Is the beauty industry losing its touch?

Reading Jane’s (of BritishBeautyBlogger) recent blog post about experiencing “Beauty Fatigue”, I could only agree. I’ve only been involved with beauty culture for a short while – I didn’t start wearing makeup until I was 18 – and I’m already exhausted by it. Now, I don’t mean I no longer care about beauty. I love it. It’s close to my heart and my main interest. But the way the industry looks right now – the way it works – is just disheartening. Like Jane, I don’t get excited about the launches anymore. I’ve always been a critical person, but this is different… I’m not even interested in being critical. Does that make sense?

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Four hyped up but basically identical palettes.

The issue is that the pace of the beauty business is breakneck, the hype is exaggerated, we’re bombarded with mediocre launches and identical youtuber collabs. How many all-matte “nude” eyeshadow palettes with rusty accent colours do we need? I can think of 5 in this year alone!

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Urban Decay and Make Up For Ever released near-identical lipstick collections this year, with the same packaging concept and similar shade ranges.

As soon as a trend emerges, it explodes and dies out within what feels like minutes – and within those minutes every brand, blogger and magazine is on it like white on rice. It reminds me of how the fashion industry seems to operate today as well, churning out up to 7 “seasons” a year – but who is wearing these clothes? who is buying the same liquid lipstick over and over? It’s forced, uninteresting and a painfully obvious cash-grab from the corporate end. Consumers are criticised for their hunger for newness, but the ones causing the hunger are the brands. Corporations have enough clout to trigger pretty much any desire in consumers – that’s how they get by, by creating demand. The only person who wants this fast-fashion system is the person benefiting from it – and that’s the guy at the top of the corporate ladder. And he – because it’s usually a he – probably doesn’t care if that new highlighter is good or not, as long as it sells.

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Speaking of identical packaging – the Victoria Beckham for Estée Lauder collection looks just like the Tom Ford Orchid collection.

It’s clear that quantity-over-quality thinking is central to this model. And we fall for it.
I fall for it!
The dazzle of newness works. Or it did. Now I’m not so sure – more and more consumers are rolling their eyes in unison at over-hyped, under-developed launches. Make up artists have been groaning about the state of beauty culture for years. Jane mentions the Victoria Beckham for Estée Lauder collection in her post – as if the Kendall (?) Jenner-fronted “Estée Edit” wasn’t enough, they had to desperately tack on another celebrity name, hilariously using the exact same packaging as Tom Ford.
And I just wonder: Haven’t we had enough? How long can we keep this up? How saturated can the market get before bursting at the seams?

8 months ago

Vintage Beauty Treasures

I’m one of those girls who was brainwashed by Lisa Eldridge into collecting vintage makeup. In general, I’m very interested in the history of beauty (having forced most of my professors to suffer through paper after paper on 1920s makeup and so on…)  so actually owning the objects of study is both fun and useful. I can’t help but imagine the woman who has owned it, what her life looked like.

On holiday visiting my friend Mika (who, by the by, runs the fabulous accessory brand Earl Foolish) I ran into quite the cache of vintage powder compacts in an antique store. They had around ten vintage compacts, so of course I couldn’t buy them all, but made a few little selections – 3 compacts and one purse.

Two of the compacts are made for loose powder, both with original sifters. The large, round one seems to be unused since it even has a pristine original puff inside, while the square compact still has traces of powder on the sifter. This type of compact is filled with the powder of your choice, then you place the mesh sifter on top. The sifter dispenses a small amount of product when pressed with a puff, and there’s an inner lid to keep everything in place when the compact is closed. I’d like to note that neither of the larger compacts has any manufacturer’s stamp, except that the round one says ‘made in switzerland’.

My favourite, however, is this tiny Houbigant pressed powder compact from the 1920’s. It’s around 4.5cm across and includes a minuscule mirror and equally minuscule lambswool puff! The powder inside has a pale pink tint and still smells perfumed. It’s a real treasure, I just love the art deco design and how ridiculously small it is. I even found an advertisement for this same product, dated 1928. Houbigant, as you may know, is still around today but they only sell perfume these days.

