Are beauty influencer brands falling out of fashion?


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Is the power of social media stars waning in beauty? After years of helping to drive awareness and sales for brands by producing content that feels more relatable than glitzy campaigns from traditional celebrities, many creators have launched their own brands as a way to directly monetise their engaged fan bases. But, there are signs that a shift may be underway.

Selfless by Hyram, the skincare brand founded by influencer Hyram Yarbro in partnership with The Inkey List, and Item Beauty, a makeup brand launched by TikToker Addison Rae, will no longer be sold at Sephora. While Item Beauty still appears on Sephora’s e-commerce website at discounted prices, Selfless by Hyram can no longer be purchased online via the LVMH-owned specialist beauty retailer.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles-based makeup giant Morphe, onced valued at $2 billion thanks to splashy collaborations with celebrity influencers, is shutting down all of its physical stores in the US. Its parent company, Forma Brands, this week entered an agreement to be acquired by a group of secured lenders after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Yarbro says Selfless is not shuttering, and the brand plans to expand and announce new retail partners. Sephora became its exclusive retail partner in June 2021 off the back of Yarbro’s success as a skincare vlogger, with a following of 4.56 million on YouTube and 6.1 million on TikTok. Selfless says it is “gentle, non-irritating” skincare with lower concentrations of chemicals than competitors. It also touts a message of social consciousness, having established partnerships with environmental nonprofits Rainforest Trust and Thirst Project.

The priority ahead is keeping the product line “accessible” and continuing its mission for “social change”, he wrote in an emailed statement. “Due to changes in direction and retail adjustments, Selfless by Hyram products have been winding down at Sephora. We have had a wonderful relationship with Sephora and owe much of our success to the support of the Sephora corporate team, beauty advisors, and every client who has purchased our products in store and online.” Sephora declined to comment.

Item Beauty, on the other hand, is pausing its operations entirely. The brand was launched in August 2020 by TikTok star Rae, who currently counts 88.9 million followers on the platform. Item markets itself as “a clean beauty line with lush ingredients” that helps its consumers achieve “a natural look”. While the brand originally launched direct-to-consumer, available to shoppers via an e-commerce site, it entered into an exclusive partnership with Sephora in August 2021. The launch at Sephora allowed fans to discover the brand in real life. It was also notably one of Sephora’s few Gen-Z focused, influencer-led brands.


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