Why are celebrities creating their own beauty brands and are they that good?

Every celebrity seems to be making a beauty brand but few of them are offering anything new...

Olivia Carter
27th April 2023
Image Credit: Instagram @fentybeauty
There has been a dramatic influx in recent years of celebrity-owned beauty and wellness brands. In 2022 alone we saw Gwen Stefani, Scarlett Johannson, Winnie Harlow and Peyton List to name a few of many new and existing faces, create lines. After such success with Fenty Beauty by Rihanna, it seems that beauty is the number one go-to for so many of those familiar to us. Fenty felt particularly fresh in 2017 as she created a unique spin on an already overly saturated market, arguably pioneering and changing the face of the beauty industry. However, no new brand has seemingly offered anything different, begging the question as to whether enough is enough?

The word ‘celebrity’ holds significant social power, as it reflects someone that many look up, often through parasocial relationships (a one-sided psychological relationship, where one extends emotional energy, interest and time to a persona who is completely unaware of their existence). As a society, we seem to trust individuals rather than corporations and to have a familiar face on the front of a product, this causes the product to be trusted also. I myself have fallen for this, purchasing Fenty Beauty for the simple fact that Rihanna made it; luckily for me, Fenty Beauty is legitimately great.

Image Credit: Instagram @kyliecostemtics

To add to such claims of celebrity influence, many have been known to follow celebrity medical advice, and whilst this often brings about positive results, many fall victim to false information. For example, when Kylie Minogue was diagnosed with breast cancer, booking for mammograms rose by 40% in four Australian states and after Angelina Jolie wrote about her risks of breast cancer for the New York Times, there was an immediate 64% increase in the number of American women who underwent testing for the breast cancer gene mutation. However, Gwyneth Paltrow has been heavily criticised for her lifestyle beauty brand Goop, as she promotes a lot of false information, from selling a Jade egg for vaginal health and pelvic strength, which she was later fined for, to ‘Body Vibe stickers’ that supposedly targeted imbalances in the body; at a hefty $60-$120 a pack, it is any wonder that people actually bought them! 

What makes a beauty line successful is seemingly the ability to respect their fans and know what they want

Often celebrities feel the need to jump on the beauty bandwagon, as endorsement opportunities are heavily depleting, something that social media is largely to blame for. With a large threshold for such products online, it seems the obvious solution to create revenue, but arguably with more brands available, the financial opportunities that would usually come from it, heavily decrease. Many original celebrity lines were extremely successful, influencing those of the same social status to pursue similar ventures. To put into perspective just how successful these companies are, in 2019, Kylie Jenner sold 51% of Kylie Cosmetics to Coty for $600 million, Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop was valued at $250 million in 2018, and Jessica Alba’s Honest Beauty was valued at $1 billion in 2020. As a result of such success, many of these celebrities are seen as ‘girl bosses’ in their own right. Although this may outwardly be the case, the sad truth is that a lipstick can be made for around $2.50; are they girl-bossing or just girl-scamming?

It is nothing new for celebrities to receive backlash on social media for their actions; many are often left to question whether celebs are really using their own product. As a result of the untrustworthy nature of their online presence, only 19% of Gen Z are reportedly influenced by celebrities compared to that of 66% who are primarily influenced by their friends. However, with the rise of platforms including TikTok, some may seem more like friends than untouchable figures, due to the immediacy and ease in replying and interacting. On social media, influence marketing within the beauty sector is increasing in popularity, creating an overly saturated online environment.

Image Credit: Instagram @cayskin

Much of this marketing strategy doesn’t work effectively, however, particularly as it is increasingly easy to witness a celebrity's detachment from ‘normal’ people; what makes a beauty line successful is seemingly the ability to respect their fans and know what they want. As Olga Khazan for The Atlantic states, “the rich are more likely than the poor to be healthy, so they shell out for alternative treatments and supplements in the hopes of achieving greater vitality.” The attempts often made to relate to buyers often becomes insulting, as they don’t experience anything that places them in the same ballpark as everybody else in the world. Rather than relating, accept the fact you are different and give us a piece of your stardom rather than trying to mesh the two together. 

As a society, we seem to trust individuals rather than corporations and to have a familiar face on the front of a product

With the rise of beauty companies in the world of celebrity culture, environmental problems are seemingly on the rise. Many of these companies often remain quiet when it comes to the level of destruction that they are causing. Approximately, 20-40% of beauty products end up as waste every year; this impacts the earth, not just regarding plastic pollution but due to chemicals that seep into the environment. In terms of the problem with packaging, the personal care and beauty industry reportedly amasses around 120 billion units of packaging every year across the globe, most of which aren’t wholly recyclable. Since the boom of celebrity influenced production in the 50s (after the initial release of celebrity branded perfume and promotion), only around 9% of all the world’s plastic has been recycled, as much of it is not fit for such a process.

Therefore, with such pressing facts at hand, perhaps a more ethical way for celebrities to involve themselves in the beauty industry would be to fund research and innovation for already established brands rather than adding to an already crowded market. Whilst these new brands may have good intentions, it is almost impossible for problems to amass, and whilst the celebrity doesn’t necessarily have control over everything, their name often comes out worse because of it. Beauty and self care is slowly falling into the trap of fast fashion, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. 

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