Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Men’s Skin Care Marketing is Hilarious

 Recently my boyfriend got into straight razor shaving, which means that he’s been hurtled head-first into the world of men’s skin care, me along with him.

At one time, he was content to carve his face with a plastic 5-blade that, with all its claims of precision, refused to give him a close shave no matter how furiously he hacked at his face. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of buying him a “Shavette,” or a beginner straight razor, for Christmas and now he is a man possessed. There are shaving creams, cakes, soaps, oils, aftershaves, soothing balms, straight razors, safety razors and moisturizers. The men's skin care market has exploded in the last few years, and the ads are pretty much all like this: 

Hey dudes, your skin is like a high-octane car made of science and shit. It’s not weird or gay or anything to treat it real special just like your woman does – only this skin care is awesome and filled with stuff that will make your heavy machinery of a blade operate better with your kick-ass man face. Which is also a machine of some kind. 
 It. Is. Wonderful.

Sure, women’s advertising is insane as well, but what makes men’s care marketing so much fun is that it’s still in its infancy. Watching the ads struggle on their spindly baby horse legs is admittedly entertaining. Because women’s health and beauty marketing has perfected a system wherein companies tear apart your ego so they can promise to build it back up again if you buy their products. It’s a system that works so well that we’ve stopped questioning it for the most part. Of course a zit is a barrier for your love life. Of course wrinkles ought to be eliminated.

But these brave copywriters working on their men’s skin care accounts are still fiddling with the formula. For now, the one that they’ve settled on is a careful balance between explaining how a product works while making sure to constantly stroke the ego of  prospective customers to reassure them that there’s nothing unmanly about beauty products and, if anything, it’s unmanly not to take care of your face-truck. 


Every Man Jack

If you’re like most guys, you care about keeping your skin healthy and looking good. (If you’re not, well, now’s a pretty good time to start.)
That’s because your skin is a critical organ that covers and protects your entire body. But as sophisticated as it might be, taking care of your skin doesn’t have to take a half dozen steps and expensive, complicated products. All it takes is Every Man Jack.
Whether it’s cleansing, clearing, hydrating or protecting, EMJ has simple, affordable solutions that get the job done. It’s stuff that fits into your daily regimen. Not the other way around.
This pretty much encapsulates everything I’ve said above.

First, important man science: your skin is an organ. Take care of your body organs, dude.

Second, there’s nothing weird about caring for your skin. In fact, you should have started doing this way before now.

There’s also the not-so-subtle hint that unlike your lady’s skin care, which is filled with promises it can’t possibly keep, men’s skin care is going to level with you, bro.

They're all about being real.

Here’s what EMJ says about its anti-aging regime:

Will I look and feel 18 again?

If you’re 18 right now, absolutely. While it’s no miracle, this light, non-greasy face lotion and hydrating eye cream will help you fight the signs of aging.
 No bullshit, bro. Just the straight facts. Even though “fighting the signs of aging” is a nebulous and meaningless phrase. But would these dudes lie to you, man? Nah. 

L'Oreal Men Expert skin care, meanwhile, seeks to lure you in with celebrities who represent the three pillars of masculinity with the spokestrio of Patrick Dempsy (soulful), Gerard Butler (rugged) and Hugh Laurie (classic). They want to make sure you know that using these products won't change the inner you. You're not going to start covering everything in doilies if you use their stuff. Just look at Hugh Laurie -- he's still so classic and British (in the Michael Caine way, though, not in the Hugh Grant way).


And Gerard Butler! Remember 300? That was great.
Another tactic, employed by The Art of Shaving, is basically to say: fuck the naysayers -- pamper yourself, asshole. You're a man. Why wouldn't you take care of your awesome skin?

The Art of Shaving doesn't bother with pandering to your need to think of your face as anything other than a face. It actively encourages its customers to enjoy the luxury of a good shave, not to worry about how it'll make them look to their non-luxurious friends.

You like good scotch and stuff? Then why are you using some POS shave cream?


 Let's be clear: all skin care marketing is silly, and it all panders to stereotypes.

But that doesn't mean that we can't have a bit of a laugh at the expense of companies trying so hard to essentially say, "No homo." Upper-class men used to wear makeup and powder and wigs and would spend a fortune on fashion. Smearing a little bit of cream on your face after a shave is hardly going to destroy masculinity.

