Beauty Trends: Lash Franchises Benefit From ‘Eyelash Effect’
Emily Raburn, a multi-unit Amazing Lash Studio franchisee in Texas, has seen a 46 percent spike in year-over-year client leads since COVID-19 began.
With pandemic mask mandates, beauty trends are shifting as lipstick sales are dropping (no one wants smudges in their masks). Meanwhile, mascara and eyelash-enhancing service sales are growing. The beauty industry is widely referring to this as the “mascara effect” or the “eyelash effect.”
“There’s a new phrase with mask requirements, ‘smize,’ which means smiling eyes, and it is certainly impacting our business,” said Heather Elrod, CEO of Amazing Lash Studio. “It’s worth noting that when wearing masks, our eyes are an even more powerful form of personal expression than before. Our focus has always been on owning the eyes, and our commitment to that has not wavered.”
With more than 250 franchise locations, Amazing Lash Studio was founded in 2010 and began franchising in 2013. The brand was acquired in 2018 by WellBiz Brands, the parent company of brands such as Elements Massage and Fitness Together.
According to market research from NPD Group, lip product sales dropped 5 percent in May, while mascara sales jumped 11 percent and eyebrow products grew 5 percent. The pandemic accelerated an already-existing trend, Elrod said, as the brand was experiencing double-digit sales growth pre-COVID.
“Kylie Jenner launched a cosmetic line and didn’t include mascara, which is telling,” Elrod added. “There is more demand for our services. Amazing Lash Studios created this category of offering semi-permanent eyelash extensions and made it accessible and affordable. Plus we’re three times the size of our nearest competitor.”
False or semi-permanent lashes appear to be pushing mascara out of favor, Business of Fashion reported. Other celebrity brands such as Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty and Kim Kardashian West’s KKW Beauty don’t carry mascara either, partly due to the rise in popularity of eyelash-related services. Mascara is also costly and time-consuming to develop and produce; brand Glossier launched its mascara after nearly 250 formulation attempts.
“The impact of long lashes has an anti-aging effect, and the average age in our studios is 39,” Elrod said. “We’re seeing growth predominantly in women over 40, but it’s also a lifestyle. With semi-permanent eyelash extensions, you don’t need mascara.”
Case in point: Emily Raburn, a multi-unit Amazing Lash Studio franchisee in Lubbock and Amarillo, Texas, has seen a 46 percent spike in year-over-year client leads since COVID-19 began. She echoed Elrod’s sentiments.
“I think the mask mandate has been a key to our growth. Eye cosmetics will continue to trend upward,” Raburn said. “People are using their eyes as a canvas, and pretty lash extensions, or a lash lift or tint can make their eyes beautiful through those things. When they have that mask on, that’s all you’re going to see. It makes them feel beautiful and helps them express feelings through it.”
Though Raburn doesn’t see mask mandates going away soon, she believes the growth she’s experienced shows how willing consumers are to receive high-touch services, despite the inability to social distance. This willingness also speaks to the safety protocols the brand has put in place to help customers feel comfortable.
“In these times, anything we can do to make ourselves feel better, people are doing it and it’s worth it,” Raburn added. “It makes life easier. You get up and your eyelashes are done every day. You don’t have to have a full face of makeup on and you wake up ready to conquer the day.”