Deconstructing the rise of celebrity beauty brands

As Millie Bobby Brown and Selena Gomez join the ever-growing list of celebrities venturing into the beauty business, we look at how the industry is changing

CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 14:   Selena Gomez attends the opening ceremony and screening of "The Dead Don't Die" during the 72nd annual Cannes Film Festival on May 14, 2019 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
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Another week, another celebrity has announced the launch of her own beauty brand. In fact, this week, two stars – American singer Selena Gomez, 27, (pictured left), and Stranger Things actress Millie Bobby Brown, who is all of 15 years old, have joined the growing tribe of A-listers to venture into the world of cosmetics.

While the past couple of years seem to have spawned a mass influx of new lines, celebrity beauty brands are not exactly path-breaking. Back in 1987, Elizabeth Taylor launched her own perfume, while in 1994, supermodel Iman launched a cosmetics line for women of colour. In the years between then and now, there have been countless celebrity-fronted collections, endorsements and collaborations, but nothing quite on the scale we are seeing right now.

The trend has also shifted in that celebrities are no longer satisfied with having a product or a collection as part of an existing beauty brand; they want full ownership. And who could blame them? Earlier this year, Kylie Jenner, 21, was named the world's youngest ever self-made billionaire thanks to her Kylie Cosmetics brand, which launched in 2016 and continues to sell out around the world. While Jenner admits to having fillers to help plump her lips, she capitalised on the attention surrounding them, initially launching lip kits promising fans a similar effect through the magic of liner and matching matte colours. And people bought these products in droves. The company has now expanded into eyeshadow palettes, primers and highlighters, along with spin-off skincare range Kylie Skin.

Make-up mogul Kylie Jenner is branching out into skincare. Kylie Jenner / Instagram 
Make-up mogul Kylie Jenner is branching out into skincare. Kylie Jenner / Instagram 

Then there's Rihanna's Fenty Beauty, a make-up line that usurped beauty giants by redefining inclusivity, launching with 40 shades of foundation in 2017, and later adding concealers in 50 different hues, helping to set a new standard across the industry. In 2018, more than one million Instagram users voted Fenty Beauty as make-up brand of the year.

Given such success stories, it’s no surprise everyone wants in on the action. Kim Kardashian West was quick to follow in her younger sister’s footsteps, with the launch of her KKW Beauty line, selling eyeshadow palettes, lipsticks and body foundation. The launch follows a failed attempt at a make-up range earlier in Kardashian West’s career, which shows the changing attitude towards celebrity beauty lines.

Lady Gaga's Haus Laboratories is set to launch on Amazon in September, with the star announcing the news on Instagram last month. Acknowledging the increasingly crowded market, she said: "The last thing the world needs is another beauty brand. But that's too bad."

Ariana Grande is also reportedly stepping into the fray. According to reports, she trademarked the name "Thank U, Next" – after her eponymous hit song – and will soon release body powders, mists, scrubs and shower products.

FILE - In a Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018 file photo, Ariana Grande attends the 13th annual Billboard Women in Music event at Pier 36, in New York.  Chinese tech giant Tencent is in talks with French media company Vivendi to buy 10% of Universal Music Group, whose artists include Ariana Grande, according to an announcement from Vivendi Tuesday Aug. 6, 2019.(Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
Ariana Grande is said to be launching her own beauty brand (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

Also reported to have filed beauty trademarks are Hailey Rhode Bieber, Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian, Serena Williams, Gwen Stefani and Cardi B. It remains to be seen whether these new brands will be able to mimic the success of their peers, or if they have missed the boat.

Industry experts credit the success of celebrity beauty brands to the changing methods of traditional marketing, thanks largely to social media, which allow celebrities and brands to connect directly with customers and show them how to use the products in real-time. Simultaneously, the rise of e-commerce has helped to make such products more accessible.

So, make-up fans, strap in – it seems the celebrity beauty revolution has only just begun.