Becca Cosmetics: Why lockdown is bad news for make-up brands

By Annabel Rackham
Newsbeat reporter

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image copyrightGetty Images

Are your make-up brushes laying unused in a corner? Is your favourite eye shadow palette gathering dust in a drawer?

There's certainly not much appetite for going full glam at the moment - and it's having a major effect on the beauty industry.

We've already seen what the pandemic has done to fashion retail - with several shops disappearing from our high streets forever.

Now Becca Cosmetics has become the first major beauty casualty of the pandemic, with the Australian company announcing it is shutting down after 20 years.

A statement on its website said: "At Becca, an accumulation of challenges, together with the global impact of Covid-19, has sadly been more than our business can withstand, and we have had to make the heartbreaking decision to close down the Becca brand at the end of September 2021."

Founded by make-up artist Rebecca Morrice Williams in Perth, since 2001 it has been a huge name in luxury beauty with thousands of counters across the world.

It's owned by huge beauty conglomerate Estee Lauder, which owns other companies including Bobbi Brown, MAC and Jo Malone.

Over the years, it's collaborated with the likes of Chrissy Teigen, Khloe Kardashian and YouTuber Jaclyn Hill.

image copyrightBecca Cosmetics
image captionKhloe Kardashian (left) had a Becca line with her best friend Malika

"I was so gutted for the brand and everyone that works there," says beauty influencer Amelia Liana.

"I really didn't think that Becca would be one of the brands affected, they have such a loyal following, they're huge on Instagram and they're in all the major retailers," she tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

Polly Marchant, a make-up artist and beauty brand owner, says she was "shocked and sad".

"Not only are the small businesses having to close, but these huge global brands," she says.

"I just assumed where they're so big and have so many amazing brand ambassadors, they'd be fine and maybe their sales wouldn't have been as great, but nowhere near bad enough to have to close."

'Skincare is the new make-up'

Amelia and Polly have over a million Instagram followers between them and have noticed a big change in what content their fans are now interested in.

"All my audience want to see me doing is my skincare routine - like Sunday pamper routines and what face masks I'm using," Amelia says.

"Everyone is taking time to look after themselves a bit more and skincare is quite meditative - my audience feel the same.

"Brands have been readjusting their plans - Charlotte Tilbury for example brought her skincare launches forward a couple of months and postponed her beauty launches until August because she saw how much people were interested in skincare."

"Skincare has become the new make-up," Polly adds.

"People really have time to invest in their skincare regimes now and everyone is looking after their skin that little bit more - luxury make-up is just not in the priority list of things to buy anymore."

Not only are we staying in more at the moment, but when we are going out we're having to wear masks a lot of the time - which also reduces the need for make-up in everyday situations.

"You're not going to be whacking on a couple of layers of foundations and loads of skin make-up to then put a mask on - it will all come off and then there's the risk of breaking out," Polly says.

"I've gotten so used to wearing minimal make-up," Amelia adds, saying that she used to wear a full smoky eye every day, but now goes for a more natural look.

"I think that look will probably hang around for a little bit longer, especially with masks.

"Getting your make-up all over a mask and lines all over your foundation - it's very annoying!"

image copyrightBecca Cosmetics
image captionBecca's highlighters were some of their most popular products

Lipstick has always been seen as recession proof - it's fairly cheap to buy a lipstick even from a luxury brand and has historically still sold in the hardest of circumstances.

Amelia, who is a brand ambassador for Dior make-up, says the success of a new lipstick they launched in January was "unexpected".

"It shows there is definitely still a want and a need for make-up products," she says.

Polly isn't so sure - and says sales of her own brand has reduced so much that she can't currently afford to release a new collection.

"Last March, I would do a swipe-up link or suggest a new product and people would go mental - they were so interested in buying new products," she says.

"Since then it's really slowed down and I can see it in my own sales - people don't have the funds to be splashing out on make-up."

image copyrightAmelia Liana
image captionAmelia Liana is a 28-year-old beauty influencer from London

"But hopefully once things go back to normal I can bring out some more products, but in the meantime I genuinely don't have the money to invest," Polly adds.

And with coronavirus restrictions set to ease off, Amelia is hopeful people will learn to fall in love with make-up again.

"I think they'll definitely be a shift in priorities that will be taken forward into summer as we've got much more used to wearing minimal make-up.

"But, we'll hopefully have our summer and enjoy looking glam again."

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