After gaining widespread attention in 2015 for a viral YouTube tutorial on how to color-correct hyperpigmentation for darker skin tones, influencer Deepica Mutyala founded her beauty brand Live Tinted in 2017.
Taking feedback her audience, Mutyala launched the brand with an eye, lip and cheek multistick that were created with people of color in mind. Since, the brand has prioritized being inclusive and culture-based by offering up tutorials and selling a wide range of shades of foundation and cruelty-free products. The brand raised $3 million in seed funding led by Montage Ventures in 2021.
To celebrate AAPI Heritage Month, Live Tinted released an AAPI beauty box on May 1. Also this month, for her continued efforts to highlight representation in beauty, Mutyala was named one of Time Magazine’s “Next Generation Leaders.”
Mutyala spoke with Glossy about her journey from being a young South-Asian girl interested in makeup to becoming a CEO running her own beauty brand.
Was there a specific instance that made you decide to launch Live Tinted?
“I started in the beauty industry over 10 years ago working on the corporate side of things. That changed when I released a viral video on my Youtube channel, highlighting a color-correcting hack for the under-eyes. From that video, I became a full-time beauty influencer.
However, upon embarking on this journey, I also wanted to spark a larger positive movement in the beauty category to ensure that anyone who has ever felt left out of the narrative, like myself, sees themselves represented in the industry.
I founded Live Tinted in 2018, first as just a digital platform and now as a full-fledged brand to bring beauty consumers, of all hues, together around our common experiences. I feel fortunate to continue building this community today, leveraging community feedback as we innovate to create a space and products for people of color to feel seen and heard in this industry.”
Has your journey with Live Tinted shifted the way you view beauty, as a whole and within the industry?
“Creating Live Tinted broadened my view and understanding of community and unity from a beauty lens. We all share more beauty concerns and experiences than we think.
By starting Live Tinted as a community platform, I believe we really are provoking tangible change and category-wide shifts, and creating a new future of beauty that’s not only more inclusive but also more intuitive and thoughtful. Live Tinted is creating products targeted to the true asks of the women and men who use them every day.
Starting the brand made me more confident about who I am and what I am meant to achieve. The little girl in me was very self-doubting. I didn’t feel like I belonged or that I was pretty. Now, my skin is my favorite feature. And I know my voice echoes the voices of so many. I found my purpose and it’s what drives me to keep going.”
How has Live Tinted’s community focus driven the products it sells?
“Conversations [within the community] helped us launch our very first product: The Huestick, a multi-use stick for eyes, lips and cheeks that balances hyperpigmentation. This product came to life based on crowd-sourced feedback from our community yearning for products that would help with their top concern: dark circles and hyperpigmentation. As we continue to innovate, we always do it in this way, pulling insights directly from our community.”
What was the idea behind Live Tinted’s AAPI beauty box?
“In celebrating AAPI Heritage Month this year, we are continuing to highlight our community in dedicated ways, working with them to promote not only Live Tinted but also other amazing AAPI brands who are making a difference, specifically in the beauty industry. We’ve been trained by society that we can’t all win but the reality is we are stronger together.
The custom beauty box we just [released] is inclusive of eight AAPI-founded brands, including Cocokind, Tower28, Fable & Mane, Glow Recipe, Hero Cosmetics, JINsoon and Mount Lai. We all brought forward something that represented our brand uniquely, and that combination is a beautiful symbolization of how diverse we are within this community. It’s a true celebration of Asian culture. And $10 per box is being donated to an organization that supports the AAPI community.”
How much of your cultural beauty practices are ingrained in Live Tinted products and the stories behind them?
“I am always thinking about my South Asian roots when developing new products and campaigns for the brand. While we want to be inclusive of all hues, we specialize in creating options that work specifically for women of color, including many of Asian descent.
For example, our recent SUPEHUE Hyperpigmentation Stick, launched in January, was unveiled with a corresponding campaign rooted in diversity and inclusion. With this launch, it was especially important for the brand to feature authentic, non-retouched imagery throughout the campaign, which included appearances from women of color tastemakers such as Achieng Agutu (408,000 Instagram followers) and Aysha Harun (304K Instagram followers), alongside myself.”
What would young Deepica think about all the work you’ve done throughout your brand and its commitment to dismantling colorism?
“I know younger me would be so proud. From introducing our first product to growing the brand to the line of beauty and skin-care offerings it is today, to going into Ulta as their first South Asian makeup brand and even being awarded their Emerging Brand of the Year Award just a couple of weeks ago, we have passed some incredible milestones. Through all of these efforts, it is my hope that more young POC girls and future female leaders are feeling more included in and inspired by the beauty narrative.”
What are some obstacles you’ve faced as a South Asian woman and CEO?
“It has become increasingly obvious that there are people worldwide who feel underrepresented in the beauty industry. This is an obstacle I have set out to tackle head-on and a stigma that I grew up with and wish for future generations not to have to deal with, when it comes to their beauty routine.
The positive is that a movement is currently underway that is shifting the beauty industry standards to be more inclusive and diverse. It’s important to reach the point where representation is no longer a buzz word, it’s just a normal part of a brand’s DNA.
Last, it is still really hard for women of color to secure funding. I realize there’s still so much education to be done around investing in women of color and the tokenism involved. But through successful partnerships with other BIPOC founders and brands, we are proving we can win together.”
With your heritage in mind, do you approach marketing and advertising to Asian and non-Asian consumers differently?
“Our brand and marketing efforts target the BIPOC community as a whole. This comes from a simple truth: As people of color, we have more in common than we know. We have shared experiences, concerns, challenges and wins, and therefore our marketing message and advertising reflect this simple truth. Our products are made for all hues. That’s what our key point of differentiation is, with the added layer that we embrace and aim to inspire everyone to embrace their roots, their identity and culture via powerful cultural storytelling and visuals.”
From an entrepreneurial and consumer perspective, how do you think the industry will change in terms of inclusivity and the rise of more Asian-founded and lead brands?
“It will continue to become the norm for all brands to center their campaigns, messaging and product innovation around a more diverse global consumer. As a female POC founder myself, I believe it is important to not turn a blind eye to all of the communities around us and the shared experiences we all have, when it comes to beauty concerns. Listening to each other and creating products that are, consequently, a true reflection of these needs is the key to success in the beauty category and where we will see innovation progressively turn to in future years.”