The Beauty Industry Post COVID: 2021 In Reflection


How COVID Changed the Beauty Industry

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The Beauty Industry Post COVID: 2021 In Reflection


Just to set the scene… 2020 didn’t look good on the beauty industry.

The angels who kept the world running in 2020 quickly learned and experienced Maskne, which is now a household term describing the irritation and breakouts caused by wearing our masks all the time. Makeup seemed to be a frivolous concern of the past. And well, people staying at home were really re-assessing their entire makeup rituals.

While people were reexamining their makeup rituals, makeup companies really started honing marketing efforts for the online shopper and really enhancing the user experience in shopping, including virtual reality events and robust product descriptions and product photos. Makeup companies deepened relationships with online personalities, especially from TikTok!

And with more and more people working and congregating online, there was less need to dress up, go out, and shop for anything, especially cosmetics. And while color cosmetics and prestigious brands saw a decline in sales overall, skincare saw a 300% jump in 2020, and that set the scene for good, healthy skin in 2021 which will lay the groundwork for the trends.

So then in 2021, when more and more of the world got vaccinated, people were bursting out and expressing themselves in new, more comfortable, and more personal ways… and really, some great trends.


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In 2021, we’ve seen more of an emphasis on healthy, glowing skin (I’m here for that!) and also thinner brows (also here for that). Graphic & Negative Space eyeliner grow in popularity coupled with grunge makeup. I’m not sure if this has to do with Travis Barker & Kourtney Kardashian… love them Kardashians or hate them, they are extremely influential.

We’ve also seen consumers demand more transparency in ingredients (not that they know what those ingredients mean) and more “clean” brands. I highly recommend you listen to episode 32 on Sustainable Beauty – some great tips and tricks to being a more sustainable and educated consumer or makeup artist.


The Biggest Makeup Innovation of 2021

In that same vein, Hourglass cosmetics announced a massive innovation that has the potential to impact the entire beauty industry in a massive way.

They released a vegan carmine alternative red lipstick, Red 0.

hourglass vegan red lipstick pigment

You may not know this but most red cosmetic pigments are made from crushed cochineal beetles. These insects are bred, dried, crushed, and boiled. I’ve included a photo of this insect in the show notes so you can see what this bug looks like.


Cochineal Beetle Carmine Makeup Beauty Industry

Approximately 70,000 beetles are killed to make one pound of carmine… and it can take up to 1,000 crushed female cochineal beets to create the red hue in a single tube of lipstick (Source:

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a carmine-free red lipstick. If you have one that you love that doesn’t fall under the Hourglass brand, please share the name of the color and brand with me so I can update this!

The jury is still out on whether or not Hourglass will share this secret recipe to help other brands achieve true vegan-free status or if they will keep this secret recipe closely guarded.

I personally hope they share this recipe with other beauty brands, if not because it’s the right thing to do but to save the beetles. Right?

So, beetles and trends aside, 2021 was a big year for celebrity-owned brands.

Celebrity Owned Beauty Brands & Makeup Lines

In the last few years, we’ve seen so many A-listers launching their own beauty lines.

While it seems like yesterday Bad Girl RiRi or Rihanna launched Fenty Beauty in September 2017 – which has become one of the biggest cosmetics brands. Of all the celebrity-owned lines, this line really excited me because of their intentionally curated and diverse shade range. I mean, she really shook up the industry and now it seems like everyone else is copying her – that’s a GOOD thing.


Fenty Beauty

A Short Timeline

  • Victoria Beckham launched Victoria Beckham Beauty in September 2019
  • Lady Gaga dropped her highly anticipated brand Haus Laboratories in September 2019
  • Lauren Conrad launched Lauren Conrad Beauty with five essential products in August 2020
  •  Selena Gomez launched Rare Beauty in September 2020
  • Drew Barrymore launched Flower Beauty in October 2020
  • And don’t get me started on all the influencers and social media celebrities who launched their brands in between these A-list celebrity launches.. so there were several celebrities who launched beauty brands…


J Lo Beauty

One of the biggest names missing from the list of celeb-owned makeup lines for a LONG time was the one and only, J.Lo.

