CALABASAS, California – “I’ll try anything,” Kim Kardashian said during an interview in her huge office here last month. It houses a photo studio, showroom, video room, staff offices, her personal office, a glam room (where she gets ready for shoots), a model glam room (where models get ready for shoots), a meeting room, a theater and more. “If you told me I have to eat poop literally every day and I look younger, maybe I would. I just could.”
So far, feces isn’t one of the ingredients in Ms. Kardashian’s new skincare line.
But vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, glycolic and lactic acids, shea butter and squalene are among the more traditional ingredients found in SKKN by Kim, which debuts later this month. Skincare is a first for Ms. Kardashian, who is 41. (Previously, she sold fragrance and makeup through KKW Beauty and KKW Fragrance, both of which no longer exist.) Her first nine products are a mirror of her own regimen, that’s thorough indeed.
Why does the woman who brought the concept of contouring into the world want to start with skincare instead of, well, contouring for her return to beauty? Simple: Ms. Kardashian wants to show off the tone and texture of her own skin. Up close, it’s something to behold – glowing, hydrated and smooth.
“I just wanted to stay true to exactly what I’m using, even if everyone said it’s overwhelming,” said Ms. Kardashian, who wore a black Balenciaga tracksuit and black Yeezy foam slides in full glam-camera-ready makeup and straightened, platinum blonde hair that comes to her waist.
Despite being late with the myriad of steps being popularized by Korean skincare brands, Ms. Kardashian has a lengthy routine. Her nine-step system “may seem scary to some,” she said. “That’s why I’m here — to break it down, to say, ‘They’re all needed.'” If there’s one step to eliminate, it’s the exfoliators (there are two), which, depending on your skin, will do not require daily use.
SKKN’s products are significantly more expensive than most skin care products, whether or not created by celebrities. (A hyaluronic acid serum and a night oil cost $90 and $95.) Collectively, the nine items — cleanser, toner, exfoliator, hyaluronic acid serum, vitamin C serum, face cream, eye cream, oil drops, and night oil — add up to a total of $630. price that may be beyond the reach of many of its potential customers and 313 million Instagram followers. (All products are refillable and replacement pods cost about 15 percent less than the original packaging.)
Ms. Kardashian isn’t concerned about people who can’t afford her skincare.
“It’s definitely more prestige, and to get the kinds of ingredients I wouldn’t really miss it was kind of a necessity,” she said. “The products I used that were comparable were much more expensive, nothing to compare with. I was trying to get the quality for the best price we could, especially the vitamin C serum.”
Mrs. Kardashian’s office, filled with beauty monsters, is chaotic. Almost every surface is covered with prototypes of products and packaging. The cluttered scene is at odds with the rest of her tidy, multi-level workspace. She offered a glimpse into planned products, including makeup, perfume, bathroom accessories, and homewares (“a lifestyle,” she said). Everything has a ‘stone effect’ and bottles, jars and more have a neutral color scheme, as does her shapewear brand Skims.
“It’s not just part of my job, it’s who I am.”
Ms. Kardashian’s appearance has been a source of fascination for her physique for decades now. The continuous swings and evolution of her weight, dramatic proportions, butt, waist, lips, cheekbones, hair and makeup are key to audience engagement.
“So many people want to pretend they don’t care what they look like,” she said. “I’m not pretending that it gets easier or that it’s all natural. You just don’t wake up and use whatever. You wake up, you use ingredients. The PRP facials, stem cell facials, lasers – that’s all work.”
Mrs. Kardashian’s entire business is image and she takes it seriously. Her net worth, estimated at over $1 billion, is built on her body. Her face. Her look. Everything else is an extension of that. Her physical appearance and willingness to manipulate it is her career, whether it be trying on a dress or dyeing her platinum for 18 hours.
She has been in the news for years for trying extreme beauty treatments. Remember when she posted a selfie of her bloodied face after she had a “vampire facial”?
Ms. Kardashian is often credited with changing modern beauty standards, and it didn’t happen because of her loyalty to a particular cream or serum. She is not a dermatologist or beautician. Then why should anyone take her skin care products seriously?
“I think it’s credible to know that I’ve been given the best advice ever and the best formulations from some of the people I respect the most,” said Ms. Kardashian. With Skims, she said, she wanted to find solutions that she felt were missing from the market. For her skin care line she looked for solutions to her daily skin problems.
