Why is Glossier a minimalist cosmetic brand?

When navigating the online beauty universe, you tend to stumble across two types of enthusiasts. On one end of the spectrum, you have people who adore makeup, and will spend an hour applying their foundation, contour, and false lashes. On the other end, you have people who stay away from cosmetics and focus solely on skin care. But there are plenty of folks who are somewhere in the middle. I like to call them makeup minimalists.

The makeup minimalist is someone who enjoys makeup and the way it makes her or him feel. But they never wear “too much.” (Which is obviously an objective term.) These are the people you see popping on face oil, concealer, mascara, and lipstick — and they tend to do it all in 10 minutes. They’re the girls who will sketch on a cat-eye, but leave the rest of their face fairly bare. They’re the middle ground of makeup consumers.

And now, more than ever, it seems that brands are starting to listen to their needs. And i wanted to highlight one brand called Glossier. Companies such as Glossier and Milk Makeup have reported for duty to give these makeup-wearers what they’ve been asking for — gorgeous, high-impact makeup and skin care with absolutely zero fuss.

What sets brands like Milk and Glossier apart is their seamless meshing of skin care and makeup. In fact, Glossier started out with just skin care, eventually expanding its line with a brow product, concealer, and lipstick. Its tagline “Skin first. Makeup second. Smile always.” speaks directly to this idea.

Glossier is particularly an interesting company. Started by Emily Weiss a couple years ago, she has had 10,000-person waiting lists for two of its products. One of them is in the pic above. (Off the record, I have tried the milky jelly cleanser and it is excellent! Tell you my story of a metrosexual another time).


The former art student and Vogue staffer was always interested, first and foremost, in storytelling and content. But she was bothered by her experience with beauty brands, which she felt were talking “at” her. Beauty shopping, she felt, lacked the context of real women and real experiences. So she started a blog in 2010, called Into the Gloss, where she candidly interviewed women – from celebrities like Kim Kardashian to makeup moguls like Bobbi Brown and models like Karlie Kloss and highlighted their bathroom “top shelves” and daily routines.

The blog quickly became a popular site for beauty mavens. Even major women’s magazines, Weiss noted, did not have the same level of commenting, which would reach well into the hundreds as women shared their experience of different skincare and makeup products, and swapped suggestions and support.

Today, the site has 1.5 million unique views each month. From there, it only made sense to pivot into the product world to use the collected knowledge of her community to craft the products women were actually seeking.

A few of the latest products from Glossier. They only sell a handful of items, all available online-only. Glossier was born in 2014, with initial backing from Forerunner Capital, a women-led venture capital firm.

Thrive Capital, previous investors in Warby Parker and Instagram, led the company’s $8.4 million Series A funding round in November 2014. With only four products in the initial launch, it was a small-scale step into a big game. The global beauty market, after all, is worth upwards of $250 billion.

Two main things set Glossier apart.

The first is the brand identity. From the get-go, Weiss has been meticulous about maintaining a unified look and feel for all products, messaging, and marketing. The second thing is the preeminence of the digital community and the customer feedback loop. Glossier invited about 100 of its top customers to be part of a group Slack channel. Diversity is a big part of their marketing campaigns, too.  The result has been favorable reviews and beauty awards for products ranging from concealer to lip balm and moisturizer. Weiss referenced a minimal 1% return rate on products (they do not sell through any third parties currently, and do not plan on doing so any time soon).

Glossier has started shipping internationally (finally). So try it out and see what the fuss is all about.

Interesting reads:








  1. I’ve never heard of it, but maybe the brand isn’t for sale in New Zealand yet Or maybe I’m just one of those “less than 10 minutes” kind of women 😉 I’ll keep a look out though 🙂


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