Sam Visser Is Filtering Fashion Nostalgia and Aughts Excess into a Fresh Slant on Makeup

The actor Hari Nef flashed across the Instagram feed on a weekend night in June, at the close of the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival. In the photo, her lipstick gleams like a newly minted penny. Eye shadow in a shade of papaya turns up in deft, unexpected touches: tracing the inner rim of the socket and dotting the lower lash beneath the iris. There’s a feeling of archetypal elegance, but in a way that elides rule. Arresting is the word: pulling the brakes on the habitual scroll. You can tap for the credits, but the authorship is already clear to those who’ve seen Kaia Gerber, Bella Hadid, and Euphoria’s Barbie Ferreira undergo similar transformations. This new-guard makeup is the work of Sam Visser.

Welcome to Artist Spotlight #63 series on my blog.

The California native, named Dior’s U.S. makeup artist ambassador earlier this year, is a precocious force. In some ways he’s in step with his peers. “I feel tuned in to the fact that social media is a very present thing, that it’s a tool that we can use to our advantage,” says Visser. “I wear JNCO jeans, so I am Gen Z,” he smiles. But even that nod to the wide-leg ’90s-favorite denim brand—enjoying a second life thanks to a boost from 20-somethings—mirrors Visser’s affection for the outsize aesthetics of the past. The word that comes up repeatedly as we speak is glamour. As in: “glamour, glamour, glamour, glamour, glamour,” he stresses. “I come from a generation where the attitude is so whatever, so over it, very careless. But I want to care too much. I love everything considered.”

Born in November 1999, as the world braced for a would-be Y2K meltdown, Visser is an apt intermediary between analog exuberance and the digital age. In grade school, Visser absorbed the lo-fi makeup tutorials of early YouTube. On weekends, he escaped to the MAC counter, designing looks on paper face charts. At 12, during a visit to L.A.’s Make Up For Ever store, he excitedly spotted the makeup artist David Hernandez, who invited Visser to shadow a shoot with David LaChapelle. “That was kind of my first taste of beauty,” Visser says. “Before, it was all just on the screen of the internet and never really in real life.”

But even a kid rooted in the online world found some of his most lasting influences in books: Makeup Your Mind (2002) by François Nars and Kevyn Aucoin’s iconic Making Faces (1997). Dubbed the first celebrity makeup artist for his camaraderie with the supers (immortalized in behind-the-scenes Polaroids and candid videos), Aucoin had a way of quilting together references and techniques, from silent-film brows to drag-influenced sculpting. By the time Visser was 16, he had taken Aucoin’s lessons in hand, with clients like Tish Cyrus; that year, Kris Jenner hired Visser to do her daily makeup (he finished high school by independent study). The Kardashians steeped him in another sort of dialed-up aesthetic—the Gesamtkunstwerk of the always-on reality TV persona. “They are the modern version of what the Hollywood stars were,” Visser says, “because they get ready every single day for hours.”

Time has a way of folding in on itself, with unlikely rhymes across decades. As Visser has shifted his track—to editorial makeup, art projects, and experimental looks that he often shoots himself—the Aucoin allusions have followed. (It helps that Visser’s circle includes a new cast of supers, Cindy Crawford’s daughter included.) What feels fresh with Visser’s crowd is the interplay of artist and muse, with collaborators appearing on both sides of the lens: photographer Nadia Lee Cohen wearing a molten gold lip in a portrait series from lockdown, or Bryce Anderson (above) in shades of metallic seafoam and peach.

Anderson, a 20-year-old photographer and model, met Visser on set a couple of years ago. Now dating, the two share a worldview along with a “crazy archive at our house of special things that we’ve purchased,” says Anderson. He cites a Francesco Scavullo book that inspired an upcoming zine of portraits for Behind the Blinds, with Visser lending makeup in the spirit of ’70s legend Way Bandy. Neither sees their work as nostalgic. Instead they want to create worlds that transcend time and TikTok attention spans and even fashionable notions of gender fluidity. “For Sam, he always says, ‘Makeup is just makeup,’ ” Anderson tells me. “It’s not like, ‘Ooh, you’re making me a woman.’ It’s, ‘You’re just making me beautiful,’ and that’s always been our philosophy.”

