Why Tesco's Launch Of Plasters In A Range Of Skin Tones Is Well Overdue


In recent years, there has been a noticeable shift towards inclusivity on the high street. And now Tesco is getting involved. The UK supermarket has launched its own range of multi-tone plasters available online and in-stores. Unbelievably, it's the first major retailer to do so — showcasing how, even in the most minute ways, dark skin tones are yet to be fully represented.

The BBC reports that Tesco was inspired to create the product by a tweet from Dominique Apollon, the vice president of research at racial justice organisation Race Forward, about his emotional reaction to wearing a plaster that perfectly matched his skin tone. Apollon’s post in which he wrote that he was “holding back the tears,” went viral in 2019 and received over 100,000 retweets, proving how much the issue resonates.

The Independent reports that the Tesco launch is supported by its Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) network who put forward the need for full representation in all areas of product selling.

Paulette Balson, the network's chair said in a statement: “One of the main objectives of our network is to help Tesco better serve our customers from all backgrounds and communities.

"No UK supermarket had ever stocked plasters in a range of skin tones before and we saw this as an opportunity for Tesco to lead the charge and make a genuine difference.

Tested and reviewed by its BAME network, Tesco’s plasters are now available in three shades: light, medium, and dark. Before this launch, the choice of plasters for people of different races has been practically non-existent. As the BBC reports, Boots stocks clear plasters which in theory can be used on all skin tones, while Superdrug told the publication it would be launching its own multi-tone range of plasters later this year. As a child with dark skin, I grew up thinking that I wasn’t the right colour for the plaster, not the other way around, so its no wonder Apollon had such a profound reaction to being included.

In a statement given to the BBC, Nicola Robinson, Tesco's health, beauty and wellness director, said: "As one of the largest retailers in the UK, we understand that we have a responsibility to ensure our products reflect the diversity of our customers and colleagues.

"We believe the launch of our new skin tone plaster range is an important step and a move that we hope will be replicated by other retailers and supermarkets across the country."

The beauty industry has made big strides when it comes to inclusion, the most impactful brand being Fenty Beauty launched by Rihanna in Sept. 2017. Her wide-ranging selection of foundations spanned light to dark and everything in between which, as retail and shopping website Racked reports, has forced other companies to step up their game. Meanwhile, Nubian Skin has pioneered shapewear, hosiery, and nude underwear in a wide shade range, and Kim Kardashian West's more recent launch SKIMS also features a variety of skin tones.

These are all great achievements, however there's still more work to be done, especially in the healthcare product space. For example, breast cancer survivors with dark skin can be limited in their choice of post-surgery bras and prosthetics, as Bustle reports. The lack of choice can be harmful to a person’s emotional recovery as well as their physical one.

With any luck, Tesco's plaster launch will influence other supermarkets and UK high street brands to embrace an inclusive approach more fully.

The new Tesco plasters will be available in stores from February 24.