I appreciate loyalty in friends, spouses and pets. As for brand loyalty, I’m not as constant, especially when it comes to cosmetics. Since I’m a pro, I’m confident that I’ll manage to find a replacement if my favorite black eyeliner is discontinued. And no, I’m not telling you what my favorite black eye liner is. It might get discontinued.
For some, the thought of a favorite lip color no longer being available for purchase requires breathing into a paper bag. Not that there’s a correlation between the loyalty to the lip color and said product being flattering. It’s just something these women feel comfortable wearing. Like sweat pants. Which usually aren’t flattering. Bam.
Meanwhile, cosmetic manufacturers will continue to discontinue stuff, so that they can throw something new at your face to see if it will stick. The beauty industry, like the fashion industry, operates according to the principle of Constant Stimulation, and keeping consumers guessing is very stimulating, and very profitable. And given the monstrous variety of makeup on the market, it’s hardly rational to think there can only be one of something that will work.
Trust me on this one – like lovers, there’s always a replacement for whatever you think you can’t live without. It’s make-up, after all – not a vital organ. Less hope, more wisdom.
I suppose, like everything else that’s unfortunate in make-up these days, the extreme contouring trend started with a Kardashian.
But the truth is, make-up artists have been contouring their clients since the dawn of time (I know, I was there). For the lay person, make-up is about controlling light, and using tones from light to dark to subtly enhance bone structure, or to diminish or add fullness. For everyone on Instagram and YouTube, it’s about turning yourself into a completely different person, and apparently, that person is Kim Kardashian.
Of course, the beauty industry has run with this trend, producing mountains of specialty contouring products and brushes to go with them. Try not to get caught up in it, unless you live in a photo instead of the real world.
As the world’s most skeptical beauty professional, I find myself brooding over the psychology and sociology of makeup; its uses and abuses, and the business of it. I have come to the conclusion that for many women – and I mean adults – make-up is a toy, and now more than ever, cosmetic companies are getting the picture.
All those tantalizing colors and textures, packaged to promote a sense of playful abandon in the buyer, are finding their way into our lives whether they’re actually useful or not. Who cares? Make-up is marketed and merchandised to be absolutely irresistible to our sense of play. It’s just as much an escape as reality TV, and about as beneficial.
What retail space could look more like a toy store to a grown woman than Sephora, or Ulta? And how many times have you heard someone say, or you’ve heard yourself say, that she/you loves to “play” with make-up? Trust me, manufacturers are listening and delivering the goodies.
Strategies to win your inner child’s heart are getting less and less subtle, when companies like Disney are partnering with Sephora to produce Minnie Mouse-themed palettes (sold out, and available for a premium on eBay) and Crayola gets into the playpen with Clinique. Yeah, that’s a photo of a real lip color set, not something I cooked up in Photoshop to make my point.Recently, I worked with a 50-something client who pulled the Chocolate Bon Bons palette from Too Faced (a paint box with heart-shaped eye shadows) out of her make-up bag with a complete lack of irony. In this box of fun, amidst all of that shimmering love, was exactly one truly useful eye shadow.Go ahead and play – I’m not utterly unsympathetic to the cultivation and maintenance of a youthful good nature. My message is simple: be aware that this is how, in part, you end up with drawers full of useless color cosmetics, feeling no more young and beautiful than when you had more money in your pocket.