Ten Worst Reasons To Buy Cosmetics

Author's Note:  This article appeared in a local Asian daily..  It is profanity-free and fit for mass consumption.  I am keen to know what you think. 
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Just when you think you have enough lipstick, mascara, foundation and moisturizer stashed to last you till the shoulder pad’s second coming, there will come a New Truly Amazing Wunderkind of a Cosmetic Miracle that will send you rushing to the checkout counter faster than Apple can come out with the next generation iPhone.
DON’T. Just not yet.
As someone who worked in the global beauty industry developing these products with  “irresistibly compelling  arguments,” I would like to give you an insider’s guide on what the claims really mean to help you thresh out the real cosmetic gems from the run-of-the-mill rubble.
Here, without further ado, the 10 worst reasons to buy cosmetics:
10.  Because “some proceeds will go to charity.”
Cosmetic companies identify with charities that they know their customers will like (children, animals, nature, aids, woman related issues), donate a miniscule amount to the charity’s high visibility PR programs and write off their expenses against taxes.
Want to really help charity? Skip the mediocre lipgloss, let the cosmetic company pay their due in taxes that help propel the nation’s growth and donate straight to the charity of your choice without commercial intermediaries.
Try Kiva.org and be instantly gratified for empowering micro entrepreneurs who try to make a difference or bahay amihan, a foundation that helps empower solo parents. 
9. Because it “contains the ingredient proven/ known to cure…”
Whenever you see this claim and feel swayed by it, walk away. It is a common play on words used by marketeers to mislead. Product contains the ingredient but in proportions too small to deliver the benefit, yet enough to get away with claiming that ingredient is there all right. So that means, ingredient, present; benefit, absent.
8.  Because it has a (pseudo-) medical practitioner’s “seal of approval”
Here’s the deal: all commercially-marketed products have to comply to one regulating body that sets the rules of what is safe for consumption.  For us, that regulating body is the BFAD/FDA which has standard regulations, procedure and government-set fees.
When a “seal of approval” is given by other medical and pseudo-medical associations, it does not mean that a product complied with additional standards. It means that the brand outbid other brands to pay a large sum to get the exclusive seal of approval. This large amount goes to the association’s coffers controlled by the association’s officers. Not that I am implying anything but read between the lines.
7.  Because it is “dermatologically tested.”
A corollary of the medical practitioner’s seal of approval, of all the claims a product can have, this is the most meaningless. Just ask this question: Dermatologically tested for what?
6.  Because it is “kind to animals.”
All products are subject to the same rules and are in the same boat. They all use ingredients that have been previously tested on animals, otherwise, they would not get BFAD approval to trade.  But the good news for animal lovers is that  companies are not required to do anymore testing for ingredients that have been previously tested. So to claim no animal testing, cruelty free –– whatevs –– is just academic. And to insist and brag that a company is really vigilant on this one, is one big income-generating PR hype.
FYI, if a product claims to be truly innovative, they will have to test on animals to prove their claims.  If they say they don’t, then be wary of that innovative claim. On another note, you cannot claim to support animal testing, then support AIDS research — because AIDS research tests on animals.
5.  Because it has “patent pending innovation.”
