It is fair to say that the beauty biz is kind of a big deal—modest estimates place the global industry at $532 billion. However, the power brokers of the industry aren’t just the multi-national conglomerates—it is the everyday beauty enthusiasts who keep the wheels spinning. You’ll find them hunched over sinks and vanity shelves, constantly scouting out newer ways to get things done and fresher ways to express themselves. And it comes as little surprise that some of the biggest innovations of the past two decades weren’t born in sterile labs, but in the hands of these enthusiasts. From the hand-cut sponges that were rechristened as foundation blenders to the magnetic lashes developed in the shower, here’s your ringside to how some of the most successful beauty innovations happened.
It would be impossible today to peek into a makeup artist’s kit without catching a teardrop-shaped sponge (or three) stashed within. Makeup artist Rea Ann Silva holds credit for the cult-like success of the Beauty Blender, an elliptical tool that she created by cutting off chunks from conventional sponges by hand to achieve the optimal shape for blending foundation.