It’s not an exaggeration to say the beauty industry has seen more changes in the past 10 years than the previous 50. That’s largely thanks to social media, of course, but the democratized effect is impossible to ignore. The savviest industry leaders don’t just acknowledge the shift but anticipate and actively embrace it. Beauty industry vet Jeanine Lobell built her reputation on a combination of artistry, intuition, and razor-sharp business acumen, creating juggernaut makeup brand Stila in the mid-1990s — remember the grip Stila’s iconic Kitten eyeshadow had? Now, Lobell’s back with something just a bit different: Jeanine Lobell’s Neen Beauty, a new makeup line and online community service, capitalizes on her unique ability to identify where the industry’s headed — and what the people (including Lobell herself) really want these days.
Neen is the sort of immersive, multi-pronged brand that can only emerge as the result of a truly unique (and organically derived) idea. Reminiscent of those endlessly fun products testers folded into magazine advertisements, Neen sends out thick monthly postcards to subscribers, emblazoned with five different makeup looks on models, a QR code, and sealed product samples right there on the card. By scanning the card’s code, Neen users get immediate access to easy-to-follow tutorials straight from the diverse array of models themselves — zero previous makeup experience required.
The samples themselves are high-quality, versatile, and universal for all skin tones. Lobell made sure of that personally, logging countless days in the lab — often working with old friends from the Stila years — to guarantee each product’s individual integrity.
Neen postcards contain just enough sample goods to try out the looks and products, leaving users to decide what they want to repurchase in full-size form (and possibly other colors) and what isn’t really for them, all without churning out the wasteful plastic typically associated with itty-bitty beauty samples. “We have to stop making and using so much stuff,” Lobell says bluntly, pointing out the non-recyclable waste that seems to be part and parcel of shopping for new makeup.
With Neen, the full-sized products available for purchase are both thoughtfully chosen and constructed. Silicone makes up the compacts, which are refillable and eschew metal hinges and mirrors for easy recycling. “Before I even finalized making this compact, I made sure that I had a facility that could recycle it,” Lobell says. Users can even send their empty packaging back to Neen, where it’s recycled into things like silicone yoga mats and shock-absorbent playground mats.
Though Lobell’s career began as a professional makeup artist — scroll through a list of A-list Oscar darlings and you’ll see Lobell’s clients: Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, Nicole Kidman, and Jessica Chastain — it’s crucial to Neen’s mission that anyone can follow along with the included tutorials. She explains that once a subscriber scans the QR code, the tutorial pops up in the app and can be viewed as a regular video or a split-screen with the camera on, which allows users to follow along in (nearly) real-time. “You can even voice command the video and to say stop, go back, go forward,” Lobell tells TZR. “That's so you don’t have to put down your brushes.”
But even if your end result doesn’t look like the models’ — be it intentionally or otherwise — that’s not just a good thing — it’s baked into Neen’s entire ethos. It’s something Lobell emphasizes but even promotional literature for the brand notes that it’s eager for subscribers to share their interpretation of the looks. Maybe that’s a stroke-for-stroke recreation, but maybe it’s a totally different makeup moment using the same materials — maybe a little of both.
Even the models she selected for the tutorials represent many different genders and gender presentations, skin tones, and backgrounds, and Lobell made sure they’re not just used as pretty faces. Lobell tells TZR that tutorial videos start with an introduction from the model who also shares their pronouns, a move Lobell helps further normalize the practice. “Then also in the videos,” she explains, “They tell you about themselves, what they're into, their passion. In some cases, some of it’s heavy, and some of it's just like ‘Hi, I'm a comedian!’ We also put up their Instagram handles. For us, inclusivity and diversity aren’t just booking models that are all colors. It’s about getting to know them.” In fact, Neen even makes a monthly donation to a lineup of causes championed by their models and hopes to include Neen subscribers as future models, too.
In practice, Lobell’s managed to simplify, personalize, and streamline arguably the biggest disruption in recent makeup memory: the online video tutorial. With a one-year subscription priced at $10 per month (or $12 per month with no commitment), Neen is like a classic YouTube how-to if you really liked the influencer, had every product they use in front of you, a split-screen for a more accurate follow-along, and the comfort of knowing that all that matters is if you like it. The principle of play over perfection, powers everything Lobell touches. “Do I need to go make another makeup line? No,” she says. “But I really want to do something that I think brings goodness and some magic to people.”
Neen Beauty subscriptions are open for pre-sign-up now on the Neen website. Full-sized Neen products will be available to the public post-launch, all priced at $20.