Beautyblender’s Rea Ann Silva disrupted the beauty industry in 2002 with the creation of a single pink sponge dubbed Beautyblender. Since the launch of the iconic makeup tool, Beautyblender has managed to stay at the top of its game in an industry filled with dupes and consistent challenges. Beauty News recently sat down with Rea Ann to discuss how she kept business afloat during a time when makeup sales dipped, the relaunch of the Bounce Liquid Whip Long Wear Foundation, and the long-lasting legacy of the brand.
Through the years, particularly throughout the course of the pandemic, Beautyblender maintained its grip on the market through a combination of factors. The first was that it was classified as an essential business, specifically as a Drugs and Druggists’ Sundries Merchant Wholesaler, which allowed the company to stay open during a time when many other businesses had to temporarily shut down. Additionally, in comparison to the brands that use third-party fulfillment centers, which were also temporarily closed during the pandemic, Beautyblender’s Pennsylvania-based operations warehouse was able to continue working. During the pandemic Beautyblender founder Rea Ann Silva and team also took the time to shift strategy to one that was more digitally centered, doubling down on online retail efforts and digital marketing, including TikTok and Instagram.
After powering through a very difficult two and a half years, today Rea Ann is focusing on continuing the company’s legacy, alongside her daughter Erica Dickerson, Beautyblender’s Global Beauty Director, while creating makeup tools and color cosmetics to be used with the iconic pink sponge. Currently, Beautyblender is privately owned and funded solely by Rea Ann.
Before Rea Ann was a beauty brand owner, she was a makeup artist. It was through her work on TV sets that Rea Ann was inspired to put a modern spin on makeup sponge applicators. At the time, Rea Ann used airbrush makeup technology, which often resulted in a cakey look. Working on the TV show Girlfriends, one of the first TV shows shot in high-definition, Rea Ann had to figure out a way to reapply makeup without it leaving behind streaks like traditional wedge-shaped makeup sponges. She ended up cutting the sponge around its edges which led to a tear-drop-designed makeup sponge.
“Being a category creator puts you in a pretty special position. There’s no one who’s ever going to be able to top me because I invented the category. But my job now is to make sure that people remember that.” Of the copycats on the market, Rea Ann said, “They haven’t been able to figure out what the secret sauce is, and they never will. They’re never going to have the Beautyblender material, which is exclusive to me, it’s super special, I worked on it for years, and it’s only made for me.” She admitted that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and has reconciled with look-alikes. “When they stop copying me, then I’ll worry.”
Among her successes was being named one of eight women in The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in a display titled “The Only One in the Room: Women Achievers in Business and the Cost of Success.” The April 2020 honor highlighted women making it to the top of their industry. The display was created in part to celebrate the Smithsonian’s Year of the Woman in 2020. Other women featured in the display included Lily Vernon, the first woman to be publicly listed on the New York Stock Exchange, and Sara Sunshine, co-founder of the nation’s first Latino ad agency.
Beautyblender continues to hold its place in the beauty market with fresh product launches including the Bounce Magic Fit Creamy Bronzer Highlight Duo ($32) that is available on BeautyBlender.com and Sephora.com, and in Sephora locations on July 22. The product is a two-in-one set of velvety matte bronzers, formulated with the trademarked BronzeAdjust technology that adapts to one’s unique skin pH, and a bouncy gel-cream highlighter. The formula is vegan, cruelty-free, and free of parabens, phthalates, oil, and gluten.
Other product launches include the Beautyblender Dream ($20), a limited-edition version of the sponge in a periwinkle color that will be available on the brand’s website on July 11, Sephora.com on July 12, and in Sephora locations on July 22. Additionally, the brand also relaunched its Bounce Liquid Whip Long Wear Foundation ($29) now available on the brand’s website, and going on Sephora.com on June 27, and in Sephora locations on July 22.
The biggest difference between this foundation, developed with a high-speed HyperWhip process, and the original version that Beautyblender launched in 2018, is its packaging. Rea Ann realized that many of her customers, who are non-makeup artists, preferred a squeeze tube for convenient on-the-go use and to utilize every last drop. The oil-free whipped formula is available in 40 shades and is now offered in a tube with a 50 percent post-consumer recycled content (PCR) twist-off cap and 100 percent PCR tube. The new packaging allows for a price drop from $40 to $29, while still offering one ounce of formula.