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Cocoa Swatches founder Ofunne Amaka offers her unfiltered thoughts on what it'll take for beauty brands to create makeup that's truly black-girl approved. 

Sep, 26, 2016

This weekend, Colourpop made the wrong kind of headlines when it was revealed that the three deepest shades in its Sculpting Stix collection were labeled “Typo,” “Yikes,” and “Dume.” As expected, consumers did not take too kindly to these specific shades having monikers that allude to defects or mistakes:

The celebrity-endorsed brand has sinced addressed the short-lived controversy by thanking consumers for their widespread criticism. 

“On behalf of ColourPop, we are sorry and are extremely grateful for our customers’ feedback,” said a spokesperson to Buzzfeed. “We have taken immediate action to change the shade names and review our naming process to ensure this does not happen again.”

And as promised, the names were aptly changed; “Typo” is now “Platonic,” “Yikes” is “Bloom” and “Dume” is “Point Dume,” the same moniker of a popular state park in California. 

The funny (or not so funny) part of this debacle is that the collection was problematic long before its public release. 

Three months ago, the sticks were previewed as part of a PR push and criticized for not only the names; but the lack of WOC-friendly shades as well.  

This makeup fiasco confirms what many of us are already thinking: does Colourpop use multiple skin swatches because they truly believe in diversity or do they simply recognize that they are setting themselves up for more dollars? 

It is one of the few beauty companies that utilizes social media to ensure customers with various skin tones feel comfortable purchasing their e-commerce only products. There’s no denying the profitable movement they’ve pioneered online. 

Despite its many accomplishments, and the fact that I am constantly submerged in the beauty world, its feel likes I’m repeatedly yelling, “not again?!”

A brand launches a new product; no shades for darker complexions. Not again.

A brand uses a dark skinned arm to swatch foundations for light complexions. Not again.

A brand labels its deep shades “Typo,” “Yikes,” and “Dume.” NOT. AGAIN.  

Philando Castile, an unarmed black man, is shot by a police officer and a brand posts a photo with the caption #AllLivesMatter. Not Again.

Instances like this force us to recognize that it’s actually quite larger than some of us might think; a “wicked problem,” if you will. 

While Colourpop’s influencer collaborations have included women of color, none of these women have had darker complexions. Their product development seems to be skewed toward fairer complexions and, as evidenced, they are no stranger to micro-aggressions committed towards customers with darker skin tones. 

So the questions remain: where can we go from here? What can do we do to make this situation better? I firmly believe that tackling the diversity problem in the beauty industry must take a holistic approach that includes everyone from the CEO, to the social media manager, beauty chemist, beauty editor and consumer.

We need diversity in all of these roles; to not only acknowledge the problem, but continuously seek creative methods toward resolution. 

We need less “not agains” and more “finally, this is here.”