Lastly, an unusual purse from the 1940s. This is basically a metal box covered with black suede, so it’s both heavy and fairly hard. I imagine you could use it for self-defense with some success. Inside, it has several compartments that open by pulling a little ribbon tab. One is still filled with loose powder (sifter still intact!), another has a small round indent with tiny puff and I assume it’s for a rouge pan.

The third compartment is for cigarettes (as every woman of style was a smoker back then), and there’s also a comb sleeve and built-in mirror! What really gets me is that the bottom is engraved: Barbro K.S.S, 6/3 1943. So we know who this belonged to, and when she got it.

I have a feeling this is only the beginning of my collection – right now I’m eyeing a vintage Helena Rubinstein lipstick and am on the hunt for a vanity powder box.

Are you interested in vintage cosmetics or beauty history?

 

9 months ago

Review: My Beauty Diary sheet masks

Sheet masks are one of those beauty trends that is blessedly accessible. Nowadays, in the west, you can easily find them at any price point, from $1.50 to $20 and beyond… I haven’t tried a whole bunch myself yet, being picky about both ingredients and price. The average sheet mask contains 23g of essence, which is a generous amount for a single application since a serum bottle is usually 30ml. Despite this, I am a little cheap about it. The My Beauty Diary sheet masks are cult staples, being the #1 selling brand in Taiwan (where they are made). The mask I like best, the Black Pearl one, was voted best sheet mask by the readers of Cosme, a Japanese beauty magazine. This review covers three of the masks in the lineup: Red Wine, Hyaluronic Acid, and Black Pearl. I buy mine at an Asian supermarket in Stockholm where they are 28SEK each, around 3 EUR. You can also buy boxes of 10. If you like a mask, I recommend getting a box so you have them on hand – they’re not expensive after all.

Each mask comes in a standard foil sachet, with both Chinese and English ingredient lists. What impresses me about these is the amount of plant extracts and active ingredients, you really get a lot of bang for your buck. That said, they do contain fragrance and some plant extracts that may bother the very sensitive. I have fairly tough skin so it works for me. Besides, these are a “sometimes” treatment, not a daily one, and that makes me less concerned about prolonged exposure to irritants. DECIEM_1
The mask is folded up and soaked i essence, you can see it dripping in this photo.

All three masks are a water-glycerin-aloe base with different ingredients added like vitamin c and licorice extract. The wine one has red wine and yeast extract, the hyaluronic has hyaluronic acid, the black pearl contains pearl protein. The Wine mask is marketed as anti-aging, the pearl as brightening (unfortunately referred to as ‘whitening’ in Asia) and the Hyaluronic as moisturizing. I found them all hydrating, though! The Wine one smells very strongly of grape and I can’t really see any immediate results. The Hyaluronic did what it claimed, hydrate – but my absolute favourite is the black pearl. This is supposed to even out your skintone and brighten, and it totally does! I find the results immediate. My skin looks radiant and smooth, but the results are short-term so this is a mask I would suggest using before a special occasion for a temporary glow.

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Here’s a mask unfolded – you may need to cut it to fit your face shape. The material is not hydrogel, but an artificial silk fiber. Remember to remove the plastic backing!

The masks are to be applied to the face and left on for around 20 minutes, but I leave mine on until it is dry. No use throwing it out when there’s still essence left, I say! The sachet contains surplus essence, and I like to clip it shut and save it for the next day. Then I pop in one of those muji sheet mask tablets and let that soak for around 20min, and voila! A second sheet mask for you to use. Of course, you can just pat the essence in with your hands as well.

I think these masks are definitely worth the money, and I’m excited to try some of the others – the sake one, for example.

THE RUNDOWN
Price:  $15/15EUR for 10pc on Amazon
Size: 10 x 23ml each
Pros: Affordable, Hydrating, Fun to use. Black Pearl is very brightening.
Cons: Contain fragrance and other potential irritants. Effects vary and are short-term.
Repurchase? Yes! I’ll be keeping some on hand for those self-care evenings. Especially Black Pearl.

9 months ago

Review: Hylamide Vit C & Hyaluronic Boosters

DECIEM is an innovative skincare brand based in Canada, and they’re something of a wild card. Their website is split up into several sub-brands, covering everything from primers to hair care products. I placed my first order with them in May, and received my order really quickly, which was nice. Shipping was free, too, which was even nicer. What appeals to me about the DECIEM products is not only the cutting-edge tech (in fact, so cutting edge I don’t understand much of it) but the humane price point. The Hylamide boosters I ordered range from 22 to 36 euros, the vitamin c being the most expensive but still very reasonable. I’m excited to try more from this brand.

