Are Celebrity Skincare Lines the New Celebrity Fragrances?

After social media brought fans and their faves closer together, the popular celebrity perfume market was replaced with the more intimate beauty ritual of skincare.
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Throughout her prolific career, Jennifer Lopez has always been known for her flawless skin—the word “ageless” is also tacked on as frequent descriptor for her. In a recent IGTV post, the 51-year-old actress and singer appeared youthful as ever while testing out her Limitless Glow mask, one of the products featured in the debut eight-piece collection of her new skincare line, JLo Beauty. In her nearly three decades of fame, Lopez has connected to fans through her music and films, as well as other ventures like a fashion line and most recently, her beauty brand. However, she isn't the first notable face to come up with this idea.

Preceding Lopez’s launch at the beginning of this year was a string of new celebrity skincare lines in 2020, including Rihanna’s Fenty Skin, Pharrell Williams’ Humanrace, and Alicia Keys’ Keys Soulcare, each uniquely representative of their famous founders’ respective interests and public identities. In Lopez’s case, JLo Beauty is an opportunity to clue fans into the ingredients she swears by to achieve her ultra-dewy glow. Olive oil is an unexpected hero ingredient—her mother’s secret weapon—and sun protection, a skincare measure she takes daily upon advice she received from her dermatologist in her early 20s, is an integral part of the line.

However, this wasn’t Lopez’s first foray in the beauty industry. In 2002, she released her first fragrance, Glow by JLo. Though the conception of the celebrity scent can first be traced back to Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds in 1991, the colossal success of Lopez’s fragrance not only proved the existence of an eager market for just about every public figure to tap into, but it also pioneered the concept of the celebrity perfume as an accessible glimpse into their true personalities and preferences, a rare opportunity before the boom of social media.

"I wanted Glow to be fresh and clean, but still sexy and sensual—something that feels like you just came out of the shower and are the sexiest person in the world,” Lopez once said of the fragrance. The similarly successful fragrances launched later by major names like Britney Spears and Taylor Swift—who were considered relatably young and down-to-earth, despite the unfathomable fame—were a source of confidence, a tool that allowed girls to channel stars’ covetable and upbeat personas.

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Slowly, the phenomenon began to lose speed. The financial crisis of 2008 led to a decrease in disposable income available to the celebrity fragrance market’s target audience and, in the years following, the industry never quite earned its way back to the enormous profitability it once saw. At the same time, as social media became further integrated into celebrity culture and daily life, fans had a new way to access the lives of the stars they adored through a means of connection even more personal than the one that made celebrity fragrances so alluring. Now, we don’t just know their likes through product endorsements and rumored beauty habits; with a few clicks, we can access candid tutorials and recommendations straight from the source. 

We get peeks into their home, recipes for their go-to meals, even direct interaction from spontaneous Q&As conducted on Instagram stories. When our daily routines were rapidly revamped to accommodate COVID-19 precautions last spring, the gap between celebrity and consumer was further bridged. We shifted from admirers to peers; no longer as entranced by their glamour, we found a new kind of fascination in the knowledge that we were facing a collective and unfamiliar issue. Social media was more casual and active than ever, with bare faces, minimal filters, and unassuming lounge clothes as a common denominator.

With extra time to pass in quarantine, especially as daily makeup and styling routines took the backseat, skincare became even more popular as a hobby, profitable as an industry, and engaging as a subject of social media content—and there’s no sign of things slowing down. 

Though profit is an undoubted motivation, the commitment, care, and potential risk involved in the more technical and science-oriented skincare route acts like a net that catches emerging brands lacking an authentic angle before they reach the public. Rihanna’s established authority in cosmetics adds a sense of trust, and the undertapped unisex marketing—featuring faces like A$AP Rocky and Lil Nas X—adds a sense of curiousity for Fenty Skin. Pharrell Williams has long been known for his fresh, youthful look and interest in wellness, and natural beauty has been a part of Alicia Keys’ brand since she famously ditched makeup in 2016. Even model Hailey Bieber recently filed for a trademark for her upcoming skincare brand, Rhode. As the world continues to strive for perfect skin, the era of the celebrity skincare line seems here to stay.

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