This is how it works: If you tweak the percentage of an ingredient in a formula, or change three dimensions of your packaging –– you can already file for a patent. That doesn’t mean it will be approved though –– the process can take months to years and most times, the patent will be disapproved or just dropped. But the beauty is the  company is allowed to claim to have a patent pending innovation –– and rake in sales. Patent pending? Just say no.
4.  Because it is “natural.”
Foregoing the obvious argument that everything surrounding us comes from nature and is thus natural, there is no one guideline or regulation about where to draw the line and what  can be claimed natural. So, what is the point?
3.  Because it is  “hypoallergenic.”
If you are not particularly allergic to a certain ingredient, why go for a hypoallergenic brand that rids itself of fragrances, all active ingredients then pay dearly for it? It is a manic preoccupation with needless sanitation that is costing you dearly. And get this: the term hypoallergenic is “self-controlled” –– BFAD has no predefined/accepted definition for it.  So, why bother?
2. Because “ X% of women agree that …”
Ah, lying with statistics! All it takes to get a favorable statistical result is a  well-chosen panel size and ambiguous questions. And if that test can be done in-house (which it almost always is), even better. And besides, your beauty is unique. No matter if 100 percent of women agree, they are not you, are they?
1. Because it is expensive.
A product is expensive because it chooses to be so. It has a higher profit margin because it has to pay for seals of approval, advertising, endorsers and its exclusive distribution channel.  A higher percentage of the product cost goes to packaging, not the formula. Expensive is not an assurance that a product is good. Most times you can find exact replicas of expensive products in a mass market brand in less flashy packaging. (However, if you are buying expensive so you can brag to your friends, that is another issue altogether.)
So far, I have discouraged you from swiping that almighty plastic. But then, when Mr. MasterCard is burning a hole in the your handbag, you ask, “Okay, ex-beauty insider,  what, in Santa Madonna’s name, are the right reasons to buy cosmetics?” 
Well, unlike purchasing electro-gadgets that require a fair amount of Google-fu and comparative reasoning, in cosmetics, what you should trust most are your five senses and the omni-sapient feminine instinct. 
Try the product first without buying. Let that overly zealous beauty rep demonstrate and make her day.Take your time to smell the faint aroma on your bare skin, feel how the texture easily subsides as you apply it, marvel at how weightless it feels, how easily it blends or how the color looks on you in different lights. Enjoy the moment and let your senses be seduced by the product.
Happy? Good. Do not purchase it yet. Walk away. (Tell the rep that you need to wear it a few hours to judge how long it lasts.) Go through the rest of your day, continue with your “leche vitrine” (the fancy French term for window shopping — literally translated, “lick the window“), see the leatest chick flick, share a bottle of New World Merlot with your bestie or a capuccino à la viennoise for the sage –– then sleep on it.
If, after this exercise, you do not have a sentimental recollection of  the product and do not care much about it –– then forget it.  If, however, it is something you fell in love with, enjoyed wearing and gave you that j’en sais quoi glow that your friends cannot put a finger on  –– and remembered the morning after ––  then you have got yourself a winner. 
Go for it. Get that product and include it in your vast beauty armament.
For in cosmetics, there is only one good reason to buy –– 
and that is because it makes you look and feel pretty.
* * *
Rowena has launched more than 700 cosmetic products, trained managers around the globe on branding by design and was responsible  for the resurrection of a top global makeup brand. Her blog, quoted and referenced by international beauty bloggers, is heralded by Elle International magazine as the cosmetic industry’s answer to The Devil Wears Prada.

