The Second (Celebrity) Coming

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For her gyration-filled performance on New Year\’s Rockin\’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest, a medley of tunes that included a decidedly off-brand riff on Aerosmith\’s \”Dream On,\” Jennifer Lopez of course looked flawless, with a face full of artfully applied makeup and enough eyeshadow to fill a slew of multi-pan palettes.

JLo au Naturel

But it was during Lopez\’s #WashAway2020 virtual after-party that the true magic happened. In the opening bits of the half-hour bash, which was attended by a handful of gushing VIP fans and is available for replay on YouTube (close to 500k views already), Lopez removed every last stitch of that heavy stage makeup with That Hit Singl In A New Gel Cream Cleanser, one of eight new products she\’s launching under the JLo Beauty banner.

[callout]“My mission for JLo Beauty is to make all of you feel beautiful in your own skin,” she said. “When it’s just you, not when you have on fillers and filters and all the stuff we do on social media to feel beautiful.” Jennifer Lopez[/callout]

At once wildly glamorous and utterly affordable (from $38 for the cleanser mask to $118 for a serum), the product range has been years in the making, and has been made to the multihyphenate entertainer\’s exacting standards. The serum alone– dubbed That JLo Glow in A Multitasking Serum-got sent back to the labs 23 times for revision, Lopez shared in the video recording of the after-party.

Later in the video, Lopez also lays out her chief goal for her brand. \”My mission for JLo Beauty is to make all of you feel beautiful in your own skin,\” she said. \”When it\’s just you, not when you have on fillers and filters and all the stuff we do on social media to feel beautiful.\”

Even the Art Deco-inspired packaging was designed to be inclusive. Lopez\’s desire, she said, was for \”luxurious products at a great price, that look like Tom Ford made it.\”

Tapping Our Collective Great Skin Obsession

The one true beauty bright spot during Covid, skincare is on fire. But given how long it takes to bring a brand to market, it\’s not as if Lopez – or her celeb compatriots like Rihanna, Alicia Keys and Pharrell Williams, who have also unveiled skincare lines in the past six to nine months – looked in their crystal balls and said, \”Hey, there\’s a global pandemic coming; let\’s launch some miracle crèmes!\”

Instead, they just got insanely lucky. Because even though the bottom has completely fallen out of the celebrity fragrance category, there\’s evidently still plenty of interest in the products and tools stars use to care for their complexions. And if we can nab a bit of that famous \”JLo glow\” without breaking the bank, all the better.

Our Increased Desire for \”Self-Care\”

When did kicking back with a sheet mask and a glass of wine become \”self-care\”? During Covid, that\’s when. (And JLo\’s new sheet mask even has ear loops, making drinking-while-sheet-masking easier than ever!)

Apparently a major \”seeker\” with a profound interest in spirituality, Alicia Keys could not have timed her recent Keys Soulcare launch any better. Again, she couldn\’t have known what was coming. Still, her idea to plug into \”rituals\” by launching mini-collections of products meant to be used together-i.e., the Sage + Oat Milk Candle ($38), Skin Transformation Cream ($30) and Obsidian Facial Roller ($25)-is pure genius. Not only are there suggested \”affirmations\” that come with the products (i.e., \”I welcome all circumstances as catalysts for change\” for Skin Transformation Cream), the Keys Soulcare website is chock-full of inspirational content, further supporting the notion that this brand is about more than just taking good care of your skin.

Both Rihanna (Fenty Skin) and Pharell Williams (Humanrace) tap into the concepts that A) we don\’t need elaborate, multi-step routines and B) skincare doesn\’t care what sex you are. Williams adds another layer to his brand ethos, by offering his three-SKU \”system\” (Rice Powder Cleanser, $32; Lotus Enzyme Exfoliator, $46; Humidifying Cream, $48) in refillable packaging crafted from 50 percent post-consumer waste.

Doesn\’t this all just sound light years away from the celebrity fragrance mayhem of the late 90s/early Aughts? Can you imagine Elizabeth \”White Diamonds\” Taylor turning cartwheels at the prospect of offering her \”signature scent\” in post-consumer waste packaging? Shudder the thought.

We\’ve come so far, and this particular crop of savvy celebrities is seizing the \”new world order\” moment like nobody\’s business. This is good news-for both consumers and the industry.

The Four Takeaways

Here are key ways the new celebrity skincare brands stand out:

  1. They\’re \”hook-y:\” Whether it\’s glow and glamour (Lopez), ritual and spirituality (Keys), or simplicity and gender-neutrality (Rihanna and Williams), the \”elevator pitch\” for each of these new celebrity skincare brands is as tight as a drum.
  2. They\’re cool-looking: Although they couldn\’t be more different in design – from Williams\’s apple green recycled plastic tubs to Keys\’s sleek black roller and JLo\’s glamorous gold tubes – each has a distinctive, countertop-cool look that sets them apart.
  3. They\’re affordable: While Lopez\’s serum clocks in at $110, most of the products in these lines average-out at about $40. I see skincare at CVS that costs that much.
  4. They\’re approachable: I have two words for you: MDNA Skin. That\’s the name of Madonna\’s super-pricey skincare brand, which launched in Japan in 2014 and made its way to the U.S. in 2019. A precursor to star-centric skincare brands, it\’s backed by serious Japanese science and features top-notch ingredients sourced from Montecatini, Italy. Still, it\’s just so \”Madonna in her Lisbon palace\” in vibe. This is a woman who has spent a small fortune on her face, and her skincare brand radiates that \”One percent\” exclusivity. In contrast, each of the newer celebrity skincare brands feels friendly and community-minded. Okay, JLo is possessed of another-worldly beauty, even at the age of 51. But she works hard to make us feel that she\’s still \”Jenny from the block\” and truly believes she can help us look more beautiful. And I, for one, am buying it.

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