U.K. Brand Contour Cosmetics Makes A Play To Sculpt American Faces

Contour Cosmetics, the brand that popularized the sculpting makeup technique tied to Kim Kardashian in the United Kingdom, has arrived in the United States.

This month, 500,000 Contour Cosmetics units are being deposited in the hands of American beauty consumers via Ipsy’s glam bags. The brand’s Ipsy rollout follows its recent premiere on QVC’s beauty channel Beauty iQ and entrance into Riley Rose.

“The U.S. market is different [than] the U.K. market in terms of the size. It’s such a bigger market and scary when you’re looking at investing money in so much stock in very high volumes, but I know the U.S. market is perfect for us and, as long as we carefully plan each move, I think our journey into the U.S. market will continue to be a success,” says Charlotte Miskell, who launched Contour Cosmetics in March 2015. She forecasts the U.S. will account for 30% of the brand’s sales in 2018.

Contour cosmetics

Back in its home country, Contour Cosmetics is available at retailers and e-tailers the likes of Lookfantastic, Missguided, Prettylittlething, Very, Littlewoods and Sally Beauty, where it’s spread to 265 stores. Miskell details the brand’s big push over the next year will be to build visibility globally in several markets, including the U.S., United Arab Emirates, Australia and Europe.

“I haven’t really gone out with a strategy apart from, ‘Let’s create really cool products,’ then retailers have come to us,” says Miskell. “I feel my role is to be forward-thinking, innovative and creative to ensure I am creating on-trend, beautiful and high-quality products for my followers. If I do this part right, the retailers all follow soon after, and that’s been my plan all along.”

Speaking of cool products, Miskell developed Contour Cosmetics’ bestselling Multi-Use Contouring Set, which is priced at nearly $50 on QVC, after she noticed a gap in the U.K. cosmetics segment for contouring products. Instead of going the powder route with the contour palette, she chose to bring contouring to British beauty shoppers with cream formulas.

“I bought powders and, for me, they didn’t sit very well on my skin. I found them quite heavy…and I didn’t get the payoff that I wanted,” Miskell told the Beauty iQ audience, elaborating, “Because it’s a cream, it means you can mix the colors together. You can make it lighter and darker.”

Contour Cosmetics’ assortment has stretched from the original contour product to around 20 stockkeeping units, notably the popular Spotlight Illuminating Highlighter Palette and Juju Lip Contour Kit. The brand is expected to soon release two eyeshadow palettes, two lip kit shades, four highlighters and makeup brushes.

Before Contour Cosmetics entered retail, its sales soared into the seven figures online during its initial year in operation. Social media and influencers in particular helped fuel purchases. “Good content creates sales,” says Miskell. “It’s so important to have content relevant to your audience, so they can see the product working. We don’t have our own store, so our website and social media is our salesperson.”

Today, Contour Cosmetics is coping with a shifting social media landscape. “Instagram was amazing a few years ago. Now, I think it’s had its day since Facebook bought it,” says Miskell. “The reach for everyone is now low and, very frustratingly for brands and influencers, they are losing engagement due to Instagram wanting companies to buy adverts and spend [marketing] budget[s] with them. It’s a real shame. I hope a new platform emerges soon.”

Miskell is confident that the one thing that won’t change is consumer interest in contouring. “Contouring is so well-known and used so widely, it’s now part of a large percentage of women’s makeup routine in the same way drawing on your eyebrows or applying lashes is. I don’t think it will leave,” she says, adding, “I think we are just more educated now on techniques and products because of the accessibility to information and content. Through social media, YouTube, etc., it’s easier than ever to master your own makeup.”