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The Normalization of Massive, Luxurious Makeup Collections is Ruining Your Wallet

With the holiday season coming to a wrap, many people have unused gift cards and cash burning a hole in their wallet. For beauty lovers out there, this is a chance to stock up on beloved products, try-out some new cult-favorites, or revamp their makeup collections. For a Sephora employee like myself, it’s a blatant reminder of the tremendous changes in the beauty scene over the last decade. 

I would like to preface if buying luxurious items and owning a lot of makeup is satisfying, satiable and permissible within your own budget, by all means, continue to enjoy your passion.

However, unfortunately, the reality of the situation is that due to the current climate of the online beauty community, consumers are feeling more pressured than ever to own beauty outside their budget through the normalization of massive makeup collections seen online, “collector’s mentality,” and tactics used both consciously and subliminally from the online space’s most influential brands and content creators.

To understand just how wide-scale the beauty world has become, we have to look at the money made over the last decade. According to Allied Market Research, in 2010 the global cosmetics world was seeing an annual revenue of $33.3 billion. Fast forward seven years, that number has increased by 1300%, with the beauty industry making an estimated $445 billion.

The question is; what caused this huge uptick in beauty sales?

As a huge consumer of beauty content since early 2012 and a working makeup artist, the biggest changes I’ve noticed have been the number of product releases at once, the number of products being used to complete a look, and the “collector’s mentality.”

On my quest to see just how much a consumer would need to spend to complete one look from their favorite YouTuber, I compared makeup tutorials from the two of the most subscribed to beauty channels in their respective time.

The videos I compared were Michelle Phan’s almost 3 million+ viewed “Spring Delight” in 2012 and Nikkie Tutorial’s “Full Face of Flawless Makeup” posted just a few months ago. What I found was Phan’s video featured 9 products with a total coming in at $163 for her full look, while Nikkie’s video featured 15 products totaling $322 – almost exactly double.

But can we really put blame on the content creators? They are fulfilling their duties, and most often, listening to their audience on requests to constantly see new releases in use. While beauty content creators’ influence is not low by any caliber, what sets the tone of the beauty space are the brands creating the products. Companies see the potential and money to be made, and they are using it to their advantage.

As before when makeup releases were timely, inspired, and evergreen, new launches follow on quick-dying trends and are made with poorer quality. Laura Nelson, the founder of Seed Beauty (parent company to Colourpop, Kylie Jenner and now most recently, Tati Beauty) even compared their marketing style to “fast-fashion.”

Along with pushing out more releases than ever, brands also knowingly create products designed to be collected and even encourage doing so. Looking at brands like Urban Decay, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Colourpop, and Jeffree Star Cosmetics, their social media pages heavily play into this “collector’s mentality.”

Colourpop notoriously adds a new 9-pan eyeshadow palette to their monochromatic line every couple weeks, and for the holiday’s released a massive vault including 6 of them.

​As previously stated, if you enjoy owning a large makeup collection, and it isn’t breaking the bank, continue to enjoy your hobbies. However, if you are one of the many interested in the beauty space and feel pressured to own massive makeup collections, be mindful of the marketing tactics used in the beauty space to encourage mass spending.

There is always a way to achieve similar results with a more affordable budget, or the products you may already own.