The packaging is simple and has a fresh, contemporary feel. This isn’t the kind of brand to push a heavy luxury aesthetic, nor are they concerned with that “all-natural” hippie stuff – this is all modern and clinical. The bottles are frosted glass, and come with a dropper which is standard for boosters as far as I know. Some people find droppers inconvenient, but I think they’re nice and make me feel like I’m doing an experiment or something. So what of the contents?

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Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a powerful humectant capable of binding moisture to the skin. It’s often used in dermal fillers since it has a plumping effect. This formula contains different types of HA as well as some fermented ingredients, which is interesting. The texture is pretty standard for HA boosters so it’s rather thick and syrupy – it’s made of sugars after all. You can either apply it alone or, as I like to use it – mixed with moisturizer. You only need a drop or two.

I don’t have dry skin to begin with so I use this as more of a preventative measure, but I do find my skin soft and plump after using it for a while. What Hylamide likes to advertise is that their HA booster is low-molecular – it’s been “chopped up” so to speak, meaning it supposedly penetrates deeper than conventional HA. And it does hydrate well – but I don’t know that any other HA booster wouldn’t do the same. The point is, this is a very affordable and sophisticated alternative to other hydrating boosters, and I would definitely buy it again.

THE RUNDOWN
Price: 22 EUR
Size: 30ml / 1 fl oz
Pros: Very competitively priced, hydrating. Easy to use.
Cons: The formula is interesting, but I can’t guarantee that it’s that different from other HAs.
Repurchase? Yes.

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The Vitamin C booster is more exciting – it’s a highly concentrated serum booster with 25% ethyl-ascorbic acid, which claims to smooth and brighten your complexion. I bought it because I have some post-acne dark spots that I’d like to blast off my face, and I knew Vitamin C was a popular remedy.

This booster is a radiant success. I’ve been using it for a month or so, and I really find that my skin is more luminous and even than before. The pigment spots on my cheeks are vastly improved (hilariously, I got new ones from other acne breakouts. I’m working on those now.) so I’m officially a fan of this product. Like all good Vitamin C products, it smells a little odd, but I don’t mind it at all. Skincare isn’t perfume. The texture is very liquidy, so be careful when you’re using it – Like the HA booster, you can use it on its own or added to a different product. I pour 2-3 drops into the palm of my hand, then add my serum and mix before patting it into my face. Don’t try to apply it with your fingertips because it’ll just drip off.

THE RUNDOWN
Price: 36 EUR
Size: 30ml / 1 fl oz
Pros: Effective, Affordable, Sophisticated, Straightforward.
Cons: Funky smell, Texture makes it easy to spill.
Repurchase? Absolutely!!

9 months ago

COLLECTION – An Essay

It’s almost one in the morning. I’ve poured out all my makeup on the floor in front of my sofa, having decided to count it in a fit of insomnia-induced madness. Plastic packages in all sorts of shapes and colours are jumbled in a big messy pile. My mom is a collector, but I’m the type who gets rid of things. Or so I thought, until I saw all this. This can’t belong to a de-clutter fanatic.

I count, meditatively, and find that I have 114 different products in my little collection. More than anyone would ever need, but perhaps it’s just enough. And this isn’t even counting nail polish, perfume, hair care or skin care, all part of that same beauty ritual. I wash my face, do skincare treatments, exfoliate and moisturize. I paint my nails, put my hair in colour masks, wear fragrance. In this physical beauty ritual I am forced to work and interact with my own body, a body that often feels foreign. I tame my body, confirming its physicality and reality, confirming my ownership of it. Sensory impressions – a serum with an odd scent, the tightness of a clay mask, warm washcloths against my face all act like reminders that my physical self is real. In front of the mirror, with my products like a smorgasbord of tools, I build myself. Each day I must find the right tools for the job, a job that always changes – sometimes I need a red lipstick, sometimes a green. My collection is my palette, my raw material.

