This may sound overdue, but for many beauty brands and retailers, real skin is finally in. Urban Decay, L'Oréal Paris, and CVS have recently been praised for showing models' skin as it actually exists, with blackheads, wrinkles, freckles, bumps, peach fuzz, and pimples on proud display — all without retouching.
Now an upcoming brand called SPKTRM Beauty is billing itself as the first beauty brand to ban skin retouching in its imagery altogether.
"From a personal standpoint, I know exactly how detrimental seeing these airbrushed images can be," Jasmine Glass, one of SPKTRM's co-founders, says. "When I get a pimple, my self-esteem plummets. Beauty ideals in the existing landscape are quite restrictive and unrealistic. We want to break down a lot of these barriers and help people see beyond rigid ideals so they can have a broader appreciation for beauty in others, and in themselves."
In the past, brands have said campaigns are unedited, but often find loopholes. For example, a brand might say it doesn't edit out any permanent characteristics like size, shape, or eye color, or it might restrict the no-retouching mission to just a small selection of its marketing plan. Glass has been privy to this through her years as the editor-in-chief of Glassbook, an art and culture publication. She says that she would continuously ask for images that had not been airbrushed or edited, but found photographers were largely uncomfortable putting images like that out there.
Now that she's got more creative control with SPKTRM, she insisted that the only editing done to its images is saturating the background in order to make the models pop. In its first campaign, which offers a peak at the sheer foundation SPKTRM plans to mass produce, there are people of various genders and skin tones with stubble and freckles, which might have been smoothed or removed by other brands.
SPKTRM is also on a mission to be one of the most inclusive makeup brands out there, with a wide-ranging foundation shade range — but it needs your help. Through an Indiegogo campaign, which is now live, SPKTRM is asking not just for donations to officially launch the brand, but backers will also be sent a survey after the campaign ends asking for a makeup-free selfie and information on their skin.
From there, SPKTRM's chemists will use the images to create an inclusive shade range. Then it'll name each of its YOU+ foundation shades after one randomly selected backer who matches that particular shade.
Ideally, Glass and her two other co-founders, AnnaLiisa Benston and Ehlie Luna, want more than 50 YOU+ foundation shades, which they're hoping will be shipped out by December. That's the kind of thinking sparked by Rihanna's Fenty Beauty, which launched with 40 different foundation shades and went on to became the benchmark for other brands.
"We believe people should have equal access to products that they want to use in their daily lives," Glass says. "There has been a widespread shortage of specific products, such as foundation, to certain demographics in the population. There is a lot of room for growth in the industry, and we want to do our part to help it move forward."
Glass estimates that SPKTRM will officially be up and running this spring with products that are totally paraben-free, cruelty-free, and PETA certified, with 10% of profits going to organizations assisting disadvantaged women and LGBTQ+ communities. After foundations, SPKTRM will be expanding into highlighters of various shades.
Coinciding with the campaign launch today is SPKTRM's own #MeInMind initiative on Instagram, which aims to empower people to celebrate their authentic selves and post makeup-free selfies, while nominating others to do the same. After the Indiegogo campaign comes to a close in a month, SPKTRM will be applying for the Sephora Stands accelerator program, which helps companies think in an innovative way about production and product, and hopes to open an NYC store in the future, too.