19 March 2010

A moment.

Before I stick up more reviews on here, I wanted to have a brief chat (to my keyboard) about some things on the topic of beauty that get on my buffed wick. Let me be clear, I am in no way a beauty or skincare expert. I write this blog because I love three things dearly, apart from the family/friends nonsense, and they are beauty products, books and magazines. Books, we shall visit at a later date, but this is my first foray into blogging and so it made sense that I write about something I genuinely like.

At 26, I have been experimenting with make-up and skincare for the best part of 15 years now, which I suppose awards me some sort of ‘experience hat’, albeit one I’ve fashioned for myself out of a page of Vogue and a dream, but then pretty much every woman who uses make-up and skin products can say the same. And make themselves a pretty hat. My third (but rapidly waning) love is magazines. I just love nothing more than a brand new shiny issue to flick through once, devour twice. Love it. Especially the beauty pages. It’s where I get, or got, the majority of my news and product information, would see looks that I thought were interesting – although have never been someone to sit and copy a look from a page – and generally soaked up all the beautiful goodness in the hope that by basically sweeping the page across my face I would be revealed as a poreless, glowing vision. Sure. That happened.

About 18 months ago, I became a blog trawler, that is I started actively seeking out, or coming across, a number of different blogs, some beauty-related, some not, and ever since have spent large swathes of time reading and watching with interest as I found genuinely honest reviews about products I had or was considering buying. It was a revelation. People actually said they didn’t see what all the fuss about Touche Eclat was about. I knew I wasn’t the only one that was ambivalent! Yes! Beauty twins were found every day.
Then it dawned on me, although deep down I knew this already working in publishing myself, that the majority of the beauty reviews in magazines were not always honest, but were there either because the PR agency had paid for them to be featured, or because the brand was a big advertiser and so the team were obliged to feature (positively) a product from a particular range. I had always known this, but just didn’t want to accept that a lot of what I was reading was nothing more than product placement or basically a lie. It annoys me so much that these magazines, which do wield quite an influence over consumers’ buying habits, don’t always do a genuine review or recommendation of a product, if for no other reason than a lot of stuff that they do feature is not cheap.

What I really wish is that they make it totally clear that although a product might be good for certain things, it won’t necessarily have that effect on every skintone, every skin type and every person’s actual face. I can’t count the number of times I’ve read that such and such a lipstick is *the* colour for Spring, or that this moisturiser will transform your skin from grey lizard to peachy peach, so rush out now and snap it up before it’s gone! It’s just not possible to prescribe a beauty product that will suit all, or give the same results to everybody, and consequently, women will waste hundreds, or, hopefully not, even thousands of pounds, buying products because a chi-chi publication has promised results and after two uses they have to stop using it because it’s doing nothing for them, or making things worse.

I cannot stress highly enough the importance of testing every single item you buy. Obviously, you can’t do this with drugstore skincare usually, and although you can test make-up colours on hands, it’s not really the same, although spending £4 on a lipstick that isn’t perfect isn’t quite as galling as spending £20 on one. So, if you’re wanting to buy any product from a ‘counter’ brand, i.e. Clarins, Lancome, Shu Uemera, ask for samples and testers of everything, or ask the assistant to apply the make-up so you can see what it looks like, wear it for the day to test durability and removability, and see what it’s like in different lights, conditions, etc., then you can at least return to make the purchase if you’re satisfied with the results.

For skincare or foundation, I absolutely will not buy something higher end without at least a three-day sample to take away with me. It’s totally unreasonable for cosmetics companies to expect you to part with £30 for a foundation that you can’t even try out first. Any stand or shop that won’t offer this, I wouldn’t buy from. Another thing to do is if you are, like me, an avid magazine reader, keep your eyes peeled (I hate that saying) for the foundation samples. There’s usually at least one in every monthly mag up for grabs, and if you buy the same magazine, often a brand will run an ad for two or three months at a time and give out the same sample. So, what I do, is save the sachets, get one of those little clear pots from Muji or somewhere, and decant all the product into it. If you open one sachet to do your face each time, I find there’s often too much product for one application so it dries out and you have to throw it away. I collected three months’ worth of Chanel Vitalumiêre recently, and managed to get 10 days’ worth out of the pot. Not bad, for a foundation that would set me back £31 if I bought it straight out. I liked it, and luckily the colour was an ok match, but it made my oily/combination skin a little too shiny and ‘slidy’, to use the technical term. It just didn’t perform well enough for me to want to purchase a whole bottle. So the test was totally worth it.

Having read so many good things about that foundation in magazines and on blogs, I was going to buy it, but saved myself £31 and got 10 days’ wear anyway. The only problem with doing this is the colour issue. It’s rare that I find the samples match my skin tone, but what I do, rather than throw them away, is apply them when I’m not going anywhere for the day, so I can see not the colour, but the texture, finish, durability, etc. If I like the overall effect, I will then go to the counter and test the colours so I have already got a good idea in mind of how it will work for me. Again, I still ask for samples of my colour to take home, and make sure it’s truly going to be worth the money spent.

Sorry this is such a long post, I just really want to emphasise that whenever you read about a product, really think about if it will work for you. Get to know your skin type. If it’s oily, don’t rush out and buy something that’s recommended for making your skin glow as you’ll end up looking like you wash with chip fat. Similarly, don’t get, say, a mattifying primer if you have dull or dry skin. Hello crocodile face! Just try, try, try, before you buy, and if you can’t, walk away and find somewhere where you can. You can try your clothes on in shops, you can try your shoes on before you totter out the door (and get blisters as soon as the receipt’s in the bin), so why not do the same with your beauty products? You’d be surprised at the difference – not to mention the money saving - it makes.

1 comment:

  1. I lost ALL faith in the beauty pages of mags after working in beauty PR.

    Journos can receive a HUGE amount of products in the post and I can imagine it's probably rare that they've tested them thoroughly enough to give a proper review.

    Thanks for the tips though, I always end up buying cheaper products because I'm worried the pricier ones will end up being a waste of cash. Will now hunt out the samples first! And I do love getting my make-up done by those lovely ladies in Boots...

    Right - I'm off to Muji to buy tubs xx