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Lion Pose Skin Care Is Fighting For Inclusivity In The Beauty World

Mindy Kaling is an investor.

Originally Published: 
Lion Pose skin care is fighting for inclusivity in the beauty world.
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You Heard It Here First
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When Madhu Punjabi and Nisha Phatak were working at an infant formula company, they learned that most of their customers were moms who struggled with melasma, a skin condition that they both had dealt with. After doing some research on treatments, they discovered the harsh reality of the beauty industry: Brands aren’t required to do clinical studies on their products. Not only that, but they also don’t have to do clinical studies on multiple skin types or tones.

In the infant formula world, clinical standards are incredibly high — every single ingredient has to be studied before it’s put on the shelves. Needless to say, Punjabi and Phatak were shocked, and felt compelled to bring that same rigor to skin care so that consumers — like the mothers they sold formula to — could feel confident in knowing that the products they buy are actually safe for them to use. Enter: Lion Pose, a skin care line focused on treating hyperpigmentation with formulas that work on all skin tones.

“The part of the brand that’s really important is bringing out the voices of people who are underrepresented in the skin care industry,” Punjabi tells Bustle. That’s how she and Phatak came up with the name lion pose: It’s inspired by the yoga posture that involves exhaling, opening your mouth really wide, and sticking your tongue out. “The pose removes restrictions from your throat so that you can bring out your voice,” Punjabi explains. “It’s a power pose, and it makes you feel powerful when you do it.”

To ensure underrepresented consumers are fully catered to with their products, the brand — which formulates its line with the help of Harvard-trained dermatologists Dr. Laura Scott, M.D., and Dr. Tia Paul, M.D., both of whom are members of the Skin of Color Society and specialize in treating POC — is committed to testing all of its formulas on multiple skin tones and skin types. This is key, as there are a host of beauty ingredients and in-office treatments that aren’t safe for dark skin tones to use.

“Darker skin tones actually tend to have more sensitive skin,” says Phatak. “The pore size is larger, and they absorb ingredients more deeply than people with lighter skin tones. This is why certain products and ingredients that work on lighter skin tones might not work as well on darker skin tones.” Punjabi learned that firsthand after her derm told her she shouldn’t be using the 30% glycolic acid serum that had been in her regimen. “She told me it could cause more hyperpigmentation on my skin, and that was what I was trying to get rid of in the first place,” she says.

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The brand’s first product, the Unspotted 4X Acid Jelly Night Serum, contains actives that are completely safe (and effective) on Fitzpatrick skin types I through VI. First, there’s a 15% acid complex featuring azelaic, tranexamic, glycolic (note: at a safe-for-dark-skin-tones concentration), and lactic acids, aka four superstars that work to exfoliate, brighten, and even out the skin. To balance that out, the serum relies on soothing antioxidants like glutathione plus hydrators like aloe and tiger grass. “We incorporated the soothing ingredients so that it’s not too harsh, especially on darker skin tones,” says Phatak.

It’s this smart formulation — plus the brand’s dedication to inclusive clinical studies — that got Lion Pose its position as part of Sephora’s 2022 Accelerator program. It also caught the interest of actor Mindy Kaling, who jumped on board as an investor and brand ambassador after hearing about their mission. “She’s dedicated her career to inclusive media,” says Punjabi. “So working with her on inclusivity in clinicals is also creating inclusivity in beauty, and we hope that our partnership with her will help establish a new standard for the industry.”

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