November 29, 2022

The Rise of Celebrity Beauty Brands

By: Saranda Bickle

The world of beauty shifted in 2015 when the nepotism princess, Kylie Jenner, launched Kylie Cosmetics. We had seen drugstore brands slap celebrity names onto makeup products in the past, but this was different. (With the exception of the iconic Jessica Simpson edible makeup line circa 2005). Kylie Cosmetics was higher end and felt more personal than just a makeup x celebrity collaboration. The internet had a field day with Kylie’s lips in 2014 and 2015. From the #KylieJennerLipChallenge to hacks on how to get lips like hers, Kylie’s lips were a spectacle of their own. Kylie took the opportunity to capitalize on the attention with her lip kits. The Instagram account for Kylie Cosmetics skyrocketed and had extremely high social media engagement without paid ads. The brand is now coming up on 7 years and is still going strong. 

Rihanna’s makeup brand, Fenty Beauty launched in 2017 and made a whopping $550 million in its first calendar year (Newsweek). Beauty influencers and social media were quick to fall in love with Fenty Beauty and its focus on inclusive shade ranges. When a brand launches a new foundation, beauty influencers, especially YouTubers, run to critique the shade range. When Beauty Blender tried to move away from only their iconic sponge to their own makeup, it was torn apart by influencers for the shade range. The controversy around their lackluster shade range hurt Beauty Blender’s reputation badly. Brands knew they needed better shade ranges, but weren’t making revolutionary changes. Rihanna stepped up and released her Pro Filt’r Foundation in 40 shades. Influencer Nyma Tang made a viral review of the brand’s darkest foundation shade and got over 12 million views. The shade range blew up on social media and gave Fenty Beauty a great first impression, and the momentum is still going 5 years later. 

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 12: Rihanna celebrates the launch of Fenty Beauty at ULTA Beauty on March 12, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Fenty Beauty by Rihanna)

Rihanna and Kylie’s brands prospered because they were innovating and the celebrity beauty brand space wasn’t oversaturated yet. Kylie was known for her full lips and created a product that helped the public achieve her look. Rihanna knew that the current market didn’t have enough diverse shades, so she made a range to suit everyone. We can see why brands like Fenty Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics are huge successes, but why are some celebrity beauty brands flopping?

Ariana Grande’s brand, REM Beauty, launched in March 2022. It has some time to grow but hasn’t received the same amount of social media excitement as other brands. Her fragrance brand did outstanding; her Cloud perfume gets talked about every day on social media. Why isn’t REM Beauty getting the same attention? More and more celebrities are launching beauty brands, and we expect to see something new and interesting. REM Beauty just hasn’t shown us anything special yet. Ariana is known for her eyeliner, but most makeup lovers already know how to do a winged liner and there are millions of eyeliner options out there. The packaging is cute, sure, but nothing groundbreaking. The brand just doesn’t have any it factor. It’s not creating anything new or buzzworthy. Fans will always buy the products on the first launch but returning customers are what a celebrity brand needs.

Will celebrity brands come crashing down just as fast as they rose to popularity?

14 thoughts on “The Rise of Celebrity Beauty Brands

  1. Hi Saranda, I really enjoyed your blog post! I love makeup and seeing all the new trends and brands that have come up in the beauty world in the past few years and it has been interesting to see the rise of so many celebrity beauty brands. I like how you focused on brands like Fenty Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics having a strong start while some brands like REM Beauty are not having such a great start despite having a huge celebrity like Ariana Grande as the face of it. I do wonder about the longevity of celebrity makeup brands and how it may be risky to have the brand be so closely related to the person like the case of Kat Von D’s makeup line.

  2. I think you pose an interesting question at the end of your blog. I think some brands, makeup and otherwise, will crash. However, I think some will stick around for quite some time. It makes me question how long these brands have to remain successful for celebrities to feel like they were worth investing the time, money, and energy into. As far as Kylie Cosmetics goes, that brand has well surpassed the benchmark of being worth it in my opinion, and will probably live on much longer. The Kardashians are hugely influential to a large audience and they continue to grow as an entity. I have seen the Kardashian name appear on the SOJCSSM blog page various times this term, which goes to show how much people are following the family. With that much power, Kylie’s brand was bound to thrive.

  3. Hi Saranda, great post! I am very immersed into the beauty industry but I haven’t ever really thought about this before! Personally, I have seen a lot of bad media about Kylies actual cosmetics but it is very true that she took the lips everyone wanted and gave the public the opportunity to achieve that. The Kardashian/Jenner clan sure is good at making a brand and a profit off of their attention. Fenty Beauty is revolutionary and I think it really speaks to Rhianna and her intentions to help fix the beauty industry. Good job!