She FINALLY launched her beauty line in  January 2021, January 1st to be exact, with with the tagline “Beauty has no expiration date”


JLo Beauty


So before I gush about the brand, I still own the exact highlighters made by now-defunct makeup brand Toni and Tina. These highlighters were credited for her iconic 90s glow and literally, I wore them every day (and yes, I know I’m dating myself). These highlighters were hands-down the best powder highlighters that I’ve ever owned or worn. Nothing has ever come close and when I heard that she was launching a makeup line, I was secretly hoping she’d release a dupe…

But you won’t find an ounce of pigment in her line…  she launched a skincare line where you can “get her glow in a bottle.”

I haven’t personally used or even handled any of her products however, her website and packaging are beautiful and quintessentially J.Lo.

I do think the products are slightly overpriced for what you get (ahem, bang for the buck) but if you want to feel indulgent and closer to J.Lo, you do you! Her collection sure looks pretty on a vanity or in a medicine cabinet.

Hate to be a buzz kill but while I appreciate the beautiful packaging, it’s not really easily recyclable and it doesn’t look like they offer a recycling program. Packaging is something I am paying more attention to these days because I care about what happens to waste after I’m done using it – that’s just me though. You do you!

I also feel like she launched this line a little too late. She should’ve launched this 10 years ago… but better late than never, I guess.

If you really want to achieve a J.Lo glow with makeup, check out celebrity makeup artist Scott Barnes and his line. He is credited for giving Jennifer Lopez her J.Lo glow (along with many other A-listers) and he released his highly pigmented makeup line last year.

Trust me, we are trying to get Scott Barnes on the show. Just putting it out there in the universe so that this can happen.

Alicia Keys Key Soulcare

Alicia Keys launched her brand, Key Soulcare in collaboration with ELF Cosmetics in early 2021 and I am here for this!


Keys Soul Care


Alicia Keys was always one of my makeup icons growing up (who remembers her rhinestone eyeliner?!) and I remember when she famously stepped back from makeup a few years ago – and honestly, I was so proud of her even though I knew I’d miss seeing her looks.

Wearing makeup is liberating and fun, a great way to express ourselves. However, confidently not wearing makeup is equally important and I teach that in all of the programs I offer…

I am so proud of her and can only begin to imagine how liberating going makeup-free must feel after so many years of caking it on.

We will have to get her on the show. I’d love to hear her journey and experience as an artist with and without makeup and also, how she conceptualized and put Key Soulcare into motion.

I have no experience with her line so I cannot speak to that. I am eyeing the candle though! And well, the brand ELF, who she collaborated with, is one of those hidden gem companies where you see them all the time, think nothing of it, and then dig a little deeper and find out they’re pretty cool. Again, make sure to check out episode 34 on Sustainability, because ELF is one of the honorable brands I mentioned.

Some of the other big-name celebrities who launched beauty lines are:

  • Mega-influencer Nikkie de Jager aka Nikkie of Nikkie Tutorials who launched her line Nimya
  • Actress Vanessa Hudgens and Madison Beer launched a DNA-based skincare line Know Beauty
  • Singer Halsey launched About-Face in January
  • Influencer Becky G launched Tresluce honoring her Mexican-American heritage with vibrant colors in June as well


2022 is looking even more jam-packed with celebrity lines!

We’re talking Ariana Grande, Cardi B, Hailey Bieber, and Scarlett Johansson to name a few.

Is there a brand you are looking forward to seeing? Please let me know so I can read up and get smart about them!

Longevity Of Celebrity Brands?

Also, while researching for this episode, there have been way more celebrity beauty lines but most of them close within 10 years. See, launching a brand is one thing but staying relevant and staying open is another thing.

Celebrity Beauty Brands Mentioned In Episode

Cindy Crawford Meaningful Beauty

Lady Gaga



Brand Closures

Sadly, we had to say goodbye to two major brands In 2021, namely Becca Cosmetics and Prescriptives

If you already have a copy of my book, you know a little bit about the “business of makeup”. On one hand, we love seeing our favorite brands grow and get better and add more products to their

Becca Cosmetics

Becca was a very well-known brand, best known for their complexion products and highlighters, including a former highlighter collaboration with influencer Jaclyn Hill called Champagne Pop. Becca’s foundations and of course, Becca’s pressed highlighter powder in Opal, has been holy grain for me for so many years. Once I find a replacement, I’ll let you know.

Becca Pressed Powder Highlighter Opal

While this brand closure announcement came as a huge surprise to brand loyalists, many people in the Beauty Industry were not are surprised with this closure. Was their closure Estee Lauder’s fault (who acquired the brand in 2016) or was it the mismanagement from within?

