Pin It
Kendall face mask
courtesy of Instagram/@kendalljenner

Generation Twitch: Is gamified, livestreamed beauty the next big thing?

NEWNESS, the live-streaming platform for the beauty community, uses authenticity and positivity to combat online hate and trolling

Growing up, Jenny Qian, the founder and CEO of NEWNESS, had a profound love for beauty and gaming. She dreamed of a career where she could combine her two passions and was thrilled when she landed a job at game-streaming platform Twitch, as one of the company’s first finance hires.

An avid League of Legends fan at the time, Qian had joined Twitch to improve her skills and learn more about her favourite video games. The more time she spent on the platform, however, the more she discovered something far more important, something that would be key when it came to creating her own platform. “I didn’t expect how incredible or magical live streaming, when done well, could be for community building,” she says.

Not everyone got to feel this magical sense of community, however. “When I watched gamers try to stream beauty content, they received some of the most appalling comments that I’d ever seen on the internet,” she says. Beauty wasn’t celebrated or welcomed on Twitch so Qian decided that she would create her own platform, where beauty lovers like herself could truly belong. In 2019, she launched NEWNESS with her co-founder Youri Park, raising $3.5 million in investment last year.

Unlike social platforms like TikTok, Youtube and Instagram, NEWNESS is dedicated to beauty content and allows users to fully engage and interact as a community. “On platforms like TikTok, you get five seconds to get to know someone or the products they’re talking about. On YouTube, you get more [time] but the only interactions are in the comments,” content creator @prettierthan explains. “NEWNESS is an ongoing conversation about beauty and that conversation is open to everyone. It’s like watching a movie versus facetiming your friends.”

Beauty content on the platform ranges from make-up tutorials and GRWMs to unboxings and skincare reviews. Videos of streamers sharing product holy grails while eating bowls of ramen sit side-by-side with professionals like Daniel Martin, Tatcha’s global director of artistry and education, who hosts sitdown chats with beauty pioneers like Bobbi Brown. When NEWNESS launched, Park and Qian were very intentional about the people they invited to join the platform; now creators can apply to become a streamer. “Everyone on NEWNESS is a beauty enthusiast! So you really feel like you’re connecting with so many people like you,” says user @uncovertheglow. “You can nerd out on products, ingredients, the latest brands you’ve tried. It’s a more niche audience than other video platforms, which gives it a stronger community feel.”

It was the open and welcoming environment offered by NEWNESS that most appealed to beauty creator @thekikiglow, who had never participated on a platform before but wished for a community of skincare lovers she could chat with and befriend. “Of course I love my current friends, they’re amazing, but there’s nothing like talking to like-minded enthusiasts about why we need the Barbara Sturm Face Mask or why Rhode’s Lip Peptide Treatment is game-changing.”

Having content livestreamed, rather than filmed and edited, helps foster this sense of community, with viewers able to interact during streams and give live feedback. For creator @crystalchou, not having to edit her videos gives her a sense of freedom and release from pressure. “There is no hiding behind filters and edits. In that way I think I am being my most authentic self and not a polished and edited version of it,” she says. “I also love that there’s feedback in the chat, with viewers engaging with you, which can spark more creativity. I’ve gotten some of my stream topics from interacting with people in the chat.”

Strong community guidelines ensure that the platform remains a safe and uplifting one – you won’t find any of the catty and drama-filled beauty content that has become the norm on YouTube here, nor the toxic trolls of Twitch. But what really sets NEWNESS apart from other beauty content is its Crystals features, where users can earn Crystals by watching a livestream or following a creator. These can then be exchanged for full-sized beauty products, limited edition prizes and more. 

“It encourages good behaviour and allows users to feel that their account has value,” says Qian. NEWNESS content creators are also big fans of this feature. “I love how it gamifies the entire platform. I’m not a ‘gamer’ myself, but I find it so exciting to rack up Crystals and cash them in for prizes I really like and will actually use,” @unthecovertheglow adds.

These Crystals are the only type of metric currently used on the platform. Follower counts and video viewing numbers are purposefully not shown – the platform’s ethos is centred on community, not hierarchies. Qian and her team made this decision after seeing the impact metrics had on other social media sites, and how detrimental they could be to the mental health of the creators. Not getting enough validation through likes or the number of views increases feelings of rejection, which can lead to anxiety and depression (studies done by a team of researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Rochester and the National University of Singapore revealed that teenagers who got fewer likes on social media felt more emotionally distressed). It’s something that content creator @crystalchou can relate to. “Typically when I see low performance numbers on other social platforms I tend to get discouraged,” she says. “By not disclosing the number of views and followers, NEWNESS feels much more encouraging.” 

Qian’s ultimate goal for NEWNESS is to be the destination for all things beauty, where enthusiasts go to seek authentic conversations, and she believes that follower counts don’t contribute to such conversations. She’s currently trying to think of a metric that would be beneficial to everyone on the platform, that will “build more connections” rather than act as a “popularity contest”. Meanwhile, rather than sponsored content a revenue source in the form of gifting has been implemented. 

“I really like gifting because it’s an opportunity for the community to send love to their favourite content creators,” she says. Whether it’s supporting someone who wants to go to esthetician school, or buy a palette to create future content with, the gifting feature allows that. “It helps with authenticity, of course, because if your community is supporting you, it would be terrible to promote products that you don’t necessarily love. It deepens that trust.”