61 comments:

  1. Sorry I am delayed answering your comments, emails- I will, just have a big deadline coming up. Thank you for your understanding.

    And- yey, I have activated my twitter account. Have nothing nice to say? Tweet that shit!

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  2. For in cosmetics, there is only one good reason to buy –– and that is because it makes you look and feel pretty.

    I love your conclusion! But my personal conclusion might be "because it makes me happy and confident"...

    Thanks for writing a new article :D

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    1. Thank you Jacq H! Thought i would end it on a positive note for a change.
      And so long as you are doing it for yourself and yourself only- you are doing it right!

      Delete
  3. Love this! But I prefer you when you're sweary ;)

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    1. Haha! Me too! Wholesome is coming out of my ears in this article that i thought i would start running in the hills singing the sound of music.
      I am thinking of rewriting with the bitch in the room.

      Delete
  4. Good article! Here in Canada, we had a TV ad saying "100%" of Canadians would recomment it. I thought: Ok, this is it, they are going too far, how could I recommend it, I have never tried it! I would have understand if they said: "100% of Canadians who tried it", but that wasn't the case! And when Consumer TV shows went and tried to talk to them, they refused! BS! Just plain BS!

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    1. Wow! Yes, that is freaking too far. On the side note, I am thinking of moving to Canada because i heard it is a safe haven from the zombie apocalypse.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ueBZuZAoglE
      How cool can Canada get! Heehee!

      Delete
  5. Fantastic post and article. Thank you for sharing it. I think when it comes to any product marketing/advertising you have to over look the bullsh*t the companies claim...as well as the hypocrisy (hello DOVE and their PRO-female stance and AXE and their over-sexed ads - all owned by the same conglomerate!). Once again, thanks for sharing this :)

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    1. Aw, you are most welcome Kay!

      Here i wrote a poem for you-
      How can i stop bloggin,
      with all this lovin?

      heehe, i have been bit by the silly bug.

      Delete
  6. I am so glad to see you posting again! I had tried to email you eons ago and it said it was not a correct address-I'm gonna follow you on Twitter right now-I'm @FPMjh and I totally agree-if it makes y ou feel pretty that's the only valid reason!

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    1. Thank you Fingers! Yes, my email went awol awhile and i was just too preoccupied to fix it. But it is ok now. Thank you for the follow!

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  7. Great article! I seriously hate when people buy into all these stupid claims.. and especially when someone buys something JUST because it's expensive! There are so many gimmicks all over advertising and it's about time someone does something about it.

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    1. Oh gawd, yes, that is the WORST, saddest reason!
      But oh, i can think of another one equally annoying that i have not put in here because i will write a special post about it.

      Delete
  8. Another refreshing post from you Rowena...hope you continue to chronicle more here! Nice to see a candid truthful voice amongst the beauty industry goons

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    1. Thank you Lidsay! I was only gone as i lost my blogging mojo- seems to be back again.
      Look forward to writing more regularly soon!

      Delete
  9. They missed one - because it's on sale. I always feel tempted to splurge when something's on sale, but I've become a lot better at asking myself if I actually need/want it, or am just being drawn it because it's cheaper than normal.

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    1. Oh yes! That is right- ok, this I am also guilty!

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  10. I love that you've started blogging again. GREAT post!

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    1. Vonzi! Great to hear from you and that you haven't abandoned this prodigal blogger of yours. heehee!

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  11. Hurrah! Another quality read! I admit I bought a couple of makeup items from Omorovicza, totally to about 400 dollars, With no other reason but expensive=good. They are good but def overpriced.

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    1. Thank you unknown one, may i recomment the pencil pornication post as a start in saving on your pencil costs. Cheers-Rowena

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  12. Dear Rowena,

    Thank you for your eye-opening blogs and speaking the raw truth. I am currently a Marketing Major graduating this year. I chose the major mostly because I wanted to work for a prestige cosmetics/beauty company after school. It hit me later that something isn't ethical about marketing... I already developed second thoughts halfway through it all and decided to pursue something else after I graduate. I think opening up my own day care and working with kids seems much more rewarding :) I don't want to bullshit people for a living! I applaud your bravery to stand up and speak your mind. Reading your blog reconfirmed my decision that I will be heading down the right path.

    Thank you for all your wonderful posts.


    -Zhaklin

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    1. Dear Zhaklin-
      My insights are mostly coming from the bigger corporate brands and there normally are a lot of them under one corporate umbrella. Just follow your passion, whether daycare or make up, so long as your intentions are positive, i wish you the very best!

      Delete
  13. Hey! Please check out my fashion and beauty blog and give any feedback! Thank you!

    http://fashioninspire0.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Hi fashionsipire- You are welcome to promote your blog on my site- so long as it is done in moderation. A girl's gotta do, what a girl's gotta do.

