Golloria Went Viral For Calling Out Youthforia’s ‘Jet Black’ Foundation. Now, She Demands Better

Photo: Courtesy of @rebeccaspencer_photography.
When Golloria George woke up to an influx of Instagram comments urging her to try Youthforia’s Date Night Skin Tint Serum foundation in its darkest shade, she initially planned to ignore it. The 23-year-old Sudanese-American content creator built her platform by testing makeup brands’ darkest shades. It’s both a fun resource for dark-skinned makeup lovers who've felt neglected by popular brands and a reminder that the beauty industry’s colourism problem runs deep even in 2024.
So, when beauty brand Youthforia unveiled its expanded shade range earlier this month — sparking “the worst foundation shade scandal ever seen” — George knew testing this product on her skin tone would not go well. And she was right. “I'm from South Sudan, and South Sudan has some of the darkest people in the world. And so I've seen dark [skin tones]” she tells Unbothered over Zoom. “When I put it on my face, I knew that this would not work for me, or anybody else who is darker than me because [the foundation shade] was literally just black.” A pure black foundation. As TikTok creator, Wumi Afuye, expressed on the app last month, “You are going to feel like you are being hate-crimed.” 
When speaking with Unbothered, it had been two weeks since George tried Youthforia’s Date Night foundation, in the 'shade 600',  and since went viral. The pictures of Golloria with a swatch of Youthforia’s foundation on one side, then jet black face paint on the other, have circulated everywhere — the similarities between the two shades are undeniable. “Which side of my face is a black face paint and which side of my face is Youthforia’s foundation? Tea, you can’t tell,” she says in the video with nearly 200k likes. It’s a shade George described as “tar in a bottle”, “minstrel show black” and “not human”. It’s objectively bad. It’s offensively bad. To prevent George and other Black creators from being gaslit, Black cosmetic chemist Javon Forde offered a deeper look into Shade 600’s formulation on Instagram, confirming that the shade contains “only one pigment CI 77499, which is just black Oxide”. “No other colourants. This foundation only includes a pure black pigment,”  said Forde. “This brand does not care about us.”
Youthforia’s launch crashed and burned because dark-skin tones were an afterthought at the brand’s inception (Youthforia initially launched its skin tint foundation in 15 shades — the darkest of which would cause Beyoncé trouble — and promised to extend the range after “proof of concept”). Adding insult to injury, the brand’s founder, Fiona Co Chan, hasn’t publicly responded to the most recent backlash. Unbothered has reached out to Youthforia for comment but the brand has yet to respond. However, on TikTok, a video shows the founder struggling to find a model dark enough to match shade ‘600’ in the US. Surely this proves that it is a shade no one is asking for.   
We’ve long demanded brands do better than this. It’s more than four years since Sharon Chuter, founder of inclusive makeup brand Uoma, told industries to “pull up or shut up” and the makeup industry pledged to do better for its Black consumers. Many did. Others still fall short. Youthforia’s foundation is the beauty industry’s equivalent to Instagram’s Black Squares in 2020 —  performative diversity at its worst and most ineffective. All we have is another brand seemingly preoccupied with looking inclusive, ticking boxes in a post-2020 world, failing to serve a purpose for the people it targets. It fails dark-skinned women like Golloria.
Here, she shares the impact of colourism, what it’s like to love an industry that doesn’t love you back and the Black-owned makeup brands that help heal her inner child.
Unbothered: How has life been since you posted the Youthforia video? And are you happy that people are having this conversation now?
Golloria George: There are a lot of sad and great things that have come with this conversation. I would say the ‘sad’ is that I'm [revisiting] the experiences of colourism that I experienced when I was younger, I feel like all those wounds are constantly brought up. However, on the other side and the flip side, it's like, look at all the dark-skinned girls that you're helping. Look at the beauty industry. Look at all these new products that are coming out that work for my skin tone, so it's bittersweet… but it's what you can take from it and it's a blessing regardless.
UB: Absolutely. It comes with the position of speaking out or saying things that need to be said. I want to go back to the beginning. Why did you come to try Youthforia’s foundation? What were you expecting from Shade 600? 
