At the end of 2019, I wrote a retrospective of the… best? worst? just kind of there? celebrity beauty brands of the year for Fashionista. I guess it wasn’t so much a retrospective as a critique of all the ways in which celebrity culture has infiltrated our lives. It started:
In 2019, Americans ceded all control to celebrities. “Dress me,” we screamed, and Rihanna gave us Fenty. “Make me smell good,” we demanded, and Michelle Pfeiffer, Lionel Richie, and J.Lo heeded the call. “Wait, would you… register me to vote?” we asked, and Ariana Grande actually did it. “Run for president!” we begged Oprah and Kanye and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. No luck there, which is fine, since we already have a reality TV star for president and it’s not going great for him.
Then there’s beauty — an area of our lives that’s always been dominated by celebrities, traditionally via endorsement deals. But “face of” situations don’t seem to satisfy celebs anymore. They want creative control, a bigger piece of the profit pie, a platform from which to pivot out of entertainment. (Remember when Victoria Beckham was most famous for being a Spice Girl? Me either.) They want to launch their own beauty brands.
Reader, it’s gotten worse.
As beauty journalist Courtney Rubin declared in The New York Times late last month, “It’s official: Every celeb now has a beauty line.” 2020 brought brand new launches from Lauren Conrad, Selena Gomez, Pharrell Williams, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Lopez (this time, skincare rather than fragrance), Anthony Hopkins (seriously), and so, so many more.
“Why is a beauty line now a necessary accessory of fame?,” Rubin asked. “Money, of course.”
But do these famous faces need the money?
Of course not.
Celebs, hear me out: What if you took the good intentions behind your brands — that is, if there are good intentions — and removed the products?
Take Selena Gomez, her makeup line Rare Beauty, and its Rare Impact Fund, a charity that exists to “reduce the stigma associated with mental health.” Just do that last part! Beauty culture can have such negative effects on mental health, anyway. We don’t need the accompanying foundation and concealer…