Beauty Talk: I used to be a beauty snob

Beauty Talk: I used to be a beauty snob

When you live inside the 'glossy bubble', you start to take things for granted, like how much shampoo costs. Because you get it FOR FREE. And in abundance. Thus, you have no real sense of the true monetary, from-pocket-to-purchase value of cosmetic, hair and toiletry items, and hence you have no qualms about recommending a $40 concealer or $80 blush or $100 moisturiser to your readers. You have pages to fill, after all, and advertiser requirements to meet. You become educated about what makeup artists use, and what celebrities do, too, and can easily "call in" the same product on the grounds that you will feature it in your magazine. You might experiment with red lipstick one week and peach the next – or emulate the latest catwalk look filtered into your inbox by a cosmetics company (like NARS!) – because doing so will not mean you can't pay the rent/buy food. Things like illuminator and primer and Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat become NECESSITIES. Like toilet paper.  

When you live outside the glossy bubble, or teeter on the edge of it, as I do, surveying and comparing the cost of items on the shelves and spotting gift-with-purchase deals becomes a competitive sport. And all of a sudden, cover-mounted mascaras and cheek colours and lipsticks – more particularly by the more prestige brands advertised within the magazines' pages – become a prized commodity. GOLD. I used to look upon such things with snobbery: now, not so much. How the mighty fall.

It was with some amusement that I read newsagent Mark Fletcher's comments about a female customer chasing a makeup cover-mount freebie over the phone.

"They were chasing a free pack of makeup and wanted a certain colour. When I advised that we had sold out they said that I was the twentieth newsagent they had spoken to. Weird. Twenty phone calls and all that time chasing some free make-up.  I imagine that my caller was not the only one interested in the gift.  Maybe her call was an example of much bigger word of mouth."

My guess is said customer was chasing the Designer Brands makeup palette available with Take 5 that week. While it's not super-expensive to buy, I had to keep myself from purchasing all the copies off the shelf. Not because it was any old free makeup, but because the set of shadows were MY colour – the perfect mix of grey, black and blue – and the lip stains were, too. The glossies had blessed me. So, too, was I smitten to find Becca's Beach Tint in Watermelon attached to the March issue of madison in the same week. My new makeup needs had been met – nearly a full face for the price of two magazines – without setting foot in a department store. That's value. And a positive cover-mount experience.

Thankfully, during my relatively short-lived stint as a beauty editor, I didn't acquire too many pricey habits: too much lingering Catholic guilt for that. But I do have preferences. And standards. Which means I compromise in certain areas (regular soap in lieu of body wash; Ego or Olay cleansers in lieu of Lancome) but save up to have my hair done at a fancy salon.

While I rarely stray from my "day face" – black eyeliner, grey shadow, cheek tint – I will look at a girl on the street sporting a fierce red lip or Lea Michele at the Grammys with fuchsia smackers and think, "I really need a new lipstick", if only I could pull one out of the well-stocked beauty cupboard. Same goes for when I meet a lady who puts more effort into her visage than I do ("I should wear foundation").

But when you can't afford industry-standard Giorgio Armani foundation, you think more about how you can get good skin through your food and sleep (cheap, cheap, cheap!). Thankfully, there's something challenging and fun about being low-maintenance on limited means – and, ironically, in the case of DB/Take 5 and Becca/madison, it can help to shift more magazines.

Girl With a Satchel


Lani said...

I used to be a beauty snob too. Vogue Fourms were in their heyday and with disposable income at the ready I wouldn't think twice of dropping $100+ on the latest cream, foundation or similar.

Now days, back in the real world, I was delighted to find BECCA beach tint on this month's Madison. $8.95 for a product that normally costs $42? Don't mind if I do. And the added benefit of a pretty decent issue of Madison.

The only temptation now is not going out and buying more issues of the magazine to stock up on the Grapefruit beach tint to use as backups. Sure you can put the budget into a girl but you can't remove her OCD tendencies.

Liz said...

In my makeup bag: Giorgio Armani face fabric & luminous silk foundation, Nars Orgasm blush & illuminator, YSL Touche Eclat, Bobbi Brown makeup brushes.

In my pantry: Coles smart buy rice, Black & Gold olive oil, Mi goreng noodles etc.

When you live outside the glossy bubble, you still find a way to satisfy beauty snobbery. If magazines can help this cause and we can help their sales while at it, then that's just fabulous.

Anonymous said...

Great article!

Sarah said...

I make so many compromises and sacrifices to I can buy nice make up and beauty products! It's really quite sad when I'm eating the butts of my loaf of bread because I desperately needed to buy that Dior Bronzer last week!