"If you haven't seen Amy Schumer's music video 'Girl, You Don't Need Makeup,' I urge you to do so the second you leave here," said Allure Editor-in-Chief Linda Wells to the crowd of beauty executives, founders and influencers at the magazine's "Best of Beauty" Awards Reception on Monday night. The 19th annual ceremony (and Allure's largest event of the year) honored 260 products after 12 weeks of testing by its editors. In her short speech, Wells highlighted the influence of millennials on the beauty industry — name-dropping One Direction and Drake in addition to Schumer — and their desire for authenticity from the brands they buy.
"In Schumer's song, the message isn't that old harangue about beauty being the enemy — it's much more complicated and much richer than that," she said, adding that she wants each woman to discover her own personal best of beauty. "Oh, and if you want to know where Amy's ended up on the whole makeup or no makeup milieu," said Wells, "she won an Emmy last night. And when she did, she thanked, among others, 'the girl who gave me this smoky eye.'"
Wells has seen the beauty industry change rapidly since she founded Allure for Condé Nast in 1991. When we caught up with her after the speech, she noted that the biggest change she's seen is a reversal of who dictates trends: In years past, it was the industry that determined trends and colors, but now it's users who control the conversation. "People are becoming their own experts and they are driving different businesses, like the contour business," she said. "To anyone in the industry I think that came out of left field, but it was really — I don't want to say the Kardashians — but the Kardashians and all of their followers who made that into a phenomenon." She cited lip pencils as other example. Speaking of the reality stars, the Kardashian Beauty 3-in-1 Hairstyling Iron was Allure's best flatiron this year, marking the first time any of the sisters' branded products have been recognized.
Another first-time winner was the Temptu Air, a portable professional airbrushing device that was just released one week ago. "Our sales have been off the charts today," said Chief Creative Officer and Co-Owner Samantha Mandor, who found out that the product had won when Wells announced some of the "Breakthrough" category winners — recognized for inventive technology — Monday morning on "The Today Show." Mandor says the company will be printing the Allure winning seal on its products as soon as possible. "We truly believe and know that what we're doing is revolutionary, so to get that validation from Allure is major," she said.
Troy Surratt knows just how powerful that validation can be, too. His Relevée lash curler won last year, and he still has trouble keeping pace with the demand. "I sort of joke that I make other things besides an eyelash curler, because the response... to Surratt beauty has been increasingly overwhelming." Recognition in a different category this year should help with that — his Diaphane loose powder is one of the 2015 winners.
Allure Executive Editor Kristin Perrotta said that even though keeping up with innovations in the industry — from injectables to the commodification of blow-dry bars — has been a priority, the magazine still recognizes products that have been around for a long time, like Essie's Russian Roulette nail polish. "All of a sudden it felt like the perfect red for this moment," she said.
So how does the magazine navigate judging brands that it depends upon for advertising? "We go into it knowing that people are going to hate us," said Perrotta. "I was the beauty director at Allure for many years and it was very tough — [there were] many phone calls from advertisers who were annoyed that they hadn't won an award." She said the influence of the awards is dependent on objectivity. "At the end of the day, I think Allure's biggest strength is that... people know we are not BS-ing them," said Perrotta. "We are real women with real beauty problems and we are trying to solve them. We are going to tell you if a product is great and we are going to tell you if it's not great."
See all of Allure's 2015 "Best of Beauty" winners here, and watch a behind-the-scenes video the magazine produced to celebrate the occasion below.