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Pinterest is adding hair patterns to its search filter for inclusive beauty results

By Malavika Pradeep

Aug 20, 2021

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What’s your go-to platform for hair and beauty inspiration? Certainly not Google, I presume. You would be sorting through 100 pages of search results only to return empty-handed. Next up are TikTok and Instagram, two major trend-setting hubs. But finding tailor-made inspirations to suit your needs will still take time—given numerous accounts and hashtags on the platform. Enter Pinterest and the inclusive power of search filters.

Realising its opportunity and responsibility to redefine representation for everyone online, the image sharing and social media platform is now introducing its latest advancement in inclusive beauty searches with the rollout of ‘hair pattern search’. Created with black, brown and Latinx users in mind, the feature empowers users to search for hair inspiration across all hair types.

Pinterest is adding hair patterns to its search filter for inclusive beauty results

Through computer vision-powered object detection, hair pattern search enables users to refine hair searches by six different hair patterns—protective, coily, curly, wavy, straight and shaved or bald—under the search bar. Over the coming weeks, users will also be able to search for broader terms like ‘summer hairstyles’, ‘glam hair’ or ‘short hair’ and narrow their results by selecting one of the six patterns to find inspiration that is most relevant to their style and preferences. To date, Pinterest’s computer vision-powered algorithm has detected patterns in over 500 million hair images on its platform.

The feature was developed by the company’s inclusive product team with the help of Naeemah LaFond, editorial hairstylist and global artistic director of Amika. As a champion for diverse hair representation, LaFond advised the platform on the overall user experience and language used in the product. “This new tool will mark a much-needed milestone for racial equity in the world of coding,” LaFond said in a press release. “Just the simple idea that I don’t have to work twice as hard to find a hairstyle because of my hair type is a game-changer.”

Hair pattern search also builds on Pinterest’s existing skin tone search filter, which was introduced in 2018. Engineered with data from ModiFace’s AI library, Pinterest adjusted the algorithm to improve certain features like its ability to properly categorise skin tones in low light. Since then, the platform has made improvements to its in-house tech, adding how it’s now “three times as likely to detect multiple skin tone ranges in top search results, compared to previous technology.” Earlier this year, Pinterest also announced its policy to ban all weight loss language and imagery—embracing body acceptance while empowering users with the inspiration to create a life they love.

“Our mission on the inclusive product team is to help everyone feel like Pinterest is a place for them,” said Annie Ta, head of inclusive product at Pinterest in a press release. “As a visual discovery platform, we have an opportunity and responsibility to do a better job of increasing representation in the products we build.”

Hair pattern search will be rolling out across desktop, iOS, and Android apps over the coming weeks. The filters will be available in the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand with more markets hauled in the coming months.