On my face I build a character that feels like home, confirming my identity. Colours and textures claim my skin as my own, and touching it makes me confident in the border between me and everything else. What I put on is my shield, marking those borders clearly.

When I’m through counting, sorting everything neatly by type – lip glosses together, powders together, eye pencils in a need row – I feel a strange sense of calm. I think of all my  little helpers, working every day to make me up. Building a body, a self, seeing a body, feeling a body, being a body. Seeing it and knowing it is mine. Noticing myself, taking notice of my self deliberately, taking ownership and responsibility. It’s  a bunch of stuff but they’re parts of me, shades of me, images of me. Images I make myself, each day, always new.

COLOUR    

My first real lipstick, China Red, is barely used. I bought it when I was 16, thinking it would make me look glamorous and classic, like Dita von Teese. But under the harsh flourescent lighting of my bathroom, the colour on my lips made me look sallow, tired and sick. I put that lipstick away. Despite my disappointment, I couldn’t bear throwing it away, so despite the fact that it’s gone off I still keep it in my collection. Sometimes I take it out and just look at it, and wonder why I really thought it looked so bad on me. It’s just a regular red.

Red can symbolize blood, vengeance, passion, rage, love. In China, the namesake of my lipstick, red is signifies good fortune and celebration. Or maybe it’s the colour of communism. Red is said to be the universal, always-flattering lip colour. In french, it’s Rouge à Lèvres – at the turn of the century, lipstick was called Lip Rouge in english. So red belongs on our lips. There’s a shade for any taste, from coral to oxblood. Today, my own collection contains seven different reds. There’s China Red, Ronnie Red, Flamenco, Pavlos, Russian Red and so on.

The rest of my colour wardrobe includes lipsticks in shades of green, blue, black, grey, pink, brown, purple. A colour for every mood. Colour might be the most telling part of your cosmetics, the first point of attraction. Colours that flatter, or that channel a trend, or are simply appropriate. Blue eyeshadow is said to look cheap and tacky, chartreuse mascara makes your lashes look like the barbs of a carnivorous plant. The attraction to colour is juvenile, even primitive. Aren’t people just endlessly amused by colour? In our homes, our clothing, our food. On our faces colour hints at our feelings and experiences. A black eye. Cheeks flushed pink. Dark circles. Green with envy. White as a ghost. Seeing red.

SCENT

The compact is square, made from heavy plastic that is white on top and pink on the bottom. The lid has an embossed chrysanthemum design. It reminds me of something from the 50s or 60s. I can easily imagine it in a lady’s purse in 1961. What’s special about it isn’t actually the packaging, or the colour or texture of the powder blush inside. When I open the compact, I am hit with a scent so enchantingly nostalgic that I can’t help opening it now and then to catch another whiff of the fragrance. This blush smells like makeup. Powdery, a little floral – roses and violets, I think, it’s difficult to find the notes because once you smell it all you get is MAKE UP SMELL blinking in giant neon in your head.

The fragrance brings me back, as it often does, to snooping in my great aunt’s makeup bag in the bathroom of her apartment. An older female relative carries a purse filled with exciting and strange things, at least in the eyes of a child, and makeup was new to me since my mother rarely wore it. In the bag, I found a dark-blue oval compact with rouge inside, and it smelled just like makeup should. Difficult to put into words, but so familiar. Today, powder products are rarely scented, but now and then that scent appears like a dearly loved ghost.

Scent rouses associations and memories in a way other senses can not. Molecules snake through your nose, into your brain saying: Remember that compact you found? What is that smell? Doesn’t it smell the way a warm sweater feels?

Scent is three-dimensional. It intrudes in a cloud of perfume, crawling into your nostrils without even asking permission. It slips out of reach even if you press your nose to a perfumed wrist. It can assault or evade.

Scent if four-dimensional. It lives in time. Top note, Heart note, Base note is what your eau-de-toilette box says. Opening act, interlude, finale. A little show in three acts, each act differing in length depending not only on the chemical composition of the substance itself, but of the recipient too. It can be as short as a tv ad, or as long as the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Scent changes through time. Your dinner won’t smell the same when it’s leftovers the following evening. Powder boxes don’t smell the same as they used to.

