The Jefa Behind The Beauty Blender Empire Had To Watch People Rip Off Her Approach To Make Up Before Starting A Business
Beauty Blenders. If you check your makeup bag right now, you probably have one in there. The same thing goes for your favorite beauty bloggers. They are more than likely using this product in their videos right now. There’s a reason for this. This tool was the one that revolutionized the beauty game and it was created by a Latina entrepreneur.
The original Beauty Blender was created by makeup artist Rea Ann Silva, a Latina with more than 20 years in the makeup and beauty game. She channeled her expertise to create a product that is now used by makeup artists, beauty bloggers, celebrities and average consumers around the world.
Her invention has inspired numerous copycats and earned even more awards for its innovation and creativity.
While the Beauty Blender has sold multi-millions since it was first dreamed up back in 2007, a lot went into first creating the tool.
As a makeup artist, Silva started her career on the set of music videos for Tupac, Dr Dre, Brandi and Eve. Soon, Silva moved up to movies — doing makeup for films like “Set It Off” and “Friday.” It was on these sets that she learned to work with different skin tones and textures. The Mexican-American became especially good at working with darker skin, something that most makeup artists at the time were not specializing in.
It was this expertise that led her to a role as makeup artist for the UPN series “Girlfriends.” Working with the actresses on the series was challenging because of how television had evolved. TV was now being shot in High-Definition, a format that showed every detail of the actors’ faces — especially the ones they wanted to hide the most.
“On ‘Girlfriends’ I had a unique challenge,” Silva explained to INSIDER, “Suddenly, in HD, you were able to see every pore. You were able to see every bump. You saw everything on the skin as opposed to film where you blast a lot of light and you wear 5,000 pounds of makeup.”
Airbrushing the actresses with makeup was the best option the crew had to combat this HD issue. However, it wasn’t viable when it came to productivity and practicality.
“It was a very challenging thing to do,” says Silva, “because you have to pull your actors off the set. Pretty soon it’s a whole production wrangling thing. I would airbrush everyone in the morning, but by the end of the day, the makeup looked heavy.”
There had to be a better option and Silva was determined to find it.
In order to solve this issue and still get flawless coverage, Silva drew from her background with special effects.
In the course of her makeup career, the Latina had taken a special effects makeup class to enhance her technique. During one of these classes, the instructor explained that cutting sponges can be done in order to give the right shape for the exact job. This was the moment that Silva was struck with inspiration.
“I was totally enraptured and I thought, oh my God, this could be it,” she explained to ALLURE.
After experimenting with different shapes and materials, Silva settled on the one that we recognize as the classic Beauty Blender shape. Impressively the formula hasn’t changed since. The special hydrophilic sponge is designed to absorb water. Back in 2007, this was an unusual trait for makeup sponges. The understanding at that time was that this would waste product; soaking it up into a porous sponge. So, sponges were designed to repel water instead.
However, Silva discovered that if the sponge was wet before applying makeup, water would fill those pores and product would apply smooth. She began by cutting the edges off of traditional triangle sponges to get a more rounded tool. This shape offered beautiful coverage for Silva. Originally created to apply liquid concealer, the makeup artist found that it worked wonders with powder as well. Additionally, it can be used to touch up makeup throughout the day.
These newly created sponges would be tested first hand by the lead actresses of “Girlfriends” but the true proof of their success came from somewhere else.
Silva and the other members of the “Girlfriends” makeup team had to make new blenders every day. Part of the demand came from their actual use on set but it also originated with frequent theft of the blenders.
“It was like they sprouted legs and walked away off of the set and I realized people were stealing them,” Silva explained to INSIDER. “When I realized people were stealing them, I was like, I have an opportunity here.”
Seeing the demand, Silva came up with a business plan. From here, she developed the sponge for commercial sales, branding it the Beauty Blender and manufacturing it in the lovely pink shade that has now become so recognizable. Since the sponge went to market back in 2009, the Beauty Blender has sold 50 million units worldwide.
The Beauty Blender has really has become a cultural icon beloved by those who use it.
What started as a bit of problem-solving has turned into a multi-million dollar endeavor. Since the inception of the Beauty Blender, Silva’s company Rea.deeming Beauty Inc, has branched out. She now offers her own line of makeup, setting sprays, different types of blenders and cleaners. No doubt more innovation is in store for this little sponge in the near future.
The story of Rea Ann Silva and her invention is one of ingenuity and creativity. Is there any wonder that such a nifty little invention came from a Latina? As always, seeing a boss entrepreneur who is solution oriented in her passion inspires us to pursue our own dreams.