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?

No comments:

Post a Comment