TASTE

My lip gloss is pink. It says Butter Gloss on the tube and like all the other glosses in the collection, the colour is named after a dessert. Strawberry parfait. You open it, and the smell of artificial vanilla caramel ice cream topping hits you like a closed fist. It tastes the same, I’ve found out, since lip gloss inevitably ends up not only on your mouth, but in it. It’s like licking a cheap scented candle. The suggestion of taste, however, is of greater interest than the actual taste. How come makeup is named after food?

This gloss is the prime example, but there are numerous other products named after chocolate, fruits and sweets. Only in my own collection I find Pink Chocolate, Devil’s Food Cake, Strawberry Jam and Pistachio Macaron. I have a lip balm shaped like a tiny pink cupcake. Something can be said here for the relationship between women, food, and the body. Something like: You can only consume sweets in non-ingestible form. Your lip gloss can be strawberry parfait, but your restaurant order must be a kale salad. None of that whipped cream, sugary nonsense in real life. It’s forbidden, yet used to entice women – women eat bon bons, men eat steak. But if you actually do eat those bon bons, you’d better not eat too many. If, instead, your bon bones are consumed symbolically through cosmetics, all the better – because then you’re at least promoting your all-important feminine beauty.

Consume to improve and polish that horrifying womanhood of yours. Don’t you dare become fleshy, too much, bleeding at the edges, monstrous. Don’t you dare be more than strictly controlled impossible perfection.

SOUND

Click.

Click.

Click.

My eye palette has a good sound. Drumming your fingers on the plastic makes a different noise depending on whether you tap the front or back, and running a nail along the edge makes a soft scraping sound. The best sound, however, comes from closing it. The built-in magnets makes the palette go click in a way that is just indescribably satisfying. It’s not too loud, but loud enough, not too hard, but hard enough. It sounds strangely commanding, like NOW TODAY’S LOOK IS COMPLETE, CLICK. And that’s that.

Beauty packaging makes a whole symphony of clicking sounds. Different locking mechanisms keeping lipsticks and powder compacts shut let out their own little sound to confirm that “there we go, now I’m closed tight!”. Guerlain, a brand most known for the scent Shalimar, launched a lipstick in 2009 called Rouge G de Guerlain. They were very keen to tell the press that their packaging would make a beautiful sound both when closing and opening it.

Sound can play a central part in the still somewhat controversial public make-up. On the tube, the click of a powder compact draws attention – what was that noise? Virginia Woolf talks about a room of her own, a woman’s room, and in a way you’re creating just that when you put on your makeup in public. Something that was once private, maybe even secret, is intruding on common, public grounds. Putting your face on is supposed to happen in front of a bathroom mirror, or in a girl’s room, where the fuss won’t bother anyone. Public space becomes unsettlingly private, intimate, as soon as you crack open that pocket mirror.

Viewing the self, being aware of your appearance and not hiding it at home, out of the way. Onlookers are pushed away and beckoned closer. You star in a little performance, right there on your morning commute. Drumroll please… ladies and gentlemen! See the astonishing urbane woman apply her rouge… left cheek..right cheek…a final look in the mirror…CLICK. Applause. Cheer. The crowd goes wild.

TACTILITY

Putting your fingers against the surface of “Monster”, a highlighter to bring glow and radiance to the face, is a strange thing. When I’d just bought it, I’d heard the texture was unusual, but I was surprised nonetheless. This round, white jar contains a pearlescent powder-cream imprinted with a fabric-like texture.

Using your fingers to apply makeup may be seen as sloppy and unhygienic by some, but I can’t resist feeling a product. It somehow feels more intuitive, more intimate, without a brush or sponge getting between me and the product. Monster has a very particular texture. It looks like a pressed powder, but as soon as you touch it you find the surface cool and almost moist. It grabs at your fingerprints, but doesn’t stick. The little jar is filled with something almost bouncy, but it relinquishes its pigment with ease. Once you rub it into the skin, the texture transforms from creamy to powdery.

The colour shifts between white and pink, depending on the angle. I imagine it’s the kind of makeup a fairy would wear, while I tap it into my cheekbones. Cool and reflective, like tiny mirrors melting into my face. The mirror, to which I’m so attached, the one that tells me I exist. Reflections appear in makeup, in jewels, in the shop windows, in the water’s surface, and in my trusty companion – the pocket mirror. Light bounces off my body, into the mirror, and out again to meet my pupil. Waves of light meet my body, my body resists and reflects, and it proves it exists and I within it.

