Joanna Miller is used to the beauty industry’s lack of attention to her skin tone. From a peach-tone sample serving as a “universal” color, to the staff at beauty retailers having little knowledge about choosing shades for black skin, Miller said having difficulty finding makeup is pretty typical.
“I was in a friend’s wedding, and the makeup artist didn’t have any products for someone with as dark a skin tone as me,” Miller, a 28-year-old San Francisco resident, said. “When you’re on the receiving end of it, it’s sad to say, but most of the time I don’t even get upset about it, because it’s like ‘Oh, well this always happens.’ It’s more of a pleasant surprise when somebody has something for me.”
Enter Mēlange: The new beauty app that is revolutionizing the way that people can purchase makeup for their skin tone. It’s easy to use, and just requires you to do something you’ve probably already tried—take a selfie.
“Our mantra is ‘Own your own beauty.’ We really want all women to feel great in their own skin, and I don’t think the beauty industry has done enough to celebrate different colors and shades,” Mēlange’s CEO Ariel Zborowski said.
Mēlange combines beauty and technology with co-founders Zborowski and David Nachum bringing experience from Sephora and Google, respectively.
“I was a beauty buyer at Sephora, and I had access to every single product you could imagine, but I couldn’t find my own makeup,” Zborowski said. “It’s really demoralizing and really, really frustrating.”
That’s why she created Mēlange—to make it easier and more comfortable for everybody to buy makeup.
Upon downloading the Mēlange Beauty app, it will prompt you to sign in. Then it will ask for personal information so that a color card will be sent to your address. Once your color card arrives within the next few days, it is selfie time. The selfie allows the folks at Mēlange to send you five samples based on your skin tone. Rather than naming the samples things like “dark chocolate,” “hazelnut” or “soft honey,” which liken skin to foods, these are labeled A, B, C, D and E.
“We don’t name the colors like beige or medium because I personally find those to be so frustrating and cookie-cutter,” Zborowski said.
The samples vary in formula, from sheer to heavy coverage, a highlight in Miller’s experience with the product.
“Usually if you can find something in your shade you don’t know if it’s heavy or sheer or medium…so it was nice to be able to customize that as well,” Miller said. “It was kind of fun to just do it in the privacy of my own home.”
Once you figure out which sample is your favorite, you can custom order your full-size bottle for $40. Rather than mixing foundation on an industrialized level, Mēlange mixes on an individual basis, so your foundation is made just for you.
Zborowski said that she found that she as well as many other women she came into contact with were using more than one shade, and mixing them together to get the right color. Selfie-match technology makes it simpler to start with the proper color from the get-go, streamlining the processes of applying makeup as well as purchasing it.
“I witnessed first hand working in beauty and fashion how women of color are really ignored,” Zborowski said. “This is actually a really big deal and it disproportionately affects women of color.”
The U.S.-made formula contains ingredients like lotus flower, soy and Vitamin E, and was hand tested and designed by Zborowski herself. She also said that the potential for future products is pretty limitless, and there are new developments already underway for the near future.
For more information about Mēlange, visit their website or download the app, which launched early last month.
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