The current thirst for circa-2000 style feeds into that pool of references. Visser looks back on the time of his birth as having a reflection of the ’60s—“but instead of going to the moon, we were going into the internet,” he says. “All the makeup ads became very metallic, and everything was shiny and sparkly.” In this look on Anderson, there’s a hint of cyber-pop: a Paris Hilton frosted lip, pastel shadow on Britney Spears. But it’s more a present-tense proposition: out of the internet and into a stylized dream reality. Visser sees his work as “almost punk,” in a way—a rogue departure from the barefaced beauty aesthetic that we’ve lately come to expect. In another 20 years, that’s what he hopes people look back on: “that glamour is an act of rebellion.”

Made to Last

In Visser’s world, vintage photography and beauty books might inspire the makeup for a zine, Y2K-era aesthetics get a softer spin, and smart formulas enable full-face transformations.

VANITY FAIR ARTICLE

10 Of The Duchess Of Sussex’s Favourite Beauty Products

Ever wondered what the Duchess of Sussex uses in her beauty routine? Whether it was during her days of playing Rachel Zane in Suits, or while she was a working member of the British royal family following her marriage to Prince Harry in 2018, Meghan has always been a woman with immense style in the beauty department. Rarely erring from a fresh face, nude lip and smoky eye combo, the Duchess also serves excellent hair inspiration – and she’s revealed some old favourites in the past. Here British Vogue takes a look at her go-to beauty products, from the ultra-cheap body lotion she loves, to a number of cult favourites you might just have in your make-up bag already. 

Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Very Victoria

A matte suede-taupe nude lipstick which is made with a blend of oils to help nourish lips, it is thought Meghan wore this lipstick in her engagement photos with Prince Harry.

£25, available at Charlottetilbury.com.

Nivea Skin Q10 + Vitamin C Firming Hydration Body Lotion

The Duchess has previously said she uses this body lotion “religiously”, and praised it for its affordability and the fact it makes her skin look and feel amazing. With antioxidants Q10 and vitamin C, it sinks in quickly and helps firm the skin. 

£4.99, available at Boots.com.

Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray

“For my flyaways, I spray this hairspray on a small boar bristle toothbrush (a regular toothbrush also works great) to lightly brush them down or smooth the hairline – this is especially good for a sleek bun when I’m off camera,” Meghan previously shared. 

£45, available at Cultbeauty.co.uk

Kate Somerville Quench Hydrating Face Serum

One of Meghan’s favourite facialists is Kate Somerville, who is based in Los Angeles, and the Duchess also uses her skincare line to “maintain that glow”. This serum is excellent for deeply hydrating the skin, and contains an array of antioxidants to fend off external aggressors, too.

£68, available at Lookfantastic.com.

Nars Blush in Orgasm

“I love Nars blush in Orgasm,” Meghan previously told Allure. “I use it on and off camera because it gives you a nice glow from within.” Universally flattering, this blush is a favourite of beauty editors, make-up artists and celebrities alike.

£26, available at Cultbeauty.co.uk.

Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat Highlighter

A cult classic, the Duchess included YSL’s concealing and brightening pen as part of her “five minute face”. From lifting under-eye circles to adding a highlight here and there, it’s a multi-tasking wonder. 

£27, available at Lookfantastic.com.

Undone by George Northwood Curl It Tongs

Having worked closely with hairstylist George Northwood over the years, including on her wedding day, it is likely that the Duchess will be using his new line of hair products. The latest are these tongs, which make achieving his signature beachy waves a breeze.

£65, available at Boots.com.

MAC Eye Kohl Pencil Liner in Teddy

Meghan’s signature burnished smoky eye comes courtesy of this soft, smudgy brown eye pencil, which she discovered through her old make-up artist, Kayleen McAdams. 

£15, available at Lookfantastic.com.

Eucerin Aquaphor

To get that dewy finish on cheekbones a la Meghan, her wedding day make-up artist Daniel Martin previously said it was all about layering textures; Aquaphor, he said, helped highlight the skin and impart the right texture “especially in a photo [when applied] on the high points of the face”.

£6.03, available at Lookfantastic.com.

Laura Mercier Pure Canvas Primer

In her Suits days, Meghan used to swear by Laura Mercier’s discontinued Illuminating Primer – she wore it on her days off instead of foundation. While it’s no longer available, the brand now offers this formula, which helps bring a similarly dewy finish to skin. 

£34, available at Cultbeauty.co.uk.

