The beauty industry is crowded. That's a fact, and has been one for years. In 2020 alone, hundreds of new brands have entered the arena, claiming to fill a space in the market that no one has before. While the validity of those claims can (and should) be up for debate, there are some that are easier to believe in. That's at least the case for Item Beauty, the newly-launched clean cosmetics brand capitalizing on its proximity and genuine understanding of Gen-Z, thanks in large part to its co-founder and chief innovation officer, TikTok phenomenon Addison Rae Easterling.
Following on the heels of her first major fashion campaign with American Eagle, as well as the release of Mama Knows Best — a new weekly Spotify podcast she hosts with her mom, Sheri Nicole — word that Easterling was set to launch a beauty brand came in swirls on social media as teases and hashtags began to trickle in this summer. It's a lot for anyone to have on their plate, especially for a 19-year-old, and even more so for one who was living a dramatically different life as an average college freshman just a year ago. But maybe it's that fact, among others, that makes Easterling just the right person to be in this position.
Together with brand innovation incubator Madeby Collective, Item Beauty officially launched on August 11, offering a debut lineup of reimagined essentials that will still have you looking like you, all under $25. It checks all of the Gen-Z boxes — from its clean, vegan formulas and affordable price point to its emphasis on self-expression and retro filter-like branding — without feeling like a room of 30-somethings were trying to figure out exactly what those boxes are.
Sure, Easterling has never been a full-on beauty influencer, but that's kind of the point. The palpable draw of Item Beauty is that it's as low maintenance as you want it to be — and that you don't need to know how to do makeup to use it to its fullest potential.
"My mom was actually a makeup artist when I was little," she tells NYLON over a Zoom call. "She was always in makeup, and I've always been around makeup. Growing up as a competitive dancer, we've kind of always done the lips, and the eyelashes for performances, so it was always something I was comfortable with, and being presented a chance to be a co-founder of Item Beauty just made perfect sense for me."
The brand's initial offerings span today's basics (see: a sheer liquid eyeshadow), each with a fun name, and packaging that's fresh but not over the top. There's Lash Snack ($14), a lengthening mascara that promises not to flake or smudge, formulated with nourishing and conditioning ingredients like castor and glycerin; Lip Quip ($12), a glassy, moisturizing lip oil with a slippy texture and barely-there pink tint; Brow Chow ($14), a dual-ended brow pencil and definer with a unique shaping brush; Lid Glaze ($14), a water-based sheer jelly eyeshadow; Cheek Money ($16) a softening bronzer-contour duo; and Powder Hour ($22), a translucent blurring powder that comes compact in a brush.
Item also puts a big emphasis on clean ingredients (something Easterling admittedly didn't know too much about before working on the brand), certifying each and every product as cruelty-free, vegan, and dermatologist-tested, as well as being formulated without parabens, phthalates, or mineral oil.
Easterling, who worked across the entire launch — from product selection and names to packaging and branding — shared with NYLON that the pared back selection is a reflection of her own beauty evolution throughout the last couple of years.
"My relationship with makeup has [gone] from using it to cover up and really put tons on, to now, I just use it to enhance my natural features, and just express myself as well using colors and looks to really just communicate my ideas," she says, noting that as her popularity has grown, her ideas around self-expression and self-love have too.
"I think confidence is something that definitely comes from within and it's something you really have to understand for yourself and realize not everyones going to love you, but you just really have to be authentically you," she says. "The only way you're ever going to be completely satisfied and happy is really by expressing who you are, and I think that's what Item stands completely for."
You can check out (and shop) the products before they presumably sell out at itembeauty.com.