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Michelle Phan Readies Em Cosmetics for a Comeback

The OG social-media guru isn't ceding the branded beauty business to the influencers following in her footsteps.

There is life after L’Oréal.

Michelle Phan, the pioneering social-media guru, is bringing back Em Cosmetics, the makeup brand she originally introduced in 2013 with the French conglomerate and that was acquired in 2015 by Ipsy, the influencer-fueled beauty subscription service she cofounded. During a Facebook Live session with Ipsy last month, Phan offered a glimpse at the resurrected Em Cosmetics, revealing it will feature “really great formulations,” retooled packaging and a new philosophy.

“The foundation of Em will be built on a really strong philosophy [of] what beauty is and the science behind beauty, too,” she said. On Instagram feeds for Phan and Em Cosmetics, and the brand’s web site, a refurbished brand logo has appeared that looks like a hexagon or a cube with lines dissecting it.

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There’s no word yet on the pricing of the updated Em Cosmetics products, their exact launch date or where they will be available for purchase, although presumably digital sales will be important. What’s known is that the unveiling is set for this year, and it could be sooner rather than later. If lessons are to be learned from the past, Em Cosmetics may take a turn toward the affordable end of the beauty spectrum. In the brand’s first iteration with L’Oréal, its product assortment reached some 315 stockkeeping units priced on average at $23. At the time of Em Cosmetics’ separation from the French beauty giant, industry observers speculated the brand underperformed expectations because its items were too expensive for Phan’s followers.

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Phan is returning to the branded beauty business with far more competition from fellow influencers who have started or are planning to start their own lines than she had a few short years ago. Jaclyn Hill has a brand in the works; Zoe Sugg, aka Zoella, spearheads Zoella Beauty; Barefoot Blonde’s Amber Fillerup Clark has released hair extensions; the sister act Pixiwoo is successful with Real Techniques makeup brushes, and Kathleen Fuentes, better known as KathleenLights, has rolled out nail polishes, just to name a handful of those umping from making content to making products. Phan, who nurtures social-media upstarts through Ipsy’s Open Studios, a production space and education platform, anticipates the flood of influencers diving into consumer products will continue to grow — and she doesn’t seem afraid to enter the fray.

On Facebook Live, Phan predicted influencers are going to be increasingly creating niche brands. She elaborated those brands will be “hyper-specialized in whatever field, whatever lane that they want to specialize in. So, maybe like someone who is really good with lashes…they develop their own fake lashes for Asian eyelids or Middle Eastern eyelids because all eyelid shapes are different.”