VOGUE article

14 Best Beauty Products Under $20, According to Gigi Hadid, Naomi Campbell, and More

The world of beauty can be overwhelming, as much for our cabinets as our wallets. But rest assured: a high-powered cosmetics arsenal need not break the bank. Take it from the stars of Vogue’s Beauty Secrets, who have revealed that some of their most prized products are in fact some of the best priced. 

See La Roche-Posay’s $14 Serozinc Toner, a mattifying mist that has earned Naomi Campbell’s seal of approval. What’s more? The Kendall Jenner–beloved Mario Badescu Facial Spray—laced with soothing green tea, cucumber, and aloe—rings in at just $12; spritz it on before applying a layer of Sydney Sweeney’s go-to $16 Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre or a $19 hyaluronic-acid-infused primer that’s a mainstay in Jessica Alba’s Dopp kit. Gigi Hadid, meanwhile, swears by Maybelline’s Lifter Gloss. Delivering an ultra-moisturizing, ultra-shiny finish for only $7, it’s one makeup must-have that will leave you anything but high and dry.

Below, shop the best beauty products under $20 on Amazon, as chosen by Vogue’s Beauty Secrets stars Gigi Hadid, Emma Chamberlain, and more. 

Skin Care

PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash

Shop on Amazon $9

Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Cucumber, and Green Tea

Shop on Amazon $12

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

Shop on Amazon $14

iUNIK Tea Tree Relief Natural Facial Serum

Shop on Amazon $18

Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre

Shop on Amazon $16

La Roche-Posay Serozinc Toner for Oily Skin With Zinc

Shop on Amazon $16

Epicuren Aloe Vera Calming Gel

Shop on Amazon $15

Makeup

Lano Strawberry 101 Ointment Multi-Balm

Shop on Amazon $14

L’Oréal True Match Super Blendable Powder

Shop on Amazon $11

Honest Beauty Everything Primer, Glow With Hyaluronic Acid

Shop on Amazon $19

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Plumping Mascara

Shop on Amazon $10

Almay Smart Shade Skintone Matching Makeup

Shop on Amazon $15

Maybelline Lifter Gloss With Hyaluronic Acid

Shop on Amazon $9

Jillian Dempsey Khôl Eyeliner

Shop on Amazon $15

VOGUE article

5 Expert Makeup Tips For Enhancing Monolid Eyes

“Dark brown – nearly black – slightly downturned, and defined by the shape of their lids,” journalist Monica Kim wrote in a piece for Vogue back in June. “There is no wrinkle, no crease, no skin that falls back into the socket. Just a wide, flat plane that sits unmoving below my brows.” Kim was talking about her monolids, an eye shape possessed by many of East Asian descent, and one she shares with British Vogue’s luminous September cover star, Gemma Chan.

The web is awash with how-to videos and instructional articles on how to create the “ultimate” eye look, but unfortunately the techniques often ignore monolids. Here, Hiromi Ueda, the makeup artist behind Chan’s look, shares her top tips for achieving show-stopping eyes for monolids.

Welcome to Artist Spotlight #61 series on my blog.

Order up

“I think the order you apply your makeup in is very important,” says Ueda. “It’s better to apply eyeshadow before you attempt a feline flick. And it’s wise to keep your eyes shut while the eyeliner is drying, to avoid reprinting the liner on top of your eyelid.”

Go bold and bright

With the onus being on accentuating the shape of the eye along the lash line, eyeshadow is a monolid’s best friend. Seek out bold and bright colours, and know that you can easily wear just one shade (instead of three, as those with double lids often do) across your lids. “I recommend choosing colour that’s impactful and which contrasts against a feline flick,” Ueda says. “I always check what my client is going to wear (and its key colours), so I can complement them in the makeup.” 

Ueda is a fan of Mac’s Pigment Pots for the extensive shade range. Monolids can also pull off some colour below the eye, so if that takes your fancy, experiment with blending your chosen shade underneath, too.

How to create a feline flick

When drawing a feline flick, seek to extend the line outwards, rather than up towards the end tip of the brow – it will help to enhance the shape of your eyes. “Ensure the line looks straight when you open your eyes, so mark some points on the eye with an eye pencil or pen and then draw the defined line,” advises Ueda. You can further define and make eyes look wider by using a tightlining technique on the upper lash line – work your eyeliner into the waterline and areas between your eyelashes, for a subtle but impactful effect. Long-wear and waterproof eyeliners are best to ensure there’s less transfer onto surrounding skin.