GG:  I tried [Youthforia’s] initial launch in September of last year and I received that launch in PR [mail]. I made my darkest shade video, and the shade didn't work for me. When I made that video I was met back with Fiona, the owner, who said that she launched all of the lighter shades first because she wanted to see if the consumers would like them. And then [if customers] did like the foundation after that she would launch the darker shades. So basically, Black women are an afterthought. After I heard that I was like, OK, well, I don't really need to use this brand anymore. But then, people kept tagging me a few months later on the shade extension of the Youthforia Foundation. Even when I saw pictures of it online, something was not right. So I didn't go out of my way to buy it immediately. This was also a week where I was getting an influx of people tagging me to try it. I was walking past the Youthforia stand in Ulta [a beauty store in the US] and I took a look — and mind you Ulta has super bright fluorescent lights and [the foundation] still looked black. But, I came home and I tried it. And I just thought,  there is no way this can be a human colour. And I know I'm not the darkest but I obviously know that I am on that end of the spectrum for sure. And it was kind of just like a wow. [Youthforia] literally made a video last year where they received constructive criticism about the brand’s [lack of] inclusion and they said they were going to work on it and were already in the works with making the darker shades. And this is what they came out with? It just felt very dystopian. This cannot be the world that we live in where people genuinely think that people who have dark skin are jet black. After that, I had to make a video.
UB: And I'm glad you did. Then you go viral talking about this. And there are people in the comments saying, well, Youthforia “tried” to be inclusive…
GG: Trying isn't good enough because inclusivity is the bare minimum. I am a person on this earth, like every other person on this earth with a lighter complexion and a darker complexion. There is no point in creating a complexion launch and only catering to a certain demographic of people on this earth. At that point, just say who your target audience is. I feel like when makeup brands and beauty brands are not being inclusive, especially in 2024, it opens up a bigger conversation about anti-Blackness, colourism and racism and how the beauty industry is a little bit rooted in white supremacy. So, we have to have these conversations. And the beauty industry has to change. I don’t [understand] how people don't see how far we're getting set back if we're not having these conversations. And yes, it may not affect you directly but not your job as a person, especially of a lighter complexion, to minimise or diminish the experiences of Black people or darker complexion Black people.
UB: Has Youthforia responded? Have they said anything to you? 
GG: No, not that I know of. They haven't said anything [to me personally] and it's been coming up to two weeks, It just goes to show I don't think they care.
UB: You’ve had so much support globally. But then people say, ‘You've got Fenty Beauty that caters for all skin tones, so why do you care?’ For you and your platform, why is it important to try brands that don't cater to darker skin tones?
GG: I’ve had this conversation a lot. And it just goes into the fact that I can be a multifaceted person in the same way I could use different brands of make-up. I shouldn't be limited to the two or three brands which are inclusive and cater to me. Because if I continue to settle for those three limited brands that cater to me, then I am stopping the conversation of inclusivity [across the board]. I do my ‘darkest shade’ videos because I want to be a change and I want to see a change. So why would I settle for three brands, when I know it is possible to have all the beauty brands in Ulta and Sephora become inclusive? We equally deserve just as much as everybody else. And that's just what I stand on. I know some people say ‘Well, why don't you just use the products from the brands that are already inclusive towards us and catered towards us?’ And I'm just like, just because you're comfortable being limited, just because you're comfortable being silenced, doesn't mean I'm comfortable being limited and being silent, especially when this directly affects me in my everyday life. And that's just what it is. The experiences of dark-skinned people are so vast beyond the beauty industry. And if we can make a change in one industry, we can do it across the board. It takes voices and it takes power [to make a change].

 Our voice matters. Our money matters. It just doesn't make sense why these brands are not expanding their shade ranges and catering to Black people, especially when we spend the most coin!

Golloria george
Photo: Courtesy of Youthforia.
UB: There's also an inter-community conversation here. I was watching one of your videos and you tried a Bobbi Brown Skin Tint and the darkest shade didn’t match. Yet, that was the first brand where I found a shade match. And I realised that I was short-sighted when it came to brands catering for Black people darker than me. Some of the brands we say are inclusive haven’t gone far enough for darker skin tones…
GG: I know Bobbi Brown was a lot of Black girl firsts, for sure. But I think that [the brand] is just comfortable as there are already other brands [expanding their shade ranges] and don’t feel they need to do it. Yet that shouldn't be the conversation because [catering for all skintones] is the bare minimum and that should just be the standard.
