Beauty Influencer Deepica Mutyala on Inclusion in the Industry

It's clear that the beauty industry is moving in the right direction. The past couple of years have seen major brands rethinking their messaging to become more inclusive: Newcomers like Milk Makeup broke the mold with how we define beauty. Fenty Beauty's phenomenal success proved that shade inclusivity was exactly what the industry needed. And brands like Cover FX continue to stand by their expansive shade offerings—knowing before the trend that embracing diversity is how to best serve your customers.

Coinciding with the launch of Cover FX's new Power Play Foundation, available in the 40 unique shades the brand's been offering for some time, beauty vlogger and founder of Tinted, Deepica Mutyala, joined forces with Create & Cultivate and hosted a panel of key players pushing for change in the beauty industry. Before she led the conversation, we sat down with Mutyala to hear more of her thoughts on the state of the beauty industry today and what changes she's working toward with Tinted.

On the State of the Beauty Industry Today

"In general, I would say during the past three years as a beauty influencer, I've noticed that more and more campaigns are including a range of women, and I think the more exciting part is more brands are growing their shade range," observes Mutyala. "Before, I had to mix my shades. Besides the handful of brands that actually had my color—Cover FX being one of them—most of the time I had to mix together formulas, and that was a defeating feeling. It makes you feel like just the way you are isn't enough."

And while Mutyala praises the direction the industry is moving in by expanding their lines to include more shades, she questions the authenticity behind these actions, acknowledging that it "feels kind of strategic rather than genuine and core to who they are." She notes that what's cool about Cover FX and its launch of the Power Play collection that includes 40 shades, is that it's always been a part of what the brand is—"and that's a very rare thing to be able to say about a beauty brand," says Mutyala. "I think in this day and age, if you're not doing that as a brand of that size, then you're doing a disservice to your community and what your brand stands for."

Despite her apprehension of the motivating causes of some other brands, she still recognizes the trend as a step in the right direction. "I think the fact that people are doing it—whether it's for the right reasons or the wrong reasons because they feel like they have to be part of the conversation—just generally, that existing, is a win right now," she asserts.

"Fenty launching is a big wake-up call for a lot of brands to realize they have to be a part of this conversation, which is really awesome and exciting," says Mutyala. "So I think that's a big moment." She also credits the Kardashians with expanding society's perception of beauty. "Say what you want about that family, but they've done a lot for this mid-toned market and for women who are not size-zero models in the media," she explains. "I think there have been milestones, whether it's on TV or beauty brand launches. There have been a lot of strides and changes, but I still feel like the community that's not being represented is all these mid-tone women, and I think that goes across South Asian, Middle Eastern, mixed race, and Latina still."

On Why She Founded Tinted

"The whole idea of Tinted honestly was just because I think my whole life was examples of why Tinted needs to exist. And specifically, the past three years of being in the beauty industry on the influencer side and sort of seeing the shift—a positive shift in the media—for representation of women of color. It's really exciting for sure. There's still a long way to go." 

Growing up in Texas, Mutyala actually dyed her hair blonde and wore blue contacts to look more like her white peers. "I think what's so exciting is this is the first time in my life that I've kind of owned who I am, and it's actually helping me in my career," she observes. "It's exciting to see that's the case because growing up it was the opposite—I tried to mask who I was."

Mutyala launched Tinted in January, seeking to foster a community for anyone who feels underrepresented in the current state of the beauty industry. "The biggest thing that I want people to understand with Tinted is that, when we say 'all shades in between,' it's purposeful because it's not defined by an ethnicity or a race," she explains. "It's more about the idea if you feel unrepresented, we want to represent you. It's not one-size-fits-all. All different shapes and sizes, transgender, curvy, plus-size, whatever you are—I don't want to define us by a race because there are too many people who need that representation."

On the Shades in Between

When Tinted first launched, it did begin heavily with a South Asian influence "because that was my own personal story," recounts Mutyala, who notes that even within the Indian community, there are so many shades and variances—something she recognized when giving advice through her beauty tutorials. "I think that conversation is so important because it feels defeating when you go into a drugstore and you're trying to find your shade and you're like, Well that Indian girl had it, why doesn't it work for me?" describes Mutyala. "And then you still feel like you're not enough."  

Mutyala notes how both sides of the spectrum now have strong representation thanks to brands like Fenty Beauty (though she underscores how "obviously one side has way stronger representation than the other side"), but she's still waiting for those middle shades to get acknowledged. "When I see women of color winning, it feels like we're all winning," she says. "But you're kind of waiting for that moment when it's actually you that's getting represented."

She says she's done with the trend of there being one token representative from each race or brands making excuses that they don't know where these individuals are that they're excluding. "I kind of just had this moment of realizing there needed to be a unified community where we can all discuss and have this conversation, and it be empowering and uplifting and just making everyone feel the way I didn't feel when I grew up," says Mutyala.

On What's Next

As the Tinted community grows, Mutyala hopes to expand into products (her shirts that read "my skin is not a trend" are already a hit) and possibly even her own beauty line for women of color. But for now, she's laser-focused on continuing the conversation she sees as pertinent to making progress in the beauty industry. "Right now I'm really enjoying the fact that we're creating conversation and partnering with brands that are doing it right—because I think it's really important before we even go there to amplify and honor and credit the brands that are doing it right because it's only going to force the brands who aren't to also do it that way," she says. "And then we can think about what's next."

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