Tag Archives: bad press

Free mascara? No thank you, Marc Jacobs…

Something rather unusual and seemingly extravagant was attached to my March 2018 issue of Vogue – a free sample of Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara

The full-size mascara retails for $26 and what they attached – using an elaborate plastic shell contraption – was what product junkies everywhere know as the “deluxe sample.” I’m, like, “wow, that’s fancy!” And I’m also, like, “wow, that’s wasteful!” Because I’m a tree hugger from Vermont and excess packaging for the sake of marketing hurts my cold little heart.

I couldn’t get an up-to-date or reliable number for American Vogue’s current print circulation, but let’s assume, for sanity, that they only sent these tricked out issues to a certain target demographic. Or maybe they didn’t. But let me pull a number out of my … say, 100,000.

If we’re to believe (and We don’t) that the full size retail product is worth $26, then one might assume that the sample would retail for half that. In fact, I don’t even have to assume, because they sell a “travel” sample for $14 on the MJ website.  Because who wants to lug around that big ol’ full size version?

So, 100,000 x $14 = $1.4 million dollars – just for the product, not for the fancy injection-molded mascara holster or the additional postage. One might ask, “how can poor Marc Jacobs make a profit?!?” One might answer, “because the product/sample costs him …uh…pennies.”

I’m not at the moral of the story yet … of course, I had to sample the product. It was not brilliant.  It did not “deliver” my “most epic lashes yet.”  In fact, by the end of the day, what had previously been on my lashes was on my cheeks. My good old, tried and true Cover Girl LashBlast Fusion Mascara ($7) would have never pulled a stunt like that.

The moral of the story: Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara, which the designer says was inspired by the “first beauty memory of his mother carefully shaving fibers from a velvet ribbon to create her own couture faux lashes”…. is not worth $26. Less hope, more wisdom.

Don’t make me blush

READERSI 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 …

No pressure…

This sort of magazine cover call out makes me need to breath into a paper bag.  The “clock” isn’t going to stop.  You know this, I know this, and beauty editors know this … I think … maybe they don’t.

Cosmetics are delightful because they can help you look better – if, at the same time, you and the people around you think you look younger, also delightful.  The moral of this short story is that being a great-looking 40, 60 or 80-year-old is a healthy (and realistic) goal, and doesn’t come with the added pressure of thinking that getting older is simply not allowed.

Thanks Allure.  Less hope, more wisdom.