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Makeup Brand Youthforia Faces Backlash Over Dark Foundation That Looks Like ‘Jet Black’ Paint

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The makeup brand Youthforia is facing criticism online over the darkest shade of its Date Night foundation.

Youthforia, launched in 2021, caught flack in Oct. 2023 after releasing 15 shades of the Date Night Skin Tint that several beauty iNFLuencers, mainly those with darker skin tones, called out for not being inclusive.

The brand expanded their shade range in March, releasing 10 new foundation shades, in response to the criticism. But Youthforia's attempt to right their wrongs is facing even more backlash.

Why Youthforia is under fire

Beauty iNFLuencer Golloria George, who has a regular series on her page where she swatches the darkest shade of makeup products offered by different beauty brands, posted a video on Monday of a swatch test for Youthforia’s shade 600 foundation, the darkest color in the line. This video, however, began a little differently than George’s usual posts. It shows that on one side of her face, she applied the foundation; on the other, she applied black face paint to reveal that both look the same.

@golloria

the darkest shade of the youthforia date night foundation.

♬ original sound - golloria

“Which side of my face is the black face paint or the Youthforia foundation? Tea, you can’t tell. You know why? Tar in a bottle,” she says, holding up the foundation bottle.

The video gained over 11.6 million views in less than 24 hours. In a follow-up video that now has more than 2 million views, George tests out Youthforia’s second-darkest shade, 590, which leans too red for her skin tone. “I’m a little bit cooler than 590, guys, which means Youthforia does not even make my shade,” she says before comparing shade 590 to shade 600. 

@golloria

Replying to @_sarah_herman

♬ original sound - golloria

“When we say we want you guys to make shades for us, we don’t mean [for you] to go to the lab and ask for minstrel show black,” George says in the video. “What we mean is for you to take the browns that you have made and create undertones. Do what you need to do in the lab so it’s a darker shade of brown.”

In an interview with TIME, George says she was shocked and frustrated when she swatched the foundation for the first time. “It was a really weird, surreal, out-of-this-world experience,” says. "It almost didn’t feel real.”

In October, George tried the Youthforia's darkest foundation shade at the time, 495, which was not a match. She called out the brand for making the shade look different on its website and in the bottle than how it actually appears on her skin. After trying the newest deep shade, George says she's frustrated. “Last year, the shade wasn’t dark enough. Not only do you miss the mark once, you go back and miss the mark again," she says. "That just says a lot about the ethos of the brand. It rubbed me the wrong way, and I thought, ‘This is really hurtful.’”

@golloria

Replying to @ratnips7

♬ original sound - golloria

The work of calling out brands for their lack of inclusivity “weighs a lot" on George. While her videos constantly go viral, they are “met with anti-blackness and colorism.” She says that it’s “easy for TikTok and the internet to police dark-skinned women’s experiences in beauty and when it comes to trying stuff that doesn’t work for us.”

Other beauty brands have made products accessible to a wide range of skin tones; therefore, George says it’s disheartening when brands are exclusive. George suggests that Youthforia scrap shade 600 altogether and work to correct course by using shade 590 as a place to tweak and make changes to the shade range.

Several other beauty iNFLuencers and TikTok creators have stitched George’s video to express their distaste for Youthforia’s new shade. In a video about the foundation, cosmetic chemist Javon Ford notes the differences between the brand's lighter shades and the darkest shade. The ingredients list for one of the lighter shades includes three different colors, shown by the “CI” marker at the bottom. Ford explains what each represents and says those are “pretty much the only colors you need to create a lighter shade.”

Ford then examines the ingredients list for the darkest shade, which only includes one “CI” number. 

“This foundation only has pure black pigment,” he says. “This problem is so avoidable. This brand does not care about us.”

@javonford16

Stitch @golloria #cosmeticchemist #makeupforwoc #youthforia#greenscreen

♬ original sound - Javon Ford Beauty

Ayeyi, a TikToker who says she’s worked in the beauty industry for the past 10 years, stitched George’s video to say that beauty brands “know what they’re doing. It’s not hard to extend a shade range.”

@ayeyiathome

I want to say I’m shocked but I feel like I’ve truly seen it all…the beauty industry as a whole needs to do better. @golloria #youthforiafoundation #darkskinmakeup

♬ original sound - Ayeyi at Home

“This shade that they released is actually asinine,” she says. “It is so obvious to me that this brand released this shade begrudgingly as some sort of half-baked consolation prize.”

Youthforia founder Fiona Co Chan has had to answer to criticism of the brand’s lack of inclusivity since launching their first 15 foundation shades last year. In a since-deleted video, Chan said the first drop was a “proof of concept” to see if the brand would be successful. YouTuber Jackie Aina, who is often credited for blazing the trail of online content creators trying to hold beauty brands accountable, stitched her video and said that as a Business owner, she understands why Chan made this video but can see why it’s “bullsh-t.”

“What you’re inadvertently saying is that anybody that isn’t dark skin is the default, and if they like it first, then the rest of y’all will get it,” Aina said.

@jackieaina

#stitch with @Youthforia so patronizing to be like “wait your turn guys like I said” 🫵🏾 as if this is not the very rollout strategy we have pushed back on for years lol

♬ original sound - Jackie Aina

Before launching the new shades in March, including shade 600, Chan posted a video on Youthforia’s TikTok page saying she had trouble finding a model for the latest shade. “I’m super stressed because I need to find a model for our darkest shade of Youthforia foundation,” Chan says in the video. She explains that they reached out to modeling agencies but couldn’t find any models that the shade worked on. In the video, there is text at the bottom of one clip that says, “This is a huge problem! I hope model agencies sign on more diverse models.” She goes on to say the company held a casting call and still couldn’t find anyone.

@youthforia

Days before launch, we are street casting on the other side of the world for models for the darkest shade of youthforia foundation! #youthforiafoundation #beautylaunchbts

♬ original sound - Youthforia

On Thursday, Chan posted another video saying she was on “the other side of the world,” which is later revealed to be Dubai, and had found two men to model for her. One of them was later used as a model for the swatch test on the website. Representatives for Chan and Youthforia did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

@youthforia

Replying to @niqueywiquey We created our foundation shades for real people. All shades are currently not in store, but all 25 shades are online to shop. Videos of real people wearing our shades are avail on our site and on our TikTok.

♬ original sound - Youthforia

After TikToker Wumi Afuye (@wumi.afuye) posted a video last week, giving her opinion on the new darkest shade, she followed up on Wednesday to say that someone from the company messaged a group of Youthforia TikTok ambassadors to address the concerns regarding the shade.

@wumi.afuye

@Youthforia are yall okay?!? @golloria I would LOVE to see you try this shade !❤️ #youthforia #makeup #blackgirlmakeup

♬ original sound - Wumi.Afuye

“Seeing some confusion on our TikTok from people who are suggesting that our darkest shade of foundation (Shade 600) is ‘black face paint’ and not meant for real people,” reads the message she . “We created shade 600 as part of our ten-shade expansion this past March. We heard everyone loud and clear last October that our shades were not dark enough or inclusive enough.”

@wumi.afuye

#greenscreenvideo #greenscreen @Youthforia lets be fr rn . #youthforiadarkestshade #youthforiafoundation #youthforia #makeup

♬ original sound - Wumi.Afuye

According to the message, Chan “worked super hard, calling in favors with all of her manufacturers to get this created in four months instead of the regular 18 months.” The brand says they worked with makeup artists and tested against real people. The message ends with a suggestion for the brand’s ambassadors to “comment on any TikTok post with a [heart emoji] or any positivity.”

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