Beauty industry

How the beauty world got so obsessed with drama

With more scandals these days than product drops, it looks like we’ve reached the top, but the history of the industry is also fraught with controversy. and quarrels

Somewhere between self-expression and pleasure, the beauty industry has become equally notorious for its toxic drama. Just take a look at the most recent iteration of the Jeffree Star x Shane Dawson x Tati scandal, a number of Kylie Jenner dramas, or even Deciem’s ​​messy public interactions. Scandals are so ingrained in the beauty industry that they have started to eclipse everything we all love about beauty – creativity and inclusiveness.

But how did it happen? “Beauty dramas and beauty scandals are not at all new,” says Doreen Bloch, executive director of the Makeup Museum. “There is a fascinating and important history with beauty scandals, going back at least 100 years. What has changed now is the level of exposure and the ability of fans to follow every detail. Social media and platforms like YouTube have given more access than ever to the founders of the beauty industry, many of whom are from social media (influencers), with the result that there is no shortage of interactions across the board. platforms.

One of the reasons scandals are particularly prominent in beauty culture may be related to the competitiveness of the industry. After all, the Jeffree Star x Shane Dawson x Tati moment was all about competitiveness, especially product and star power. “It’s fierce competition, with thousands of product launches every year. Even the world’s largest professionally managed companies struggle to predict the success of product launches and can seriously stumble. One estimate is that 90 percent of new fragrance launches fail, ”says Geoffrey Jones, professor of history at Harvard Business School, author of Beauty Imagined: A History of the Global Beauty Industry. “Getting the word out to consumers and getting products through distribution channels to consumers are other major challenges for new businesses. ”

Interestingly, the beauty industry seems to have more dramatic scandals than many other industries around it. Think about it: while the fashion industry is full of its own issues, from counterfeits to racism, we rarely see brand founders, creative directors or senior executives, such as Alessandro Michele of Gucci or Riccardo Tisci. of Burberry interact directly with fans. . One example where this has happened – which is rare, obviously – is Dolce & Gabbana.

“Beauty lends itself easily to drama because beauty in itself is about performance,” says Bloch. Self-expression is inherent in makeup, so it makes sense that the beauty industry itself has a strong set of characters who want to express themselves boldly and unashamedly in their quest to be on top of the world. beauty industry. Makeup gives people confidence and can encourage them to be a bigger or better version of themselves. This has been true for hundreds of years, and we expect mavens to the beauty industry continues to delight, frustrate, entertain and ultimately inspire us for generations to come.

The most successful beauty brands of this generation literally sprang from the internet, with founders ranging from beauty bloggers to multi-million dollar brand owners. Just look at Glossier’s Kyler Jenner, Jeffree Star, Huda Kattan, and Emily Weiss. As brand founders who were initially in direct contact with fans, answering questions, creating content for them and responding to them instantly, it’s no wonder there is so much room for scandal and drama. .

Self-expression is inherent in makeup, so it makes sense that the beauty industry itself has a strong set of characters who want to express themselves boldly and unashamedly in their quest to be on top of the world. ‘Beauty Industry’ – Doreen Bloch, Executive Director, The Makeup Museum

Equally obsessed with scandal were the titans of the flourishing beauty industry at the turn of the 20th century. You just wouldn’t know since social media wasn’t around yet. Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden were known to constantly feud and get things done level: “Arden, the daughter of a Canadian trucker, poached so many of Rubinstein’s employees that she ultimately retaliated by hiring Arden’s ex-husband. (When informed once that Arden had been bitten by a dog, Rubinstein expressed concern for the dog’s health.) “

“The most iconic feud of the past 100 years was between Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden,” says Bloch. “Rubinstein and Arden were fierce competitors; they were the richest self-taught women in the world in their day and each wanted to be in the first place in the beauty world. Women are said to have bugged each other, and it is known that they frequently poached the talents of each other’s businesses. The competition has led to significant new advancements in beauty ‘technology’, each striving to outperform the other in terms of innovation and marketing. For example, Arden introduced their Blue Grass fragrance in 1934, and by 1940 Rubinstein wanted a slice of the growing fragrance industry. Rubinstein’s first Heaven Sent scent was brought to market by dropping balloons with scent samples from his Fifth Avenue penthouse.

Estée Lauder and Charles Revson, the founder of Revlon, also hated each other. According to To Lauder’s biography, “’He curtly informed me of his intention to buy out my company so that he could be the Cadillac of the cosmetics industry. I replied lightly that I found his intention quite flattering, but that I would like to buy his business and be the Rolls-Royce of the industry. Not known for his sense of humor, he walked away without answering. War was declared. “I’m going to destroy her,” he told mutual friends. “Something like that doesn’t sound too far removed from what Star and Dawson said behind Tati’s back.

The feuds continued throughout both of their careers: When Lauder was launching the Clinique line, meetings were held in a windowless room to help keep it a secret. Famous for following in Lauder’s footsteps, Revon set out to launch its own antiallergic line dubbed Etherea, but just before it hit stores, Clinique ran ads using the unannounced names of Etherea’s products as adjectives to describe Clinique. .

Revson might have just been the Jefree Star of his day – there were rumors about how he had loosened the caps of other nail polish brands in stores to dry, how a worker d The factory had been bribed to ruin the nail polish of another brand in production, and even the trial of Coty in 1955 and Fabergé in 1958, for industrial espionage. However, as the New York Times note: “Their quarrel surely did their best. Many Estée and Charlie’s products are still good sellers.

We could attribute this exact thought process to why there are so many scandals in the beauty world. Does it boost sales? There isn’t a whole lot of data to back this up, however, there is certainly a slight uptick in the press, content, and conversation surrounding any scandal in the beauty world. You can guarantee that a major scandal with a major beauty brand means coverage in all of today’s major magazines and newspapers. Along with this also come the fans chatting on Instagram, Twitter and social media (reaction videos have even become a thing); and even positive reviews.

“Whenever there is a beauty drama, there is always a spike in searches for their brands on our app and our website, and there is even an increase in the number of people criticizing their products,” says Savannah Scott, editor of the beauty review app Supergreat. “For example, in Tati James’ first huge fight over a year ago now, there was such a noticeable spike in people giving mostly positive reviews of Morphe’s James Charles palette that one of our engineers thought, ‘what the hell is going on with that specific product ?!’ At that point, it was an old palette, and people are criticizing us as if it was a recent, much-coveted drop. Some of our users have just spoken about the product itself and how it performs, and others have defended James Charles and brought up the drama.

“In a world where beauty has evolved to become more expressive, inclusive and open than ever before, shouldn’t the industry be able to move beyond the small dramas and focus on the positives?

Certainly, scandals and dramas affect what consumers and bloggers think about brands and their spending. And often, it’s actually not in a positive way. For example, after Glossier’s anti-noir and transphobia accusations, Justina sharp, a Los Angeles-based beauty and lifestyle influencer, no longer supports the brand. “After the recent allegations regarding Glossier’s treatment of its POC employees, not only will I not support them publicly, but I will not buy from them point,” she said. “I made sure to tell my followers. It’s honestly horrible that a brand that makes so much money being “in touch” not only perpetuates this kind of behavior, but only deals with it in a performative way.

Indeed, beauty scandals seem to thrive in today’s environment as they serve as both entertainment and marketing tactics. At the end of the day, however, fans are very tired from the constant fighting, bashing and general drama. In a world where beauty has evolved to become more expressive, inclusive and open than ever before, shouldn’t the industry be able to move beyond the small dramas and focus on the positives?

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