Little known fact about me: I LOVE celeb pop culture. I spent many an hour in high school and college pouring over all of the gossip blogs of the aughts—Perez Hilton, D-Listed, Lainey Gossip, Oh No They Didn’t. When I lived in L.A., I actually lived literally next door to the outpatient celebrity rehab center that Lindsay Lohan stayed in for a few weeks. I’d wake up every morning and look out the window to spot the paparazzi hanging out in the bushes and sleeping in their cars, waiting to spot Samantha Ronson (remember her?!), Dina Lohan, or Lindsay herself. I lived for it.
Celebrity culture is always morphing and shapeshifting. Back in the early 2000s, it was all about celebrity sponsorships and photo ops. Remember all of the Pepsi commercials with Britney and Beyonce and Pink? Or Kim K and Paris Hilton being snapped at clubs holding a bottle of whatever liquor company/Las Vegas hotel sponsored them. Then social media blew up, and celebrities didn’t have to rely on the paparazzi—they could post and style their own photos and get paid millions for holding up a pregnancy test or a bottle of salad dressing or lipstick.
And now? It’s the celebrity beauty brand. It seems that seriously every single major (and minor) celebrity—from musicians to actresses to random influencers—has a beauty brand or collaboration. It used to be a major deal when a celebrity became the face of a beauty brand. Remember Beyoncé for Revlon or Katie Holmes for Bobbi Brown? And even more recently, Naomi Campbell was tapped for her first beauty campaign for NARS at age 48 (a crime, in my opinion).
Of course, the celebrity beauty brand existed long before this time. Iman, one of the og supermodels, famously launched her own beauty brand back in 1994. But in my opinion, once everyone saw the meteoric rise of Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics, they wanted a piece of the pie. There’s Jessica Alba’s Honest Beauty, Tracy Ellis Ross’s Pattern Hair Care, Lady Gaga’s Haus Laboratories, Victoria Beckham Beauty … the list goes on and on and on. And that doesn’t even take into account the hundreds of trademark applications for beauty brands. Kourtney Karshashian, Khloe Kardashian, Gwen Stefani, Hailey Bieber, Ariana Grande, and Cardi B have all either filed trademark applications for beauty brands or have alluded to the fact they are launching something soon.
But part of me wonders if the oversaturation will lead to apathy with consumers. I mean, how many more beauty brands can we take? Especially during such a precarious time in our lives—a lot of us are working from home, not wearing makeup, and hopefully not going out to bars or clubs for the foreseeable future. For me, beauty launches are a big ol’ snooze fest.
In 2020 alone, we’ve seen (or are going to see) the launch of Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez, Fenty Skin by Rihanna, Lauren Conrad Beauty by Lauren Conrad, Flawless by Gabrielle Union, One/Size by Patrick Starrr, EleVen by Venus Williams, and Sienna Naturals by Issa Rae. While I’m incredibly happy to see WOC, and even more specifically Black women, gain entry into the mostly white, mostly fair-skinned beauty world, I’m also worn out by the releases.
And some part of me wonders what point do they serve? Fenty Beauty wasn’t just about Rihanna—that was a big part of it, sure—but it was about the 40 shades of foundation AND concealer from the jump, the marketing with models of all different skin tones and shapes and sizes, the way it completely disrupted the market. It was inclusive and made everyone feel like they could be a part of the beauty community right from its launch. I feel like most celebrity brands at this point aren’t trying to bring something new to the table, they are just trying to jump on a bandwagon to hopefully make a lot of money. And that’s the part that makes me apathetic. But maybe I’m wrong!
So, how do you feel about celebrity beauty brands? Let me know in the comments!