Within the beauty industry, many brands are battling for the top spot, believing their way is the best way. Over the past few years, the clean beauty debate has captured a large audience, with some believing clean beauty is the way forward, and others, such as The Ordinary, protesting that the movement unfairly judges ingredients used in products. Alongside this ongoing discussion, clean beauty has also been known, like most areas of the industry, to create products that mainly benefit white women, with 70% of women of color stating that they can't find products available for their specific skincare needs. However, with technology advancing rapidly and fields of study such as artificial intelligence helping to combat consumer needs, the issue surrounding clean beauty and inclusivity is slowly moving in a positive direction. To help women of all skin tones find their perfect makeup match, inclusive clean beauty brand Exa Beauty has partnered with Hue, a newly launched tech start-up, to make the digital shade-matching process more accurate.
Credo Beauty created their platform Exa Beauty in order to “change the beauty industry by being transparent and candid,” as co-founder Annie Jackson notes. All products retailed on the Credo Beauty website avoid the ingredients present on The Dirty List, a compilation of over 2,700 components linked to negative impacts on the body. Credo has been pioneering for change since 2015, highlighting the level of ingredients still legal in beauty products across America, with only 30 currently banned in the US, compared to 1,300 across Europe. Exa launched with 43 shades of foundation, all of which meet Credo Beauty standards—a vital step towards improving clean beauty for women of color, as it is reported that 75% of beauty products marketed towards Black women contain potentially harmful ingredients.
Hue was created from Janvi Shah’s belief that "true representation in beauty means showcasing real, diverse people that look just like you," after her ongoing struggle to find accurate depictions of skin color when shopping for makeup online. The shade-matching technology presented by the brand connects consumers to their community of Hue Twins, a range of micro-influencers with varying skin profiles who have provided photo and video reviews of products to help shoppers get accurate shade recommendations. Currently, Hue has 1,300 certified creators behind their Hue Twins movement, ensuring accuracy for everyone through different skin types, including conditions such as hyperpigmentation and acne, across all shades and ages. Hue's technology also allows users to browse before-and-after photos, videos, and swatches to get a clear view of how a product looks on people with the same skin type.
Consumers utilizing the tool provided by Exa and Hue are asked to fill out a questionnaire on the brand's website, including questions on skin tone, skin type, skin characteristics, beauty preferences, and what foundation and concealer products they have previously used. Shoppers are shown percentage-level matches for products that their Hue Twins have also used, dubbed by Hue as their "Netflix for beauty" approach, based upon their responses to the survey. From there, consumers can watch their partnered Hue Twin's content showcasing the recommended shades through videos, photos, and reviews that aim to increase consumer trust and keep shoppers engaged on the website. Consumers are then prompted to save their match using their email, which is stored in the Hue database. Hue will then send emails to the consumer recommending similar products approved by their Hue Twins on any other websites powered by Hue technology. "This feature has been popular with over 50% of shoppers saving their match, and this valuable first-party data allows brands to speak in a more personalized way using data to their customers," Shah, co-founder and CEO of Hue, says.
Many AI technologies in the present day lack representation and diversity across skin tones and ethnicities within their datasets, leading to widespread bias across the technology. According to Hue, AI shade-matching tools in today's market are only 50-60% accurate, and even less accurate for underrepresented skin tones and concerns.
Nicole Clay, co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Hue, tells BeautyMatter, "Hue is the first matching technology to guarantee representation across all skin tones and skin types through our community of 1,300+ Hue Twins, resulting in highly accurate matches across all shades. Hue Twins provide expert-verified foundational data to our algorithm, contributing to a robust dataset across every shade a brand offers. As our Hue Twin community grows and more customers shop with Hue, our algorithm gets smarter over time as we learn what products and shades work best for each person's unique complexion." The tool is a remedy for those struggling to find their shade, as 88% of customers say they seek out photos and videos of people wearing products before purchasing them.
Since the tool launch, the Hue app symbol has become the most clicked icon on the Exa Beauty product page on the Credo Beauty website. According to Sylvan Guo, co-founder and COO at Hue, since the tool went live, Hue has seen a significant increase in sales. In addition, 90% of shoppers reported feeling confident that they found an accurate shade using Hue through Exa Beauty. With micro-influencers having the capability to generate 22 times higher conversion rates than other influencers as a result of stronger consumer trust, additions to technology such as Hue Twins are set for success.
Regardless of clean beauty's position in the industry and opinions on its necessity, it is clear that a change is needed to ensure the genre of beauty is diversified. Exa Beauty's Hue-powered shade-matching program is available now at ExaBeauty.com and CredoBeauty.com, helping to pave the way for more inclusive clean beauty.
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