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Alongside food, no industry has driven the way companies and influencers use social media quite like beauty.

“Beauty brands and creators have always been early movers in that space,” said Kristie Dash, Instagram’s manager of fashion and beauty strategic partnerships, on the Glossy Beauty Podcast. “And Instagram continues to evolve based off of those behaviors.”

In recent years, beauty giants like Sephora have taken to connecting with their followers in the same casual way that individual creators might, Dash said.

“If you’re not a creator-led brand that has an obvious face of the brand — in those examples, that’s what people love to connect with, almost like a FaceTime with your followers — then brands like Sephora and MAC Cosmetics, with their built-in creator network of hundreds of global makeup artists, are leaning into that. A creator mentality has really helped them,” she said. “They’re utilizing those personalities almost to replicate the in-store experience of having that conversation with the makeup artist or the ambassador; they’re replicating that on Instagram Live.” 

Ahead are a few highlights from the conversation, which have been lightly edited for clarity.

The creator mentality
“If you’re not a creator-led brand that has an obvious face of the brand — in those examples, that’s what people love to connect with, almost like a FaceTime with your followers — then brands like Sephora and MAC Cosmetics, with their built-in creator network of hundreds of global makeup artists, are leaning into that. A creator mentality has really helped them,” she said. “They’re utilizing those personalities almost to replicate the in-store experience of having that conversation with the makeup artist or the ambassador; they’re replicating that on Instagram Live. It’s been really cool to watch, and [it’s worked] for people who maybe don’t know what to do online to just simply answer questions. It seems so obvious, and maybe not the most groundbreaking example of the usage of the [platform]. But I actually think it’s the most helpful, especially at a time like this, when that’s really your way of creating that intimate dialogue with your fans.”

Beauty is at the forefront
“The platform has continued to evolve based off of trends that we’ve seen forming. For example, it goes without saying that short-form video has been a huge trend, especially within the beauty community just because it’s so visual. Beauty brands and creators have always been early movers in that space. And Instagram continues to evolve based off of those behaviors that are already happening. Going back to three years ago, it was just plain storytelling. And that’s it.”

Reality and fantasy
“There have been a lot of brands that have launched this year, which I find really interesting, especially just watching how they’re truly Instagram-native brands. We’re really the main channel for pushing out these launch moments, both for on the granular collection level and also for their entire brand story. Seeing folks lean into the more wearable, easy, comfortable makeup — the example that comes to mind is Gucci Westman’s brand, Westman Atelier. I am obsessed with her livestreams and her IGTV videos. Watching her kind of transform herself in a way that really resonates, even just on a Zoom call, has been really entertaining and feels a bit more sort of realistic and attainable during this crazy time. That being said, on the complete other end of the spectrum, people are bored at home. And I think beauty lends itself to this sort of escape. A lot of the Reels trends are these really extravagant, artistic looks that people are creating with makeup. The beauty enthusiasts, they’re still there, and they’re not going anywhere. The full face makeup crew, they still love wearing their full face, even over Zoom. And I think you can see that in the fact that these brands are still serving both ends of the spectrum.”