Space Age Makeup Creates Diversity in an Industry that Desperately Needs It

Makeup brands aren’t exactly known for being the most inclusive and diverse. A quick look at ads, commercials, and even the colors offered for foundation, and you’ll see a lot of women who look like a lot of the same. So when a makeup artist friend turned to Burak Ozcan to start a makeup brand, the big challenge was: “How will we create diversity and be different and fun?”

“We wanted the brand to speak to any woman on the planet who is strong, confident and comfortable with her face,” explained Burak.

To get started on the project, Burak began brainstorming how to achieve an all-inviting image and voice for the brand—something that would highlight the fun vibe of the makeup but also be different than what’s already out there. That’s when the idea for a space theme came into play.

“It suddenly had a great potential to create so many different ideas from space, universe, galaxies and all the cool technologies,” explained Burak. “We imagined all these different kinds of women from other planets and galaxies who look very different than humans. This way, we had the chance to give the message that no matter how you look or how different you are than others, you are the most beautiful creature in the universe.”

Indeed, when you imagine a futuristic space age where women feel empowered, you don’t think of one particular body type or skin tone. Instead, it elicits emotions of excitement, forward thinking, and significant advances in society—all of which play into the brand story for Space Age.

Once the space theme was chosen, it was time to flesh out the fantastical universe where the advocates for the brand would live. “My first exploration was creating a minimalist design language and using photography of women with crazy makeup for marketing materials. However, it still looked like other brands and was unsuccessful in delivering the essential message,” recalled Burak. “Then I started to think what was needed to make a difference and I realized that illustration was rarely used for makeup packaging. So I started to draw these characters enjoying quality time in their own planets and looking cool and confident. These illustrations became the essence of the visual language of the brand.” Using Ekaterina Golovanova's pinup poses as inspiration, thus the illustrations were born.

When it came to the color palette, Burak wanted it to look similar to earth’s in some ways, like the way plants and rivers are still green and blue. Then it just took tweaking the saturation and adding in some gold, white, and black elements to keep it balanced and unique.

The design process wasn’t an easy one, and it highlighted the need for a strong concept to create a strong foundation and brand—and for the need to have fun. Burak mentioned, “Generally illustrations and character designs are not taken seriously in this sector.” Not only are illustrations in makeup difficult to achieve on such small real estate for packaging, they can often be seen as juvenile or childish. “Then again, being serious isn't something we are after. All other brands worry too much to be serious.”

And that’s what makes Space Age such a standout: it’s fun and out there all while being warm and welcoming to all kinds of women. It’s a much-needed new look for cosmetics in an industry where the look has been the same for far too long.