In the beauty and fashion worlds, creative collaborations are everything. Look no further than New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, which through the years has partnered with several iconic beauty brands — including the time it released a custom-designed Estée Lauder eyeshadow palette for the art institution’s 150th birthday.
A good collaboration in any industry pushes boundaries, inspiring customers to experiment with new ideas and forms of self-expression. So it’s no wonder that skincare and makeup brands are entering Web3 with the same aspirational energy that the beauty industry has always served.
Through new forms of digital artistry and cutting-edge technological innovation, today’s leading beauty companies hope to reach Web3-native consumers, create meaningful experiences and perhaps even clean up their supply chain.
It helps brands expand to new audiences
Yann Joffredo, Global Brand President at NYX Professional Makeup, said that the L’Oréal-owned cosmetics brand has always championed inclusivity through its collaborations with independent content creators, bloggers and makeup artists. Joffredo sees Web3 as the next evolution of this mission, with the added benefit of connecting with new audiences.
“As the brand continues to evolve, it is important to advocate for this same representation in Web3,” said Joffredo. “Additionally, we understood the untapped territory within beauty in the metaverse.”
In early 2023, NYX launched GORJS, the world’s first beauty-focused decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) to spotlight creators building beauty experiences within the Web3 ecosystem.
“GORJS integrates Web3 artists and beauty enthusiasts to lead the cultural conversation around what digital makeup artistry will be in the metaverse and beyond,” Joffredo said.
It fosters meaningful opportunities for self-expression
Joffredo also said that transparency and self-expression in the metaverse is a natural extension of NYX Professional Makeup’s brand values, adding that digital spaces give beauty enthusiasts unique avenues to express themselves and interact with products.
More poignantly, digital spaces can also provide physical safety amid a politically polarized physical world. Last year, NYX partnered with inclusive avatar company People Of Crypto (POC) and The Sandbox, a user-generated virtual environment, to launch a week-long Pride Month celebration. The event featured gender non-conforming NFT avatars donning makeup styled in a pixelated, or rather “voxelized,” fashion using colors representing the Progress Pride flag.
In a recent panel at the extended reality (XR) industry conference, AWE Live, NYX vice president of digital innovation and e-commerce Maya Kosovalic spoke to how the Pride event foreshadowed a more immersive digital future: “Self-expression is really the core tenant of future gaming platform experiences, which are no longer singular, solitary game loops but very immersive, engaging social experiences where younger generations can engage with their in-real-life friends.”
Celebrating one’s personality and identity through skins and digital goods, she added, is what makes Web3 so interesting for both beauty and fashion brands.
Also on the panel was Agustina Sartori, senior innovation director at the American beauty store chain Ulta Beauty. “Beauty is a way to be yourself and be who you want to be,” she said. “Why wouldn't we care about the same thing in the digital world?”
According to Sartori, Ulta Beauty has been experimenting with digital activations on Roblox since 2022. Roblox is a popular user-generated gaming platform that does not utilize blockchain or cryptocurrency but nonetheless appeals to major brands interested in building virtual worlds for customers. Ulta’s virtual Roblox world is called the “Ultaverse.” In May, Ulta Beauty partnered with the cruelty-free eyeshadow brand Urban Decay to throw a virtual party inside the Ultaverse. Makeup influencers Emmy Combs, Leilani Green and Manny MUA hosted the event, which attracted some 500,000 visitors to the platform, said Sartori.
Ulta Beauty was also one of the first beauty brands to announce its participation in the upcoming Metaverse Beauty Week, which will take place from June 12 to 16 in three different metaverse environments (Decentraland, Roblox and Spatial). Interested participants can learn how to set up the necessary crypto wallets and create their first avatar by reading instructions on the event website.
It could solve trust issues
Last, blockchain offers potential solutions for one of the most consistent challenges faced by the beauty industry: greenwashing. Amid growing market pressure to be cruelty-free, eco-friendly and natural, clean beauty brands have been on the receiving end of increased scrutiny in recent years.
It’s almost impossible for consumers to track their favorite brands’ ingredients sourcing. But now, there are many supply chain-related use cases for blockchain — most of them still new. The blockchain-based platform created by French luxury skincare company Clarins allows customers to trace their products’ manufacturing journeys on chain. By scanning a QR code on each package, people can trace ingredients’ origins and learn about how the product was made and even packaged.
Another way blockchain can help boost trust issues is by weeding out counterfeit products, which is a growing issue in the world of “superfakes.” Luxury fashion giant LMVH launched a blockchain to help prove the authenticity of Louis Vuitton bags and Parfums Christian Dior.
Unrelated to supply chains, other beauty brand blockchain experiments include experimental bitcoin “cash-back” programs that incentivize consumers by rewarding them with satoshis for each purchase.
Blockchain-based beauty is exciting, but still experimental
As we see in all facets of Web3, the beauty industry is still experimenting with how to most seamlessly use new technology to create lasting impact among its existing and emerging customer base.
“This is a process and it will take time,” said Leya Kaufman, head of brand, publisher and senior vice president of sales at media company Coveteur. “We will need to cultivate and engage audiences in this new arena while simultaneously maintaining our core consumer base,” she said.
Alongside leading Web3 infrastructure provider, MoonPay, Coveteur partnered with hair care company Wella Professionals to launch The Wella Generator, a gamified digital sweepstakes hosted on the Ethereum blockchain.
“It was important for us to create a program that was seamless for existing and new Web3 users,” Kaufman said, adding that the partnership with MoonPay made this vision possible.
Despite growing pains, as digital identity becomes an increasingly important factor in our lives and personalities, it makes sense that people want to feel good about how they look and shop, both on-chain and off, and it looks like blockchain is very on-trend for beauty brands in the future.