Why Beauty Experts Are Calling Out Youthforia's New Foundation

The Gen Z beauty brand tried to address critics of its narrow product range, but its latest version drew even more backlash.

an influencer puts on Youthforia's dark foundation to show that it is lacking pigment
(Image credit: TikTok)

In an attempt to expand its limited foundation range with its darkest shade yet, the Gen Z beauty brand Youthforia might have actually shown how not to run an inclusive business.

This week, influencers have been sharing no-holds-barred criticism of Youthforia's Date Night foundation in shade 600, an ink-black formula that looks interchangeable with black paint when it's applied. Youthforia had developed the shade to address critics of its previously 15-shade-only lineup, which carried more light foundations than dark. Cosmetic chemists, creators, and everyday shoppers agreed the new version falls short by failing to take deep skins' undertones into account. They say it's not a wearable product—and that the brand's approach was ultimately offensive.

Ahead, find an up-to-date breakdown of everything that's happened since Youthforia released its 600 shade, including exactly why the foundation fails and whether the brand has responded.


the darkest shade of the youthforia date night foundation.

♬ original sound - golloria

Why is Youthforia’s Date Night foundation facing backlash?

Shoppers have been demanding for months that Youthforia expand its 15-shade foundation range to include more options for deeper skin tones. In March, the brand released ten more shades, including the shade 600, it's darkest color—but videos by beauty influencers posted this week show that it looks more like jet black paint than a foundation for dark skin tones.

Beauty creator Golloria George first published a comparison of Youthforia’s new shade with plain black paint on Monday, April 29, that’s now been viewed more than 19.5 million times on TikTok. Applying both the paint and the foundation to her face in side-by-side swatches, they were nearly indistinguishable from one another. George concluded that the foundation was more like “tar in a bottle.”

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

Even more creators have replied directly to George’s TikTok or posted reviews of their own to point out how the shade fails. “This should be a crime,” Awoui Matiop said in a video that has 1.1 million likes. “There’s no way in 2024 that we are getting this. They just slap it in our face saying, ‘There you go. Here’s a black paint for your face.’”

Youthforia’s overall shade range also lacks the variety and nuance shoppers expect from brands in 2024. There are only six shades available at press time intended for medium-deep and deep skin tones—not enough to accurately service a diverse customer base. Meanwhile, brands including Fenty, Nars, and Uoma Beauty have between 30 and 50 options to choose from.


♬ original sound - Awuoi Matiop

Why is Youthforia's darkest shade unwearable?

Foundation shades at every point on the skintone spectrum will typically mix a few pigments to reflect the natural undertones in users’ skin. As cosmetic chemist Javon Ford noted on TikTok, however, Youthforia made its darkest shade foundation with only one (1) pigment, black iron oxide.

This pigment alone is not chemically suited for use as a foundation because “it makes things gray and muddy,” Ford said. Read: It hides natural undertones rather than highlighting or enhancing them, causing the foundation to look more like tar or paint when creators applied it.

“This problem is so avoidable,” Ford added. “She [Youthforia’s founder] could have used NARS or Fenty foundation shades as a benchmark. This brand does not care about us.”


♬ original sound - Javon Ford Beauty

shade match with black face paint..

♬ original sound - Yar

Is this the first time Youthforia tried to extend its foundation range?

No, and the entire scandal feels a little like history repeating.

In fall 2023, Youthforia released its first 15-shade range of the Date Night foundation, which included only four medium-to-deep shades. Creators immediately noticed that the initial lineup barely provided options for diverse skin tones—and the darker shades gave users a gray cast.

Youthforia founder Fiona Co Chan defended the rollout in a video that has since been deleted, claiming that the limited shade range was “proof of concept” for the brand to launch a foundation.

Facing further backlash for that explanation—which creators thought implied darker foundation shades were a lesser priority for Youthforia—Co Chan later released an apology statement. “When I first started Youthforia two years ago, all I wanted to do was create a safe space where individual beauty could be celebrated. And unfortunately with our latest launch, we just fell short of that mission,” she said.

Has Youthforia apologized for the current controversy?

At press time, neither Youthforia founder Fiona Co Chan nor a representative for the brand have posted an apology statement. The brand has not responded to requests for comment from news outlets; its partner retailers, Ulta and Revolve, are also keeping quiet for now. Marie Claire editors will update this post if and when the brand comments.

Halie LeSavage
Senior News Editor (Fashion & Beauty)

Halie LeSavage is the senior fashion and beauty news editor at Marie Claire, where she assigns, edits, and writes stories for both sections. Halie is an expert on runway trends, celebrity style, emerging fashion and beauty brands, and shopping (naturally). In over seven years as a professional journalist, Halie’s reporting has ranged from fashion week coverage spanning the Copenhagen, New York, Milan, and Paris markets, to profiles on industry insiders including stylist Alison Bornstein and J.Crew womenswear creative director Olympia Gayot, to breaking news stories on noteworthy brand collaborations and beauty launches. (She can personally confirm that Bella Hadid’s Ôrebella perfume is worth the hype.) She has also written dozens of research-backed shopping guides to finding the best tote bags, ballet flats, and more. Most of all, Halie loves to explore what trends—like the rise of doll-like Mary Janes or TikTok’s 75 Hard Style Challenge—can say about culture writ large. (She justifies almost any purchase by saying it’s “for work.”) Halie has previously held writer and editor roles at Glamour, Morning Brew, and Harper’s Bazaar. Halie has been cited as a fashion and beauty expert in The Cut, CNN Underscored, and Reuters, among other outlets, and appears in newsletters like Selleb and Self-Checkout to provide shopping recommendations. In 2022, she was awarded the Hearst Spotlight Award for excellence and innovation in fashion journalism. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Harvard College. Outside of work, Halie is passionate about books, baking, and her miniature Bernedoodle, Dolly. For a behind-the-scenes look at her reporting, you can follow Halie on Instagram and TikTok.