These days it seems every A-lister fancies themselves as the next Estee Lauder — from Rihanna and Victoria Beckham to Catherine Zeta-Jones and, most recently, Jennifer Lopez, who announced the launch of her upcoming beauty line earlier this week.
But it’s not just the love of make-up driving them.
It’s getting harder to make millions from just being a pop star or a film star; thanks to the rise in streaming services, even the biggest film studios and record labels are struggling.
In the past, celebrities might have released their own fragrance as an easy, inexpensive way for us mortals to buy a spritz of their Hollywood glamour — but in 2016 the celeb smellies’ market plummeted, with sales down 22 per cent year on year.
So financially savvy stars have moved on to another tempting treat designed to make fans feel as if they’ve been given a glimpse inside their idol’s dressing room: cosmetics.
Catherine Zeta-Jones has recently launched a mascara collection
‘We’ve seen a massive growth in the make-up sector over the past few years,’ says June Jensen, director of UK beauty at retail experts NPD Group.
‘Some of that growth has been driven by celebrities.
‘Think Cara Delevingne and the boom in eyebrow products, or Kim Kardashian and the contouring trend. It seems natural they should capitalise on that.’
And capitalising is the word.
At £50 for an eyeshadow palette, Victoria Beckham’s cosmetics compete with the top end of the market, while Catherine Zeta-Jones’s aren’t far off at £22 for a mascara.
So how much of that is actually going in the star’s pocket?
‘If a product sells for £10, the retailer probably paid around £7 for it. The celebrity gets six to nine per cent —between 42p and 63p,’ says talent agent Jonathan Shalit.
As for what you’re getting when you shell out for a celebrity product, are they any better than other cosmetics on the shelf?
Or just the usual stuff with an A-list name stamped on it? We put six celebrity-branded beauty ranges to the test.
Casa Zeta-Jones, wunder2.co.uk
Costs: £15 for eyeliners, £22 for mascara
This tiny collection — there are literally two eyeliners and a mascara — is intended to be the start of a Goop-esque lifestyle empire for the Casa Zeta-Jones brand, with sportswear, home decor and posh coffee ‘coming soon’.
Zeta-Jones says: ‘My mission is to create a whole universe of products that exude the same feeling: effortless elegance.’
Catherine Zeta-Jones’s new collection is tiny – just two eyeliners and a mascara
The eyeliners come in only two shades, a metallic chocolatey brown (Beach Bronze) and a bronze-gold (Gilda Gold), but I can’t fault the formulation: they glide on and stay put.
The mascara isn’t bad, either — a true black that defines each lash.
The packaging — black with a red accent — looks a little dated, but it’s inoffensive.
Overall it feels quite M&S — reliable without being particularly exciting.
VERDICT: Piqued my interest enough to keep a lookout for the rest of the collection (also ‘coming soon’ apparently). 7/10
Victoria Beckham Beauty, victoriabeckhambeauty.com
Costs: From £20 for a lip pencil to £50 for an eyeshadow palette
Victoria Beckham tested the waters with a collaboration with Estee Lauder, before going it alone last September.
Her range is pricey, with beautiful packaging that ticks the environmentally friendly box, along with airy claims about being ‘clean’ (which means nothing) and ‘cruelty free’ (but nobody tests on animals in the UK, it’s been illegal for decades.)
If you can get over the price of Victoria Beckham’s lip pencil and eyeshadow palette, the products deliver
If you can get over the price, the products deliver.
The £22 Satin Kajal Liners don’t drag the skin and smudge for the perfect smoky eye, while the Lid Lustres — or ‘Crystal Infused Eyeshadows’ — are, if you ignore the woo-woo about healing crystals, great, buildable shadows for a night out.
VERDICT: Some products are impressive; at this price you’d expect them all to be. Loses points for pseudoscience marketing. 6/10
Fenty Beauty, fentybeauty.com
Costs: From £16 for a lip gloss to £46 for a trio of make-up sticks
One of the biggest selling points of Fenty (that’s Rihanna’s surname) is the Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation (£27).
Available in more than 40 shades, a far broader range than many mainstream brands, it gives decent coverage and a finish that’s neither too matte nor too dewy.
