The Lauder name is to the beauty industry as the Ford name is to the automobile industry—iconic and uncomparably influential. In fact, Estée Lauder, who co-founded her eponymous cosmetics company with her husband, Joseph Lauter (eventually changed to Lauder), was the only woman to make Time's 1998 list of the top 20 influential business geniuses of the 20th century. In a nutshell, Estée completely shaped the beauty and cosmetics industry that we know today, laying the groundwork for innovation, creativity, and an inspiring approach to American beauty and business.
Estée passed away at the age of 95 in 2004, but her name lives on via both family and company—a dynamic combination that her great-granddaughter, Danielle Lauder, has recently breathed even more life into via her limited-edition capsule collection, Act IV. With the tagline "Beauty That Makes You the Star," the collection reimagines one of Estée's longstanding beliefs that every woman is and can feel beautiful. Composed of eight products designed to embellish a woman's beauty routine, no matter how decadent or simplistic it may be, the rose-gold and marble-patterned line of powders, creams, and tubes is a sampling you'll want to snap up before the limited-edition time stamp concludes.
In celebration of Act IV, one of our favorite, ultra-chic retailers Violet Grey, hosted a short pop-up featuring the entire collection at its flagship store in West Hollywood in addition to some very chic press previews in honor of Danielle's foray into the creation of cosmetics. (As you'll learn soon, the actress never thought she'd dabble in the family business—or, at least, not in a creative way.)
In an effort to get to know the collection a bit more intimately, I sat down with Danielle to learn about each product, how Act IV came about, and what the conceptualization and creation process was like. Keep scrolling! Seven fun facts plus each and every stunning Act IV product lie ahead.
Courtesy of Estée Lauder
Fun Fact #1: She Never Thought She'd Create Her Own Collection
Despite the fact that Lauder was born into one of the most influential and iconic brands and families within the beauty industry, she never thought she'd be creatively involved with the brand.
"I didn't really see this for me until I was in college. I was signed with a manager out in Los Angeles, and I was having to make audition tapes all the time in a hotel room or janky house with no professional lighting—no professional makeup artists or cameras," she explains. "All of a sudden, I had to think about how I could use a product to my advantage to teach myself about light and shadows or how to illuminate parts of my face without it looking over the top or requiring an 80-step contour situation.
"By the end of each audition tape, I felt like I was studying products more than the lines that I should have been memorizing. I thought, okay, this is actually something I'm really, really interested in, and it's also a great way for me to combine my love of beauty—which I've obviously always had a huge appreciation for—and acting."
Fun Fact #2: "Complicated" Products Were Excluded for a Reason
"Estée really wanted every woman to know that beauty belonged to her, that beauty belongs to everyone, and that every woman can be and is beautiful," Lauder tells me. "Even just one product—be it one lipstick, one blush, one mascara—can have such an impact on how you feel internally in addition to how you feel or look externally. I wanted all of the products within the Act IV collection to represent small, extra touches of glamour—those beautiful embellishments that you can add to your beauty routine or just use on their own to feel extra beautiful in day-to-day life.
"The collection purposefully excludes foundation and concealer and eyeliner and mascara because those are complicated, detail-oriented, and specific kinds of products. I think they can be more difficult to use or intimidating, so I really wanted this collection to embody Estée’s belief—for this collection to be unintimidating and beautiful."
"It’s been about two years since we first started putting together all the inspiration for the collection. We did the L.A. inspiration tour first, and it was then that I had an extreme crash course in product development and went to all the labs and everything," says Lauder.
"Violet Grey's flagship store is actually one of the very first places I went to for inspiration when we started conceptualizing the collection. It's been so incredible the way the brand welcomed me to Hollywood and has celebrated this capsule collection with the pop-up. I feel so lucky that they’ve included me and they collaborated with me on this creative mission and helped me bring my baby to life."
Fun Fact #4: Act IV Tells a Unique Story for Women of Every Age
"It's true that I may have grown up in beauty, but I wasn't always a makeup girl," clarifies Lauder. "I do a lot of other creative things. I love writing, and I love acting and producing, all of which fit into the larger aspect of storytelling.
"This collection—from the packaging to the product to the positioning—really tells a unique story and gives a fresh perspective for all women. It's not Gen Z. it's not millennial. I wanted to relate to women of all ages, both older and younger, so we created different levels of light and detail."
Fun Fact #5: If She Had to Choose, These Would Be Her Top 3 Products
"I like a very natural makeup look with just a touch of glam," Lauder tells me with no hesitation after I ask for her signature product MO.
"I'm not very good at doing my own eye makeup, so I usually gravitate to a look with clean skin. I'll use the charcoal tone from the Best Picture Multi-Look Palette ($54) with a liner brush along with the Cinematic Complexion Liquid ($54). Depending on how my skin looks, if I'm having a good skin day, that's pretty much all I really need. And then maybe I'll put on a little blush, a little bronzer, highlighter, and a lipstick with some brow too."
Fun Fact #7: She Didn't Look to Other Beauty Brands for Inspiration
"I didn't really look to other beauty brands for inspiration just because I didn't have that much experience," Lauder admits (something that, in hindsight, she realizes is unique).
"I always draw inspiration from everywhere and in very random ways, so I made a ton of Pinterest and mood boards. When we first came out here, they asked me to bring in some things that could serve as inspiration for the packaging, so I came in with a giant Mary Poppins–esque bag of stuff–—a skull, candles, marble trays. I have so many tchotchkes around my apartment. My sister says it looks like Pinterest just threw up in there. And the team was just, 'Oh, we were expecting you to bring products, but this works too.'
"So the collection was always inspired by so many external factors that came from outside of what’s happening product- and packaging-wise within the beauty industry right now."
You can use this gleaming skin perfector before makeup (as you would a primer) or on its own. It helps to fill and blur away fine lines and imperfections while providing a flattering, creamy-matte finish. The rose-gold and marble-print packaging ups the chic factor even further.
Touted by the brand as "ultra-flattering illuminating powder for all skin tones, this pretty highlighter blends warm and cool tones for a natural-looking finish and boasts a cream-powder hybrid consistency that makes the blending process practically effortless.
So brilliant—a dual-ended lip savior that features a stunning sheer red tint on one end and a hydrating and nourishing balm on the other. Layer them, use them on their own, or pair them with your other favorite lippies—the world is your oyster with these!
Not only does this chic little puff set your makeup (the rosy tone completely disappears when it makes contact with your skin, BTW), but it also helps brighten and diffuse the look of your complexion. Fine lines and imperfections don't stand a chance.
What's a gorgeous makeup collection without the perfect tool kit? This convenient quad features the Face Brush to help blend foundation, a Cheek & Highlighter Brush that's the perfect size to hug your cheekbones, and two eye brushes—one for shadow and one for liner—to create a killer eye vibe.