UB: It should be the standard and catering for all skin tones is a very simple concept but many brands still fall short…
GG: I feel people underestimate the Black people coin, especially in beauty. We spend so much on beauty every year. Our voice matters. Our money matters. It just doesn't make sense why these brands are not expanding their shade ranges and catering to Black people, especially when we spend the most coin!
UB: You mentioned before how colourism is intrinsic in the beauty space. What is it like to work in this industry? Have you seen any progress?
GG: I wouldn't say there has been a lot [of progress] because I’ve still experienced going on like brand trips or working with brands and being the only dark-skinned girl in the room, I still experience being the only Black girl in the room. So I can't wholeheartedly say that I've seen any change on that end of the spectrum, because I've been in rooms with all the beauty girls, and I've still felt very alone. It just goes to show that a lot of these brands aren't true to the core of their ethos when it comes to inclusivity. Because that also means paying Black creators, inviting them to the brand trips, it means having Black people on your team, it means doing the outreach, so that you are just supporting the Black community and including us. I don't really see that a lot in the beauty industry. 
UB: You spoke to Rihanna at a recent Fenty Beauty launch which must have been an incredible career moment. When people talk about the 40 Shades of Fenty Beauty, it’s become a marker of a brand that did inclusivity right — and you told her that. Why was it important for you to thank her personally?
GG: There are so many feelings that came from that interview. My first ever viral video was me using the Fenty matchstick and the colour caviar to contour. I never could find a contour deep enough before, I don't even think there were contour sticks deep enough for me to use before. When I tried the contour stick I recorded it on TikTok and that was my first ever viral video, which gave me a footing in the beauty industry. When I say that I stan Fenty Beauty it's not only because they make products for me, but it's also because that was my first ever makeup video. Not only did you heal so much of my inner child, Fenty Beauty and Rihanna, but also as I'm older the brand’s still doing things for me and I can't even say thank you enough. 
UB: You mentioned it a couple of times now but what do you mean when you say you're healing your inner child?
GG: I know a lot of dark-skinned girls and people with darker complexions have all experienced colourism especially because I'm from South Sudan. I'm a refugee. When I came to the US, English was not my first language and so there was also that cultural barrier as well. It was a crazy experience for me to grow up here in the States and experience the amount of colourism, especially because South Sudanese people are some of the darkest people in the world. And not just dark-skinned, I am dark. [The colourism I faced] was traumatic. I feel like a lot of us have the same experience, especially South Sudanese people, when it comes to colourism and just like general anti-blackness. Whenever I wanted to try makeup when I was younger, and nothing would work for me it was just really sad. Then I also dealt with the colourism on top of that in school, everywhere I went. It didn't matter who I was as a person. It didn't matter what thoughts I had, the only thing that people saw was purely the fact that I was dark-skinned and they treated me horribly because of it. It’s crappy because dark skin is so beautiful, like girl, hello! So, when I say Fenty Beauty did heal a lot of my inner child it’s because when I'm swatching a shade and it works for me, it almost brings me to tears because I've experienced things not working for me my whole life.
UB: Let’s talk about the brands that get it right. 
GG: I have to go with my two favourite Black-owned brands first: Danessa Myrick and Pat McGrath. I feel like they have been leading the beauty industry especially when it comes to darker complexions, we are never an afterthought.
My favourite celebrity brand, of course, is Fenty Beauty and then we have Lady Gaga’s Haus Labs and Halsey’s About Face. I think all three of these brands, even though they're celebrity-owned brands, do an amazing job. Girl, they're going to have your shade at every product launch! The Haus Labs Triclone Foundation is insane. It’s the fact that I can even choose from a summer and winter shade and have variety in undertones. It’s not just one dark shade specifically made for a person on my complexion. That is something that you can never take for granted. 
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity. 
Unbothered reached out to Youthforia for comment and the brand has yet to respond.
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