We Tested Morphe's Controversial New Foundation — & This Is What We Think

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Launching a complexion line in 2019 no longer looks like five shades with one undertone and one standard finish. We expect the products on shelves to reflect the diverse, unique faces of the people wearing (and spending cash on) them. Thanks to O.G. makeup brands like MAC and Make Up For Ever, and new industry leaders like Fenty, we're making progress.
In the past year, we've seen brands revamp existing complexion ranges to include more shades, or launch entirely new collections that meet or exceed the 40-shade mark. And Morphe — a newer buzzy brand that's especially popular among beauty bloggers — is one of the latest. The brand recently released its "Fluidity" complexion range at Ulta, including a full-coverage foundation that comes in a whopping 60 shades, plus 31 shades of concealer and 15 shades of finishing powder.
The brand uses a level system to separates the shades into five categories from light (level 1) to deep (level 5). Within each level, there are 2-4 skin-tone options. Then, each of those shades are broken out by undertone (warm, cool, neutral, and olive). To help make things easier, every single shade on the site is represented by a real model with the same skin tone. "We just want to make sure you’re finding somebody you identify with as you’re trying to find your shade,” Myles McCormick, chief executive officer of Morphe, told WWD.
But despite its best efforts, Morphe still faced some social media backlash over the launch. Influencers like Jackie Aina and Alyssa Ashley critiqued the brand for releasing what looked like a lot of shades, but actually failed to deliver in the undertone department. "I don't think there was enough attention to detail for the rich and deep category," Aina said in her review. "Quality is better than quantity. Just because you have a high number doesn't mean that those shades will be useful." On Twitter, influencers called the launch disingenuous, pointing out that the brand (which has previously partnered with Jaclyn Hill and Jeffree Star) fails to regularly feature a diverse body of artists.
So when the new items made their way into the hands of the Refinery29 team, it was only right to give the divisive launch a fair shot. We had five staffers of color test out a handful of new Morphe products and share their honest, unfiltered opinions. Read their thoughts, ahead.
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