For fluttery lashes

The trick to making eyelashes stand out if you have monolids is to curl them beforehand, says Ueda. “My biggest advice is also to replace your mascara regularly to avoid any clumpy bits, as they won’t create a perfect finish.” False eyelashes can also work really well.

Go for gloss

Many eye shapes struggle with eye gloss because it tends to crease and slide all over the face, impacting the overall eye makeup finish. Monolids, on the other hand, don’t have that problem, up the ante on your eye look with a little shine. “Apply alone or add some gloss on top of eyeshadow, as it can make colours stand out more,” says Ueda.

VOGUE article

Priyanka Chopra Uses These 6 Products To Prep For A Day Of Zooms

Over the past year-and-a-half many of us have picked up new beauty tricks to help in our quest to quickly look presentable on ZOOM, even if we’re still wearing our pyjamas. Those in need of some inspiration should take notes from Priyanka Chopra’s recent IGTV, in which she takes fans through her own “quick makeup” look, which she’s learned to perfect in less than five minutes.

“I usually don’t have time to do makeup,” she explains in the video, using Bobbi Brown’s cult Stick Foundation to quickly conceal areas that present “issues”, and blending it all in with her fingers. “Then I take MAC Studio Fix [Powder Plus Foundation] – because I don’t know how to do anything else – put it on my nose a bit, my forehead, under eyes. Perfect!”

Next up: it’s blush. Chopra uses a Chanel compact blusher, the latest of which is the ultra-pretty Fleurs De Printemps Blush and Highlighter Duo, and blends it over her cheekbones and up to her temples. “I like going a little bit on the sides of my face,” she says. “[It] gives [my face] a little shape.” Her next makeup artist-approved trick is to use the same brush to lightly blend the blusher over her eyelids, for a little pop of colour and to bring the face together.

Since our eyes are everything nowadays (“Eyes are important on Zoom!”), Chopra swears by an eyelash curler to wake her eyes up, and then applies mascara afterwards – including on the bottom lashes. Then, she brushes her eyebrows, using a pencil to fill in the gaps, while still keeping them “super natural”.

Despite the amount of time we all now spend wearing protective face masks, Chopra is still all for a look that emphasises the lips. “I usually like to have a lighter lip or a fun colour, maybe,” she says in the video. “This is my favourite go-to. It’s Clinique [Chubby Stick] and it’s kind of natural.” One of Clinique’s bestselling lip products, Chubby Sticks offer a natural, balmy lip tint while nourishing the lips.

To finish? She sweeps her hair back into a relaxed bun, adds some “distracting, fun accessories” and voila, she is ZOOM ready. 

The 6 products Priyanka swears by:

Bobbi Brown Stick Foundation

£32, available at Lookfantastic.com.

MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation

£27, available at Lookfantastic.com.

Chanel Fleurs de Printemps Blush and Highlighter Duo

£52, available at Chanel.com.

Surratt Relevée Lash Curler

£32, available at Lookfantastic.com.

Estée Lauder Sumptuous Extreme Mascara

£26, available at Lookfantastic.com.

Clinique Chubby Stick

£18.50, available at Lookfantastic.com.

VOGUE article

Jennifer Garner’s $30 Bouncy Skin Secret Gets Rid Of Wrinkles And Depuffs Skin

Jennifer Garner is full of surprises. I can’t say I was expecting her to be the hilarious Instagram video creator that she is, or for her to team up with Jill Biden to promote vaccinations in West Virginia. One thing slightly more routine? For Garner to be transparent as a window about the specifics of her beauty routine — and while her adoration for Neutrogena skin care is well-known, she says the brand’s most recent addition is making all the difference. 

According to an interview with PEOPLE published in May, the pep in Garner’s step — and skin — is thanks to a recent Neutrogena release focused on firming skin with anti-aging benefits. Speaking to Neutrogena’s new Rapid Firming Peptide Contour Lift Face Cream, Garner says, “It just gives the skin a real youthful vibrancy, and a kind of bounce to it.” 

