If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the beholder must hang out in Hollywood.
It's been the year of celebrity makeup lines, from Kim Kardashian's KKW Beauty to Rihanna's Fenty Beauty to Gigi Hadid's collaboration with Maybelline or Nicki Minaj's partnership with Mac Cosmetics—not to mention, Kylie Jenner's longstanding reign over the lip kit.
With each highly-anticipated launch, there's a lot of fanfare…and pressure to buy. "This product is no longer available" might as well be the digital equivalency of LA traffic…during rush hour…with a pile-up on the 101…and the 10. In the urgency to purchase, to recreate a little piece of our favorite celeb looks, to play part in the beauty zeitgeist, we almost missed one small but significant thing about the major celeb makeup collections that launched this year: They all look the same!
Do products sell more when they are encased in some kind of nude, streamlined packaging? Celebs would have us thinking so. At first, this may seem strange, since the lines range in purpose, price and celeb aesthetic. Think about it this way: On a red carpet, would you ever spot Gigi and Rihanna wearing the same thing? So when scrambling in your makeup bag in the morning, should you confuse Gigi Hadid x Maybelline Matte Lipstick for Riri's Match Stix Matte Skinstick? No. So, this made us think: Why this packaging?
In a dream world, these stars joined together in solidarity, to allow consumers to judge a product by its content rather than its outward appearance. In reality, a number of factors may have influenced the packaging. For instance, millennial pink is still going strong. At first, it was a vibrant shade, just slightly more subtle than Barbie pink. But as designers and social media influencers began to tap into its power, the hue's range has expanded to include everything from salmon, to pale, to even hot pink. So, the more Instagram-friendly a product is, the more it'll be promoted and the more it'll likely to sell.
Then again, nude, in all its variations, is a skin tone, and makeup is about enhancing your natural beauty, which makes it the perfect base color for a collection of products.
"I want women of all shades to feel included, and all races and all cultures to be a part of this," RiRi told E! News' Catt Sadler. "That's really what was important to me when choosing the shades and how many we were going to make, especially with the foundations."
Not to mention, nude goes with everything—even if you have Rihanna's full collection, with all 40 foundations, 20 concealers and a rainbow of shadows and lip colors, everything will look cohesive.
Then, there's the fact that celebs may just have a dedicated penchant for subtle colors. Since Kim got with Kanye West, her wardrobe has mainly consisted of black, gray, white and neutral pieces. It makes perfect sense that her aesthetic would bleed over to her beauty collection. Should the Keeping Up with the Kardashians star ever go back in time, she may rethink the packaging. As Jennifer Lawrence so hilariously and poignantly pointed out while guest-hosting Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the KKW Beauty dual-ended blending and sponge brush looks a bit like a dildo.
"You know, I guess when I was doing that, I never thought all my things are like a flesh color, so I get it," Kim explained to Jennifer. "I usually see darker colors," she added jokingly.
While all these beauty collections look very much the same, there are noticeable differences outside of content. Nicki's two lipsticks for Mac are more pink than nude. Rihanna's hexagonal theme and frosted glass casings stand out. And with every new Kylie Cosmetics launch comes a new set of vibrant pigments and packaging to match (hello, orange blush and purple liquid lipstick). Kylie is evolving, which explains her $420 million empire.
In the end, it's not how something looks, but how it functions. It may be a coincidence that all these lines look similar, for the aforementioned reasons. The packaging, like an artist's palette, entices us, but the actual product paints the picture. The quality of product, however impressive, means even less than the final result. So maybe that was what celebs thought when they put everything in nude packaging—they're waiting to see what you'll do with it. Maybe you're the beholder, after all.