When I buy something new I’m always delighted by a built-in mirror, or disappointed when there isn’t one. Don’t magpies collect shiny things? Perhaps they too want to see their reflection, letting their form multiply and mirror. Which is the original? Is there an original? Can they all be originals? Is yesterday’s reflection the same as today’s?

 

10 months ago

History Class: 1960s

BABY DOLL

The history of cosmetics is as long as human history itself, and it’s one of my favourite things to research and read about. I love the idea that painting your body is some kind of primal impulse that we’ve carried with us for thousands of years, and seeing how ideals, products and expressions have changed over that time is fascinating. Today I won’t be travelling too far back, but the 1960s are a favourite period of beauty and fashion history of many, so it’s a wonderful place to start.

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Mary Quant makeup ad – the brand has relaunched in Japan.

The youth revolution made the 60s a time of broken boundaries and bright new expessions – rock music, mini skirts, go-go boots and so on. And while the 60s teens were doing the twist and painting on eyelashes with black liner, new innovations in technology enabled colour television and space travel, which became a source of inspiration in itself.

tumblr_mnqff8yJGp1sqyiebo1_500An ad for Maybelline eyeliner, featuring a “cut crease” eye look

The 60s look was practically an inversion of the glamourous femininity of the 50s – red lipstick, “colour harmony” and glamorous maturity was out, ousted by youthful energy and funky eyeshadow colours paired with pale lips. Suddenly, you could get your hands on products that would have been unthinkable – lipsticks in beige, white or brown, pearlescent eyeshadows in any pastel shade you could desire.

1967-Yardley-ad-with-make-up-looksA Yardley ad featuring a range of eye and lip looks

Eyes were a focal point with thick eyeliner and false eyelashes, often amplified by contrasting the black against a white base. Youth-oriented brands had officially dethroned the previously reigning revlon, arden and max factor, replacing them with yardley, cover girl and maybelline. Bright plastic packaging replaced the gilded compacts of yore, making these products more affordable for trend-setting teenagers. Some of the most striking adverts and packaging came from Yardley of london – they even made products in collaboration with Twiggy, perhaps one of the first celebrity-branded makeup collections?

44ce97b311bc329916187d450c416828A Yardley ad for “Twiggy” lashes

Today, references to 1960s makeup looks and packaging design are everywhere. The popular “cut-crease” look used by YouTube beauty bloggers was a typical eye makeup technique in the 60s, seen here in a Yardley ad. Nude lips, too, have their origins here. Furthermore, false eyelashes really came to their right, and today many wear them several days a week.

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Anna Sui makeup packaging, 2011 and 2016 respectively

Packaging design, too, takes a lot of cues from the 60s – Anna Sui is a notable example of a strong mod influence with the “dolly girl” lipsticks and the more recent 2016 Tropical Summer Beach Collection. Marc Jacobs Beauty has a look that is more space age than youthful revolt: the sleek black plastic cases look like something you’d see on Barbarella’s vanity.

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A promotional image for Marc Jacobs Beauty

If you’re interested in trying a makeup look from the 1960s, get your paws on some black eyeliner and light-coloured lipstick –  this video from Lisa Eldridge shows a classic look inspired by the period. For a sharp 60s eyeliner look, try this clip from Desi Perkins!

10 months ago

Glossier: Brand Overview

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After much hand-wringing and anxiety, I finally gave in and placed a very diminutive order at Glossier. Though I must clarify: Said hand-wringing was at the trickiness of getting your beauty-hungry hands on products unavailable in your country. I live in Sweden, and Glossier has yet to roll out the international shipping option. But there are ways. I used a forwarding service, which meant a long shipping time and extra fees. Once my order arrived, I was so excited to get my parcel I practically sprinted to the post office.

I think Glossier has a really appealing concept – they’re contemporary, cute and attuned with the social media climate in which they seem to thrive. The website is adorable. Their instagram is adorable. Their customers are adorable. Can you blame me for wanting in? So I made use of their referral discount as well as a free shipping campaign to effectively shave off the cost, even though I don’t think their products are expensive in the least. To American customers their price point may not be that tempting, but as someone who lives in a part of the world where beauty products are prohibitively expensive (often double or triple the US price) the Glossier pricing felt very reasonable, even cheap!

