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beauty is pop culture // sex rules the world 

  • Arianne Obi

Where did all the viral beauty brands go?

Updated: 6 days ago

From Rise to Fall: The Tumultuous Journey of Beauty Brands in the Social Media Era

In a world where brands are at the mercy of their communities, many brands reach quick and dizzying heights as well as steady falls. Consumers are now opinion leaders, spreading their views far and wide on social platforms to inform their fellow beauty comrades about what's in and out. Trends translate in to product lines, revenues, and the ultimate status of a brand in this space. With many brands facing controversy or dwindling relevance, here are our thoughts on some of the viral brands that ‘fell off’...


Glossier: In 2010, Emily Weiss launched her blog Into The Gloss whilst assisting for Teen Vogue. What was meant to be a platform for understanding how peers and influencers used beauty products, it snowballed into a mega-brand. Targeting younger audiences, it used simple design, unpretentious products, and social trends to promote a lifestyle which was minimalist and easy. Glossier was the antithesis to the glamazon - if you use Glossier, you are not a Baddie, but you are That Girl. To add, Glossier was one of the first brands to build a bulletproof online community, focussing on UGC to build content around people’s regimes and a brand world that prioritised a ‘clean and effortlessly chic’ lifestyle. 

Credit : Racked

What Happened?: There are countless reasons for why Glossier ‘fell off’.Their ‘Skin First, Makeup Second’ approach was adopted by other brands, and soon everyone and their mum had a skin-deep makeup brand; with lines like Refy and the Ordinary stealing their shine. Glossier also failed to adapt to changing trends in the market of skincare and makeup, made bold claims about their ethics, and many of their employees complained of toxic work culture. Think casual racism, poor progression and customers treating their staff like animals in a zoo.

Kylie Cosmetics

Kylie Cosmetics: Hell hath no fury like King Kylie. Between Sprinter, Khy, Kylie Skin and Kylie Baby, it’s hard to keep track of her pursuits. The biggest venture, of course, is Kylie Cosmetics - the one to start it all. When Miss K was doggedly harassed about her lip fillers (which she denied, then later admitted to having facial filler left right and centre and a boob job. We’re still waiting for confirmation of her BBL). Kylie started off selling only her infamous lip kits; 3 go-to shades of matte lippy to give you some extra plump and colour. which sold out in seconds, causing the website to crash. Later, she expanded her line and sold a majority stake to The Man (Coty) for $600million.

What Happened?: Kylie Cosmetics was novel and exciting - if her lips could look like that cough without surgery, then why couldn’t ours?  King Kylie is dead, and among the Gabriettes and Nara Smiths of this world, she is no girl we hailed her to be. For that matter, the general relevance of the Kardashians has flopped; and we’re  experiencing celeb brand fatigue just as much as we are experiencing a Kardashian Fatigue; so it’s pretty much a perfect storm. The declining interest in the brand is reflected through slower revenue growth, which has been downhill for the past 7 years. Apart from that, once the buzz wore off people seemed to realize that they were better off buying cheaper brands like Nyx and Kiko which offered the same quality and a healthier asking price.

Huda Beauty

Anyone who found themselves in the world of the Beauty community will know the name Huda Kattan. As part of the Youtube Monarchy, the makeup artist still boasts 4m subscribers on the platform, and was one of Forbe’s 2017 Most Influental People on the Internet. Besides her accolades, she was the founder of Huda Beauty, created as a labour of love for makeup. Huda Beauty was famed for its lashes, and some might even say it was the birthplace of influencer makeup - think baking, contouring - the lot.

Credit : Huda Beauty

What Happened: Perceptions around Huda have changed as people have gone from full glam to skin first approaches to makeup. Even though Kattan had a good go at this market, her product line ‘Glowish’ tanked; and after leaving her position as CEO - then coming back - she decided to take control, changing up the packaging through a bold rebrand and canning Glowish as it didn’t feel right for the brand. Mind, Huda Beauty has also been tainted with controversies, including stealing from black women, public feuds with Queer Youtubers James Charles and Jefree Star. She has also been vocal about her stance on Gaza, which goes to show that standing for what you believe in can sometimes land you in hot water.

Other Honourable Mentions:
  • Fenty Beauty: Still going strong as a champion of Diversity, now expanding to Haircare. Our only criticism? Rihanna should peddle that energy into releasing some music.

  • Pat McGrath Labs: A gift from a long-time beauty expert to the public. Once Selfridges highest selling beauty line, her status reached stratospheric heights following Galliano’s Couture show earlier this year. 

  • Isamaya Beauty: Isamaya Ffrench’s Line went viral for it’s cheeky packaging and punk-positive approach to makeup. 

What have we learnt from this?
  • Viral moments can take your brand from zero to 100, but they aren’t enough to sustain a brand.

  • Sometimes having an icon at the helm of the brand too isn’t enough to keep it afloat.

  • Sex still sells, and there will always be a relationship between makeup and desire.

  • Adapt or get out: In the past 10 years we’ve gone from Contour Obsessives to Skincare ones. Brands have to adapt to meet consumer needs.

  • Standing for what you believe in is risky business, and not many have made it out unscathed for having their opinions known (see also Bella Hadid).

  • Diversity wins every time. 

  • Transparency and authenticity is key; customers don’t appreciate brands who’s ethical standards towards their product, promotion and people are low.

Are you passionate about exploring the intricate worlds of beauty, sex, fashion, wellness, and culture? Do you belong to a marginalized community and have unique perspectives and stories to share? If so, Nightstand Service is eagerly seeking contributing writers like you! Get in touch:


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