How Alleven’s Body Makeup Became A Celebrity Favorite

When Celia Forner, a former model who worked with Dolce & Gabbana, Chanel, Fendi, Carolina Herrera, Versace and Christian Dior, was on shoots in the 1990s, she thought transfer-resistant body makeup that appeared like real skin upon application would be a great find, but it was nowhere. In its place, she resorted to foundation for the face to conceal leg scars she’d had since childhood.

“Back then, the foundation and coverup didn’t look particularly natural. That was the biggest problem. The foundation needed powder on top of it to set it so it didn’t move. It often looked strange anywhere other than your face,” she says. “Also, it could stain your clothes and rub off after a while. Getting any even coverage was practically impossible.”

In 2014, Forner started to perfect a sheer formula for the transfer-resistant body makeup missing behind the scenes on photo shoots, and it became Colour Shield Hydrating Tinted Protection, her nearly 6-year-old beauty brand Alleven’s hero product. Available in seven shades and priced at $80 for a 4.9-oz. size or $48 for a 2.3-oz. size, the matte body makeup spray is touted as an “airbrush perfecter for the body.” Forner grew up in the Spanish port city Valencia and elected for a Spanish manufacturer to produce the product and Spanish suppliers for its ingredients.

Alleven founder and former model Celia Forner

“I wanted to create employment in Europe and give back to the communities that have nurtured me. I also wanted to be close to the source of my business,” says Forner. “We can trace every ingredient to its original source, and that is important to me.”

Alleven calls the can that houses Colour Shield “ozone-friendly” and its formulation vegan. The brand’s packaging consists of aluminum, glass and paper. To support the environment, it donates a portion of its proceeds a few times a year to Oceana, a nonprofit focused on protecting the world’s oceans.

After launching in November 2017, Alleven gained traction when celebrity makeup artist Sir John used Colour Shield on Beyoncé at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in April 2018. It promptly sold out of more than 80% of its original production run, and Sir John became Alleven’s global brand ambassador. Now, he’s chief creative officer at CTZN Cosmetics.

Beyoncé continued to depend on Colour Shield during her 2018 European tour. At the time, Alleven’s sales jumped 50%. Other famous names like Emma Stone, Naomi Watts and Hailey Bieber have turned to Colour Shield for red carpet events.

“You want to really connect with your PR. You want someone or a team that is constantly in contact with you, exchanging ideas and getting creative.”

Forner credits public relations for much of Alleven’s traction. Currently, the brand taps Breza Media for PR. For other indie beauty owners considering investing in PR, Forner advises, “Huge agencies might work with some brands, especially those with money to burn, but younger, smaller brands can get lost. Big agencies can’t always provide that kind of attention because they have too many brands. And, in my experience, they assign the young brands to junior people who often don’t have the experience, desire or nuance to take you to another level.”

She continues, “You want to really connect with your PR. You want someone or a team that is constantly in contact with you, exchanging ideas and getting creative. You also want to look for people who are flexible and forward-thinking, not just set in their ways. You want them to instinctively understand your pathos and be able to layer on clever messaging, not just imitate it.”

Alleven’s sales grew after the pandemic hit despite considerable challenges. In 2020, the brand launched skincare, and with retail locations shut due to coronavirus precautions, pivoted its focus from brick-and-mortar retail to e-commerce for the launch. “There wasn’t anywhere for people to shop and see it. No one was wandering through Neiman’s to try it,” says Forner. “We had to get creative online with social media, especially Instagram and influencers.” Alleven is available at Neiman Marcus and specialty boutiques nationwide.

The skincare had a slow start, but it eventually discovered an audience. Forner says Alleven’s marketing strategy and customers seeking to “filter” their face and décolletage with the Zoom boom fueled skincare sales. She details, “We had to put more energy and money into telling the skincare story ourselves on social media with influencers and makeup artists. We realized to have a serious impact, you have to have a serious budget for ads. We sent products to insiders, and they posted about it or used it on closed sets.”

Alleven’s newest product is Instant, a $35 blendable liquid color treatment for lips, cheeks and eyes. Its hero product is $80 Colour Shield Hydrating Tinted Protection, a sheer, matte body makeup spray with tone-adapting pigments.

Alleven has 18 stockkeeping units, including skincare, makeup brushes, body care and a dry brush. Positioned as a luxury brand, its prices range from $23 for a contour makeup brush to $177 for a face cream/sleeping mask. “Our margin could be much bigger, more in line with most [luxury] companies, but I chose good margins that allowed more people to experience the brand,” says Forner. “This was intentional. The more people we sell to, the bigger the production, the lower the costs and the margins rise.”

Last month, Alleven introduced Instant, a $35 blendable liquid color treatment for lips, cheeks and eyes. Designed to deliver skincare benefits to all skin types along with a touch of color, it comes in five shades. Prior to Instant, Alleven ventured into the face makeup arena with Instant Perfector, a $147 face and body concealer, foundation and treatment that can be paired with Colour Shield to highlight and contour. The brand has a lip-specific treatment and skincare for the eye area in the pipeline.