Almay thinks "The American Look" is in — and it doesn't cater to women of color. The cosmetics brand defines the coveted "American Look" as a celebration of the "true spirit of American beauty."
"The all-American beauty look is genuine, fresh and glowing with confidence," Almay explained in a statement. "We make getting this natural beauty look easy and safe. We are very proud of our American heritage and to be a truly American brand." However, Almay's look doesn't apply, unless you're 50 shades of beige.
While choosing a spokesperson isn't always a reflection of a company's ideal consumer, the Revlon-owned brand almost exclusively casts white women with blonde hair — like Carrie Underwood, Kate Hudson and Leslie Bibb — in their advertisements.
With a shade selection ranging from ivory to warm (a deep bisque shade), Almay's options clearly cater to light-skinned women. There's not much for darker-skinned women to work with, save for a few eyeshadow palettes and liners.
But Almay seems to want it this way.
This isn't the first time Almay has released questionable content.
The nonprofit group, Truth in Advertising, filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and New York's attorney general this past May alleging that Almay’s campaign misleads consumers.
Their former slogan, "Simply American," implied that their products are American-made, which is false — almost 95% of their cosmetics sold online don't meet the FTC's strict requirements for "Made in the USA" labeling. Almay changed their slogan from "Simply American" to "The American Look."
The new slogan is legally acceptable, but still brings up a bigger issue: The brand selling the self-proclaimed "American Look" completely excludes women of color from their shade selection.
"American beauty' should represent the full spectrum of beauty in America," Alle Connell, Revelist's senior beauty editor, says. "If you only make light foundation, you're telling women with deep complexions that these products are not for them, and by extension, that their beauty is not 'American.' This isn't the kind of message that brands which claim to be inclusive should be sending."
Yet, this issue seems to fly under the radar.
Revelist had to dig deep into the world of beauty forums and groups to see just how frustrated people are with the brand’s lack of diversity. Readers of the Lipstick Alley forum think the new slogan is offensive, especially since Almay doesn't cater to all skin tones.
So how does this exclusion impact darker-skinned women?
An Essence magazine study found that Black women spend over $7.5 billion annually on beauty products, 80% more on cosmetics and twice as much on skincare than other demographics. Brands should be catering to, not ignoring, the needs of such a profitable market.
Journalist Joan Morgan and Dr. Yaba Blay, the Dan Blue Endowed Chair in political science at North Carolina Central University, started the hashtag #LupitaforMac in 2014 to persuade the cosmetics brand to hire Lupita Nyong'o as a spokeswoman.
"It's not easy being a dark-skinned woman in this society, and it's not easy being a dark-skinned woman within the beauty industry," Blay said in an interview with NewsOne. "There are a lot of compromises that I have had to make throughout my adult life in terms of how to manage my aesthetics. So I just can't walk into your average makeup counter and get my color instantaneously. I definitely can't get my color out of Target and I wouldn't even try."
The Oscar-winner has since gone on to become the face of