Beauty influencers’ transparency and relatability draw followers


Alessandro Cardoso remembers being just 8 years old when he would take his mom’s expired eyeliners and eyeshadows to recreate her looks “just for fun” in secret.

Now 23, he shares his beauty tips with more than 285,000 followers on his Instagram and 926,000 on his TikTok and has been nominated for the American Influencer Awards’ emerging makeup influencer of the year.

These social media platforms have exploded with beauty influencers sharing everything online, from makeup tutorials to product reviews – and these viral personalities are gaining such a following that even celebrity makeup brands have taken notice.

“Social media creators and specifically beauty creators convert sales. It’s as simple as that,” says Amanda Marzolf, a partner at management firm Underscore Talent. “They have the power to sell out products and put products in front of new audiences and demographics in a measurable way… And now we’re seeing the power shift of celebrities such as Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande and Hailey Bieber mimicking influencers and embracing social media to sell their own beauty lines.

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The power of beauty influencers

  • The video tutorials and level of detail helps users better understand products and techniques. 
  • Even celebrities mimic influencers embracing social to sell their own products.
  • Influencers’ relatability helps people follow and trust them.

Beauty influencers’ power rivals celebs

Cardoso has seen the shift himself. 

“Beauty influencers have reshaped who has the power in the beauty industry,” he says. “Back in the day it was just magazines, publications and celebrity endorsements – those were the people who really ran the beauty community. And now, because of social media, it is creators like me that come from nothing.”

So, how have beauty influencers become, so, well, influential? Experts say it’s a mix of relatability and instruction that set influencers apart.

First, there’s an educational aspect to beauty influencers that brand commercials and other types of marketing lack.

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“People can watch someone from start to finish applying their entire face of makeup or expertly style their hair with extensive commentary and tips. Where else can you find that level of detail?” she says.

Relatability and purpose drive followers

Ultimately though, Marzolf thinks the true factor that sets creators apart is their transparency, their reason for creating content and their dedication to their audiences.

For example, mega beauty influencer Jackie Aina collaborated with Too Faced Cosmetics in 2018 to expand the brand’s popular Born This Way Foundation by creating 11 new shades, expanding the line from 24 shades to 35.

“I think people go to creators for their stories, for the ‘why.’ Why are they creating new foundation shades? Because they couldn’t find their shade and it hurt their sense of self. Why are they documenting their acne journey and recommending what worked for them? So others don’t need to suffer with insecurity like they did,” she explains. “Beauty content is so much deeper and more important than just eyeshadow and lipstick.”

Salima Popatia, chief digital officer for premium cosmetics brand collective Orveon Global, agrees the attraction to beauty influencers comes from this common ground connection.

“There is a relatability that makes the influencer and content they produce authentic and trustworthy. That is the magic of an influencer,” she says. “I follow a lot of South Asian influencers because the content they share is so relatable to my own problems that I am trying to solve.”

Cardoso knows his fans appreciate that he started off just like all of them – a longtime lover and consumer of beauty products.

“I started off posting videos on my bedroom floor talking about makeup that I spent my last bit of money on. So I feel like we’re definitely more relatable and easier to connect with,” he says, especially compared to celebrities, who are typically known first and foremost for their music or a role they played, not so much for their connection with makeup.

Celebrities like Gomez and her makeup brand Rare Beauty, Marzolf points out, have embraced the power of beauty influencers in their product promotion, collabing with a range of content creators from Cardoso to 3.5 million follower TikToker Alix Earle.

Check back on Friday: See who wins at the American Influencer Awards

Beauty influencers find empowerment in the platform

While Cardoso has created a powerful platform, his platform has also empowered him.

Growing up in a conservative Mexican household where men in beauty weren’t accepted, he kept his love of makeup a secret until starting his social media journey at 20.

“Being able to break this barrier, especially from the position that I come from…  it feels very empowering. I was able to go against them and build a career that I dreamed of as a kid.”

As for the future of beauty influencing, Marzof doesn’t see it losing its power anytime soon.

“We will see diversification and steady growth like we always have, but neither extreme growth nor extreme shrinkage,” she says. “Brands will continue allocating larger and larger budgets toward various types of influencer marketing.”

And Cardoso hopes to show even more of himself in his content in the new year in order to inspire others through his story and message.

“I hope who I am resonates with other queer people that feel like outcasts or other first generation individuals that come from nothing and have to build a life of their own,” he says. “I hope that they can see that, sí, se puede, you can do it. You have all the power to do whatever you want.”

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