Did Tarte Cosmetics Seriously Post A Racist Instagram Story Just One Day After Their Apology To Women Of Color?

Photo: Instagram
Tarte Cosmetics Blackface

Tarte Cosmetics, the make-up brand behind top-selling Double Beauty Shape Tape concealer, is facing a tremendous backlash following the much-awaited release of their coordinating line of foundation and it's range of 15 shades, which has beauty bloggers, vloggers and fans everywhere understandably outraged and disappointed. 

Following the enormous success of their concealer, which sold out quickly after it was first released in 2016, Tarte fans expected far more from the brand in regard to the diversity of their products.


RELATED: Why Being "Color-Blind" To Race Is Willfully Ignorant (And Racist)


Before officially putting the Double Duty Shape Tape Foundation line (which comes in two formulas (matte and hydrating) and retails for $39 is already being sold online and will be available in Ulta retail stores on February 4, 2018) on the market, the company released this since-deleted photo on their Instagram.

As you can see, shades that would work with the skin tones of most women of color are limited in number, at best.


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Writing for Metro UK, Falma Bakar pointed out that in the image below from Tarte's campaign, "Of the models they used for the product, 11 of the models were white, and on the darker end of the spectrum there were four models — who had only two different shades between them."

Our society has progressed to the point that makeup aficionados expect diversity to be recognized and accounted for by cosmetics companies.

Rihanna's new Fenty Beauty line, for example, was released to rave reviews in September of 2017, with its offering of 20 shades of concealer and 40 shades of foundation.

And lest anyone forget, Makeup Forever has been offering their Ultra HD Foundation in 40 shades brands since 2015, which they were keen to make sure everyone remembers as the spotlight shines so brightly on Fenty. 

Tarte initially responded by offering this statement, which explained the lack of darker tone, rather than apologizing for it via an "exclusive" conversation with PopSugar.

When the quote originally appeared, it read as follows:

"A rep from Tarte explained to POPSUGAR that even when Shape Tape Foundation was revealed, the new colors were already in the works. Additional shades are usually added seasonally, which makes sense because your complexion tends to be paler in the Winter and darker in the Summer months (but please wear sunscreen, kids!). And our friends at Tarte were honest: they explained that it can take time to get the full range finished and flawless — they need to get those warm and cool undertones to be exact! 'We're always pushing ourselves and suppliers to work as quickly as possible,' our contact confirmed."

Then, in an odd turn of events, Tarte not only chose to issue an apology, but ONLY in their Instagram stories, which, as is the nature of Instagram stories, disappeared forever after 24 hours.  

The story, most of which was saved in screenshots shared on Revelist, opened with a collage of angry Tweets from disappointed consumers.

Next, Tarte's story moved into explanation and apology territory.

"You all know by now that we revealed our much anticipated shape tape foundation... & the final shade range that we launched was definitely not a full representation of all of you. It may be too little too late, but we can assure you this was not meant in any kind of malicious way. We all just got caught up in #shapetapenation and seeing your tweets asking for it... We wanted to get the product out as fast as possible, and we made the decision to move forward before all the shades were ready to go."

"We know there is no excuse & we take full responsibility for launching this way."

"We lost sight of what's really important in this industry, & for those who feel alienated in our community, we want to personally apologize."


"We're doing everything in our power to bring those unfinished shades as fast as we can, at any cost." 


Not only did Tarte neglect to post the apology on their website or their Facebook page, but their only mention they made on Twitter came in the form of retweeting the previously published exclusive with PopSugar, only now edited to include the new apology in place of the original explanation, along with one fairly dismissive Tweet.

"We want to let you all know that we hear you. We’re reading all of your tweets and comments and have addressed them on our IG stories."

This isn't the first time the cosmetics brand, founded in 2000, has come under fire for racial insensitivity.

In September of 2017, the same month Fenty premiered, Tarte came under fire for posting this racist meme, again on Instagram.

"My brain during the day: Potato, potato, ching chong tomato
My brain at night: I wonder why the Earth was placed exactly here and allowed us to provide a perfect climate to sustain human life."

After Michelle Lee, editor-in-chief at Allure Magazine called them out on Twitter, Tarte removed the offensive post.

"Pls delete ur ching chong post on Instagram, @tartecosmetics. I love you but it's a term that's extremely offensive to your Asian fans"

The folks at Tarte also apologized... on Instagram... in an actual post.

"From the bottom of my heart, I'm sorry and embarrassed. Yesterday, we made a mistake by sharing an insensitive meme with a racist term. There is NO EXCUSE for using any type of racial slur, regardless of the context. We understand that this ignorance has caused us to lose loyal fans, and we completely understand. I take full responsibility, and we thank you all for helping us educate our team and each other. Sincerely, Maureen, CEO and founder of tarte."

The caption on the post as it appears now is, again, an edited version of the original.

"What saddens us even more is seeing our community turn against each other in the comments with hateful & negative language, which is why we've disabled them for this post. Let's work together to start a more positive conversation. Change starts with us."

Today, the company made yet another exceedingly odd choice involving an Instagram story.

Brand marketing coordinator Allison Knipe can be seen "reporting live from [her] couch" in New York City, having just applied the Tarte friction stick in order to detox her face of the "pizza and beer" she consumed over the past weekend.

The unfortunate resemble to blackface in the image Knipe presents of herself is, well, unfortunate. 

Especially given that it was posted just three days after the company promised that they "can and will do better."

Meanwhile, over on their Facebook page, the trolls (this time indeed of the righteous variety) are out in full force.

On a post for their bright clay multi-mask...

"Amazing how you could come up with different colors for a face mask but not for foundation. #FiftyShadesOfBeige"

On a fitness post teaching the plank position...

"what Color are the floors in your gym? Are they brown? Like the colors you forgot..."

And on a post offering the chance to win a free trip to Hawaii...

"I'd love to enter, but if I get much darker I won't be able to wear any of your foundations or concealers. Get your act together Tarte. Make more shades!"

The description on Tarte's YouTube Channel states, "At tarte, we believe in breaking down beauty boundaries, shattering stereotypes and being kind."

Whether or not the brand will make good on that mission is sure to be an interesting mystery to keep an eye on.


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Hannah Kern is an avid writer with a passion for delving deep into interpersonal relationships. When she isn’t researching new information for YourTango, you can find her making frappucinos at Starbucks or planning her next escape to the mountains. For more, follow her on Instagram.