ColourPop Says ‘Sorry’ For Offensive Names…But is it Enough?


I hate writing these type of posts…so much so that I usually avoid writing them all together. But I couldn’t stay silent on this one. Recently I published a review on ColourPop Cosmetics, more specifically on their liquid matte and satin lipsticks. I have always heard great things about their products – their quality, their affordability – and my heart literally grew three sizes after trying the lip colors I purchased.

Now my heart is feeling something else.

A good friend of mine sent me this:

What’s the big deal? Looking at these pictures, it’s hard to miss the subtle message that ColourPop is sending to their customers. As their contour stix become darker — more ‘natural’ for those of chocolate skin tones — the product names go from being cute and sweet (gummy bear), to the complete opposite…Yikes, Dume, Typo, etc. Really?! Is my skin tone a typo? ?

And it’s not just the contour stix, it’s also their lip colors — “No graduation day for you? You’ll still rock this chocolate raspberry in a Sheer finish.” We all know that ‘sheer’ is meant to match natural skin tones, giving the illusion of wearing almost no makeup at all. Do you think this is a coincidence?

There are only two, three conclusions I can come to:

  1. ColourPop truly finds brown or darker skin tones so unappealing (Yikes), so dumb (or Dume/Dropout), so mistaken (Typo), that they couldn’t even try to hide their true feelings when naming their products.
  2. ColourPop is so ‘ignorant’ that they don’t realize the message they are sending…thus labeling their products names that are truly hurtful/upsetting and demeaning to their African-American/darker-toned customers.
  3. ColourPop does not view customers of a ‘darker skin-tone’ as important…and thus products are not made in the best interests of these consumers, or with them even in mind. Maybe applied to those of a lighter skin-tone — their priority customers — the products would elicit such a response. But, what about the rest of us?

Are any of these conclusions true? I don’t know…all or none of them might be. Be here’s what I do know. We deserve an explanation. ColourPop recently issued an apology:

“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.”

However, an apology is not enough. While I’m happy that the names were changed, I’m still left wondering why this was ever okay? What were they thinking? Were they thinking at all?

Why is it okay? I know it seems silly that I would be upset over something as simple as makeup. But, it is this same question that I ask after countless other accounts of injustice, discrimination, and racism that are happening in our country…and around the world.

Why is it okay to mistreat others? Why is it okay to hurt and kill based on one’s presumptions of another’s race? Why is it okay for a little girl to be told that she’s ugly, or not the standard of beauty, simply because of her skin tone or hair texture? Why is it okay to say that one’s worth or value is not equal to their counterparts? Why is it okay to tell someone that they are not ‘welcome here,’ simply because they don’t speak your language? Why is it okay to target individuals because of their religious beliefs? Really, the list goes on and on…yet the question remains — Why is it okay?

So ColourPop, while I appreciate your apology — really I do — it is not enough. Simply saying you’re sorry does not address the issue at hand. It doesn’t fix it. It simply skirts around the situation…a quick solution to a deep, systemic problem.

Am I saying boycott ColourPop and their products? No. Outside of this controversy, their products are great! But, what I am saying is that they need to be held accountable for their actions and the reasoning behind them. They need to humble themselves and say, “Yeah, we messed up. This is why. We owe our customers better. And this is what we’re going to do to fix it.”

Until ColourPop (or whoever else) does this, we are bound to be stuck in the same vicious cycle that we are currently in.

Until Next Time,




Maya is owner of Pink Caboodle, specializing in Fashion and Body Positivity.

  1. I’d be curious as to what lead them to name their products that in the beginning. I had no idea this was a thing. I agree though a straight apology isn’t enough.

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