Monday, 18 February 2013

In Defense of the Department Store Makeup Placebo Effect

My birthday is a week before Valentine’s Day, and then my boyfriend’s birthday is a week after that. So February is a bit of an insane time, hence the lack of new posts. I didn’t photograph my birthday weekend in Seattle because I’ve found over time that when I’m glued to my camera I get a lot of great photographs of a place I didn’t really experience myself, goofy and sentimental as that might sound.

In any event, it’s been three weeks of cheaper US alcohol, sub-par Seattle coffee (seriously, Seattle, Vancouver is kicking your ass) and makeup. Sorry, no-buy promise.

My boyfriend (possibly at my behest) bought me the Urban Decay Glinda pallet, I bought myself a L'Occitane hand cream (I did use up my Soap and Glory), and finally (here's the big one) I bought an eyeshadow quad and a cream eyeshadow from Chanel.

I regret next to nothing.

But finally owning some great high-end makeup again reminded me of something, something that this no-buy (or low-buy) promise has reinforced: Department store makeup isn’t universally better than drug store makeup. There are still plenty of products that you can buy at the drug store that rival anything you can find in a department store -- particularly when it comes to mascaras or glosses. But the placebo effect that high-end cosmetics create can't be ignored. I find that I treat my more expensive products better, which in turn means that I get more out of a Chanel compact than a L’Oreal one.

If you spend $60 on an eye shadow quad, you are going to use that thing to the bone – because otherwise, it’s an enormous waste of money. And you’re going to be incredibly careful in picking it out. On top of that, the lighting is better when you're testing it (so you get a better idea of how it actually looks) and everything in a department store has a tester.

But if you spent $7 on an eyeshadow quad, you might pick it up a little less carefully, and ultimately who cares if the colors don’t quite go? Then you buy another, because you really meant to get the brown one, as the purple one wasn’t really that practical. Oh, well, the highlight shade doesn’t go, but that’s okay. On and on. So before you know it, you’ve spent $70 on a pile of drug store eyeshadows, none of which are quite right, and none of which you ever end up using all that often.

This, as I’ve hinted before, is the genius of drug store makeup. You spend more money on more products that you like less. And then you treat those products more harshly, causing them to break or get dirty faster, meaning you throw them out more frequently.

I would say 75-90% of the time, I wind up not liking the color/texture of a drug store product as much as I thought I would. Compared to 5% of the time with high-end. So I wind up buying an armload of eyeshadows because I'm still looking for *the* taupe or *the* green. Whereas my one Chanel eyeshadow quad is perfect. Everything about the way it looks is perfect. And maybe that's psychosomatic, but ultimately aren't cosmetics supposed to make me feel better?

Thursday, 7 February 2013

GH Review: Victoria's Secret Deep-Softening Body Butter in "Ravishing Love"

I literally just polished this off today, so I figured I should do a review before I forget. I believe I bought this all the way back last year during a Boxing Day/Week promotion for $5.00 or so from the Victoria's Secret at Bellis Fair Mall in Washington -- since the west coast of Canada didn't have any Victoria's Secret at that point. Now I think we have a "Pink" at Metrotown.

To be honest, I've never been a huge fan of body butters. Firstly because you have to grab a small fistful of it right out of the container, and while I'm not a big germaphobe, I do hate how hard it is to control a glob of product. They do seem to melt on my skin faster, which is nice, but the initial application is always a bit of a pain. Too much goes on one area, not enough on another...

As a result, this lay forgotten for months, but I started using it when I came out of the shower on my legs particularly as they get really dry during the winter. It went pretty quickly once I did start using it and I can't say that I noticed an enormous difference in my skin. I have it on right now and my legs and arms feel really soft, but after weeks of using it, I still have a bit of a nagging dry area around my ankles.

It does sink into the skin quickly and the smell -- which is strong in the container -- fades fast once it's on your skin. Depending on how you like your scented body butters to work, this could be a negative or a positive, but since my job requires that we maintain a "scent-free" environment, it's nice to get a shot of that really pleasant blackberry/lilac smell in the morning without disturbing the nostrils of my co-workers.

Speaking of the smell -- though it says blackberry and lilac, and I believe them, to me this always smelled like a really fruity soda. There was just something fizzy in the smell itself, and that's the best way I can think of to describe it. Definitely pleasant and not overly bubble-gum sweet.

