed some light on an ongoing issue of a lack of diversity within the beauty industry. It's not a recent issue however it's one that's only recently becoming more apparent and it's the reason why brands such as Fenty beauty and Huda beauty for example have been so successful. Makeup brands, even some of the biggest in the game don't cater to a wide range of skin-tones especially once they start venturing out of the whites and into darker shades.

Something that recently caught my attention was a photo for YSL's 'All Hours Concealer'. The photo depicts 3 arms (fair, medium and dark skin toned) each with swatches of the concealer on. Each arm includes swatches of all of the 6 shades so that you can see the range and get an idea of your match - or perhaps not a match. You may notice from the image below that the two fairer arms both include matches, where as the dark skinned woman doesn't have a single shade on her arm that comes close.



I initially came across the photo on twitter where someone rightly expressed their outrage with the lack of diversity across the shades and the obvious fact there was no match. I had to do my own investigating as I'd wholeheartedly convinced myself that there was no way this wasn't some sort of parody. Sadly I was wrong, all it took was a quick google search and I'd witnessed that it's genuinely up there on the Sephora website.

I think what really had me so bemused about this photos existence was less the blatant fact it was going to offend people, and more just the sheer stupidity behind it. I mean I know I'm only in first year of my fashion communication and promotion degree, but I think even I am qualified to confirm the fact that there isn't a single shade on that woman's arm that should be on that woman's arm. Where other brands realised they need to up the ante when it comes to catering to all skin tones, did YSL truly believe that by just including a black woman in the ad that they'd accomplished something? Is that really where we're at?

It's astonishing really that in this big old year of 2018, there still has to be a fight for brands to simply make shades that actually match more than about 5 skin tones. Other than the fact it means that a great deal of women are missing out on products they otherwise would have considered buying, there's also a deeper issue. By only creating shades for certain skin tones, especially when it's a brand so well known and as highly esteemed as YSL (although they aren't alone) it's incredibly alienating for those who aren't included. It sends a message that they don't fit within the beauty standards, and that they've essentially been swept under the rug. Similar to the way in which dolls for young girls are predominantly white as are the characters in our favourite animated films - the less these big companies allow people to identify with them, the more it's like they're telling people they don't matter.

I'd like to think that savvy minds behind this interesting image will be 'let go' so to create no more interesting images of this sort. At first I was going to say that I hope YSL/Sephora remove the photo however to be honest I almost think that they're doing half the work for us in spreading awareness of the racism and need for change within the beauty industry. Rather than them removing the image, I'd rather they used their time perfeting their formulas for a whole new range of shades that cater to more than just me before and after a weeks holiday in the sun.