Google Dermatologists, Movie Beauty Brands, BDS and the Lush Union
Oh is this awkward to talk about? I hadn’t noticed.
Good morning allergy submissives! Welcome to pollen hell and my newsletter, we suffer together in the sun. Here’s the beauty news I’m chewing on lately:
Google launches AI Health Tool for Skin Conditions - one with a dataset of only 4% of dark skin types. As someone who worked in data categorization for a social media company’s AI - I cannot say I am surprised, but I am also still having conversations with people working in the industry, so I’ll refrain from railing on about this right now. A long history of medical racism resulting in lack of institutional knowledge and mainstream suspicion, twinned with technological surveillance: yeah, it was always going to be a bumpy ride. If you’d like me to cover this in more depth, just let me know. Most of the pieces I’ve written about surveillance tech and beauty have been killed so I’m not exactly aching to pitch it anywhere, it’s disheartening to write the same pieces into a wall, but I’ll cover it if you want me to.
Are NFT’s the future of beauty? I am curious about the concept in the sense that a vulture would be curious at the smell of fire or the sound of screams.
My fave Kim Kelly did a check-in with nail salon workers for ALLURE that’s an important read.
Stoked to hear that A24 is rumored to be launching a beauty brand. They’re a very smart media company with impeccable taste and I, for one, stan. Call me, babes!
A thoughtful piece on resale scaling and what researchers are worried about regarding sustainability and circularity. I’m moving from consigning my pieces back into the system to renting them out as an experiment: you can rent some of my wardrobe here, with $25 off your rental.
One of the biggest beauty stories of the past few weeks that has been percolating has been the Lush Cosmetics workforce attempting to unionize and the management being very hostile about it. VICE is covering it extensively. Sign the Global Lush Union Petition to support the workers in their efforts to unionize. To that end, loved this Tiktok this week:
(The original Tiktok is here, I’m only embedding the Tweet because for some reason Substack refuses to embed the Tiktok. And this is why we are the weak generation.)
If you’d like to read more about the history of unions and ethical shopping, I have been chewing and revisiting this chapter of Shopping for Change for the past year. It helped me learn about the history of unions and also the tactics for effective unionization.
I would be remiss to ignore the Palestinian/Israel conflict also because there are new canva-designed infographics about which companies to boycott and why based on intent from more than seven years ago - I won’t link them, not because I don’t support BDS, but because no reliable fact checking has been done on the details in a way that makes me comfortable sharing. It is an undisputed fact that several beauty conglomerates are Israeli owned and some of them have had Israeli factories on Palestinian land; it is not confirmed this is still the case, or any of the details, we in fact know very little of what is involved. And that lack of knowledge isn’t news either - no publication in their advertising mind would ever let somebody investigate that, so it’s simply never been done before. And even mentioning it as a thing to just acknowledge would have absolutely gotten me blackballed… faster, as a full-time staffed editor. Wanting to deeply report on imperial power and the beauty industry is one of the main reasons I left my job years ago, and every single outlet I pitched the stories to turned me down after senior level meetings on the pitches - they let me known they couldn’t run them by phone call. Because they didn’t want it in writing. I wish I’d had the foresight to record those calls. It’s been years, but I haven’t forgotten, because the baldness of the hypocrisy of investigative journalism boundaries was so stark.
Still, I’ve written about these relationships before, actually, for this very newsletter - the connections between occupation, power, and the beauty industry are deeply interconnected and have been connected since Israel was established. That piece is a case study on one entrepreneur and his oversized impact on the industry and the project he dedicated his life to. I’ve also written about the Lauders’ before, much more recently, mostly in a US-based political contribution context. But the elephant in the room there is that Ronald Lauder is also very much an IDF fundraiser and was formerly the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and NATO policy. . . so genuinely, beauty and power are literally connected. By bloodline. Again, that Lauder is a Chairman Emeritus at Lauder and is not, I am told, privy to the day to days of the brand - but he’s still the heir and the final boss of the ecosystem. And to just endnote any weirdo commentary about why I’m mentioning any of this at all:
Anyway: free Palestine.
On a lighter note, I put together a recommendations guide on Instagram for my go-to beauty pro’s in NYC if you’re thinking of re-emerging anytime soon. Hope I didn’t hurt you with that neck-breaking pivot!!!!
Everything is terrible, but right now you are alive, and that’s still a kind of glory.