All in all, I liked this body butter fine. I think it worked just as well as pretty much every other body butter on the market (I've tried Clinique's and the Body Shop ones in the past) and it's definitely cheaper than the more famous ones out there.

If you are looking for a body butter that doesn't have a really cloying scent, and you don't have any areas that you need to be seriously softened, then I'd give it a try.

For me, I think I'll give this an A-, only knocking it down a peg for the slight lack of efficacy.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

GH Review: Lush Emotional Brilliance Feeling Younger Skin Tint

 I bought this cream highlighter when Lush debuted its Emotional Brilliance collection last year.

Normally I prefer a powder highlighter, but I got a little carried away at my excitement at the prospect of Lush makeup (I'm still mourning the short-lived B Never spin-off) and picked it up to try.

The Lush website reports:

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

GH Review: Physician's Formula Mineral Wear Liquid Foundation

 This is literally the first and only disappointing product that I've ever bought from Physician's Formula, which is in part why I disliked it so much. 

This is meant to be a liquid mineral foundation from their Mineral Wear line. I'd loved the powder foundation and the blush and the mineral veil, so I figured that this would be another great addition to the collection.

It was not.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Are Makeup Expiry Dates a Myth?

If you look anywhere for advice on when to toss your makeup products, the only consistent piece of information is this: throw out mascara after three months. This makes sense – anything that’s going to specifically touch your eyeball should probably be as bacteria-free as possible and mascaras tend to dry out pretty quickly.

But what about everything else?

I’ve seen guidelines that range anywhere from 2-5 years for powders, 6 months to 2 years for cream shadows, lipsticks and blushes, 1-5 years for eyeliners and 2 to 10 for nail polishes. Typically there is always at least one comment from someone who is still using an eyeshadow pallet from 15 years ago and swears the shadows are still clean and work well. So what is the truth?

Well, my Mother is friends with a woman who manages a high-end department store in the city. She worked her way up from a makeup counter, so she knows cosmetics. And her opinion is that, apart from mascara, it’s all BS.

If your product actively smells, or if your powders aren’t giving any payoff, then toss them. Otherwise, “expiration dates” are merely a way to keep you rotating your collection faster than you could actually get through it.

This is one area where you do see the quality in higher-end products paying off. My Dior 5-eyeshadow pallet from five years ago still blends beautifully, while a drug store pallet I bought a couple of years ago has already gotten a little hard and chalky.

So it depends. But in the end, when it comes to expiration dates (apart from mascara – seriously, toss it after three months), let your eyes and nose be your guides.

What's your take? Are makeup expiry dates factor or fiction? Do you still have some lipstick rattling around from 1998?

GH Review; e.l.f. High Definition Powder

I'd heard that the e.l.f. powder was a good dupe for MUFE's HD, so I picked it up the 8g Translucent for $6.00 at Target a while back. It was the very last one left, and I'd never been able to find one before, so I assume a lot of people have bought this in the hope of getting that "unfocused" look.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Where to Find Bourjois in Vancouver

Not that this is helpful to me now, but I have finally found the best location in Canada for any and all Bourjois Cosmetics needs. While the Shoppers Drug Mart at Metrotown has an okay selection, the 1202 West Pender Street location (on the same side as the Waves coffee house and across from the 7-11) has the best set-up I've seen yet. They have nearly all of the little round pot eyeshadows, blushes, a huge number of the mascaras, the foundations, bronzers, etc. 

If you're looking desperately for a good place to buy all of the Bourjois products you've seen on British guru channels, this is the location I'd go with to avoid disappointment.

They also have the best Soap and Glory selection I've seen yet as well -- including Flake Away, Hand Food, Clean on Me and nearly all of the moisturizers and lip plumpers.

Happy Shopping!

Disclaimer: Not that this isn't obvious from the picture quality of my reviews, but this blog is not sponsored, nor do I receive free items or money for plugging particular stores or brands. The "goo hoarding" reviews essentially imply that this is all stuff I've bought, but I wanted to be absolutely clear about this, given the nature of this particular article.

Video of the Week: Lisa Eldridge's Guide to Dark Lips

I'm still on my Lisa kick. She really is the most professional, seasoned and talented makeup artist on YouTube, and while she doesn't do big haul videos or v-logs, her tips and tutorials are absolutely the best there is.

Here's her video on how to apply and wear dark lipstick, which doesn't seem terribly revolutionary, but is packed with a lot of great advice.