Are Female Athletes Finally Poised to Become Beauty’s Superstars?

Chicago Sky ahead Isabelle Harrison remembers the exact second she felt most missed by the wonder trade as a feminine athlete. 

It got here throughout the fall of 2021 — simply earlier than Harrison’s fifth WNBA season — when Colourpop launched a group of themed eye shadow palettes paying homage to six NBA groups, together with the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. 

“It was one of many first occasions I actually felt irritated by a magnificence model,” mentioned Harrison, who had inked her first magnificence cope with Neutrogena not lengthy earlier than then, and would go on to turn out to be a Glossier ambassador two years later. “To base the gathering on NBA groups understanding there’s a whole girls’s league, and also you’re catering to a predominantly feminine viewers — it felt like a missed alternative on their half.”

Though it was clear to Harrison how an NBA partnership — one which marked the league’s first magnificence foray at that — may rapidly show profitable for any model, magnificence’s prevailing unwillingness to play an extended recreation, so to communicate, in betting on feminine athletes, felt disconcerting.

That establishment has steadily been altering, although, as manufacturers throughout hair care, make-up and skincare more and more faucet into the skilled and collegiate feminine athlete swimming pools as a way to additional their attain, illustration and — importantly — storytelling. 

The WNBA, which reported a 21 % improve in viewership in 2023 versus the 2022 season, has confirmed a key avenue, whereas different buzzy sports activities like tennis and Formula 4 are additionally rising as ripe for the wonder therapy — to which manufacturers like La-Roche Posay and Anastasia Beverly Hills can attest. 

“We’re turning this nook the place athletes are rising because the ‘tremendous girls’ of endorsers,” mentioned Rheann Engelke, director of athletic advertising and marketing at expertise company Range Sports. 

“They’re dynamic within the sense that their make-up has to endure excessive circumstances; they’re as beautiful and influential as these straight make-up influencers we’re seeing, and so they contact that world of movie star — they’re like this one-stop energy store as ambassadors.”

Chicago Sky ahead Isabelle Harrison for Glossier.

courtesy of Glossier

Added Leslie Hall, founding father of Iced Media: “Lots of your typical magnificence creators have gotten fairly saturated when it comes to the variety of manufacturers they’re selling — it may be useful to look outdoors of that core magnificence creator group that feels prefer it’s working with a unique product each week.”  

Because feminine athletes are nonetheless comparatively nascent companions to the world of magnificence, manufacturers seem to be clamoring to inaugurate as many “firsts” as potential of their realm.

In 2020, Glossier’s multiyear sign-on because the WNBA’s first official magnificence accomplice set the stage for a flurry of magnificence offers to come for the game. Tracee Ellis Ross’ Pattern Beauty signed with the Washington Mystics in 2022; Mielle Organics joined because the league’s first official textured hair care accomplice in 2023, and Nyx Professional Makeup introduced its partnership with New York Liberty throughout the Brooklyn-based crew’s energetic 2023 championship run — one of many few shiny spots of an total lackluster 12 months for New York sports activities.

Nyx Professional Makeup signed on as a sponsor of New York Liberty throughout the Brooklyn-based crew’s current record-breaking championship run.

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned Sephora will kick off the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic video games as an official sponsor of the Olympic Torch Relay — one part of the French conglomerate’s broader inaugural sponsorship of the video games — whereas Procter & Gamble is ready to proceed its longtime sponsorship of the Olympics in Paris with a sequence of yet-to-be-revealed activations.

Brands are additionally paying consideration to the high-revenue world of faculty athletics following current coverage adjustments permitting pupil athletes to monetize their model by means of identify, picture and likeness (NIL) offers. 

One school sports activities star particularly — Louisiana State University ahead Angel Reese — rapidly climbed onto manufacturers’ radars throughout the lead-up to her crew’s historic basketball title win final April. Reese’s expertise and charisma have thus far garnered her greater than 2.6 million TikTook followers, and offers with manufacturers like Reebok, Tampax and Mielle, the latter of which signed a one-year partnership together with her final May. 

“She was positively a bull’s-eye goal for our Gen Z viewers, however we additionally noticed she was resonating with Millennials — she introduced a degree of fanfare and a spotlight to the game that simply hadn’t been seen earlier than,” mentioned Mielle president Omar Goff. 

Data from CreatorIQ signifies that throughout the first six months of her Mielle ambassadorship, Reese garnered $296,500 in earned media worth for the model throughout 17 posts, making her Mielle’s eighth-biggest EMV driver throughout the interval. 

