- The Beautyblender is a famous egg-shaped makeup-blending tool used by millions.
- It was founded by the Latina makeup artist turned businesswoman Rea Ann Silva.
- Silva created the tool to help women of color pop on camera while working on the set of "Girlfriends."
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Following is a transcript of the video.
Narrator: This is the Beautyblender. It may look like a tiny, cute little sponge, but it has revolutionized the beauty industry. It all started with Rea Ann Silva, a Latina makeup-artist-turned-businesswoman. The popularity of the Beautyblender cannot be overstated. It sold 9 million the past year and over 50 million since 2009. The famous egg has been used by celebrities like Kim Kardashian West, Heidi Klum, and more.
But to see where the game-changing tool began, let's take a trip back to the early 2000s on the set of the TV show "Girlfriends."
Rea Ann Silva: So, on "Girlfriends," I had a unique challenge. It was the first show shot in high-def, and, 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, you know, you wear 5,000 pounds of makeup. Somewhere along the line, in the development of HD, they figured out that airbrushing was the most natural way to accomplish corrective makeup.
Narrator: Airbrushing is a popular special-effects technique in Hollywood where artists use an airbrush to blow paint onto the faces of actors and actresses. But because of the size of the compressors, airbrushing wasn't super practical on set.
Silva: It's a very challenging thing to do because you have to pull your actors off the set. When you have four lead actors, one disappears, then the other one disappears, then the other one, it's like, well, she left, I'm leaving, they all leave, and then, pretty soon, it's, like, a whole production-wrangling thing.
Narrator: But Silva couldn't go back to using traditional brushes to blend foundations and blushes, so Silva needed a tool that could give talent, like the burgeoning fashion icon Tracee Ellis Ross, that same airbrushed look without lugging the compressor to set. She started by taking standard triangular wedges and cutting the edges off to give them a round shape. The result was the earliest version of the Beautyblender. Because of their popularity on set, Silva and her team had to make them every day, and you could say they got a little too popular.
Silva: It was like they sprouted legs and walked away off of set, and I realized people were stealing them. And when I realized people were stealing with them, I was like, I have an opportunity here.
Narrator: The Beautyblender skyrocketed in popularity and, of course, that led to some copycat products.
Silva: Clearly, I created a very successful business with Beautyblender, and, of course, people will want to jump on the bandwagon, and I think, you know, the way I approach it or the way I metabolize it is just, like, if I wasn't successful, nobody would care, so I must have done something right.
Narrator: After Beautyblender, Silva launched Bounce, a set of 40 shades of foundation in an effort to emphasize diversity in the industry. She started her career working on music videos, doing makeup for artists like Tupac, Dr. Dre, Brandi, and Eve, and later transitioned to movies and TV, working on the sets of "Friday" and "Set it Off," so she's no stranger to working with diverse casts. Actors and actresses of color have expressed that makeup and hair departments employ artists who have no idea how to work with different hair textures and skin colors, so it's no small thing that the Beautyblender was created to make woman of color pop on camera
Silva: I am Mexican, Portuguese, Spanish, and Irish. My children are black. My career has been centered around women of color, and I became known in Hollywood, and really around the world, as one of the first makeup artists that really understood ethnic skins, learned how to really match those skins, be creative in ways to create the colors that just didn't exist. I've been in the union for over 20 years, so there weren't people that really specialized in those areas, whether it's hair, whether it's makeup, and I'm happy to say that I think there's a little more diversity happening now, so it's good, yeah.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This video was originally published in July 2019.