When Beauty Bakerie dropped “Cake Mix,” back in April—their first-ever foundation—we were focused on the shade range, the coverage, the texture and the almost frightening amount of staying power the brand is known for. But as we perused multiple YouTube tutorials debating the product’s merits, we overlooked one fundamental detail about Cake Mix’s 30-shade launch:
They listed the darkest shade first.
If you think this is a minor detail, consider this: For pretty much as long as beauty brands—and America—have existed, “fair” has been the default, meaning that every other shade has been calibrated in relation to the one that best fits white faces. To put it plainly: White has been number one, and all darker shades have fallen somewhere behind, if at all.
Beauty Bakerie’s subtle flipping of the script indicates a paradigm shift that begins with the most highly-pigmented—or, in our case, melanated—and works backward from there. It not only makes equal or more sense, but also reflects the “for us, by us” origin of the brand. And as founder Cashmere Nicole recently told Teen Vogue, it’s her attempt at adding a little parity to the beauty aisle:
For black women in particular, we are reminded everywhere we go, on a daily basis, multiple times throughout the day, that we are second. You go into a store, and you are bending down to nearly the ground to get your shade, or you go to a beauty store’s website, and when you’re looking for your shade you’re scrolling to the bottom of a list. And it could be any brand, but it’s going to be like, here are the light shades, and here are the dark all the way down here.
And while the brand’s 30-shade launch didn’t attempt to compete with the 40 shades of foundation at Fenty Beauty or any number of subsequent copycats, they’ve also left plenty of room for growth, numbering their shades in odd numbers #1-#59—which means they launched with a full 29 slots left open for growth and undertone nuance.
Admittedly, the “demi-matte” formulation may take a little getting used to, especially for us dryer skin types, who will find the brand’s Marula-based “Wake & Bake Hydrating Face Oil” ($28) a necessity when blending out the product. But despite a relatively low-key launch, we’re sincerely hoping Cake Mix ($28) catches on, if only to remind other beauty brands that the spectrum can—and should—work both ways.