The price isn’t OTT either — it’s cheaper than Lancome, Clinique and Dior.
One of the biggest selling points of Fenty (that’s Rihanna’s surname) is the Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation (£27)
The chunky Match Stix for concealing, contouring and highlighting have magnetic cases which stick together — a nice touch.
As a trio (£46), they work out at just over £15 each, although the amount of product in each is a little deceptive.
Shades range from ‘wearable at any age’ bronzer (called Trippin or Yacht Lyfe) to ‘under 25s only’ highlighters (Unicorn and Confetti) that could double as eyeshadow.
There’s a lot of sparkle, but then this range is aimed at a young, on-trend consumer — as you’ll discover if you try the sweet-as-candy-floss lip gloss.
VERDICT: Incredible shade range. Aimed at a younger consumer, but none the worse for it. 8/10
Timeless Beauty, joancollinsbeauty.com
Costs: From £12 for an eyeliner to £25 for foundation
The gold fluted packaging of Joan’s lipstick range is basically Dynasty in make-up form, and at £18, it’s cheaper than more established brands such as Clarins.
The lippy itself doesn’t disappoint.
In a range of pink, red and berry shades (don’t expect nudes or mattes) they glide on like silk, but require a bit of blotting to stay put.
The gold fluted packaging of Joan’s lipstick range is basically Dynasty in make-up form, and at £18, it’s cheaper than more established brands such as Clarins
The art-deco design of the eyeshadow compact (£25) was striking
The art-deco design of the eyeshadow compact (£25) was striking, but I wasn’t wowed by the contents — maybe the Moody Browns & Gold quad is better, but in the Misty Greys & Silver palette, the lighter shades seemed insipid, while the dark one migrated down my face.
The foundation (£25), however, was a pleasant surprise, with light and modern coverage.
VERDICT: Despite some standouts, the quality isn’t stellar. 6/10
Flower Beauty, superdrug.com
Costs: From £7.99 for lipstick to £15.99 for an eyeshadow palette
The Hollywood actress launched her relatively affordable range, Flower Beauty, in the UK last year.
At these prices, it’s going head-to-head with mass-market brands such as Maybelline, and in some areas it holds its own.
The Petal Pout Lip Sticks (£8.99) are packed with pigment, and although they give a modern matte finish, are creamy and non-drying.
Drew Barrymore’s range costs £7.99 for lipstick to £15.99 for an eyeshadow palette
I’d go so far as to say they give Charlotte Tilbury’s £25 Matte Revolution lipsticks a run for their money.
The Lash Warrior Mascara (£10.99) doesn’t wow, but it doesn’t disappoint either — it can just get a bit clumpy if you try to layer it up, and the extra packaging — a plastic case and extra card — seem unnecessary.
But the point of this collection isn’t its fancy packaging — it’s fun and inexpensive.
VERDICT: Decent price to quality ratio. There is enough worth seeking out. 7/10
Iman Cosmetics, iman-cosmetics.co.uk
Costs: From £11.95 for an eyeshadow pencil to £24.95 for foundation
A precursor of Rihanna’s Fenty, the supermodel launched her range in 1994 with the aim of bringing difficult-to-find shades for darker skins to the mass market.
The black and gold packaging is elegant but lacks that luxury weightiness; however, the products inside impress.
The Luxury Blushing Powder (£14.95) is a brilliant matte while the Luxury Moisturising Lipsticks (£12.95) do exactly what you want them to.
Iman’s Luxury Blushing Powder (£14.95) is a brilliant matte while the Luxury Moisturising Lipsticks (£12.95) do exactly what you want them to
The range comes into its own with its handy make-up sticks. The Second to None Stick Foundation (£20.50) blends to a smooth, almost powdery finish on the skin.
Iman’s foundations come in 14 shades, from olive to ebony, so they won’t work for a pale English rose.
But anyone can use the Perfect Eyeshadow Pencils (£11.95) — more of a chunky crayon available in beautiful jewel-tones, including Deception, a gorgeous jade green. Utterly foolproof.
VERDICT: Universally great eyeshadow and lip colours. 8/10