I subscribe to Allure Magazine – mostly out of guilt, because I’m in the biz and I feel like I’m supposed to be familiar with the products and trends beauty editors are spouting on about. Some of those cosmetics will cross my path when I’m giving a make-up lesson, and more often than not, they are deemed useless to the woman who bought them, and go straight into The Naughty Basket.
This happens, in part, because every year, Allure polls their readership on their favorite products, both “drugstore” (cheap) and “department store” (expensive) varietals. I wish I could say that they lead the reader into choosing certain products by making the poll multiple choice, but they don’t.
Which is why I’m so intrigued, flabbergasted and somewhat deflated that NARS Orgasm Blush is a consistent winner in the fancy blush category. When I started thumbing through the results in the June 2015 issue, I literally cringed to turn the page because in my cold little heart I knew that I would once again bear witness to the consequences of choice fatigue and consumer conformity around an awesome marketing strategy. Apparently they don’t call it a “cult” classic for nothing.
It’s commonplace for my clients to have this blush in their make-up bags when I meet them, because they’ve read somewhere that it works on “everybody.” Not. It’s a strong coral with too much gold shimmer for daytime, and too much orange to work on pale-ish amateur cosmetic wearers. You need a somewhat deeper yellow-based skin tone, or at least a tan, to have a good NARS Orgasm.
Ironically, the naughty Mr. Nars makes another blush, with a less playful, more misogynistic name (“Deep Throat”) that actually does work on a lot of women (less gold shimmer, and a softer pink-coral). You don’t need to run out and buy it, especially if you are, like me, somewhat offended by a product named after a porno about, uh, having a deep throat.
There are tons of cheek color options out there that will give you a similar effect, like Tarte Cosmetics Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush in “Fearless.” No shimmer to speak of in this one, hence more wearable for the 12 hours of day and even nighttime. And the motivational name says it all.
Then let’s look at the rich data available on MakeupAlley.com. “MUA Top Picks” is the most reliable statistical category because not only are the products highly rated, but because users demonstrate a keen interest in repurchasing. If you look at blushes, not only is NARS Orgasm not at the top, it’s not in the top 156 choices, in spite of being the “most reviewed” blush. Ta da.
Power of suggestion, slick marketing and ultimately, a desire on our part to have choosing products be a tad easier, are all at play here. Nars admits that it’s “a combination of the shade and the name that made it so popular.” I wager the latter, because infinite blush choices and expensive advertising campaigns by other cosmetic brands that result in the same blush being chosen fifteen times as a reader favorite suggest to me that the beauty industry has a lot more imagination than we do.
By the way, the same argument goes for another perennial winner in the Readers’ Choice issue, that is, Maybelline Great Lash Mascara (26% of MakeupAlley.com users would buy again). So many better and equally affordable choices – check out this post on a few I like.
Speaking of which, I would really like your wise comments on this topic …