It seems Brad Pitt has broken the camel’s back. After seven years of increasingly random celebrities launching make-up and skincare lines, a collective of beauty founders has written an open letter criticising the trend and expressing their disillusionment with the brands.
The letter is addressed directly to Pitt, who last week launched a “genderless” skincare brand named Le Domaine. Hot on the heels of other recent celebrity skincare brands including ones from Travis Barker, Ellen Degeneres, Ciara and Idris Elba, this appears to have been the last straw for the group. No doubt things weren’t helped by the fact that in an accompanying interview with Vogue, Pitt seemed to express a general disinterest in beauty, admitting that he had never been too fussed about having a skincare routine himself.
“Over the past few years, it seems that every celebrity feels like they can waltz into the industry that we have worked in our whole careers and gain the awareness overnight that we are so fighting for,” the letter states. “You, dear celebrities, have NO experience in this industry… We can’t waltz into your industry and star in a movie. If we could, we would so you would know how this feels.”
The letter, which is available to read on the hilariously named website notanothercelebritybrand.com, has been signed by beauty entrepreneurs Winne Awa (Carra), Molly Hart (Highr), Samantha Freedman (Elth), Jasmin Thomas (Ohana), and Megan Felton and Ksenia Eytan (Lionne).
The group go on to outline their decades of experience in the beauty industry, describing the tireless, day-to-day work that goes into building a brand from the ground up. “You never interned in this industry or started as a low-level employee,” they write to Pitt. “You will never have to haul your day’s orders to the post office or learn to code your own site.”
They then ask Pitt to stop with Le Domaine and instead, if he’s truly passionate about the industry, invest in or partner with an existing brand. “Think of it as becoming our executive producer. Invest in early-stage founders who are already in the arena, building innovative solutions to make the industry more inclusive, sustainable, and climate-friendly.”
The celebrity beauty brand craze can arguably be traced back to Kylie Jenner launching her lip kits back in November 2015. While celebrities had started brands before this – Drew Barrymore’s Flower make-up range came out in 2013, for example – the extreme, high-profile success of Kylie Cosmetics and Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty in 2017 signalled to Hollywood that there was big money (a billion dollars!) to be made in beauty.
Since then the list of celebrities to have launched either make-up or skincare lines includes but is certainly not limited to: Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez, Machine Gun Kelly, Travis Barker, Kate Moss, Idris and Sabrina Elba, Ellen Degeneres, Ciara, Harry Styles, Lil Yachty, Naomi Osaka, Kim Kardashian, Halsey, Pharrell, Millie Bobby Brown, Jennifer Lopez, Madonna, Paris Hilton, Hailey Bieber, Addison Rae, Scarlett Johansson, Vanessa Hudgens and Madison Beer, Lori Harvey, Kristen Bell, Kate Upton, Naomi Watts, Lauren Conrad, Olivia Palermo, Alicia Keys, Carmen Electra, Cindy Crawford, DJ Khaled and Tyler, the Creator.
As time has gone on and an increasing number of people are jumping on the bandwagon, the connection to and interest shown in beauty by celebrities has become tenuous at best and non-existent at worst. When Jenner launched Kylie Cosmetics, MAC had been sold out of her signature shades like ‘Whirl’, ‘Soar’ and ‘Velvet Teddy’ for months. Everyone was talking about her make-up routine. Her genuine interest in and passion for make-up has carried the brand through the last seven years.
When Fenty launched with its now famous 40 shades of foundation it changed the beauty industry forever, and the brand’s ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusivity is authentic to Rihanna’s life and career. Figures like Lady Gaga or Halsey had shown a genuine passion for beauty long before their brands launched, while Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty make-up and Hailey Bieber’s Rhone Skin have been positively received by the industry.
But had anyone heard Ellen Degeneres even briefly mention skincare before she launched her ironically named “Kind Science” range of products? What do Vanessa Hudgens and Madison Beer actually know about DNA and how it impacts the long-term health of our skin? Is Harry Styles’s Pleasing anything more than glorified merchandise from which he can make a quick buck?
This seems to be where the frustration is coming from for industry founders and beauty entrepreneurs. Speaking to Beauty Independent, Megan Felton from the collective said referring to Pitt: “You are not even into this. I can understand someone like Hailey Bieber or Kim Kardashian. Obviously, they have a vested interest in beauty or even Stella McCartney’s launch makes sense because she has a fashion brand, but this makes no sense whatsoever.”
Read the full letter here.