Most of this EMV got here from Reese’s TikTook web page, which noticed a lot of “Get Ready With Me” movies that includes Mielle merchandise, promotion of a limited-edition bundle of her favourite merchandise by the model, and a business through which she appeared alongside Mielle cofounder and chief government officer Monique Rodriguez, which additionally aired on Hulu and different streaming platforms.

Though Reese’s present contract with the model ends in May, Goff mentioned that “for so long as she’s prepared and Mielle is prepared, I’d love to see, 5 to 10 years down the road, throughout her profession within the WNBA — we stay companions.” 

LSU girls’s basketball ahead Angel Reese is a face of Mielle Organics by means of May 2024.


Mielle can also be investing in different sports activities on school campuses, having not too long ago teamed up with the Howard swim crew and Florida A&M University’s cheer crew, with different potential partnerships of the like on the horizon. 

“This shouldn’t be a short-term recreation for us; specializing in girls’s sports activities and shining a light-weight on these which have historically been ignored by magnificence manufacturers goes to be a core technique we spend money on for years to come,” mentioned Goff, including that it’s “laborious to attribute which sport is driving the enterprise extra; I believe it’s our unwavering dedication to the technique, our displaying up authentically and never simply displaying up for a second — however truly making it a motion.”

La Roche-Posay, too, is doubling down on its efforts with an eye fixed on longevity. 

In 2022 the model grew to become the primary solar care accomplice of the U.S. Open, and when it reignited the partnership in 2023 it added one other dimension — particular person partnerships with gamers Madison Keys and Frances Tiafoe lasting by means of 2024.

The partnerships marked the model’s first long-term ambassadors who aren’t dermatologists, mentioned Guillaume Monsel, vp and head of selling and digital, and contain three key components. 

The first includes public appearances at PR occasions or school campuses to information discussions about solar security alongside the model’s dermatologists; the second, repping the model and its merchandise at sporting occasions just like the U.S. Open, and the third, a minimal required variety of social media posts annually — which Keys, a longtime fan of the model, has already exceeded by her personal accord.  

“Both athletes are change-makers for us, however Madison, when it comes to engagement and group constructing — she’s large. She’s simply posted about us two to thrice greater than what’s required within the contract,” mentioned Monsel, including that La Roche-Posay has a 65 % feminine viewers and is conducting analysis to assess — and hopefully, play a lead position in boosting — sunscreen adoption ranges amongst male customers, partly by means of partnerships like that with Tiafoe.

“Frances has been clear about not essentially carrying sunscreen every single day,” mentioned Monsel, including that Tiafoe’s content material has consequently targeted on altering his ordinary SPF conduct, whereas Keys’ strategy has been about selling her core habits. 

In a bid to set up its dominance within the outside sports activities area, La Roche-Posay signed on final November because the official sponsor of the National Pickleball Tournament and has begun backing a lot of small golf tournaments. In whole, the model sponsors round 35 outside occasions — up from zero in 2021 — and goals to attain a complete of 100 within the close to future, together with some live performance and way of life occasions. 

“We need to discover pockets, whether or not in tennis or different feminine sports activities the place there may be not equal pay, not as a lot sponsorship {dollars} or assist, and be the primary model to be there,” mentioned Monsel, including that the model’s skincare enterprise has grown roughly 500 % over the past 4 years, whereas its solar care enterprise has tripled throughout the interval, successful he attributes largely to funding in education-based social media content material. 

While Glossier initially kicked off its WNBA partnership with a concentrate on the model’s physique care choices, chief advertising and marketing officer Kleo Mack mentioned the model quickly “realized the potential of the partnership far past physique [care]; WNBA gamers love magnificence in all types, whether or not that’s a full face of glam on the courtroom, or simply moisturizer and sunscreen.”

The model most not too long ago tapped a cohort of gamers together with Harrison, Ariel Atkins and Natalie Achonwa final summer season for a marketing campaign selling the launch of its Stretch Fluid Foundation, $34, and has continued to steadily pump out activations together with courtside signage, product seedings to athletes and internet hosting influencers at video games. 

“Like Glossier, the WNBA has multigenerational attraction; we wish this partnership to really feel wholly built-in into what we’re doing as a model,” Mack mentioned. 

As a part of its Fluid Stretch marketing campaign, Glossier introduced Atkins and Anchowa onto Brooke DeVard’s Naked Beauty Podcast to focus on the partnership and their respective athlete journeys, throughout which Anchowa mentioned her expertise enjoying in video games whereas being pregnant. 

