Pinterest Revamps Searches For Beauty Products To Include Skin Tones

It’s no secret that there’s a lack of diversity in the beauty industry. Black and brown women have struggled to find representation in the products they’re using.

Some brands are working fill this gap by creating products that cater to a more diverse customer base and finding ways to help them find resources and products that match their needs.

Pinterest wants to be part of the shift that’s happening in the beauty industry. Today, the tech giant announced that it’s revamped it’s search feature for mobile to include skin tones.

“You hear people talk about bringing together humans and machine learning to create balanced technology, but it’s so important that those people are diverse and can represent a range of people,” a spokeswoman for Pinterest said.

The company began offering customizable beauty searches on the web in April using artificial intelligence from ModiFace, a company that specializes in AI and machine learning for the beauty industry. The company developed an algorithm for skin tone detection, but faced issues with poor lighting and shadows in some images. Pinterest said that it does not store skin tone information — it won’t be used for targeted ads or to predict a user’s ethnicity.

In addition to partnering with ModiFace, Pinterest’s Diversity and Inclusion division teamed up with its Product and Engineering team to to create the platform’s new product. The thought here is that this collaboration will encourage users from different backgrounds to use the app. The teams developed a process to share and review real-time feedback and tested searches. 

According to a report by Omnicore Agency, 81 percent of Pinterest users are women. The platform enables users to “pin” DIY project ideas, beauty inspirations, aspirational quotes and more. Founded in 2010, Pinterest has become an online space for inspiration on beauty, style and design; however, some of its users felt left out by the app’s search results when it came to beauty products.

Kenia Hill, a Charleston, South Carolina-based makeup artist who uses Pinterest for inspiration, said that the app’s search results usually end up being white women.

“I think that it would definitely be easier for me to find the looks I’m searching for if more diverse women were readily available,” Hill said.

Pinterest is hoping to change this trend and become more inclusive. Companies like Shea Moisture, Lip Bar and Walker and Company are already changing the beauty industry with products that cater to black and brown communities. Platforms like Pinterest, who are focusing on how inclusivity impacts brands, are honing in on diverse audiences and how these communities can elevate the company.

Earlier this month, Pinterest released a diversity report highlighting the company’s hiring practices and minority representation. The company increased its hiring rates for people of underrepresented ethnicities in engineering and non-engineering roles.



Neutrogena Is Using AI To Launch Personalized, 3D Printed Face Masks

Neutrogena–a household name for beauty products–is launching a new iOS App called MaskiD that will help with problem spots on user’s faces.

MaskiD relies on TrueDepth cameras in the iPhone X, XS, and XR to create 3D printed masks that fit the user’s face measurements. MaskiD can be paired with Neutrogena’s Skin360, one of the company’s other tools that uses artificial intelligence, to help with skin care.

Skin360 tracks skin’s progress over time and analyzes its health and needs. Skin360 comes in two parts: the skin scanner and the app. The scanner is paired with an iPhone to magnify the phone’s camera lens and enhances the magnification with eight high-powered LED lights. The scanner also has a “moisture meter” to determine which areas of the face require more attention.

Skin360 scans different areas of a user’s face and when paired with the MaskiD provides a better skin care suggestion. MaskiD users can select from a variety of ingredients used to improve their skin including stabilized vitamin C, purified hyaluronic acid and N-Acetylglucosamine. Each section of the mask uses the ingredients to target user’s problem areas.

MaskiD and Skin360 are two of Neutrogena’s latest products to use artificial intelligence. The company told the Verge their plan is to roll out even more products using AI.

This Online Beauty Supply Store Is Providing A Positive Experience For Women Of Color

Photo: @curlbible on Twitter

Two weeks ago on Instagram, Dana Chanel shared an image of belittling signs that often fill the windows of local beauty supply shops where many women of color have to go — despite the disrespect — because of the limited availability of products for them elsewhere. The post announced the launch of her online shop that gives women of color a space to purchase the products they want while supporting black business.

Chanel founded Curl Bible, a black and Hispanic-owned online beauty supply shop that brings both well-known and smaller indie brands to consumers looking for a safe space to purchase their products. The site got up and running in just six months. The store houses popular brands such as Shea Moisture and As I Am, but provides opportunities for smaller brands as well.

On Curl Bible’s home page, the phrase “We don’t just empower women, we provide them with opportunity!” is scrawled along the top of the page, and through the positive shopping experience, ease of use and its influencer program, it’s clear that this mission is true.

Chanel told Yahoo Lifestyle that after watching an Instagram Live with beauty influencers discussing being paid little to nothing by brands for promoting their products she decided to create the Curly Queen Influencer program that lets influencers earn a 25 percent commission off of everything they sell.

Curl Bible interacts with users through tutorials, notifications and more, making the virtual beauty supply store experience authentic and welcoming for consumers who aren’t getting that experience or access at their local beauty supplies.

Check out all that Curl Bible has to offer online here or in the app store.

Photo: Apple
Photo: Apple

Mented Cosmetics raises $3 million in funding, continues to diversify the beauty space

Photo: Courtesy of Mented Cosmetics

KJ Miller and Amanda Johnson are two friends who felt boxed into a corner in the beauty industry before taking matters into their own hands with Mented Cosmetics. They launched their own makeup line with the perfect organic nude lip products for women of color with just about $10,000 in savings. That led them to being the 15th and 16th black women to ever raise $1M in capital and expanding their products to lip glosses, an eyeshadow palette, nail polish and more. Today it was announced that Mented Cosmetics raised $3M in its latest round of funding.

CircleUp Growth Partners is the lead investor in the series seed and focuses on early-stage consumer brands with a “data-driven, scalable approach to investing in visionary founders.”