Over the years, Ms. Kardashian said, she’s tried almost every high-quality skincare product and treatment in the beauty aisle — built-in R&D for SKKN. To develop her formulas, she teamed up with Joanna Czech, an esthetician and celebrity facialist who has her own skincare line.
Ms. Czech, who has over 35 years of experience, advised on a skincare vocabulary (they don’t use the term “anti-aging”); taught Mrs. Kardashian about different molecule sizes and versions of vitamin C; and helped reformulate products to meet European Union skincare regulations.
“There weren’t three trials of a product — there were 23,” said Ms. Czech, noting that achieving the optimal consistency for each serum, especially the oils, was the most challenging.
Ms Czech, who said the products are “made from scratch,” added: “People don’t expect more from celebrities than olive oil.”
Most celebrity brands are little more than a famous face who lends their name to a product and promotes it online, which makes it all the more difficult for the few celebrities who are actually involved in their business. Kylie Jenner introduced Kylie Skin in 2019, an extension of her Kylie Cosmetics brand, and was goaded online after she appeared to be wearing foundation in a video promoting her face wash; the same year, Kendall Jenner became an ambassador for Proactiv and was criticized for deeming the partnership “inauthentic.”
But Ms. Kardashian remains unfazed by the public’s perception of celebrities and influencer lines. Think about what she did to Skims, a shapewear giant valued at a staggering $3.2 billion in January.
Ms. Kardashian has similar sights for SKKN. “People might have thought at first that Skims was definitely a celebrity clothing brand,” she said. “I get that, but once they got the product, I think they realized it was a product-based brand. I’ve been given access to skin treatments and stuff, and I’ve learned so much along the way. It’s like sharing my solutions, like I did with Skims.”
‘The glow of your life’
Kim’s SKKN is Ms Kardashian’s most ambitious beauty venture, but it’s far from her first. Her previous beauty lines were disparate ventures, not all of them successful. There was KKW Fragrance, a line of kitschy emoji-themed perfumes; and KKW Beauty, a makeup collection.
She closed both: KKW Fragrance in April; KKW Beauty, last summer. French beauty conglomerate Coty, which had a minority investment in KKW Beauty, will help SKKN by Kim expand internationally and be a resource for things like packaging, Ms Kardashian said.
Vanessa Reggiardo, the general manager of the SKKN brand at Coty, said the line has been extensively tested by consumers and is “formulated to care for all skin types, tones and textures at every stage of maturity, for use by both men and women.” women.”
Ms. Kardashian plans to consolidate and eventually re-release her other beauty and lifestyle products under one SKKN by Kim brand. A new website, skknbykim.com, will be the only place to buy her new skincare. Next year, SKKN by Kim will be available at a major beauty retailer, she said. (Details are still being finalized.)
For now, potential customers will have to rely on online content and tutorials before ordering a $95 facial oil, which, when mixed with the facial cream, will give you “the glow of your life.”
She wants to prove it.
After sifting through SKKN samples, Ms. Kardashian went to the bathroom to wash her face and remove makeup from a previous photo shoot. She put her mermaid-length hair in a giant claw clip and performed a shortened version of her nighttime skincare routine. She cleansed, exfoliated and patted her face with a blend of glow oil and face cream.
“I always go to my chest, down to my nipples — always up to the nipples,” said Ms. Kardashian, massaging the emulsion onto her neck, décolletage and the top half of her breasts. Expect a tidal wave of TikTok tutorials to follow, with influencers “pulling down” their skincare regimen as Ms. Kardashian does.
Will exercising that kind of influence ever become an albatross?
Asked about the controversy surrounding her significant weight loss to fit into her Met Gala gown, the same sheer, intoxicating gown Marilyn Monroe wore in 1962 when she sang “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy, Ms. Kardashian said, “To me it was like, ‘OK, Christian Bale can do it for a movie role and that’s acceptable.’ Even Renée Zellweger arrived for a part. It’s all the same to me. I didn’t say, ‘Hello everyone, why don’t you lose this weight in a little while?’”
In her mind it was about dedication, like that of a boxer arriving for a fight. She lost about 16 pounds in one month through dieting, a sauna suit and twice a day running. “I haven’t done anything unhealthy,” she said.
What if she hasn’t earned weight for the Met?
“I just couldn’t have gone, which didn’t matter,” she said. “It was just important for me to reach that goal.”
It was only one scene in Mrs. Kardashian’s part of her life: playing herself. And if there’s one thing Mrs. Kardashian has shown her followers over the years, it’s that she never gives up on a goal.