      Delete
  14. "Foregoing the obvious argument that everything surrounding us comes from nature and is thus natural, there is no one guideline or regulation about where to draw the line and what can be claimed natural. So, what is the point?" oh give me a break. you can't claim that L'Oreal and some natural cosmetics mix that someone does at home (like a coffee sugar scrub with some oils and herb in it) are the same. because it's obvious which one is natural.
    and for the animal testing part - so what, we shouldn't care about the animals while buying cosmetics? to give up on them and to support torturing and killing? I buy mostly vegan handmande stuff from sites like Etsy, mostly natural cosmetics (yes, by natural I mean herbs, oils and raw unrefines cocoa butter which you mix and match at home) and yes, I do believe it's CF. I'm not saying that you are 100% wrong but sure you're not 100% right over some things. the world is not black and white. and to make fun out of people that care is the product is cruelty-free (final form and ingredients) is rude to me. just sayin'.

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    1. Hi Voodoo Blonde,
      You are correct and thank you for voicing your opinion out here. I love and encourage strong women.
      Though let me clarify- on natural- what i mean is any brand can claim natural on its packaging because there is no one guideline by the regulations on where to draw the line.
      And ditto for "no animal testing' as a claim. True reform with the no animal testing will come from vigilant consumers as you are and am just here to point out how corporates are getting around to please you yet would be doing the opposite with another brand also in the corporate umbrella OR be doing corporate stunts, which though draw attention to the brand, really do not help in the bigger scheme of things that count. I hope this is clear, but if still not, let us agree to disagree. And if you have findings from your own investigation, you are more than welcome to share them here. Keep that passion burning!

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    2. well yes, it bothers me also when I see a brand called "XXX" (just an example) and under that title you can see "Natural cosmetics" or "Natur kosmetik" like here in Europe, 'cause we get a lot of German stuff. It's actually almost all organic :( And definitely NOT natural. so yes, I do agree that regulations for those things sould be out there, so that no everyone can call themselves "natural". (p.s. sorry for my English, I'm from Croatia in Europe). and when it comes to CF cosmetics - I am totally aware of the fact that all ingredients were once tested on animals and that can't be helped, just like we can0't change history. but I can choose to buy only indie vegan and true natural handmade cosmetics or even those who don't test their ingredient on animals but use old data. :)

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    3. (p.s. I agree on the issue corporate umbrella and all. I don't support brand that are CF and their "mother company" is not CF, like OPI - Coty and recently Urban Decay - L'Oreal. If I'm buying those product, the money is still going to the mother company that test on animals. So there's no point in acutally buying those so-called CF brand like Urban Decay.)

      Delete
  15. That's why I really love the internet and beauty bloggers/reviewers. I bought a lot of makeup and skincare products years ago in my early teens that turned out to be total crap. Nowadays I always research something before I buy it and check out online swatches/reviews, especially if it's a more expensive high end product. And I can usually hit up Amazon or Ebay for a trial size version to try out before I commit to spending my cash. This just wasn't possible 10 or 15 years ago and I ended up making a lot of foolish impulse buys instore and falling for BS product claims in ads and on labels.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Dear barstr7,

      First, let me apologize for the very late reply- i really really appreciate your taking your time to write and show your appreciation of my blog.

      I hope to be able to be in touch more soon and will never disappear so long as I am of service.
      Welcome to my blog!

      Delete
  16. Am new to the blog and I've got to say I LOVED the article & your writing! :)
    Will be following! Thank you so much! *

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  17. To chime in on some of the comments above: In the U.S., if your marketing claim is so outrageous that it cannot be substantiated, you're allowed to use the claim. For example, you can claim that your product is the best in the world because it's not practically feasible to verify that your product is actually the best in the world. If you're claiming that your product is X% better or preferred among a population or delivers Y% improvement, then you better have the numbers to back up your claim because it's possible to obtain such data. I learned this from a lawyer who specializes in reviewing and litigating advertising claims for major retailers.

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    1. Thanks Justine!
      In Japan i found a cream that says- brings happiness. Only a matter of time when someone will say brings world peace then.

