How Too Faced Created One of the Most Popular Mascaras of All Time
The trick to making a mascara popular? According to Too Faced, it's got to be better than sex. One of the brand's lash-lengthening mascaras sells every seven seconds; over 2.5 million have been purchased.
Founded by Jerrod Blandino and Jeremy Johnson in 1998, Too Faced is known for its bright and playful packaging and effective formulas. It's been massively successful: On Instagram alone, Too Faced has over 10 million followers, while its acquisition for 1.45 billion by Estée Lauder was the largest in the company's history. We chatted with Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer Jerrod Blandino about how he got started in beauty, how those famous chocolate eyeshadow palettes came into existence, and much more.
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How did you land in the beauty sphere?
At the time, I was teaching art to kids and ended up going with some girlfriends who were looking for a job to an Estée Lauder recruitment event. I wasn’t even looking for a new job, so I sat in the lobby where all the executives were while my girlfriends networked, and they offered me a job working behind the counter. I went on to become Estée Lauder’s best salesperson in the region while working at their smallest store.
Tell us about how Too Faced began.
The name was inspired by my regular clients who would come visit me at the counter. I called them "too faced” because these women would lose their shit if we happened to be out of their favorite shade of lipstick or their must-have mascara. It took so much effort to be that vain—and they were my favorite customers because they were the most fun.
What was the first product that was created, and why did you start with this?
Too Faced created the world’s very first glitter eyeshadow. While working on our original collection in 1998, I brought in a vintage 1970s black shirt with silver metallic thread going through it that I had bought at a store called Aaardvarks on Melrose. It was my favorite shirt, and I’d always wear it to this club in Hollywood that only played '70s music and always had these huge, glamorous stars there like Madonna and Whitney Houston. I set out to make a shadow that looked like this shirt. When I asked the lab tech to put glitter in the matte black shadow, they told me it couldn’t be done. She spoke about binders and ingredients and I pushed her and told her to add more binder—and it worked! Voila, the first glitter eyeshadow was born!
What’s the best-selling product?
Our best-selling product ever is our iconic Better Than Sex Mascara. Besides being the number one-selling mascara in the U.S. and several other countries (one of these are sold every 7.4 seconds), it’s my favorite product. I really believe the perfect lashes can inspire a woman to take on the world!
What was the moment when you knew the brand had made it?
Our first magazine feature in Vogue was a moment I was like, “Okay, it’s happening!” But to be honest, I never truly let the feeling of success sink in because I’m always looking for the next hurdle or challenge that will keep me going and push me to create more.
Too Faced is known for the chocolate and peach-scented lines. What gave you the idea for these Insta-famous products?
I get my inspiration from everything around me. Even the smallest detail can ignite a new idea for a product or an entire collection. The chocolate idea was born when Jeremy and I were on a trip in Hawaii. I got a chocolate facial and learned about all the skin benefits that came from cocoa powder and knew I had to figure out a way to infuse that into our products.
For our sweet peach line, I was inspired by the scratch-and-sniff stickers I used to love as a kid. I’m fascinated with scents because I think they are the closest things to music that connect people with emotions and feelings. Too Faced is such an emotional brand, so it made sense to take the next step toward something that would elevate the experience of our makeup. Now, to me peach has become so much more than a color, it’s full of heart and attitude. Heart is what makes Too Faced so unique.
Your Instagram fans are ultra-devoted. How has the social media platform helped grow your brand?
Our fans are amazing and their feedback and love of our products on social has helped us refine and grow our brand so much! It’s been the most amazing relationship. I get to communicate directly and instantaneously and learn what they think, what they want, and what they don’t want. It has absolutely taken the creative process to a whole new level.
What should we expect next from Too Faced?
We are focusing a lot of our attention internationally and bringing our unique pink perspective to women and men all over the world. I’ve collaborated with one of my dear friends and superstar beauty influencer Jackie Aina to expand our best-selling Born This Way Foundation shade range and create new deeper shades. I love collaborating. It’s one of my favorite things to do. Sharing artistic vision, talent, and heart with someone else always results in something more extraordinary than you could do on your own.