There’s no doubt makeup has a wide variety of uses. For some it’s about enhancing, while others seek a more drastic change. But there’s always a transformation, regardless of the intensity. To help us achieve the result we want there’s an ever-expanding array of products that will provide the perfect formula and shade to suit our skin type, bone structure and colouring. However, that doesn’t seem to be enough.
Packaging, of course, plays an important role, mainly when the price has to be justified. Products can adorn a vanity table, but it’s always nicer to take them out for a walk. Touching up your lipstick in public from a beautifully designed bullet makes the gesture, and the person, feel more special. But, what if that hue was called, let’s say, “Bond Girl”? Would you feel like one? Would your attitude, posture or even walk change? Would the name have inspired the purchase or would it have been completely unbiased?
Words are powerful and, naturally, beauty companies use them to lure us in. They can be the finishing touch, the main reason we open our purses, or, in some cases, a life saviour. For instance, the last present I bought was a high-end lipstick which shared the name of the recipient. It was an instant success and I’m convinced that by any other name it wouldn’t have smelled as sweet.
Some tongue-in-cheek or controversy makes adding items to our wish-list much easier. We can all agree Nars sells amazing blushes and really nailed it with the shade “Orgasm”, but it wouldn’t have become the icon that it is today if it had just been labelled “Shimmery Peachy Pink”. Plus they would have missed out on a great joke when creating The Multiple version.
If we have a look at Charlotte Tilbury’s highly successful range, its nomenclature is vital. You could be “So Marilyn” with a lipstick swipe, replicate Cleopatra’s gaze with an eyeshadow or even buy “the Bombshell look” in a box. The colours won’t only talk to you, they will tell you how to behave. Consumers become actors in a spoon-fed cosmetic role-play.
However, it’s a double-edged sword. You can love a product until you find out it’s associated to a boring film, someone you dislike or a place where you got food poisoning. Even more dramatic, you can stick to a particular foundation shade because it sounds nicer than your true match. It can’t reach holy grail status unless it sounds like you. Or rather what you’d like to sound like. Maybe that explains the common Irish aversion to any bases lacking the description “warm” or “golden”.
Cynicisms aside, I see absolutely no problem in reinventing ourselves and creating alter-egos. After all, beauty and fashion should be experimental and fun, without forgetting their therapeutic element. If an aptly-named lipgloss will help you unleash your inner supermodel, boost your confidence and feel beautiful, then it’s surely worth the splurge.