Chanella Buck on Founding The ‘Rotten Tomatoes of Beauty’
In such a sponsored industry, how does one remain authentic? on beaute is the answer to every beauty lovers prayers…do you want an honest review and global industry standard score for that expensive face cream you’re thinking about buying? on beaute filters out the sponsorships and gives you the truth about your favourite beauty products. we got the chance to sit down with their founder, chanella buck, to discuss her inspiration behind her platform, and why remaining authentic is so important in this industry.
What was your idea behind ON Beaute?
The year I thought of pursuing ON Beaute was 2018. Contextually, influencers and sponsored content were reaching peak, the Sunday Riley review scandal had just been exposed on Reddit (an email from their CEO urging their employees to write positive reviews on Sephora) and Amazon too was being caught out for its fake reviews. The concept of ON Beaute came to me when I was standing in a Space NK wanting to buy a product. I wanted to justify my purchase and tried to search for a review written by a credible journalist however had to sift through a wealth of content on google to find a review I deemed worthy enough to validate my purchase. I thought, if we always check rottentomatoes.com before seeing a movie at the cinema, why is there nothing like this for the Beauty Industry?
Why is it so important to you to be unsponsored?
Today, statistics indicate up to 94% of beauty consumers conduct up to an hour of research online before making a purchase. However, most resources consist of sponsored content, paid influencer ads, click-farm generated and fake customer reviews. Beauty Awards in our industry are also often “paid for” via big partnership deals and media buys. So content that remains independent from Brand money is paramount to our integrity.
Tell us how the industry score works?
Our tiny team of curators read hundreds of industry-published reviews from our internally approved, qualitative sources. We then fairly calculate a representative pull-quote based on our own proprietary scoring methodology. This year, we will be adding AI Sentiment analysis into the mix of product retrieval and evaluation. This will enable us to scale t
he platform and take it to the next stage of where I want it to be as a business.
What score does the product have to have, to be ON Beaute approved?
65% and above will receive an approval badge, 64% and below will receive a denied badge.
Why do you have an environmental pledge on your platform?
During the platform build, the not so humble “shelfie” was trending on Instagram – seeing the number of products in people’s bathroom cabinets just made the scale of consumption and waste in our industry so much more evident to me. Providing authoritative and unbiased reviews to our users means they will be better informed, resulting in smarter choices and less impulse buys. Reduce the demand, you reduce the supply. Its simple economics.
As we are a small start-up, the environmental donation is just the beginning. I truly believe this platform will do great things and influence for the greater good of the industry. Becoming B-Corp registered is certainly on our roadmap.
What are 3 products you could not live without?
This is a tricky question however ultimately, I advise anyone to invest in a good quality cleanser, SPF and a stable Vitamin C to help futureproof your skin at any age. These are mine:
- Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm
- Ultra Violette Queen Screen SPF 50
- Sunday Riley CEO Glow Vitamin C + Turmeric Oil
What are some beauty tech brands that you are intrigued by?
I absolutely love to try Beauty Tech; from virtual try-on filters, infrared saunas, Dyson’s hair appliances to laser hair removal. I am your biggest advocate of anything that makes our lives more efficient and makes people feel more confident within themselves. I’ve noticed LYMA, however not quite fully convinced of the high price point vs. the many other LED competitors in the market. I’m intrigued about Lancome’s HAPTA and very eager to know the feedback and ultimately reveal our ON Beaute score when this launches.
How is beauty tech evolving in the industry?
2023 brings about a new post-pandemic era for beauty brands to champion – one ultimately shaped by encumbering macro-economic factors. The beauty of beauty tech is how it encompasses so much; from virtual filters to the reduction of carbon footprint to providing instant transparency of ingredients. I think we will see diagnostic tech experiences start to work more accurately and be integrated more seamlessly across the shop floors and online. Biotech is making incredible progress – scientists can now replicate the composition of natural ingredients which will help shift product development ethically and sustainably. There is of course, the area I (and ON Beaute) operate in, the tech that aids transparency – be it with product reviews or supply chain; such tech will continue to be vital for purchasing consideration and conversion. I really do count myself so fortunate to be part of such an exciting and growing field.
Do you think LED masks make a difference to your skin?
I truly believe that with every beauty product not just tech, consistency is key. I haven’t tried the Dr. Dennis Gross Mask yet but I have been told by a well renowned Beauty peer this is the best. I personally own the Déesse Pro Express (I purchased this particular one for its flexibility and efficiency); though I must caveat, as a full-time, working mother to two girls under five, evenings are busy and I need to take my own advice in being consistent with it! BRB on my review of that one!
What is one overhyped product that really disappointed you?
I have to say 99% sheet masks I’ve tried, and over 12 years, that is a lot! The majority are overpriced, full of ingredients such as alcohol (that dry and irritate the barrier of the skin), some just look cool and seem to be created “just for the gram”. However, one mask I recently received and surprised me was Perricone MD’s Cold Plasma Plus+ Concentrated Treatment Sheet Mask. Very hydrating and affordable when bought individually. I have repurchased since and personally recommend that one.
What has been the biggest hurdle you’ve overcome as a founder?
Retaining authenticity in every way. I frequently have Brands approach for partnerships and collaborations, to which I decline. During what is arguably the toughest economic climate in years, saying no to “a quick win” cash injection and what would instantly turn ON Beaute into a traditional media business model has been hard. However it has allowed me to remain true to my core beliefs about my product, the message, and its direction.
What is some advice you wish you received before starting ON Beaute?
“Find yourself a great lawyer”! I didn’t appreciate just how IP-heavy a tech platform I was building. Fortunately, I now have an incredible legal advisor on my board.
Do you have any exciting new features coming up?
The platform has been in beta mode since launch i.e. learning stage. I’m looking forward to rolling out refined UX and UI tweaks over the coming months but it’s the behind-the-scenes tech we are building which excites me most!
What has been one beauty product that has really surprised you?
La Prairie’s White Caviar Essence Extraordinaire. As a skin minimalist, I don’t usually apply anything before a serum. However, my review of this entire product experience is that it is wonderful. It’s light watery-gel formula contains niacinamide, so it really hydrates and smooths – sometimes I apply it on it’s own and just leave it at that. If you are feeling spendy, this product is really lovely.
What led you to ON Beaute?
For as long as I can remember I’ve loved the concept of Beauty. I studied History of Art and one of my favourite books during that time was On Beauty by Umberto Eco. My career in the industry however was a serendipitous accident. During an intense law conversion and applying for traineeships at corporate Law Firms, I instead impulsively took an unpaid Digital intern role for LVMH that I saw a friend post on Facebook. Since then and over the span of 12 years I worked my way up from unpaid intern to senior digital and ecommerce manager roles at the best luxury beauty brands there are (Guerlain, Tom Ford, Kilian, Frederic Malle and La Prairie).