The Neutrogena moisturizer is part of the brand’s new firming collagen and peptide-centered line, reliant on a dermatologist-developed micropeptide that it claims can deeply penetrate skin to counter depleted collagen and elasticity. For background, peptide products based on enhancing collagen are an ongoing skincare trend; Jennifer Aniston and Kourtney Kardashian advocate for ingesting collagen and tons of Amazon’s best-selling skin products revolve around the ingredient, including serums that have skyrocketed in popularity.   

Shop now: $30; amazon.com

The reason: Our body’s natural collagen production weakens as we age, dermatologist Joshua Zeichner previously told InStyleCollagen is composed of three polypeptide chains, so using them topically can stimulate your skin to pump up its collagen creation and return youthful texture to your face. Since launching last month, the reviews for Garner’s favorite new cream back up the science and its promise of a “visibly lifted, firmer-looking” appearance.

“Beyond making my skin look and feel smoother, healthier, and more rejuvenated, the serum and cream have helped firm and tighten the skin along my cheeks and jawline,” one shopper in their 50s writes. “My cheekbones appear more pronounced, my face looks less puffy, and my skin no longer looks/feels crepey. I enthusiastically recommend these products to others my age who are trying to achieve firmer, younger-looking skin.” 

Another person testifies that the fast-absorbing, lifting cream plumped up their fine lines within a week, bringing a hefty dose of moisture to super dry skin and cinching in their sagging neck. “For that alone, it gets five stars,” the reviewer says. “It also helps with those stupid lines around your mouth, and I swear there’s an improvement with less pronounced marionette lines, so I don’t look like I am super unhappy all of the time.” 

In just under two weeks, the cream fades forehead wrinkles into a shadow of their once-pronounced self, tones down laugh lines and under-eye puffiness, and scraps rough patches altogether. Others say the immediate tightening effect blurs and smooths fine lines from the jump, and within a couple weeks firmed up their jowls without requiring the “guts or the money” needed for more invasive work.  

Garner’s use of the cream and lack of furrowed wrinkles only makes sense — she comes off as a chronically happy person, and while no one’s joyous 24/7, it could be Neutrogena’s innovation that makes it seem that way. Try the drugstore’s newest wonder for $30 and see the changes for yourself.    

INSTYLE article

The 10 Most Reliable Eyeliners, According To Makeup Artists

Purchasing an eyeliner can feel like a gamble. You walk into your nearest Sephora, money in hand, on a mission to find a formula that doesn’t pull, tug, skip or drag. After perusing the shelves, you’ll settle on one in hopes that it won’t smudge before lunch.

The truth is, you never really know if you’ll get a return on your investment until you take it home and try it for yourself. By then, it could be too late. To make the entire experience feel less risky, experts who know a thing or two about eyeliners weigh in. Ahead, shop the 10 best eyeliners, from pencils to liquids, according to professional makeup artists. They’ll make you feel like you won the jackpot every time.

BEST GEL LINER – AMC Eyeliner Gel

“When I’m creating a bold eye, Inglot AMC Eyeliner Gel is my go-to eyeliner, as it’s available in a variety of rich high-pigmented shades,” says makeup artist Millie Morales (also a Garnier celebrity hairstylist). “The creamy formula glides on with ease, but most importantly, it boasts long-lasting wear.”

Shop $16

BEST SMUDGE-PROOF LIQUID – Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner

“When it comes to precision, I like to use a marker-like tip, as it gives me the freedom and flexibility to create an elegant wing or a thick dramatic look,” says Morales. “Stila’s Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner dries fast, won’t smudge and only comes off when you take it off!”

Shop $22

BEST BRIGHT FORMULA – 24/7 Eye Pencil

If you’re looking to try a colored eyeliner, look no further than Urban Decay’s 24/7 Eye Pencils. Makeup artist Steve Kassajikian says, “these shades are bright, pigmented, creamy, easy to blend, and glide on like a gel.” As if that’s not enough to get you on board, Kassajikian adds, “they set in 60 seconds and don’t budge throughout the day. Plus, they’re specifically made for wet surfaces like the waterline.”

Shop $22

BEST FOR CAT EYES – Flash Cat Eye Liquid Eyeliner

Celebrity makeup artist Claudia Betancur, a L’Oréal Paris brand ambassador, is a fan of the brand’s new Flash Cat Eye Liquid Eyeliner because it “has the perfect tip to create a precise wing, and glides on super smooth. The cap has a wing stencil attached to help create the perfect cat eye,” she says.

