To receive the Vogue Business newsletter, sign up here.
Is the power of social media stars waning in beauty? After years of helping raise awareness and sales for brands by creating content that feels more relevant than the flashy campaigns of traditional celebrities, many creators have launched their own brands as a way to directly monetize their engaged fan base. But there are signs that change may be underway.
Selfless by Hyram, the skincare brand founded by influencer Hyram Yarbro in partnership with The Inkey List, and Item Beauty, the makeup brand started by TikToker Addison Rae, will no longer be sold at Sephora. While Item Beauty continues to appear on Sephora’s discount e-commerce site, Selfless by Hyram can no longer be purchased online through the LVMH-owned specialty beauty retailer.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles-based makeup giant Morphe, once valued at $2 billion thanks to its stellar collaborations with celebrity influencers, is closing all of its brick-and-mortar stores in the US. Its parent company, Forma Brands, entered into a deal this week to be taken over by a group of secured lenders after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Yarbro says Selfless is not closing, and the brand plans to expand and announce new retail partners. Sephora became its exclusive retail partner in June 2021 following Yarbro’s success as a skincare vlogger, with 4.56 million followers on YouTube and 6.1 million on TikTok. Selfless says it’s “gentle, non-irritating” skin care with lower concentrations of chemicals than the competition. It also represents a message of social awareness, as it has established partnerships with environmental non-profit organizations Rainforest Trust and Thirst Project.
The priority going forward is keeping the product line “affordable” and continuing the mission for “social change,” he wrote in an emailed statement. “Due to changes in retail direction and adjustments, Selfless by Hyram products are being discontinued at Sephora. We have had a wonderful relationship with Sephora and owe much of our success to the support of Sephora’s corporate team, beauty advisors and every customer who has purchased our products in store and online.” Sephora declined to comment.
Item Beauty, on the other hand, is completely pausing its operations. The brand was launched in August 2020 by TikTok star Rae, who currently has 88.9 million followers on the platform. The item is advertised as a “pure cosmetic line with rich ingredients” that helps its consumers achieve a “natural look.” Although the brand originally launched direct-to-consumer, available to customers through the 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 one of Sephora’s few Gen-Z-focused, influencer-driven brands.