“Kylie Skin” is a smart business idea from one of the savviest minds in beauty

Welcome to the skincare industrial complex.
Welcome to the skincare industrial complex.
Image: Reuters/Danny Moloshok
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The reality TV star, model, and beauty mogul Kylie Jenner may be branching into skincare—at least if three trademarks filed with the US Patent Office back in July are anything to go by.

Kylie Skin” and “Kylie Skin by Kylie Jenner” are patents for various skin products (lotions, cleaners, serums, scrubs, oils, etc.), while the second “Kylie Skin” trademark is for brick-and-mortar retail stores.

It remains to be seen whether anything will come of the patents, but if the 21-year-old does expand her 800-million-dollar company to include skin care, she’s making another in a string of clever business moves. Having leveraged her brand via social media, Jenner has a massive and dedicated following made up mostly of millennial women and girls who also buy her products. Those 116.2 million followers drove hundreds of millions of dollars in makeup sales since Kylie Cosmetics launched in 2015.

But while color cosmetics—the category that includes foundation, creams, powders, lipsticks, and other color-based makeup—is still popular with young people, it’s facing stagnation, including at Kylie Cosmetics: Sales of Jenner’s famed $69 lip kits dipped 35% this past year, according to Forbes.

Enter skincare. According to an industry forecast report released by Euromonitor (PDF) this week, skincare (including face and body lotions and moisturizers, anti-aging creams and serums, cleansers, toners, masks, and lip care) experienced the strongest growth globally against all other cosmetics categories in the third quarter, a spot previously dominated by makeup. The research firm noted that the trend is likely driven by consumers’ growing focus on healthy living, and a ballooning wellness industry.

Not only does the skincare category open doors for Jenner globally, it doubles down on her already existing market: millennials. According to the data firm TABS Analytics’ annual beauty buying survey, millennials are the heaviest buyers of skincare. A desire for “dewy” skin is likely prompted by the Instagram selfie phenomenon, so much so that cult beauty brands such as Glossier and Drunk Elephant have built businesses around Instagrammable skincare products, while Korean skincare products have seen a rapid global rise.

Jenner already has plenty of practice on Instagram, (and a higher follower count than any brand on the app), so advertising skin products wouldn’t be a huge leap. Indeed, if Jenner makes good on her retail store plans—which she first described to Elite Daily in July, and has been experimenting with via pop-up shops since 2016—it would be yet another savvy move.

As malls lose clothing and other retail stores, cosmetic retailers like Sephora and Ulta (where Kylie Cosmetics will be sold later this year) have thrived. This has baffled some investors, who predicted they too would be cannibalized by Amazon—but makes sense when you consider that buying makeup is a personal and intimate experience that many prefer to do in real life.

While Forbes got some flack for hailing the insanely privileged youngest sibling of the Kardashian-Jenner clan as a “self-made billionaire,” it’s hard to argue with the success she has had with at her cosmetics company, which she owns 100%. And while Jenner is still facing plenty of competition in color cosmetics—especially from the celebrity cosmetics titan Rihanna and her hugely successful Fenty Beauty line—entering the skincare market may prove to be another incredibly lucrative move.