Shop $10

BEST WATERPROOF – 1.5 MM Mechanical Gel Eyeliner

“This micro-fine gel pencil has next level staying power,” says makeup artist and artistic director of Glamsquad, Kelli J. Bartlett. “I originally tested the Hourglass 1.5 MM Mechanical Gel Eyeliner on my hand, and it lasted through a workout and a shower, so you know it means business. I love to use it on the inner rim of the upper lash line to create a lush look as it holds up to watery eyes.”

Shop $18

BEST LONG-LASTING PENCIL – BADgal BANG! 24 Hour Eyeliner Pencil

Celebrity makeup artist Lisa Potter-Dixon says this liner “is a hard worker. It works wonders on the waterline and stays put due to its waterproof formula.” She adds, “it also works beautifully as a lash liner, plus the blending tool on the end means you can even use it to create a simple smokey eye.”

Shop $22

BEST PRECISION – Perma Precision Liquid Eyeliner

Makeup artist and co-founder of Shespoke Makeup, Rebecca Perkins, says it doesn’t get better than Pat McGrath Labs’ liquid liner. She says, “the pen tip is so fine, you can do super subtle details. Mother does not mess around, and her products always do what they say.”

Shop $32

BEST TRUE BLACK – Infallible 16HR Never-Fail Eyeliner

Finding a true black formula can be difficult. Luckily, Perkins assures that her pick is “tried and true.” She says, “L’Oréal’s carbon black shade comes in a gel pot (perfect for when I am doing someone else’s makeup) or the mechanical pencil (for when I’m doing my own makeup).” Finally, she adds, “it’s not fancy, but it works every time.”

Shop $8

BEST DRUGSTORE – Matte Liquid Liner

Dell Ashley, YSL Beauté Director of Makeup Artistry, knows a thing or two about luxury beauty, but there’s one drugstore favorite he keeps in his kit. He says the NYX Matte Liquid Liner is “a great budget-friendly eyeliner because it offers rich color and has a nice, long wear.” And at $8 a pop, you can keep your makeup bag stocked with it too.

Shop $10

BEST VERSATILE FORMULA – TattooStudio Sharpenable Gel Pencil in Brown

Vincent Oquendo, the artist behind Hollywood’s most beautiful faces (Lily Collins, Gabrielle Union, Nina Dobrev), recommends you pick up this other drugstore option. “I use it to create my shape before I perfect it with a black liner and for subtle definition in the waterline when I’m creating a sultry look,” he says. “The combination of black and brown liners create a more natural makeup look when smudged at the lash line.”

Shop $7

ELLE article

What Does It Take For A Celebrity Beauty Brand To Succeed In 2021?

In November 2015, Kylie Jenner launched three lip kits. The kits, consisting of a lip pencil and liquid lipstick available in a pinky nude, a beige neutral and a deep brown, sold out almost immediately.

Jenner’s wasn’t the first celebrity beauty brand to launch. In 2009, Australian model Miranda Kerr founded Kora Organics, while actor Drew Barrymore launched Flower Cosmetics in 2013. But Jenner’s was the first to leverage the reach, engagement and influence of its founder in the social media era. Nearly six years later, the lip kits have evolved into a full makeup and skincare brand and in 2019, she sold 51 percent of her business (at a valuation of $1.2 billion) to Coty for $600 million.

The rise of celebrity beauty brands

Today, the legacy of Kylie Cosmetics—as well as Rihanna’s industry-changing Fenty Beauty, which launched in 2017—is everywhere, as celebrities jump on the beauty bandwagon. There’s Lady Gaga’s Haus Laboratories; Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty; Kim Kardashian West’s KKW Beauty; Pharrell Williams’ Humanrace; Millie Bobby Brown’s Florence by Mills; Jennifer Lopez’s JLo Beauty; Halsey’s About-FaceVictoria Beckham; Paris Hilton’s Pro DNA, and many more.

Cardi B has teased a forthcoming makeup range, as has YouTuber James Charles, while Hailey Bieber, Gwen Stefani and Ariana Grande all reportedly filed trademarks for beauty products. Welcome to the golden age of the celebrity beauty brand.

It used to be that celebrities were the faces of beauty brands, starring in campaigns, endorsing the products in interviews and wearing the makeup on red carpets. But being the face is no longer enough—celebrities want ownership, becoming major players in the industry in their own right. And with the growth of the global beauty market over the last few years—the industry was valued at $532 billion in 2019—it’s not surprising.

