With Beauty Influencers, It’s Authenticity Over Airbrushing
• August 21, 2017
I’m at the salon. I flip through the pages of a glossy magazine and find myself coveting the perfect-for-fall lipstick shade that the flawlessly skinned, airbrushed-into-oblivion model is wearing… but, I know even if I buy the lipstick, I won’t look like she does.
Later, I scroll through my Instagram feed and watch a normal-looking person do a quick makeup tutorial that transforms her from everyday to movie-star-esque, just by using ordinary makeup products in extraordinary ways. I’m riveted. I can see the before-and-after and I believe I can do what she does. I trust her. I don’t even know her name and I’m going to buy every product she recommends.
This is the power of beauty influencers. They are real. They are relatable. And they challenge all the old school ways brands have been delivering “beauty.”
CoverGirl’s Latest CoverGirl Isn’t a Girl
Do you know who this is?
This is James Charles, CoverGirl’s newest spokesperson. Ten years ago, selecting a male as a beauty brand ambassador was unimaginable. In recent years, makeup artists—regardless of gender or gender identification—have been “doing it for themselves” and attracting millions of followers in the process. Followers who are ready to “add to cart” as soon as their favorite beauty influencer makes a recommendation.
In 2017, it is normal for my teen daughters to follow beauty influencers like James Charles or Bretman Rock or Manny MUA (Maybelline’s First Male Brand Ambassador) for makeup tips and techniques. They don’t care that these makeup artists are men; they care that they are real people (as well as talented artists) who make makeup application accessible.
These influencers’ millions of followers check in with their favorite influencers to be inspired and to get recommendations from a person they trust. CoverGirl selecting James Charles as one of their brand ambassadors wasn’t just a beauty brand jumping on a trendy opportunity. It was a very smart business decision which shows their target consumers that CoverGirl values not just beauty in all its forms, but authenticity, as well.
Black Beauty Influencers Wait for No One
One of the most undervalued consumer segments in the beauty industry are women of color, specifically African-American/black women. Case in point: How often do you see anything labeled “nude”—whether it’s foundation or pantyhose—capture anything beyond what would look appropriate on white women? Rather than wait for the mainstream beauty industry to embrace them, African-American and black beauty influencers are creating their own space. Smart brands are paying attention because they know these influencers—and their followers—are a powerful economic force.
When SheaMoisture, a beloved, black-owned, beauty brand, debuted a new commercial earlier this year that featured three women discussing their issues with embracing their natural hair and only one was black, the backlash—driven by their target consumer base—was swift and severe. SheaMoisture quickly issued a statement saying they “really f—d this one up.”
Not seeing their beauty and fashion traditions represented in mainstream wedding magazines, black wedding influencers from around the globe have taken to Instagram to share inspiration and ideas. Search the #blackweddings or #blackweddinghairstyles hashtag and your screen will be flooded with beautiful photos of radiant couples and gorgeous wedding celebrations.
Pat McGrath, the world’s most influential makeup artist, is black. She is tapped to create looks for 75+ fashion shows per year, and has been a beauty trendsetter for almost two decades. Yet, when she approached mainstream cosmetics brands about a collaboration she was repeatedly turned down. Now, when a new Pat McGrath Labs beauty product is about to drop, her followers are up at 6 a.m. waiting to purchase it, and have even crashed her website with their “enthusiasm.”
Age Ain’t Nothin’ but a Number
Women over 40—a.k.a. my own GenX cohorts—are more active, curious, and vibrant than ever. Don’t you dare label us middle-aged; we’re nowhere near giving up. Can you imagine Jennifer Lopez, Taraji P. Henson or Gwen Stefani gracing the cover of AARP magazine? Women my age are are SoulCycling, eating clean, and making our overall health and wellness a priority. We’re wearing what we want, coloring our hair a rainbow of colors, and making bold choices with makeup because we do us. We’ve been deemed “perennials” or “the ageless generation” by Splendora founder Gina Pell.
When advertisers try to target women in my age group, they often get it wrong. And just as millennials were the hot demographic a few years ago, perennials should be considered a sought-after demo. We celebrate when beauty brands tap 40+ women to promote actual cosmetics, not just anti-aging creams, because we see ourselves in those women and their lifestyle choices. Gwen Stefani created a capsule collection with Urban Decay. Nails inc. formulated a line of Victoria Beckham-inspired nail polish. Sofia Vergara promotes CoverGirl lipstick, and Kerry Washington helped Neutrogena redefine the meaning of “nude.”
The bottom line: Many women over the age of 40 care about looking and feeling great. We’re not ready to “embrace the gray” or we pay no attention to articles stating what we should and should not wear. And, guess what? We’re following James Charles and Pat McGrath on Instagram, too.
Beauty influencers have the power to reach millions of niche audiences in ways that supermodels and celebrities never can. And the reason will always lead us back to one thing: Authenticity. Consumers want what’s real, not what is unattainable. Our vetted ecosystem of influencers are a lot of things. They’re talented, they’re creative, they’re results-driven, but above all, they’re REAL.
The launch of CLEVER Fashion and Beauty Influencer Lookbook is a just a glimpse at what authentic, talented digital storytellers can do for your brand. From social celebrities, to trusted microinfluencers, to ultra-engaging friend-to-friend influencers, our storytellers cover every vertical, every niche, and reach every audience.
Let’s make influencer marketing magic. Let’s get CLEVER. Learn more HERE.
Founder, President & Chief Evangelist