I wrote this article a few months ago originally for Solstice Magazine, I thought I would share it and get some more insight from both sides of the industry, as mentioned in the article I am not “bashing” or “hating” on anyone in particular just merely presenting a point of view from where I stand in this industry.
Would love to hear your thoughts , I encourage an open (pleasant) discussion on this.
Makeup has been used for thousands of years; it
has and always will be an evolving art form. The
makeup secrets once exclusive to celebrities
and film sirens of the Golden Ages now come to
a social media channel on your very own smart phone, tablet or
laptop. Welcome to the virtual reality that allows just about anyone
to be the expert.
The makeup industry has grown exponentially in recent years.
Makeup artist/beauty influencers are becoming celebrities in their
own right, but how do the pioneers of the past measure up?
Makeup mavericks such as Max Factor, Ben Nye and Kevyn
Aucoin, were so ahead of the their time with their innovation and
vision. To this day they will be celebrated as some of the best
artists of all time, imagine if they had social media within their
reach when they first started.
What made them so successful then and how do they size up
Max Factor “The Father of Makeup” actually coined the phrase
“Make-up” and was the go to artist of Hollywood’s Golden Age.
The likes of Jean Harlow, Marlene Dietrich and Ava Gardner would
only trust Mr. Factor with their signature looks that to this day are
considered one of the most popular looks from Red Carpets to
Catwalks around the world. A visionary ahead of his time he was
a wig maker and inventor who turned his passion into a dynasty,
Max Factor’s great grandsons created SMASHBOX. Max believed
that glamour should be in every woman’s reach.
To this day Max Factor is one of the biggest cosmetic brands of
all time. Max Factor is stocked in thousands upon thousands
of supermarkets/drug and department stores across the globe.
Quoted as the “Makeup of Makeup Artists”, this brand has
been going for 107 years and has amassed 176,000 Instagram
followers. I am shocked as to how low that number is, they
should definitely have more.
Ben Nye, a renowned American Makeup artist who worked in
the film industry between the 1930’s-1980’s and worked on
some of the most famous films in the world with the biggest of
the stars of their time such as Marilyn Monroe. He had over 500
films under his belt and went on to create the Ben Nye Makeup
Company. While his products are constantly used in the kits of
professional makeup artists for stage and screen, the rise of the
beauty influencer and the popularity of social media has made
Ben Nye’s brand become popular with the non- professional
consumer. Ben’s “Banana Powder”, has developed a cult
following, it’s used to “Bake” and brighten the skin under the
eyes. With an Instagram following of around 42,000 it pales in
comparison to some of the newer brands whose followings can
go into the millions.
Kevyn Aucoin, is a highly regarded American Makeup Artist who
came to prominence in the 80’s when he was discovered by
Vogue. He has collaborated with some of the world’s leading
cosmetic brands such as Revlon, has a vast clientele of A-list
celebrities, countless fashion magazine covers, and his published
makeup bibles are still being used in makeup schools all over
the world. He can command up to $6000 per makeup session.
After many companies wanted Kevyn to endorse their brands he
decided instead to create Kevyn Aucoin Beauty in 2001.
With a healthy but not overly hefty following of 172,000 on Instagram,
his contribution to the beauty industry definitely deserves a
stellar following in the millions.
These were three hugely talented Makeup Artists all built from
the ground up without any social media launch pad but only
with a combined Instagram following of just over 390,000.
Today, makeup artists who have not had lengthy careers or
even been trained as artists can reach millions upon millions
of followers on their social channels. What is their secret?
What are they doing that is so vastly different to well respected
artists such as Max, Ben & Kevyn?
The answer is the beauty influencer.
Social media is changing
the way we shop for everything. Today anyone who has a
computer and a camera can actually sit in the comfort of their
own home and put together a tutorial with minimal experience
or expertise. Whether they gain the traction they require to
become a fully-fledged beauty influencer is up to content and
likeability of that person.
For these beauty influencers, the more likes, subscribers,
views they get, the higher their value becomes. Brands can
send them products or even pay them to talk about their
products with a positive review. While not every beauty
influencer will give a glowing review due to their moral integrity,
there is a lot out there that will just do it for the fame and
the freebies. I personally don’t have a huge problem with this,
however the reality for some makeup artists; social media is
not a sustainable or desirable lifestyle/income. By no means am I criticizing people for how they choose to spend their time/
make a career, I understand fully that it is genuinely a full time
job, and there are a lot who as a result are inherently successful.
Of course there are also famed makeup artists out there with
amazing channels where they share their tips, tricks and
tutorials. For me personally I think that this is the most effective
type of influencer.
The beauty industry does seem to be divided with an underlying
prejudice between the two. Makeup Artists who are not as social
media savvy or on the tutorial influencer trail seem to adopt a
disdain for the Insta-makeup artists, or Youtubers and the way
they choose to demonstrate certain “Looks” that they base their
“Brand” around, although it may not be aesthetically pleasing
does not mean it is without merit. At the end of the day they are
catering to the masses. However Makeup Artistry is a cutthroat
business and many spend years building their skills, curating
their kits and working for free to further their careers, because
their passion outweighs their desire for speedy profitability.
Like anything you have to take the good with the bad, when
makeup questions start with “I saw on Youtube such and such
using X, Y & Z should I buy that?” it can lead people down a false
path of what a Makeup Artist actually does, but the brands aren’t
complaining, because as long as you’re retweeting, reposting
and subscribing you’re buying into them.
Smart business? Absolutely.