“Celebrities are increasingly aware of the quick financial gains to be made, with the opportunity to monetize a loyal online fanbase and use their social media page as a marketing platform,” says Gabriella Beckwith, beauty consultant at market research firm Euromonitor.

But for everyone chasing a Fenty success story, fame and following alone won’t ensure sales. As the market becomes increasingly crowded, brands will have to rely on that notoriously slippery concept of authenticity to gain the trust and business of their target audience.

The power of authenticity

Today, beauty consumers have never been more educated about what they are putting on their face or more demanding about the quality. It’s why it matters that Pharrell Williams collaborated with his longtime dermatologist, Dr Elena Jones, for his skincare brand Humanrace. It’s why Halsey prefaced the announcement of her makeup brand About-Face in January by establishing her credibility. “Many of you know I’ve done my own makeup for a long time,” she wrote on Twitter. It’s also why actress Millie Bobby Brown drew criticism after posting a skincare tutorial in which she seemingly didn’t actually apply any of the products to her face. Brown issued an apology a few days later, writing, “I’m still learning the best way to share my routines as I get to know this space better—I’m not an expert.”

Eyebrows were also raised when Jennifer Lopez recently said that her age-defying skin was the mainly the result of years of olive oil use—despite selling a new line of skincare products (her multitasking serum costs $118). Followers were skeptical of these claims, with some even suggesting the singer had had Botox, to which Lopez responded: “For the 500 millionth time. I have never done Botox or any injectables or surgery!”

At the other end of the spectrum, Victoria Beckham established her credentials as a serious player by partnering with industry favorite Dr Augustinus Bader for her first skincare launch. “We tend to think of celebrity brands as inauthentic partnerships—traditionally, that is often what they were,” says Sarah Creal, co-founder and CEO of Victoria Beckham Beauty. “Celebrities can no longer slap their name on something and not have their communities realize that’s what’s happening. Those who are in it for the short term or inauthentically won’t last—consumers are savvy.”

A long-time beauty executive, Creal met Beckham at Estée Lauder, with whom the designer launched a capsule cosmetics collection, and was drawn to her passion and vision. While she says there is “no doubt” the former Spice Girl is a celebrity, they don’t consider Victoria Beckham Beauty a celebrity brand, but rather a bona fide indie startup. “Having Victoria as a partner obviously shines a light on the brand that we wouldn’t have otherwise, but we still have to stand up to the scrutiny and credibility that any new beauty brand would need to.”

The importance of quality over influence

Celebrities undeniably wield great influence over their following, but if they want to convince consumers to buy their products, this credibility and, most importantly, gold-standard quality, is non-negotiable. “People aren’t just buying into the face—they equally expect the product to work as hard as any other brand they’d engage with,” says Victoria Buchanan, senior futures analyst at strategic foresight consultancy The Future Laboratory.

The audience agrees. “[I think some] products by celebrities are bad quality because it is believed that people will buy them regardless,” says Marion, a 17-year-old gen-Z consumer from Toronto. “But the product itself should be more important than the celebrity or advertising.” It’s quality that she cites as the reason for buying the few products from celebrity brands that she’s purchased—a Rare Beauty highlighter with good reviews, a Fenty concealer because of its range of shades.

While a celebrity might make consumers aware of a brand (they’ll pay close attention if it’s someone they’re a fan of), it’s rare that they would buy a beauty product because of the name alone. On the whole, they remain wary of products, particularly when it comes to skincare, do their own research, and always listen to expert advice.

Like all trends, the celebrity beauty bubble will eventually burst. The sharp decline of celebrity fragrances following its 2011 peak shows what can happen when consumers move on from a category. Nothing lasts forever and we’ve already seen a gradual shift towards hair brands, such as Tracee Ellis Ross’s Pattern, Priyanka Chopra Jonas’s Anomaly, and sexual wellness products via Cara Delevingne and Dakota Johnson.

When that moment comes, those brands left standing will be the ones that have established their authenticity and credibility, played to the strengths of their creators’ personal ethos and identity, and, above all, proved their quality. As noisy and loud as your social media presence might be, in the end, nothing talks like results.

