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  • Writer's pictureNiya Doyle

Does Every Celebrity Need a Beauty Brand?

The answer is complicated.


It was in 1991 that Elizabeth Taylor, the famed British-American actress of the Golden Era of Hollywood, launched White Diamonds. A floral fragrance with notes of lily, bergamot, jasmine, and a healthy dose of neroli oil made the perfume one of the most commercially successful fragrances of all time, generating $1.5 billion in sales alone since 1991. According to Revlon, there's one bottle sold every 15 seconds.

While it wasn’t the first fragrance launched by a celebrity, it laid the foundation for the celebrity-branded fragrance frenzy of the 2000s. It was J.Lo’s Glow, Britney Spears’ Curious, Mariah Carey’s M, Xtina’s Xpose, Justin Bieber’s Someday, and countless other celebrities that released fragrances within that decade. Jessica Simpson, along with her fragrances, even released a crazy popular line of beauty products, Dessert, that included deliciously-scented (and edible!) lip gloss, body creams, and shampoos. In 2024, celebrity fragrances continue to be launched, but there's a new market to cash in on: cosmetics.

Like fragrances, celebrity makeup brands have long existed, but the mid-2010s and 2020s have made celebrity-branded cosmetic brands a dominant, serious force in the industry. Since the Y2K celebrity fragrance era, the demand for makeup and cosmetics has drastically risen since the 2000s. In 2000, sales from the top 100 beauty companies totaled $93 billion. In 2020, that same figure rose to $212.59 billion. With the help of social media and influencer marketing, it’s easier than ever to buy and sell makeup products. 

It makes sense for popstars to release fragrances because you want to bottle their intangible sparkle — but it makes less sense when non-pop celebrities try their hand at brand-building. The beauty industry is so popular and profitable right now that even celebrities who have no prior experience, connections, or even clout in the industry are taking up market share. What do Scarlett Johansson, Pharrell, Brad Pitt, and Addison Rae all have in common? They’ve all launched beauty brands in the past five years.

Beauty consumers are flooded with constant new product releases from celebrities. Some of these brands have flopped and struggled to cement a name in the space (Rae’s Item Beauty has quietly been removed from Sephora’s shelves), while others like Selena Gomez’ Rare Beauty and Halsey’s about-face are flourishing. The reason why? People can see through the BS.

Unlike fragrance, makeup has to serve a hand of efficiency and functionality. A lipstick must have color payoff; a mascara must thicken or lengthen; a foundation must not oxidize. Whether a fragrance is inherently good or bad is up for debate; if a makeup product doesn’t deliver on its basic purpose, it means that it just sucks. 

“The products need to work," Allison Hahn, Senior Vice President for makeup and fragrance at Sephora, tells Allure about celebrity beauty brands. "They still need to do everything any product we sell does." As such, people also need to believe in a brand’s authenticity — that there's a real connection between the product, face, and message. It’s why Fenty Beauty, the beloved makeup brand that launched in 2017, succeeds. Not only does Rihanna constantly use and promote her products, but the brand also stands for diversity and inclusion of all ethnicities and skin types by releasing 50 different shades of foundation and concealer, ranging from the palest of fair skin to the deepest of deep. It’s also why Kylie Cosmetics’ sales declined hard after it was revealed that her voluptuous lips were the work of fillers. 

The skepticism towards celebrity beauty is warranted, as it seems that business and profitability come first, with beauty and creativity second. According to WWD Beauty, while these stars may be the face of a brand, many of these companies are actually backed by large investor groups. Big incubators like Coty Inc., Bain Capital, and Forma Group own stake and manage formulations and operations for the business. It’s easier than ever for a star to launch a company they have no affiliation with beyond face value. That’s not to say that Xtina was in the lab trying to perfect Xpose’s candy-gummy gourmand back in 2004; rather, that celebrity beauty brands are merely a continuation of what consumer goods corporations perfected 20 years ago.

When it comes to cosmetics, there’s no amount of star power, marketing, or money that can replicate a tried-and-true product. With so many options right now, those celebrity-backed brands that have found a niche within the community rise above the others (see: Rare Beauty’s Soft Pinch Blush!) and have not only fan loyalty but also longevity in the industry. That’s what really matters when it comes to cementing reputation, legacy, and profitability. ) 🌀


Niya Doyle is a forever East Coast-based writer, beauty buff, and cat lover. She is a freelance journalist for HALOSCOPE covering beauty. You can follow her makeup and skincare journey on TikTok.


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