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So I picked the boy brow, which seems to be their most hyped product among customers, and the balm dotcom in the rose scent because I am an old lady and also childishly amused by anything pink. Once it arrived, everything looked about as cute as I was hoping. Box lined with pink, pink bubble wrap pouch (which is adorable to the point of clutch purse potential)  and of course, the sticker sheet. (Incidentally, the brand Too Faced recently launched a palette with stickers, likely riding the glossier wave)

Also included was an info card about the new flavoured balms, a poster and of course the products. Packaged in embossed little cardboard boxes with another cardboard protector inside, it all feels very thorough, nearly to the point of excess. Luckily, I love excess. The boy brow comes in a plastic tube, like a skinny mascara sample, and the balm in a metal tube with a plastic coating. It’s not luxurious by any means, but this is in line with the concept so I’m not bothered. Overall, I think Glossier is doing a hell of a job with their aesthetic and digital presence, they manage to appeal to customers who fuss-free cosmetics without sacrificing style.

It’s been almost a month since I received my order, so I’ve had plenty of time to try the products and form an opinion: Click here for my Boy Brow review, and here for my Rose Balm DotCom review. I must say though, I am a little bummed that they launched their highlighter right after I got my order! If I’d been patient I could have tried that at launch.

THE RUNDOWN
Price range: Lower/mid – products range from $12 to $26. In Sweden this is “drugstore” level.
Pros: Compelling brand identity, cute packaging, fun shopping experience. Contemporary and down-to-earth. Very trend-conscious. Solid quality.
Cons: Not on the cutting edge in terms of formula, ingreidents or research. Very limited range. US-only so far.
Referral program? Yes, 20% off for referred customer, $10 store credit reward. My link is here.
Reorder? Definitely. I’m dying to try their skincare next, and the highlighter.

10 months ago

Glossier Review: Rose Balm DotCom

The appeal of the balm is its simplicity: it’s a very classic, traditional petrolatum-and-lanolin formula that many lip balms are based on. Glossier is a fairly minimalist brand, so this formula fits with their philosophy. I know there’s some controversy around petrolatum and other mineral oils, but I have no quarrel with it in my lip products. It comes in a metal tube with a plastic coating, which feels classic and simple and looks very dainty. The balm is extremely thick and comes out like a waxy pink noodle. A little goes a long way so don’t squeeze the tube too hard! I made that mistake and ended up with way more product than I needed.

Glossier suggests using the balm for chapped heels or cuticles too, and I’m sure that would be fine as well, but I don’t see the point of putting the rose scented, pink-tinted version on anything other than lips. Maybe the original without scent or tint. As such, I’ve only used this on my lips and it’s worked just fine. It’s not a revolutionary product by any means – and why reinvent the wheel? It’s cute, it smells like Turkish delight and it’s pink (though the tint doesn’t actually show on lips or skin once you rub it in).

I like it, I like the packaging, I like the smell. It didn’t wow me or surprise me. Overall a solid product that really can’t upset anyone. Unless you look at the price, because that might upset you. For the 15ml you pay $12, which comes down to 80c/ml, which may seem expensive considering the far-from-exclusive ingredients. What you’re paying for is the brand, and you can get a dupe anywhere for far less, like the Smith’s Rosebud Salve. But for me? I don’t really mind the price.

THE RUNDOWN
Price: $12
Size: 15ml / .5 fl oz
Pros: Really cute packaging, smells nice, classic tried-and-true formula, it’s pink
Cons: You’re really paying for the brand and packaging, contains “unpopular” ingredients, barely-there tint
Repurchase? Maybe. I’m unfaithful to lip balms.

10 months ago

Glossier Review: Boy Brow

Boy Brow comes in a very plain, simple plastic tube that is standard for this type of product. I was getting a little sick of brow pencils, and I am one of those people who likes brushing coloured mascara into my brows, a brush-in brow wax seemed just the ticket for me. It comes in three colours: blonde, brunette and black. I picked blonde, and found the colour very flattering with my ash-blonde hair  and pasty complexion. While the colour works for me, I would have preferred something a little more cool toned, like a taupe, but it’s not the end of the world.