VOGUE article

This Budget Beauty Line Is Your Ticket To Effortless Wedding MakeUp

“We all need a bit of magic in our lives – especially now – don’t we?” says Val Garland, global makeup artist for L’Oréal Paris, of the brand’s latest collaboration with Elie Saab. And magical it is. The designer known for his frothy, feminine, haute couture creations – seen on everyone from brides to A-listers – has brought his talent for making women feel and look good to the ultra affordable L’Oréal Paris x Elie Saab collection, which is available to buy now.

Welcome to Artist Spotlight #52 series on my blog.

Empowering women is, after all, Saab’s MO. “My passion has always been to make women feel beautiful, and makeup has the ability to highlight every woman’s natural beauty. As the finishing touch to a look, or an accessible way into the world of couture, this makeup line allows every woman to experience a touch of Elie Saab magic,” he says.

Garland, who has worked with the designer on the makeup looks for his fashion shows in days gone by, collaborated with Saab on the line. The pair wanted to create a range which reflected his “dazzling hand-sewn embroideries and embellishments and his signature fantasy creations”, explains Garland. “I wanted to translate his vision with makeup, by incorporating subtle shimmer finishes in the gloss and dazzling glitters in the eyeshadows, to truly reflect his designs.”

The result is a four-piece line that incorporates a rather glorious eyeshadow palette, full of velveteen, shimmery shades in tones to suit everyone; Le Volume Haute Couture Mascara; a feather-soft Le Brilliant Haute Couture lip gloss (in three nudes); and Color Riche lipstick (in four exclusive shades). The edit is affordable but the luxurious formulas feel reassuringly expensive, and the packaging is also pleasing. The feather details, sheer nude chiffon and silver embellishment from the brand’s last show are all echoed in the formulas.

£15.99, available at Lookfantastic.com.

Because the collection is based on nude hues, it’s perfect for those who like a natural touch, and it’s bound to appeal to future brides. Whether it’s a slick of the gloss on lips or a diffused, taupe eye, it’s soft, flattering makeup that’s easy to incorporate into your routine. And at less than £20, it’s truly a steal. 

Full Collection:

VOGUE article

Hindash – Painter, Photographer, Artist, Redefines Beauty As We Know It

“As a painter and an artist that has been inspired by how beauty is perceived globally, it is very important for me to create a universal brand.”

Welcome to Artist Spotlight #49 series on my blog.

Mohammed Hindash is an artist born and raised in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Hindash studied and graduated with a degree in Studio Art, and later gained his exposure internationally for being one of the leading pioneers in makeup artistry and photography. Hindash began as a painter and YouTuber reaching over 68 Million views with 1.7 million subscribers. Crowned as one of the hottest makeup artists in the industry, the beauty mogul encapsulates the entirety of his artistic journey. Transitioning from portrait paintings to makeup and photography – and now into his own brand, his most intricate masterpiece.

Timeless. Authentic. Innovative. The brand’s drive stems from creating complex cosmetic masterpieces inspired by the true foundation of art.

“Art and beauty has always been an extension of me, so when I started experimenting with photography I knew I wanted to give into the world of cosmetics through make up artistry. It felt like a seamless, natural transition from being a painter.”

The creation of such an innovative product for the beauty industry should not come as a surprise, then.

The 6-pan gradient color story is inspired by a painter’s palette, deconstructed, and reassembled in a sleek, contemporary multi-use product. Beautopsy is made of a vegan formula which blends 12 fundamental colors that flatter and enhance all skin tones. Use as eyeshadow, eyeliner, contour, highlight, blush, and bronzer – the gradient colors offer a limitless color way pay-off.

Beautopsy is a multi-use pressed pigment palette that can be used on the eyes and face. Create the ultimate look by swirling your brush along the gradient pans to customize your perfect shade. Sweep along eyes, cheeks, brows, highlights and contours of the face. You are the artist of your masterpiece.

TAN + LINES –  a soft tan brown that blends into a pure white

WET + PAINT – a beige that blends into a banana yellow 

BOY + WONDER – a peach that blends into a bubblegum pink

FEEL + REAL – a neutral brown that blends into a true concrete gray 

LOVE + KILLS – a fiery orange that blends into a hot red

INTRA + FATUM – a chocolate brown that blends into a pitch black

Contents made in Italy. 100% vegan.

Shop $70

@hindash ON INSTAGRAM

Hindash ON YOUTUBE

WEBSITE