When Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey exploded on TikTok last fall, the sheer berry shade—which hadn’t seen that kind of popularity since the ’90s—was suddenly out of stock everywhere. So Clinique created a limited-edition digital version for its most forward-thinking fans. “If you couldn’t get it in a store, you could own the NFT and get in on the experience,” says Roxanne Barretto Iyer, Clinique’s vice president of global consumer engagement. For a certain subset of beauty consumers, a Black Honey NFT may not be wearable, but it has major value.
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Non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which are unique digital certificates that verify ownership of a specific digital asset, started out in the gaming and art worlds. While some dismiss NFTs as a get-rich quick scheme, the beauty space isn’t too concerned about the money right now. “The use cases for NFTs are limitless,” says Dina Fierro, vice president of global digital strategy and social engagement at Nars Cosmetics. “Tokens allow beauty brands to create, nurture, and activate a community and can serve as a loyalty mechanism, inviting access through real-world or virtual experiences, exclusive merchandise drops, and product co-creation.”
In July of 2021, Nars commissioned three female artists, including a music producer and a fashion designer, to each create an NFT (one is seen here) inspired by its best-selling Orgasm blush. The brand made one NFT free, alongside $50 and $500 versions. (The latter two came with limited-edition product.) “There was a tremendous amount of social conversation, not only across the beauty space but in crypto communities,” says Fierro. More than 2,000 Orgasm NFTs were collected, and the $500 one sold out in 10 minutes.
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Beauty launches are getting the NFT treatment too. Valdé Beauty recently released 34 crystal Armors (physical refillable lipstick vessels) that are being sold exclusively in the metaverse, an online world in which people can create avatars that can buy and sell physical merchandise and NFTs, attend virtual events, and more.
These Armors come in three styles (from white quartz to amethyst, ranging from $1,200 to $2,500). Once bought in the metaverse, the physical Armors are sent to buyers. Each comes with NFT artwork, 11 refillable lipsticks, and exclusive access to the brand’s makeup artists via a chat room. While NFTs are a foreign language to some, for beauty obsessives it may be one worth learning.
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.