The 24-count Crayola box so many of us grew up with came with a Peach crayon and a Brown crayon; if we wanted to draw ourselves or our friends and family, that was all there was to choose from for a semi-realistic portrait – maybe you’d turn to the Orange crayon in a pinch. Needless to say, the colours hardly represented the vast hues human complexions come in.
Complexion makeup shade ranges have come a long way, with a growing number of foundation and concealer collections becoming available in 30, 40, even 50 nuanced colours. But as anyone who’s ever been a kid (read: everyone) knows, crayons haven’t always been so diverse when it comes to skin tones.
In the last decade, Crayola took a fantastic step in a more variegated direction with its eight-pack of Multicultural Crayons, though some felt it still missed the mark with its still relatively limited range. However, with the help of one of the most experienced shade experts in the cosmetics industry, Victor Casale, the brand has stepped up its inclusivity. Having previously served as chief chemist and R&D managing director at MAC as well as the cofounder and chief innovation officer of Cover FX working inclusive complexion shade palettes over the last 30 years, he currently serves as the CEO of the new brand MOB Beauty – and as the beauty brain behind Crayola’s 24 shades in the new Colors of the World crayons.
Before you decide that 24 shades still aren’t enough to truly represent skin-tone diversity, Casale has a solid explanation. “When you apply a complexion product on your face, and you compare it to your skin – side by side – you have to be very precise,” he tells Allure. “This is tedious, sometimes overwhelming, but necessary when you are literally wearing the shade. When translating this knowledge and experience to support the Colors of the World initiative, I felt it would be difficult for a child to notice the differences on paper.” Therefore, he worked with the Crayola R&D team to merge two very close complexion shades into one crayon shade to achieve inclusive representation.
“This is actually a process many beauty brands follow when they have to pare down their complexion assortment to fit into smaller sized distribution channels,” Casale says.
To land on the 24 shades in the box, Casale started with the lightest and the deepest shades. Then he worked with the R&D team that “step down” from light to deep by about five percent, while also tweaking them to include pink, neutral, and golden undertones. “We landed on Rose for the pink undertone, Almond for the neutral undertone, and golden for the yellow/olive undertone,” Casale says, explaining that each one is designated Extra, Very, Light, Medium, Deep to make it easy to understand and to represent the varying skin tones. “This is exactly the science and treatment I have used to create global shade palettes for the beauty industry.”
Clearly, Crayola has learned a lot from said beauty industry with the creation of the Colors of the World crayons, but Casale says the beauty industry could still learn a lot itself.
“While foundation ranges have come a long way, the beauty industry must be constantly innovating and pushing themselves creatively. What they can learn from the Colors of the World crayons is that the desire for inclusivity begins at a young age, and through adequate representation, children are able to feel confident, included, and important – just like an adult feels when they find their perfect shade at the beauty counter,” Casale says. “There is always more work to do, and Crayola has been a positive voice in this valuable discussion.”