How Deepica Mutyala Created a Best-Selling Inclusive Beauty Brand With Just One Product
"I wanted to create a brand for people who look like me so we can finally be a part of the beauty narrative."
While 40+ shades of foundation have become the status quo in the beauty industry, Live Tinted founder Deepica Mutyala knows that quantity doesn't always equal representation across all skin tones. That's why she launched her brand's first product Huestick with just three universal shades.
The eye, cheek, and lip multi-stick is made with clean, safe pigments that can be used to balance out dark circles, discoloration, and hyperpigmentation. On top of color-correcting, the creamy, crayon-like stick can also be worn as eyeshadow, blush, or lipstick.
While Huestick was inspired by Mutyala's 2015 viral YouTube tutorial, in which she covered her dark circles with red lipstick, the product encompasses Live Tinted's mission of providing an online community that focuses on featuring skin tones that aren't wildly represented in the media and beauty industry, and Mutyala's own experiences growing up.
Mutyala is a proud Indian woman, but while growing up in Sugarland, Texas, being surrounded by her classmates who mostly had blonde hair and blue eyes made her want to change everything about herself. By the age of 16, she was determined to create a beauty brand for people who looked like her, so she set out to get experience in the industry, working at Birchbox managing influencer relations, and eventually, becoming an influencer herself after her red lipstick video went viral.
Unsurprisingly, there is a demand for products for these "in-between" skin tones that are often left out of the conversation. Since its launch in 2019, Huestick has sold out and racked up a 10,000 person waitlist for their restock earlier this summer.
With Live Tinted's second product dropping, along with two new Huestick shades, we caught up with Mutyala to find out how she turned her online community into a full-fledged brand, the current state of diversity in the beauty industry, and more.
How did your own beauty experiences inspire Live Tinted?
I grew up in Sugarland, Texas and our household wasn't one where you had to be a certain age to wear makeup. There are photos of me wearing kajal liner at a young age because it's a common tradition in Indian culture that is believed to ward off evil. I wore red lipstick when I started learning traditional dance. Even though I was around people like me when I went to temple every week, everyone at school had blonde hair and blue eyes and that made me want to change everything about myself.
Indian beauty standards are also geared towards fair skin, so I used to hide under an umbrella so I wouldn't get darker. These memories from when I was a kid have really shaped Live Tinted into what it is today. I wanted to create a brand for people who look like me so we can finally be a part of the beauty narrative.
Where did you learn the color-correcting makeup hack that would eventually become your first product?
One time I was on set with Birchbox and a makeup artist used a reddish-orange color corrector under my eyes. I assumed it was lipstick because I had no idea what color corrector was and my mom always used lipsticks as eyeshadows and blush because they're more pigmented and work better on brown skin tones. So, this hack became a part of my routine and I eventually wrote about it on Birchbox's blog. A few years later, I filmed a tutorial on my phone showing how I use red lipstick under my eyes to mask dark circles. The video went viral.
Huestick is a multipurpose product, but the whole color correcting aspect of it is to even out your skin tone so that you don't have to mix and match foundation shades or wear as much foundation. My face isn't just one color. Unless I color correct, I have to cake on a ton of foundation — even if it's the right shade — to mask the discoloration and dark spots on my skin.
Live Tinted has always championed diversity. What has it been like to see other brands prioritizing diversity now? What do you think sill has to change in the industry?
I'm not the type of person to be salty about brands who are just paying attention now. At the end of the day, progress is progress. I was the token brown girl in campaigns when I was a beauty influencer, but 10 years ago, there wasn't even a token brown girl. The biggest thing I want people to recognize is that you can't expect people to flip the switch overnight. This is not a sprint and you have to be in it for the long haul. I'm glad everyone's eyes and ears are open and they care now, but it's so much more than a posting a black box on Instagram. Brands need to put forth a consistent effort that goes down to their core, from who's on the advisory board, who's doing product development, to who they're hiring.
The whole mission of Live Tinted is to dismantle colorism. Diversity and inclusion are part of our brand's DNA and this should be the case for every brand. I want to lead by example and show that even as a small company, you can do the right thing with the right intent and purpose. We're still very small, but I'm ok with growing slow and doing it the right way rather than making decisions that potentially neglect the consumer and don't align with our brand's mission.
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Tell us about Unity Balm Gloss, Live Tinted's second product.
When we launched Huestick a year ago the first thing we noticed was that everyone was prepping their lips with a balm and then adding a gloss over it. So, it was no-brainer to come out with our own. We wanted to create a product that was skincare first and could be a staple in your everyday routine. Unity is truly a multipurpose product that hydrates skin and gives you a glossy finish. I can see people using it with the Huestick, but it goes so much beyond that. For example, I like to apply it any place I have dry patches.
I was worried about launching it right now, but the ultimate goal of Live Tinted is to help people feel comfortable in their own skin and bringing people together to help us all understand the commonality we all have. When we name products we think about every single detail, so Unity felt right because it's uniting a balm and gloss into one product and anyone can use it.
Shop Live Tinted's Newest Products
Unity Balm Gloss
With tried-and-true moisturizing skincare ingredients like squalane, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin E, plus brightening vitamin C, Unity gives skin a dewy — not sticky — glow. Prep your lips with it, use it as a highlighter, or even as a cuticle treatment — wherever you feel could use some extra hydration.
To buy: $20; livetinted.com.
Huestick in True
This dusty rose Huestick is the ideal your-lips-but-better shade. Falling right in-between blush pink and mauve brown, this addition to the Huestick family has been one of the most-requested colors from Live Tinted's community.
To buy: $24; livetinted.com.
Huestick in Grounded
This rich brown has has a creamy matte finish. While this shade looks amazing on the eyes, cheeks, or lips, it can also be used to contour. Like the rest of the Huesticks, the formula is infused with squalane, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin C for a seamless, comfortable finish.
To buy: $24; livetinted.com.
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