“I believe feminine athletes as ambassadors can translate throughout channels,” mentioned DeVard. “For youthful folks, particularly those that are shopping for extra mass manufacturers, they’ll search for to these girls as position fashions, however then within the luxurious area, there’s one thing concerning the degree of accomplishment these girls are reaching that’s extraordinarily aspirational.”

It can even defy expectations — one of many core targets of Anastasia Beverly Hills’ current sponsorship of F4 racing driver Bianca Bustamente on the Macao Grand Prix. 

“I’ve gotten criticism for carrying make-up whereas I race, however that’s one factor I’ve at all times cherished — is the truth that I can mix creativity, magnificence and motorsport, and be female in a male-dominated sport,” mentioned 19-year-old Bustamente in an interview with WWD final November. 

Last fall, observe and area Olympic gold medalist Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone joined the ranks of Jenna Ortega and Kerry Washington as a Neutrogena ambassador, and Saint Jane founder Casey Georgesen — whose 14-year-old daughter Sofia performs indoor volleyball — extra not too long ago tapped Olympic volleyball participant Kim Glass for a marketing campaign selling the model’s current Star Flower Niacinamide Serum. 

Track and area Olympic gold medalist and Neutrogena ambassador Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone.


Notably few magnificence manufacturers have tapped into gymnastics, which has lengthy touted one of many largest viewerships of any Olympic sport — a 2021 survey by Statista reported American adults have been most enthusiastic about watching gymnastics (32 % have been “very ” in tuning in), with swimming, diving and observe and area following as the following most-popular sports activities. 

Hall posited that magnificence’s lag in taking to the game may partly be due to the truth that competing gymnasts usually skew youthful than lively athletes in different sports activities — Paris hopefuls Kaliya Lincoln and Joscelyn Robertson, for instance, are each nonetheless minors, which complicates NIL offers. 

There are some exceptions, nonetheless. P&G Belgium is presently sponsoring 23-year-old Olympic hopeful gymnast Nina Derwael; gymnastics powerhouse Simone Biles beforehand linked with SK-II and a handful of different feminine athletes for a marketing campaign forward of the 2021 Olympics, and six-time Olympic medalist Aly Raisman inked short-term ambassadorship offers with Revision Skincare and Philosophy in 2015 and 2022, respectively. 

With school gymnastics seeing its highest ESPN viewership of any NCAA gymnastics championship in 2023 — up 11 % from 2022— rising school athletes like LSU’s Olivia Dunne, who has almost 8 million TikTook followers, may very doubtless show fruitful magnificence ambassadors.

While L’Oréal Paris has tapped Dunne to create some odd TikTook movies utilizing the model’s merchandise, she has but to be scooped up by magnificence in a giant manner — regardless of On3’s NIL tracker indicating she is the highest-paid feminine athlete within the NCAA with an estimated valuation of $3.5 million yearly, thanks to offers with GrubHub, American Eagle Outfitters and different corporations. 

“The WNBA feels simpler to plug into as a result of there’s precedent of sponsorship there,” mentioned DeVard, who anticipates that gymnastics sponsorships in magnificence may — and will — be on the up quickly. 

Glossier’s Stretch Fluid Foundation marketing campaign.


Opportunity for magnificence manufacturers is certainly ample at current within the WNBA, which is able to add a thirteenth, San Francisco-based crew in 2025 — the identical 12 months the league is slated to renegotiate its collective bargaining agreements, which decide gamers’ wage caps. 

“With WNBA gamers — their contracts aren’t massive on the courtroom in anyway. Endorsement cash can at occasions triple what they’re making on the courtroom — it’s an enormous supply of earnings for them,” mentioned Engelke. 

Faith Suggs, director of selling at Sports International Group, sees this rise in ambassadorships as having a reciprocal profit for the league itself by additional propelling its visibility.

“Viewership is instantly correlated to the expansion of the league, and the expansion of the league instantly impacts athletes’ salaries — [ambassadorships] not solely present a monetary increase for athletes, however they supply that platform for them to inform their tales and construct their very own manufacturers off the courtroom,” she mentioned. 

It’s exactly the sort of storytelling that’s poised to outline the way forward for magnificence advertising and marketing.

“Partnering with athletes particularly speaks to girls which can be simply juggling a number of issues. Career girls, moms, multihyphenates — they’ve a kind of duality girls need to see increasingly more,” mentioned DeVard.

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