The first time around, KJ and Amanda pitched to more than 80 VCs. But this round, Miller says they pitched to about 30 VCs in total. And they found themselves in a position to say “no,” allowing them to be intentional about working with their investors.

The Harvard Business School graduates created their successful brand by clearly identifying a problem to solve. In an interview with 21Ninety last year, Johnson said, “KJ and I don’t have a cosmetics chemistry degree and we didn’t work in the business before starting Mented. I think identifying a clear need and being brazen enough to follow our dreams is what it takes. Just keep going and keep trying.”

Organic marketing channels make up 70 percent of first-quarter sales for Mented Cosmetics in 2018.  With the funding they just raised, the team will be able to expand and continue to improve the multicultural beauty market through their much-needed and versatile cruelty-free products.

Photo: Courtesy of Mented Cosmetics
Photo: Courtesy of Mented Cosmetics

How one email propelled black-owned beauty brand The Lip Bar into Target stores

Photo: Courtesy of The Lip Bar

In February of this year, black-owned beauty brand The Lip Bar began selling in 43 Target stores in Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, NYC and the DMV. With the launch, the brand began selling Target exclusive shades, “Baddie,” a gloss, and “Unimpressed,” a liquid matte finish. Founder Melissa Butler appeared on Shark Tank and was not offered a deal with one of the sharks — but when she sent a blind email to a buyer at Target about how her customers were shopping at the big box retailer for hair products but not beauty, the proper next steps for her company were set into motion.

Melissa’s story is an inspiring one — one of individuality, determination and ethically-sound products (all the lip colors are vegan and cruelty-free). So, if you want to wear stunning lipstick shades like Taraji P. Henson, who wore “Drama Queen” and “Savage” at The Oscars, check out our interview with The Lip Bar’s CEO, Melissa Butler, below.

AfroTech: How did you end up on the career path you’re currently on? Was that always what you intended?

Melissa Butler: I never thought I’d be in the beauty industry. I grew up thinking I’d be a Doctor, then a lawyer, you know the typical things parents tell you to strive to be. And even as an adult, I went to work on Wall Street before deciding to start The Lip Bar. I kind of stumbled upon this career path. I was taking a more holistic approach to my lifestyle, cutting chicken and turkey from my diet and making natural soaps in my kitchen when I discovered that I could also make lipstick. And so it began, I’m in my Brooklyn kitchen, making lipstick from 5 p.m.-9 p.m. after I left my 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

AT: When did you fall in love with beauty?

MB: I’ve never been asked this question before. And I always tell people that I’m not passionate about beauty. But I am passionate about changing the identity of beauty. That passion arose when I was a teen growing up in Detroit  and quickly realizing that supposedly “light was right.” I became infatuated with complimenting dark brown girls on their complexion and reminding them that if the world didn’t see them, I saw them. I had no idea that the good I thought I was doing would transform into a beauty company. But I’m happy it did. 

AT: What motivated you to start The Lip Bar?

MB: My motivation stemmed from pure frustration. I hated that the beauty industry consistently showed beauty in a specific light. Beauty looked like one thing in the media and that one thing was never inclusive of what I used to call “regular black girls,” everyone had to be “exotic.” Everyone of color had to be mixed… had to mask their blackness. Me starting The Lip Bar was my interpretation of If You Can’t Beat Em, Join Em. So I decided instead of complaining about the beauty industry, I’d fix it. So all of our campaigns are super diverse and they support an inclusive beauty narrative.

AT: What was the process like when you started working with Target?

MB: It was confusing as heck! Going to a big box retailer is no small undertaking, you have to scale strategically, but you also have to learn their systems while maintaining your own. But right now, I’ll say it’s worth every hardship.

AT: What has changed since The Lip Bar launched on and in stores?

MB: Everything! Retail gives credibility. I say Target and people perk up. We’re closing our first fundraising round and it wouldn’t have happened without Target. And I’m super proud of the Target relationship, because we didn’t get into the retailer like most companies, we didn’t go through a distributor, this relationship came from a blind email where I pitched the buyer.   I tell people this to remind them that the power is in their hands and whatever you want is possible if you’re willing to work for it.

AT: What has the response been from your customers since The Lip Bar became accessible for many more people?

MB: MY CUSTOMERS WENT NUTS! Like absolutely insane. We sold out of several stores within the first few days. And because of our early success, we are pushing for a larger footprint in Target stores to serve our customers.

AT: What’s your favorite part of being an entrepreneur?

MB: Freedom. And I don’t just mean time. Because freedom of time is probably the thing I have the least of. When you are running a company. you’re constantly giving. And don’t get me wrong, I love it! But the freedom I speak of is the freedom to choose. The freedom to take risks. The freedom that comes along with knowing that whatever goes right is on you, but also, whatever goes wrong (even if by someone on your team) is on you! It creates a relentless amount of drive to keep learning and doing.

AT: What’s the best business advice you’ve ever gotten?

MB: Don’t be afraid to fail is the best business advice I’ve ever received. When most people start a business for the first time, they feel this incessant need to succeed. And they get all choked up and embarrassed when things go wrong which will happen often but more importantly, not allowing yourself to fail gets in the way of the risk-taking and learning that comes from getting things wrong.

AT: What are some other things you think readers should know about you? Any new projects you’d like to promote?

MB: I’m expanding outside of lip! It’s insane. Six years in the game and I’m finally going into a new product type. I’m excited. It’s gonna be dope. And of course, we’ll continue to create the most amazing vegan and cruelty-free lip colors on the market at an affordable price and in the best packaging!

Challenge the beauty standard and check out The Lip Bar online and in Target Stores near you.