Celebrity skincare brands: A dermatologist reveals if they’re any good
Celebrity skin. It’s the name of a dark 90s pop rock album by Hole, but today it’s the term on everyone’s lips as we obsessively try to mimic A-lister skin – and there’s something even darker about this when you dig into it.
Kim Kardashian, J Lo, Rihanna, Millie Bobby Brown are Scarlet Johansson are just part of a growing list of celebrities sticking their names on skincare lines.
It’s hard not to wonder if their motives are just about making an extra buck, playing on trends, capitalising on their names, and selling the idea that beauty can be bought in a bottle – as opposed to a filler injection, which many will have had among other cosmetic treatments, but not necessarily been transparent about.
A moisturiser can’t – no matter who is the face of it – turn back 10 years of ageing, and often these celebrities aren’t good models for accurately representing what beauty products alone can achieve, given the plentitude of facial tweakments.
Even Ellen Degeneres, who doesn’t position herself in the beauty sphere like the aforementioned names, has a stake in this business.
It seems if you’re famous, it’s anyone’s taking.
Hailey Bieber is the latest celebrity to launch a high-profile line, Rhode (the name of which a fashion label claims was taken without their consent and is now suing for), and the initial marketing imagery showed a glazed doughnut, directly speaking to the ‘doughnut skin’ trend, which is likely to be another passing fad.
So how are we to know if there’s any efficacy in these celebrity lines?
Dr Anjali Mahto, a leading dermatologist known for her reliable and rigorous no-nonsense approach, believes it’s a mixed bag out there when we look at celebrity skincare.
She says: ‘The market for skincare products is oversaturated so it’s no wonder that the average consumer can feel overwhelmed with what’s on offer.
‘Generally speaking, I think it’s very hard to justify the cost of a skincare product over £30-40, so that would be my first test with a new celebrity skincare line.
‘There are many brilliant affordable skincare brands out there, many of which I recommend on a daily basis in my clinics with patients.
‘That’s not to say that the products from celebrity skincare lines won’t be well-formulated, but I would question whether the price point is down to formulation or because of the marketing spend put behind it.’
With this in mind, Victoria Beckham is one example of how to do celebrity skincare better – although, it’s not perfect.
Her self-named makeup line includes some skincare products created in collaboration with Augustinus Bader, a well-respected name in the skin scene with his own self-named line.
While Victoria’s products dramatically fail the price test, they’re marketed with a name many with recognise and trust, showing the formulation has involved an expert. Her pricing is also in-line with Augustinus’ own range.
This makes her products seem, overall, good for the skin.
When there is a lack of expert involvement however, it’s picked up on by savvy shoppers.
Kylie Jenner went viral in 2019 for the wrong reasons by launching a walnut scrub that felt behind the times – as exfoliants had evolved to be more sophisticated and less damaging to the skin by that point.
She was caught out again after ‘incorrectly’ washing her face using her own foaming cleanser, which hardly painted the image of her being a trusted skincare source.
But, due to her name and status, Kylie Skin continued to sell.
Beauty is essentially a business, and it’s worth a huge £27 billion in the UK alone – so should shoppers be more sceptical when a celebrity opens a new line?
Anjali adds: ‘I think a healthy dose of scepticism as to how much of the retail price is down to ingredients and the formulation versus marketing spend is a good thing.
‘I haven’t used any celebrity skincare lines.
‘When it comes to skincare I tend to spend my own money on brands that have substantial research and development facilities, do clinical trails and follow the most well-researched data when it comes to ingredients and product formulation.’
That’s not to say celebrity skincare brands won’t do this, but there’s less of an incentive for them to when they know the name alone will result in sales.
Celebrities and their business partners also know what consumers like and can capitalise there.
Take Kim Kardashian, for example, who recently went online claiming the packaging for her brand Skkn is something she’s ‘never seen’ before – despite it looking identical to a much-loved Glossier product.
With these blunders, it’s difficult to take celebrity skincare seriously, or see it as a better option for your skin over another brand.
It’s possible a brand can have both aspects at once, but it’s clear that greater transparency is needed in this section of the industry so consumers know exactly what they’re buying into: a fan following, or a solid skincare routine.
What to look out for before buying celebrity skincare:
- Look for collaborations with known and trusted experts.
- Look at the ingredients used and claims made – do they seem realistic and are wonder ingredients being name dropped without much else?
- Question the price if it goes beyond £40 – what’s justifying this?
- Pay attention to criticism online.
- Look at how central the involved celebrity is in the branding.
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