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The Business of Beauty Haul of Fame: The Witch Who Stole Christmas

Welcome back to Haul of Fame, the beauty roundup of new products, new ideas and a luxury justification for your tween Goth phase.
An image of Isamaya Ffrench.
Christmas is feeling decidedly more goth this year. (Courtesy)

Included in today’s issue: Ariana Grande, Benefit Cosmetics, Charlotte Tilbury, Drybar, Espresso Martinis, Khloe Kardashian, Kiehl’s, Luxe Brands, Mac Cosmetics, Rare Beauty, Seen, Simi Haze, Subtl Beauty, Too Faced, and the chic aliens from “Arrival.”

But first…

For introverts, black sheep, and those with excellent personal boundaries, the holiday season’s forced cheeriness and nonstop magic can be rough. Enter “Creepy Christmas,” the Times-approved vibe that swaps cobwebs for snow and black velvet bows for red satin trim.

In holiday terms, Creepy Christmas looks like Jack Skellington invading Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion, and Travis Barker throwing a skeleton next to his Christmas tree. In beauty terms, it looks like in-demand Tim Burton sets by Melt Beauty, pierced black lip glosses at Isamaya French, and totally sold-out black lip gloss at Urban Decay. (It also looks like #NightmareBeforeChristmas trends getting 3.7 billion TikTok views, and searches for HoloGrave Cosmetics — which has a cartoon coffin as a logo — spiking on Google Trends in November and December, instead of tanking after October.)

Much of this is just common sense. Halloween is a billion-dollar driver for brands, and continuing its Goth Lite vibes helps keep “spooky” products like spider-lash mascara and blood red nail lacquer from hitting the clearance bin. But Creepy Christmas also allows creatives to subvert the holiday’s gooey goodness — to spike the eggnog, if you will — appealing to beauty’s ability to help us transform ourselves, even if we can’t transform our family dynamics. (And anyway, the excuse “I have to go fix my eyeliner” will buy you at least 10 minutes away from a Feast of Seven Fishes and Eight Questions About When You’re Getting Married.)

One more reason Creepy Christmas is a benefit to brands, especially smaller ones: These new witchy products can transition beautifully from a spooky holiday gift into woo-woo New Year’s charm. Throw the Ash + Ember Incantation shadow from Rituelle de Fille in with Kaleidos Elixir Lip Glaze and Alicia Keys Aura Mist, and you’re basically just spell-casting in a Miu Miu clutch instead of a cauldron.

Plus! Celebrity Beauty

Lip gloss is the new band tee! On Dec. 18, Madonna and makeup artist Jerrod Blandino launched highlighter, plumping lip gloss, and red lipstick on her Celebration Tour. Other beauty offerings on pop star’s official merch sites: nail gems from Taylor Swift, hair bows from Olivia Rodrigo, and perfume from Beyonce.

Plus, it’s not on her merch site, but On Dec. 18, Selena Gomez and Rare Beauty unveiled four body care items with “no pressure for perfect self-care regimens; it’s the tiny moments of comfort that go a long way.” The lineup includes a body cream, hand cream, aromatherapy pen, and hair and body mist.

Khloe Kardashian announced plans for her new perfume on Dec. 19. It’ll be under the Luxe Brands umbrella, which makes fragrances for Ariana Grande and also for Hummer, like, the automobile. I think this is frankly amazing and really hope Khloe promotes the scent by pumping it from a beige-on-beige SUV through the streets of Beverly Hills. Truly, I would cry with excitement.

Hair

Buzzword alert! “Scalp care” is the new “skin biome” and yet another brand is entering the category. On Dec. 18, Dr. James Kilgour launched KilgourMD, “a revolutionary skincare brand targeting scalp health.” The ethos is similar to SEEN, created by dermatologist Dr. Iris Rubin in 2014.

Drybar will be the official hair partner of the Emmy Awards on Jan. 15 , where they’ll be “working wonders behind the scenes, ensuring impeccable hair touch-ups for everyone who graces the red carpet and Emmy Award winners in the media center.” What I wonder is, will nominees with other major brand deals — like Jenna Ortega and her Dior gig, or, uh, Rihanna — be cool with Drybar hanging onto their coattails / ponytails? Drybar also just signed Bryce Scarlett, who did Margot Robbie’s hair for her Barbie tour, as an ambassador.

Meanwhile, Better Natured dropped their tress trend predictions for 2024, including a color shade called “Espresso Martini.” It’s basically just brown (sorry) but it’s a smart bid for buzz after #StrawberryGirl and #TomatoGirl became Big Things on TikTok. FWIW, #espressohair has about 310,000 views already, while the tag #espressomartini has half a billion. Yep.

Cosmetics

Charlotte Tilbury’s Queen of Luck Luxury Palette drops today, Dec. 21. It’s an eyeshadow quad to “gild your eyes with the lucky glow of the moonlight,” and at $55, it’s best enjoyed after winning a blackjack round.

Too Faced released their new “kissing jelly” on Dec. 15; it’s the lip oil/lip gloss hybrid model we’ve seen a lot this season… But I think Too Faced is the only one making a very sheer blue tint (theirs is called “Sweet Cotton Candy”) which brings out rosy skin and lip undertones. It’s expensive, though — $22!!!

On Dec. 18, Benefit Cosmetics unveiled Whoop Lash, their lash-enhancing serum. For less permanent results, try MAC’s new “stackable” mascara bundle.

Speaking of stackables, Subtl Beauty makeup just closed a $5 million Series A fundraising round with Cult Capital, which has Supergoop and Act + Acre in their portfolio. Subtl’s makeup disks remind me of Simi Haze’s clever packaging, most recently their coaster-like Skin Suede bronzers.

Flirte Beauty created an app to match your nipple color to their lipsticks, thereby finding the (allegedly) perfect shade. I don’t love the idea of a brand being like, “Hey, send nudes” but I do think this idea of nipples-as-final-beauty-frontier is gaining traction, thanks to fashion’s insistence on “freeing” them every spring season. (Rachel Tashjian’s got some good intel on this if you’d like to learn more.)

Skincare

On Dec. 18, Dove and Nike announced a partnership — complete with a Superbowl commercial — aimed at keeping girls involved in sports! This is the first time Dove has done a Superbowl ad in 18 years; it’s connected to their BodyConfidentSport initiative.

Murad’s Cellular Hydration Repair Mask hit Sephora on Dec. 19, just as Kiehl’s released a stick version of their Ultra Facial Barrier Balm. Between the two of them, your skin should endure winter’s recent wind storms just fine.

Geske German Beauty Tech launched a new “AI Powered App” on Dec. 14 that “analyzes the unique needs of each individual’s skin … guiding them towards a personalized skincare routine tailored to their specific needs.” The first step is putting this tiny little spaceship on your cheek. The second step is probably getting Amy Adams to translate your alien letters from inside a NASA tank. Good luck!

Fragrance… Kind Of

New Balance would like you to smell like super-fresh new sneakers. If you shopped at their Sydney, Australia store on Dec. 19, you could have taken home one of 100 bottles of their new, limited-edition fragrance. Otherwise, do you guys know about this insanity?

And Finally...

Wanna buy a beauty brand? Karen and Tom Benjamin, the founders of Mountain Ocean skincare, are selling their indie business and heading off for the mountains… or the ocean… or both. If you acquire it, please send me some of their Skin Trip coconut lotion as a finder’s fee.

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