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May 2021 Beauty Collabs: 4 Influencer Collaborations that Work & Why

May 28, 2021

Welcome back to our monthly series where we investigate which beauty brands are making waves with their influencer collaborations! 

This month, we wanted to broaden our definition of influencer collaborations and look beyond just “traditional” paid engagements. Below we highlight a few brands that are doing a great job of investing in deep influencer relationships. The result? Complex engagements that are a mixture of organic, paid and long-term plays. 

As usual, we used a pool of 42,022 influencers across the US and Europe to source data from for our analysis.

Make Up For Ever

Best influencer collab: Katy Degroot (@katy)

  • High engagement 
  • Quality content

What makes it work?

  • Content trend hacking. Consumers love a good tutorial. In fact in our recent State of Influence: Beauty report, data showed that beauty routine content increased by 39% and engagements with those posts increased by 265% across all platforms (comparing 2020 to 2019). What made the Katy x Make Up For Ever collab work so well was that the content trend was well suited for the brand’s products. Katy posted a 5 part instagram story detailing Make Up For Ever’s 9 different primers - she describes the different use cases for each primer, discusses which ones she likes best, and then demonstrates where to use each one and why. The result is super rich content that promotes Make Up For Ever’s products without being too salesy.
  • Distinct call to action. Instagram Stories have always been a bit of a conundrum for marketers. While it can be a more casual (and cheaper) way to reach an influencer’s audience, understanding the ROI can be difficult. However, this challenge is minimized with influencers like Katy who have a big enough following to activate the swipe up function. In this collab, not only did Katy deliver rich content but she was able to provide a distinct action for her audiences to take. 

Aurelia Skincare

Best influencer collab: Lisa Potter Dixon (@lisapotterdixon)

  • Quality content
  • Frequent posting

What makes it work?

  • Educational. Lisa Potter Dixon is undoubtedly a beauty expert - not only is she a makeup artist, she has written 3 bestselling books about beauty techniques. She brings this expertise to her content about Aurelia Skincare, often using her Instagram Stories to create content that is extremely educational while also feeling intimate. A few of her top Instagram Stories for Aurelia this year included: deep dives on product ingredients and what they do, and a “show and tell” where she films herself using her favorite products while detailing why she likes them.
  • Affiliate partnership. Lisa and Aurelia have found a great combo in their partnership - educational content, followed up by a special offer. Lisa is an Aurelia affiliate so she follows some of her educational Instagram Stories with a code, and a swipe up call to action. This not only offers her followers an exclusive deal, but also gives her extra incentive to consistently talk about the products. In fact in 2021, Lisa has already posted about Aurelia Skincare 23+ times on her Instagram stories!

NARS

Best influencer collab: Gary Thompson (@theplasticboy)

  • Quality content
  • Frequent posting
  • Deep relationship

What makes it work?

  • Brand affinity. Hard to tell exactly where the relationship started, but however it started, it’s going really well. Gary has mentioned NARS a lot during 2021, in fact our data shows he has mentioned them at least 98 times across platforms this year. The type of content ranges - sometimes Gary will just casually use NARS during a vlog alongside other brands’ products, other times he’ll produce a full-blown YouTube video with NARS products as a key focus. What keeps NARS top of mind for Gary? Brand affinity. In March, one of Gary’s followers asked what brands he recommends for males with his skin tone - NARS was one of two brands he recommended because of their wide range of foundation and concealer shades for deeper skin tones and the “unisex packaging”. Gary and NARS not only share the common value of inclusivity, but NARS shows real commitment to that value through the products it creates.
  • Reciprocal relationship. It seems that Gary has been on NARS’ gifting PR list for a while, but now they’re taking the relationship to the next level. This month, NARS invited Gary and a few other influencers to lunch to celebrate the launch of a new tinted moisturizer. It’s likely that NARS took note of the fact that Gary gives them a lot of organic brand love, and is looking to deepen the relationship even further. Treating your influencers (and their audiences) like VIPs always pays off!

Caudalie

Best influencer collab: Stephanie Valentine (@glamzilla)

  • High engagement 
  • Quality content
  • Deep relationship 

What makes it work?

  • Transformational review. One of the top pieces of standalone content this year from Caudalie and Stephanie’s partnership is this TikTok review. What makes it work so well is that it’s not just a review, it’s a visual transformation. The video show’s Stephanie’s skin “transformation” over a 30 day period using Caudalie’s Vinoperfect product line. Stephanie’s followers not only get to see the results the product can produce for themselves, they get to see her real excitement about the product. 
  • Live events. On May 18th, Mathilde Thomas, Caudalie cofounder hosted a live event along with Stephanie and Sephora to discuss Caudalie’s best selling products and brand journey. We’re seeing a lot more brands move influencer partnerships off of social media and into more formal formats (like webinars). This strategy not only allows the content to be more longform/complex, but can help create a sense of exclusivity when appropriate (only folks who sign up for the event get full access to the content).
  • Cross platform content. Remember that successful TikTok video that Stephanie made about the Vinoperfect Radiance Serum? Not only was it also re-posted to Caudalie’s TikTok profile as UGC (user generated content), Stephanie also used it to promote the live event on her Instagram. Talk about bang for your buck.
  • Deep and creative relationship. Caudalie has done several things with Stephanie in 2021 - both paid and organic - which is one of the things that has made their work together so potent. Working with such a prominent influencer in such creative ways also helped catch the media’s eye, as evidenced by the feature they received in this Elle USA piece about TikTok’s influence on beauty buying habits. 

Like this breakdown? Stay tuned for next month’s - or subscribe to our Beauty Leaderboard newsletter, which delivers you exclusive data-backed trend spotting, in-depth analyses of collaborations and global beauty brand rankings.

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