The texture is waxy, not like a gel at all, and it adheres to and thickens hair very well. The instructions say to brush upward to coat each hair before brushing into shape, which is what I did – here the small brush gives you a lot of control, but I wouldn’t mind a bigger brush to be honest. I do my brows with a big mascara wand sometimes and it works wonderfully. Once I’m done, I still need to fill in a few of my gaps to make my brows look fuller, since the wax sticks to the hair and not skin – which is the point. The formula is also very flexible and doesn’t feel heavy or crunchy. It was also easy to remove both with an oil cleanser and a micellar water.

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My natural brow on left, Boy Brow on right

The result is a very natural brow look that I really like. If you’re into the super-sculpted instagram brow look, this is not the product for you. It wore very well on me, without smudging or shifting throughout the day and holding my brow hairs neatly in place. Glossier is really focused on the “natural” but polished look, and I think in that respect Boy Brow is a great success. I’m very pleased with the results, and would purchase again. However, it’s worth noting that there’s only around 3 grams of product in the tube – that works out to around $5.35 per gram. The Anastasia equivalent is $22 for 9g of product. That’s only $2.44 per gram, less than half the price of the Glossier product.

THE RUNDOWN
Price: $16
Size: 3.12g / 0.11oz
Pros: Excellent formula, User-friendly, Gives a natural look, Doesn’t get crunchy
Cons: Limited colour range, US only shipping, Tiny brush, Small amount of product for the price
Repurchase? Yes!

10 months ago

Good Habits

ingredients

When you’re out shopping, whether it’s for food or clothes or skincare products, do you check the label? Do you read the ingredients, shelf life, and care instructions before making a decision about whether or not to purchase the item? I always do, and I always have, because my mom was really thorough about it and passed that on to me. Things like the sugar content in cereal or whether or not a sweater could be machine washed are pretty important information – you don’t want to feed your kids a boatload of sugar in the morning, and you don’t want to buy a sweater that’s a pain to clean.

The same, naturally, applies to what you put on your face. Seeing what’s in your product is always a good thing – crucial, even. If one product gives you a bad reaction, finding out what ingredient is the culprit will help you find an alternative that you tolerate. Likewise, if you’re among those who think talc and mineral oil are best left out of beauty products, or if you’re like me and turn your nose up at essential oils, knowing your way around an ingredient list can save you a lot of money and a lot of frustration. It can also be helpful in finding what you do like – perhaps you respond well to an ingredient, and want to find something with an even higher concentration. Or maybe you’ll do some research on niacinamide or resveratrol, and actively look for that ingredient in your products. If you’re concerned about animal cruelty or the environment, you can find out what ingredients are commonly tested on or derived from animals (like natural beeswax or carmine,) or ingredients that are proven to be harmful to the planet, like the microbeads that are hopefully on their way out.

It’s just a good habit that helps you make educated decisions about what you’re using, and will inevitably improve your skin as well. If you’re curious about a certain ingredient, the internet provides many sources of information with many points of view – and if you’re a super geek and have access to an academic database, you may even want to read published studies. I recently did this myself after the rumours of raspberry seed oil being a “natural” sunscreen, since most sites discussing it linked to unreliable sources. And here things can get really muddy – how do you weigh science against word-of-mouth or personal experience? How do you sift through rumours and hearsay to find nuggets of truth?

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This is all fairly demanding, to be sure, and you should always have a healthy scepticism towards sources.  If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If a website is lauding an ingredient as a “miracle worker” to promote a product – regard with utmost suspicion. Likewise, a website run by a mysterious “doctor” giving health advice despite not having any formal training in that particular field – also not so trustworthy. While researching raspberry oil, I found advice by a doctor who turned out to be a chiropractor – not a dermatologist.

Beauty culture is full of alarmist claims and suspicious ingredients. It’s up to you as a consumer to find out what you want to use, and what you want to avoid, and I promise you will feel much more secure trying something new if you can read an ingredient list.

(I actually read the study that most of these raspberry oil advocates are referring to – one study from 15 years ago – and as expected, it’s nowhere near enough evidence to warrant using it as sunscreen. You can find it here. For something to be “proven” you need a little more than this. A lot more than this, actually.)

10 months ago