Whilst browsing on Medium and we found this article by Julie Fredrickson the Founder of Stowaway Cosmetics. The article highlighted the fact that the makeup process is actually very complicated, and as a devoted fan, I never realised this. If you are not passionate about makeup or spend time learning a few techniques, consequently makeup can seem difficult to you.
Women have expressed their fears to me about going up to beauty counters just to ask a question because they feel ashamed of their beauty ignorance. Women have also told me that because of their inability to use makeup ‘properly’ they buy little to no makeup at all. They feel like they have to learn how to use it properly before purchasing products. This means that there is a demographic of potential customers who want to wear makeup but feel like they are ‘not worthy’ and are embarrassed at their lack of beauty ‘knowledge’. Although I do believe that some of those fears are coming from expected gender roles of women, I also think the beauty industry has a part to play in this too.
When a beauty brand launches a new product, the social influencers they use are never novices to beauty. Can you imagine big brands collaborating with a social influencer who was new to makeup? Neither can I.
I saw this photo on Pinterest a while back and this is an infographic breaking down the steps of how to create a smokey eye. They broke down the look into 6 products so clearly the beauty industry is trying with simplifying beauty for the everyday woman. Or are they? Look at the eye brow palette in the following image. There are 3 brow colours, a brow wax and a pink shadow for a highlighter. That’s not all, a double applicator, an eyebrow brush and mini tweezers. That’s actually a lot of products for 1 area of the face. Imagine ‘Mary’ who wants to update her look, goes to a Clarins counter and asks for a brow product. The counter girl sells her this product, explaining to her what each little square does, and Mary goes home. Mary tries to replicate what she saw the counter girl do and after a few failed attempts Mary finally gets it. Mary actually spent a lot of time, learning to perfect her brows yet if Mary went to buy an iPhone, even if she has never used one, she can be playing Candy Crush in a couple of minutes. Though makeup and iPhones are two different products, could the beauty routine be that simplified?
I know that Stowaway Cosmetics are trying to tackle this, but what about other beauty products – it is not only makeup that is difficult. Nail polish and hair care products are relatively easy to use. A nail polish comes with the brush inside and a shampoo will always shampoo. The complexity of the products rise depending on the desired aesthetic, for example nail art accessories or going from blonde to a brunette with hair dye. Skincare can be complicated too. Although a face wash will always wash, complexity rises when the product caters to different skin types and different skin care problems. For example, I was in Boots and a woman asked me the difference between No7’s Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Day Cream and No7’s Lift & Luminate Day Cream. I was confused just as much as her because there was very little differentiation on the boxes and the No7 staff were on break. It was only by going online I learnt the difference between the two, but should a simple face cream be so confusing for someone new to the brand?
Things that I believe complicates beauty:
- The numerous trends: In the noughties, it was all about the makeup brushes that you used to apply your makeup. You had to have the MAC 217 and 239 for the perfect look and 187 for your foundation to look flawless but still natural. The trend now is wearing a lot more makeup on the face, using a beauty blender or using your bra inserts to blend your makeup. No woman really wants to feel like they aren’t with the times, but trends rise and fall a lot quicker thanks to social media.
- Fear of putting on too much: as a novice, your biggest fear is looking like you have too much makeup on. But you have never really worn makeup so you don’t know what too much makeup looks like and novices tend to be heavy handed with products and applicators.
- Numerous beauty tools to go with the numerous beauty products: Clarisonic face brush, Foreo Luna, double ended contour brushes, this foundation brush, um….the StylPro Makeup Brush Cleaner and Dryer…. Yea, I’m overwhelmed too.
- Complicated makeup products and packaging: why do you need a separate primer for your eyes and your face? What’s the difference between a BB and CC cream? If it’s not a lipgloss why does it look like a lipgloss? If I only need a small amount why does the pump pump so much?
- The feeling that brands just want your money: when was the last time you walked through Selfridges’ Beauty Hall without feeling like you have to spend money? I’m not against the essence of business, making money, but I don’t think that some beauty brands have truly learned the balance of making customers happy to spend their money. I once had a girl pounce on me saying she had to do my makeup….how could I say no to that marketing strategy? Running across the beauty hall just to get my attention…um sure you can give me a full makeover Sweetie!
The focus here at Beauty Founder is on startups and the question now is how can start up beauty brands be more inclusive? Established brands clearly haven’t been doing a great job and startups are at an advantage here because a startup doesn’t need 15 product lines. I know that a goal of established brands is to fill as much shelf space as much as possible, but coming from a sustainability point of view, half of those products are irrelevant and were only created with the purpose of making money. This leads to the following questions:
- Can a beauty brand be a minimalist brand?
- How can beauty education cater to newbies and the makeup shy?
- In terms of influencers, not everyone is a Queen of Blending, so how can brands engage the ‘Ladies in Waiting of Blending’?
The counter argument to all this though is that, perhaps there isn’t space for an easy to use makeup line. All social content on beauty is coming from pros. Perhaps makeup thrives in it’s complexity and women prefer having professionals telling them how to do it. It seems that brands are more likely to collaborate with a Zoella rather than the average Joe-ella.
It has been accepted by many that makeup is a tool of empowerment for women, and yet the current market feels a lot like Mean Girls. I’m grateful for Julie Fredrickson (follow her on Medium!) for writing that think peace because it really made me think.
To be a new brand to disrupt the beauty industry, a founder needs to look and critically analyse trends and beauty products and boldly answer the question “Why not?”
How are you as a founder, ensuring that your brand is inclusive of novices?