Rihanna, J.Lo, Harry Styles – celebrity beauty brands are everywhere, but why do we need so many?
- Ariana Grande, Pharrell Williams, Millie Bobby Brown, Selena Gomez, the Kardashians… the list of celebrity beauty lines seems to get longer every day
- Let’s just call a spade a spade. These beauty lines are money moves. Is it any surprise that so many of them sprang up in the wake of Covid-19?
As someone who is very much into pop culture, I totally understand people’s fascination with the lives of the rich and famous. We all need a bit of escapism, especially amid the doom and gloom of recent times.
There is something, however, that rubs me up the wrong way: the proliferation of beauty brands “founded” by celebrities. Not a day goes by without the announcement of a new line helmed by someone famous.
The list is so long that it’s hard to keep track. Examples include the likes of Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez and Pharrell Williams; actors such as Idris Elba and Scarlett Johansson; athletes like Naomi Osaka; musicians like Harry Styles, Ariana Grande and Selena Gomez; and a never-ending number of influencers such as the Kardashian klan and Hailey Bieber.
Everyone loves a side gig – nothing wrong with that – but the idea that being a beauty fan qualifies you as a beauty brand founder is outrageous.
All these “passion projects” stem from a “genuine desire” to fill “a gap in the market” and to “promote inclusivity and diversity” … We’ve all read the PR drivel.
“Sustainability” is also a “key element” of these brands, which is ironic since the best way to be sustainable would be not to make more stuff nobody needs.
Let’s just call a spade a spade. These beauty lines are money moves. Is it any surprise that so many of them sprang up in the wake of Covid-19?
With album sales plummeting due to the rise of Spotify et al, musicians have come to rely on touring as a source of revenue. Tour cancellations during the pandemic put a big dent in their income and performers have resorted to merchandise – which now includes beauty products – to make up for it.
To be fair, some celebrity brands have earned a modicum of respect. Fenty Beauty by Rihanna struck a chord with its broad range of foundation shades when many brands catered only to fair skin tones. On the flip side, Rihanna hasn’t released an album since 2016. She’s been too busy selling lip gloss and lingerie to find the time to make new music and her most vocal fans haven’t been too happy about that.
It’s understandable that after years of working as “ambassadors” for big brands, celebrities would want to take things into their own hands. But are we really supposed to believe that 53-year-old Jennifer Lopez owes her glow to her olive oil-infused beauty products rather than a full-time glam team?
Lopez, much like Elizabeth Taylor before her, was early to the game when she came up with a fragrance line in the 90s, but skincare is a different beast. As a skincare aficionado, I like to leave that to the experts.
In a recent interview with Allure magazine, 18-year-old Millie Bobby Brown, star of hit Netflix series Stranger Things, admitted that she doesn’t know anything about beauty and established her brand, Florence by Mills, to “take [fans] on a journey with me”. Thank you, Millie, but a skincare journey with an 18-year-old who knows nothing about beauty is not one I’m willing to embark on.
Whether these celebrity-founded brands have staying power is an open question. Haus Labs by Lady Gaga has already gone through a rebranding after launching in 2019, while Kim Kardashian and her stepsister Kylie Jenner’s skincare lines also went through major overhauls in 2021.
Others, however, are doubling down.
After launching About-Face in 2021, musician Halsey, not necessarily a household name, debuted AF94 in July, a second, more affordable line aimed at her younger fans.
Consumers, for now, clearly have an appetite for these launches and celebrities are milking it while it lasts, no matter how disingenuous these efforts may be.