Sales had been declining for a few years prior to the pandemic and it could be because of a rush to create collab products. And well, let’s table collab products for another episode. There’s a lot to unpack there.

Becca Cosmetics Closure Resources:

 The Insider

Yahoo! Life WWD


Please, send me a message if you loved Prescriptives. Bonus if you have a picture with a Prescriptives product.

If you already know Prescriptives, then you know. But if you don’t know about this brand, let me tell you this was really the first major consumer brand to really lead and market with color theory. They would literally match you and make your foundation right in front of your face. Their foundation brush is still my favorite foundation brush of all time (I have two of them) and they are still holding up well.




I find this part of the beauty industry SO fascinating. I even devote an entire section of my book to the “Business of Makeup” – who owns what, where products are made, the manufacturers, it’s so interesting and when you understand the business of makeup, you know how to confidently navigate shopping for makeup. If you understand the marketing, you sort of understand what to expect from products.


Beauty Brand Acquisitions of 2021

Kat Von D to Kendo

Kat Von D Shade of Light To Set Cream Contour

Kat Von D started in the reality TV world on Miami Ink then later LA Ink. Since her reality TV days, she has written 4 books and had a makeup line, named after her. Her line started with lipsticks and branched off to eyeliner, makeup brushes, highlighters, fake eyelashes, eyeshadow palettes, and more. Her color themes/names were controversial…one including “underage red”…as you can imagine, this raised eyebrows and some people boycotted her brand.

According to Film Daily In late 2020 Kat Von D sold her makeup empire and moved from her $3.4 million dollar 4 bedroom home in Cali to a $1.8 million dollar 7 bedroom, 25 room, 6 bath home in Indiana. Her reasons were quoted as being political. Many see it as something she did after having her child. And there are rumors of her opening a tattoo parlor in Indiana. Her current Tattoo rate is $200 / hr!

 So who did Kat Von D sell her Makeup Empire to?

Kat sold her makeup line to Kendo. Kendo is a makeup company which Kat Von D has been working with for eleven years. The line was renamed and is now called KvD Vegan Beauty, though Kendo says the initials stand for their “new ethos” and is not an homage to the makeup line’s original creator. The brand which was once a Sephora exclusive line is now widely available from places like Ulta or even KvD Vegan Beauty’s own website.

 Deciem to Estee Lauder

Estee Lauder acquired the rest of Deciem, you know the parent company of The Ordinary. Will they drive Deciem into the ground as they did with Becca and Bobbi Brown? Or can they elevate these brands into household names? Time will only tell.

KKW to Coty

In another massive acquisition, KKW Beauty sold a 20% stake to Coty (and Kylie sold a 51% stake to them the year prior). This is essentially posturing the Kardashian-Jenner clan to have even more of a global influence and reach on the beauty industry.


Projected 2022 Beauty Trends?

According to Beauty Packaging here are the Top 5 Beauty Trends to look forward to in 2022:

  1. Skincare to Combat Stress
  2. High Coverage, Long-Lasting Products
  3. Sustainability
  4. Consumers are heading back to Salons & Spas
  5. Sample + Travel Sizes are in Demand

However, I found some pretty interesting Trends on Vogue’s Top Beauty Trends for 2022. I’m kind of excited about these…

  1. Go Big or Go Home SHIMMER & GLITTER! Glitter is everywhere (hair, accessories, eyes…)
  2. Neon Bright Eyes
  3. High Gloss Lips

Sources Mentioned in this Podcast

McKinsey & Company

BYOMUA Podcast: Makeup for Mature Skin with Sonia Roselli

Natalie Setareh Skin Type Guide

Cosmetics Business


Natalie Setareh Blog : The Ordinary Skincare Routine for Oily Skin

Natalie Setareh Blog : Sustainable Beauty: 4 Tips to Be a Better Makeup Consumer


Beauty Packaging


Totally Vegan Buzz

Film Daily

Glamour Beauty

CBINsights How the Inclusive Beauty Movement is Redefining The Industry

Alicia Keys


Look no Further!

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Beauty is about perception, not about make-up. I think the beginning of all beauty is knowing and liking oneself. You can't put on make-up, or dress yourself, or do you hair with any sort of fun or joy if you're doing it from a position of correction.

kevyn aucoin