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Exa High Fidelity Foundation

All the colours of my dreams: Exa High Fidelity Foundation

Credo Beauty drops its private-label foundation line of 43 inclusive shades.

issue eleven : tactile colour

“Embracing all colours and shades of the human experience.”

Exo Beauty

As a professional makeup artist – who has been prioritising more eco and health-friendly brands since 2012, there is no denying that certain products were always a compromise.

Foundations’ that met the needs of all the canvases I worked on being one of them! While I chose not to compromise on using green-brands, and instead relied on my background as an artist to mix the desired shade I needed by adding natural mineral pigments (iron oxides) to achieve the exact shade I was looking for. And truth be told, there were times when it was not entirely possible. 

An Artist’s Arsenal

On a personal level, I enjoy mixing my “paints” – but it’s not practical for the general consumer or a busy mua needing to colour match a bevvy of models with haste!  So US-based Exa’s new buildable semi-satin High Fidelity Foundation couldn’t come soon enough. In today’s COVID-climate, we need more than ever to have quick, easy solutions to colour-matching foundation – and mixing, while not an overt risk, does add another unnecessary step to the process. 

Exa’s mission was to be the first clean complexion brand to provide every person with a perfect shade match, and it seems 43 is the magic number. While FENTY’s launched its diverse line of 40 shades back in 2018, it’s worth remembering that M.A.C has had 43 shades in the line for a long time. Despite these brands falling outside Untainted’s remit, I  have to give credit where credit is due. However, none of these or other mainstream brands has been able to achieve this using natural, clean ingredients as Exa have done. Their Jump Start Primer Smoothing boasts over 97% natural ingredients. They have also prioritised the darkest shades to lead the tonal scale.

Exa High Fidelity Foundation
Image via exabeauty.com

Of course there other natural, organic and clean beauty pioneers who have expanded their ranges significantly in the last year or two. Mostly notably RMS Beauty (16), Kjaer Weis (16) and Ilia (18)- none of them was able to launch with such an extensive range and are still very small in comparison. Zao, who’s compact cream foundation range (14) had the darkest shade on the natural market for many years, and My Sappho whose impressive darkest shades, offering HD-friendly liquid foundation range also need a mention (11).

*(Numbers) represent total shade range.

Historically, natural foundation formulations have relied heavily on titanium dioxide as a base in which to mix mineral pigments and mica,  which because of its white composition, leaves a white cast on deeper, darker skin tones.  With the advancement of clean beauty and biotech ingredients in recent years, it has become possible to replace titanium dioxide with other more translucent natural or nature-identical ingredients to suspend pigment particles in. 

It’s worth addressing that this is part of the diversity and systemic-racism problem in the beauty industry. As pro-eco mua, Tahira added to a recent article for by Sjaniel Turrell for Conscious Beauty Union “If you can send a man to the to the moon (way back in 1959) – how can we not have found green and clean formulations for every skin colour? In fact, on a purely business level, it makes no sense at all that there has not been more investment into this space. Black consumers (mostly womxn, I might add) – whose approach to skin and hair care has historically been rooted in natural formulations – spend 9X more on beauty than their non-black contemporaries,  according to 2018 report. 

Consideration: I have looked, but have been unable to establish if Exa’s diversity extends beyond their foundation line, and includes Black, Asian and US-Ethnic minorities on their board. I would hope, with all the other amazing considerations they have made, that this is the case. I will update once I have established the answer.

Going Green Beyond Ingredients

Aside from the fact, there is still no definitive legal definition of what “clean beauty” means, there is also a growing push-back on the term itself. Because, like so many other appropriated definitions in the eco-agenda, as the well-intended initial concept grows and morphs and ultimately becomes commercialised, the risk of bastardisation of original premise and the ability for brands to use to green-wash only escalates.  

So what I respect about Credo – the company behind Exa – is their definitive list of requirements to what clean beauty means to them. This holistic approach not only includes the omission of ingredients on their Dirty List™ – but also ensuring safety, sustainable sourcing of ingredients and packaging solutions, ethics and transparency. These principles are what make up the Credo Clean Standard™ (which are not too dissimilar to Untainted’s pillars), and it’s this standard that governs Exa.

Image via Credo Beauty

An example of this is Exa’s “Eco-as-Possible” packaging in the very transparent communication of what each component of the packaging is comprised of, and how to dispose of it correctly based on current recycling infrastructure. 

Image via exabeauty.com

“We’re a work in progress—doing as much as we can now, while striving to find more sustainable solutions in the future. When selecting product packaging, we consider the entire lifecycle: how materials are sourced and produced, how they’re used and how they’ll eventually be discarded.”

Exa Beauty

Exa also donates (an unspecified) percentage of its proceeds to Women’s Voice for the Earth. This charity amplifies women’s voices to eliminate the toxic chemicals that harm our health and that of our communities.

Disclaimer: I have yet to trial the range, hence why this is an article and not a review – but knowing the brand and beauty leaders behind Exa, I have high hopes that is performed as is intended. 

untainted |ˌənˈtān(t)əd| adjective
not contaminated, polluted, or tainted: the paper was untainted by age.

UNTAINTED is a directional beauty platform, pushing the boundaries of clean, sustainable beauty. We are inspired and motivated by the Japanese philosophy of Wabi-sabi.

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