Contoured cheeks, impeccably groomed eyebrows and two-toned, bejeweled lips are a few trends that dominate makeup tutorials. For the beauty obsessed who have a steady hand for eyeliner and understand the difference between baking and strobing, these beauty tricks provide endless inspiration. And bold brands like Urban Decay, Nyx and Kat Von Dee are soaking up the attention.
But for those who don’t have the time or energy to spend an hour perfecting an ombré lip job, a new breed of minimal makeups brands is offering an increasingly popular alternative.
Makeup brands like Glossier, Milk and Lilah B. have boldly declared themselves to be no-fuss beauty. Milk, the line of beauty products born out of creative agency Milk Studios, packaged each of its items to work with built-in on-the-go applicators for customers with little patience for multiple brushes and tools. Glossier, which prides itself on being “skincare first, makeup second,” has created a line of products like eyebrow pomade, foundation and lipsticks that are meant to promote a natural-looking makeup finish.
“We’re for the girl who just wants to put some makeup on in the morning, feel her best, and get out the door,” said Ali Weiss, Glossier’s vp of growth.
While the beauty industry’s visual effects have resulted in an eye-catching, aspirational landscape on social media, utility is often overlooked in favor of ostentatious artistry. Refinery29 beauty critic Maria Del Russo, in a recent article, described this overlooked beauty shopper as such:
“The makeup minimalist is someone who enjoys makeup and the way it makes her or him feel. But they never wear “too much.” They’re the middle ground of makeup consumers.”
For brands that appeal to this middle ground, they’re finding a niche footing on makeup social media that promotes less over more.
“The overarching message here is the counterbalance,” said Jessica Navas, chief planning officer at Erwin Penland. “Makeup is such a playful category, but rarely do we have time to do a transformation. On social, you see most often heavy makeup looks. This notion of the minimal and more natural look is that it’s cleaner, it feels healthier and it’s more liberated.”
Glossier’s philosophy has revolved around the idea that makeup should be secondary to skincare, and its social media strategy has supported that notion. Its models are all photographed with mostly bare faces, and ads on Facebook promote the ease of its products: “No tutorial necessary,” read a recent sponsored Facebook post.
On Instagram, Glossier has fostered a particular aesthetic that revolves around product shots and teases, model photos and artistic inspiration, most of which include in the brand’s signature shade of pink, which currently populates the internet as the ubiquitous “Tumblr pink.” According to Weiss (who bears no relation to Glossier’s founder, Emily Weiss), Glossier is brand-led, and it’s built a following around its minimally packaged, and minimal work, makeup products.
On YouTube, Glossier puts forward demonstrations for new skincare products, introductions to additions to the line, and a series titled “Get Ready With Me,” featuring prominent models and personalities in beauty. The videos have a similar approach to the features on Into the Gloss, the beauty blog that Glossier was born from.
Similarly, Milk Makeup taps its roots as a creative studio and agency to help it create compelling content on social media. The strategy puts the brand’s personality first, while still emphasizing its products. According to Milk Makeup’s creative director Georgie Greville, the goal of the beauty line was to appeal to a sense of empowerment, that makeup doesn’t define the wearer.
“I think the word that permeates everything right now is authenticity,” Greville told Refinery29. “Even if you do wear makeup, it comes down to what your skin looks like and who you are.”
“This is hard for a mass brand to pull off,” said Navas. “These brands have a cult following, because their message is positive and affirming, and they have the product to back it up.”