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From Your Mother’s Drawer to the Contour Craze


Makeup is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. With globalization and the age of technology, cosmetic companies have an endless array of options to create and mass-produce products with easier and faster ways than ever before. Despite makeup’s low cost of production, consumers are willing to spend two, four, or even eight times the actual price of a product. This leaves the puzzling question—why are people so crazy for makeup that they will virtually throw their money out of the window?

Makeup is not simply a product one buys for functional use; makeup sells an image. It is sold with the promise of making you prettier than you are—and who doesn’t want that? Especially considering the emergence of social media in the past decade, we are in an age where photos are taken and posted online by seemingly everyone. The concept of “social media” means you belong inherently to a community of people interacting with others—and with that comes their thoughts, opinions, and comments.

I know I was subject to feeling scrutiny online; my photos never looked like those of icons Emma Watson and Selena Gomez. I remember thinking, Why don’t I look like her? I didn’t think of the personal glam squad, the customized clothes, the perfect lighting, and the Photoshop that created that image. In my mind the answer—the cure—was makeup. In these ways, the e-makeup industry plays into the self-esteem and beauty image, or lack thereof, of each consumer. They have a monopoly on confidence. This is why people buy makeup, even at the incredible cost.

As if social media praying on the confidence of young girls and women did not spur the cosmetic industry enough, YouTube has only further contributed to makeup’s influence. On June 7, 2012, Kim Kardashian-posted a video on YouTube uncreatively titled, “HOW TO HIGHLIGHT AND CONTOUR LIKE KIM KARDASHIAN.” Over 11.7 million views later, this video would only be the beginning of the mass trend of face contouring and highlighting in the makeup world. The emergence of glowy,

glitter highlight on the cheekbones has become the favorite part of anyone’s makeup routine. Kim Kardashian also ushered in the era of a nude lip which her renowned makeup artist, Mario Dedivanovic, seamlessly paired with a sultry brown smokey eye. Kardashian also made popular the use of a beauty sponge to blend in foundation—undoubtedly revolutionizing the makeup game forever.

However, as fast as these trends dominated this world, these fads have simmered down to the now trendy “no makeup” makeup look, “Natural glam”—or as some like to call it, “The Boy Beat.” As we turn into a new decade, the must-have look all makeup lovers are striving to achieve is a dewy, natural face, feathered eyebrows, youthful “glowing-from-within” skin, a peachy-toned blush on the cheeks and across the nose, and maybe even some softly dotted freckles.

Although there are many factors influencing this shift, the undeniably largest influence is Glossier Cosmetics. Glossier, pronounced “Gloss-ee-ay,” is an e-commerce shop that built their brand on the “no-makeup” makeup look, emphasizing natural beauty and minimally easy makeup application. With the cult favorite “Boy Brow” pomade that is breezily swept through the brows of millions every morning, to the renowned “cloud paint” blush marketed in a paint-like artists tube, Glossier emphasizes blendable, creamy, and multi-use products that add only a subtle difference and are not overwhelmingly difficult to use. How did a company with only two store locations create such a stir? The answer is simple: YouTube. If you were to type into the YouTube search bar, “Glossier Makeup Review,” you would be inundated with hundreds of women, young girls, and boys in their homes excitedly trying out the Glossier makeup they ordered and giving viewers the real “tea,” or review of the product.

Makeup’s dependence on “the hype” through social media and YouTube have launched the likes of Becca highlight’s “Champagne Pop,” the “Tarte Shape Tape Concealer,” and “Benefit’s Hoola Bronzer,” as every cosmetic companies’ dream was to ride the wave of positive social influence. Although it worked in favor for Glossier and undoubtedly launched the careers of now-iconic makeup products, YouTube is also known for having harsh critics that can significantly damage the sales of a product, a double-edged sword. Anyone in the makeup community last year could tell you about the scrutiny the Tarte “Double Wear” foundation underwent after launching 15 shades, only two of them dedicated to dark-skinned customers. It is now assumed that a bad YouTube review from one of the major beauty influencers can make-or-break a product.

These beauty gurus such as Jeffree Star take pride in their brutally honest and entertainingly humorous makeup reviews. With a subscriber pool of over 14 million, Star is probably most known for his hilariously deprecating video titled, “FULL FACE OF BRANDS THAT HATE ME,” which racked up more than 36 million views. However, some beauty gurus have made a name for themselves without the content of makeup reviews, like the infamous James Charles. Boasting over 16.3 million subscribers, James Charles is known for is creative makeup looks and iconic video collaborations with celebrities.

And so, with the influence of YouTube platforms, anybody with internet access can dive into the world of makeup. As this decade turns to a close, nobody could have foreseen the cosmetic industries’ immense growth and nobody can foresee what is in store for the makeup community.


Skye Hartsoe

Photo Credit: The Honest Company.

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