  4. Hi Saranda,
    What an interesting topic. I remember in high school when my friends were buying Kylie lip kits during class as if their lives depended on it! I think celebrity brands have much more influence on people because consumers believe these products will make them look more like the celebrity in question. However, even some celebrity’s businesses do not succeed which is very much due to the fact that they do not stand out enough. Kylie and Rihanna brought things to the table that made them stick out and this is why they were extra successful.

  5. Hi Saranda,
    What an interesting topic. I remember in high school when my friends were buying Kylie lip kits during class as if their lives depended on it! I think celebrity brands have much more influence on people because consumers believe these products will make them look more like the celebrity in question. However, even some celebrity’s businesses do not succeed which is very much due to the fact that they do not stand out enough. Kylie and Rihanna brought things to the table that made them stick out and this is why they were extra successful in the beauty industry.

  6. Hi Saranda,

    I really enjoyed reading your piece. I am such a hug fan of Rihanna’s make up line but all of these celebrities makeup lines that you mentioned, I don’t think they will crash as fast as their rise to fame. Ariana Grandes line is still fairly new but Rihanna’s and Kylie’s still seems to be going to go strong. The newest brand that has sky rocketed is Selena Gomez Rare Beauty, which I am a huge fan of. People rave about her blushes and I can back that up and say it is a must in one’s make up collection. I can wait to see what else will be released in the near future.

  7. I really enjoyed reading your piece. I personally am no makeup expert and I don’t really buy products based on who released them and what is trending. I do have TikTok so I know enough to agree with you on everything you said. I think that Kylie and Rihanna just happened to be the leading front on a trend. As more main brand companies followed suit with releasing more shades, it became expected of a good company to meet these standards. I think that and the slow increase on small beauty company making an into into the beauty market is maybe why we haven’t seen Arianas brand blow up. I do agree that it could be because it is nothing “WOWing” about the product itself. Really great piece!

  8. Saranda,
    I think you made some awesome points! I think with celebrity make-up brands, a lot of people want to buy them because it gives them a connection to someone they admire and look up to. I also know that there are a lot of both macro and micro-influencers that do make-up tutorials on social media and feature a lot of these products. However, celebrity products, as you mention, do seem to do better overall when they have something that makes them different from other brands. Thanks for sharing!

  9. I think this piece is very interesting and very relevant. I remember being in high school when Kylie Cosmetics came out and it would sell out within minutes. I agree with you that this brand really launched celebrity beauty brands and was followed by Fenty Beauty. Today, I feel like every celebrity has a beauty line. Personally, I still stick with other brands because I feel like celebrities side from Kylie Jenner and Rhianna aren’t making quality products; they are just making products for more revenue and popularity.

  10. I think creativity is the magic celebrity brands can use to make inroads in the market. Studying the times and the demands or needs that exist can be a big advantage. As you rightly observed in the post, Rihanna and Kylie were strategic and probably more innovative and it paid off. The cosmetics industry has higher returns when it is done well. With the world as a global village, young people across the globe want to look like their idols, and celebrities who are innovative stand to succeed in this industry.

  11. Hi Saranda,
    This is a really interesting article, and I loved the makeup review link you shared with it! You bring up a great point that celebrity brands must cater to an existing need in order to truly be successful. I think it’s good that these celebs can’t fully rely on their fame to succeed in the makeup industry, and enjoyed your subtle remark of the nepotism privilege many celebrities capitalize on. Your acknowledgement of how Ariana Grande is known for her eyeliner and Kylie Jenner is known for lips is really insightful — it makes me think of other celebrities that would have a marketability factor in the makeup industry. Taylor Swift’s signature Red lipstick, the Euphoria cast’s unique makeup on the show and Paris Hilton’s iconic 2000’s looks would all give them an edge to market off of in the makeup industry if done right!

  12. I think being authentic to the individual is the key for a successful celebrity brand. You touched on Kylie Cosmetics and Fenty Beauty, and I think Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty is another great example. She’s known for her fuller cheeks and natural looks, and her brand skyrocketed with the launch of the liquid blushes, concealers and more. It’s interesting to observe the trends of what works in this industry and what don’t work. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Hi! I really enjoyed reading this post. I’ve found that celebrities that genuinely care about their brands seem to be the ones that do the best long term. I think it can be obvious sometimes what celebrities only make these brands for the look / paycheck and think it’s important to look into these brands before purchasing! Some of them are great and have great projects, but other ones really aren’t it.

  14. Hey Saranda,
    I really liked reading your post, and I totally remember Kylie launching her iconic lip kit and crashing the website. I agree that there are more and more celebrities creating beauty brands, but I do not think they will come crashing down. Selena Gomez’s brand has done really well at having a wide shade range, being vegan and cruelty free, and having high quality products. Not every single brand is going to do really well, but I think what makes certain celebrities beauty brands stand out is its product quality and devotion to its customers needs and wants.

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