      Cheers!

      Delete
  18. I just wanted to tell you that I just found your blog from a recommendation from one of Natalee Dee's followers and I am a lifetime reader/follower now! Thank you for your honest take on all things cosmetic:)

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    1. Thank you Christina and thank you to Natalee Dee!

      I am happy to have you here for a lifetime (aww, i am touched) and give you my pledge to never sell you out.
      And if in case you sense that i have, remind me so kindly by bitchslapping me a few times will you?
      If you may be so kind as well to give me Natalee's link, I will put a link back of appreciation to her.

      Delete
  19. I just found your blog and I'm totally loving it. Please do warn us of all the cosmetic industry idiosyncrasies out there. Could you perhaps post on what to look for in certain products when shopping; like foundation, powder, eyeliner, etc? Also, I absolutely love how you write. Keep it up!

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    1. Hi Giggles!

      Welcome and i am glad to have you here!
      Oh i wish to review more products too but i will need passionate testers on my side. (If it is not too obvious, inside view of cosmetics has kind of watered down my flame for make up).
      But I am cooking up something and will surely announce it here.

      Delete
  20. Nice work done… You have shared very good information… I enjoyed your post.
    You can visit my beauty blog for more related info...

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    1. Sure, promote your blog here in the comment if you wish to. Good luck!

      Delete
  21. Hi Rowena! You should update more!! You have a lot of readers eagerly waiting. So actually, I do think some of those marketing labels actually do have some grain of truth behind them. There are small to medium sized cosmetic companies that really are dedicated to providing the most natural and organic ingredients that they can find. Some of them even grow the ingredients themselves. But as to the efficacity of these ingredients? well, that's another story. Also, I think it is important to show that a company is against animal-testing. As for testing new innovations, what about testing on human volunteers? So those are just my thoughts. Also, I love that you mentioned Kiva! Empower entrepreneurs! Go!!

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    1. Hi Ziba! Haha! Testing in humans is pretty radical! I have been a tester of makeup for so long (it ain't glam!) and would not wish it upon anyone:-)
      Yey to entrepreneurs!

      Delete
  22. Hi Rowena :)
    long time no see :)
    *hug*

    Maybe you have more time for blogging after your big deadline, always love your posts!
    If I had known your blog sooner (or you had written it sooner ^^) I would have saved soo much money, hehe ... but better late than never.

    It's just so funny when I'm shopping and browsing through stuff (I still get attracted by flashy packaging, it's like headlights for a deer) and I read the description and the word "bullshit!" runs screaming through my brain *gg* hehe.

    Hope to read more from you soon :)

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    1. Hi Caitlyn!

      You know, everytime i post, i look forward to your comment too! I intend to travel some this year and am fiddling with the idea of having a bullshit night with my blog readers as i go along. And i would be so happy if i can meet this feisty, fabulous caitlyn! Hug back!

      Delete
    2. Hi Rowena :)

      lol, "feisty" is not a word I'd use to describe myself ^^
      I'm actually a lot tamer and quieter than I sound ^^ but I think that's because of a "well-behaved" upbringing and keeping my naughty thoughts to myself instead of pouring them over the next salesperson *grins*

      I really like the way you write and what you have to say.
      Actually, though it might have sounded the other way round, I prefer the background information you gave us over the saving of money.

      Of course everyone likes to save money and I bought cartloads of useless stuff, urgh, but I really like the facts and information behind everything.

      It's a bit like watching TV ^^
      I like a good action-movie with a lot of bling and boom and pow-wow, but I also like "boring" documentaries of foreign countries or animals or how the old Egyptians managed to build such huge pyramids.

      I like the Ah's and Oh's and the fireworks, but I also very much like to know the facts behind the scenes :)

      And that's why I like your blog so much and the way you write it and the person who's behind it :))

      Oh, and a "bullshit night" with your blog readers sounds fabulous!



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    3. Ahaha! I will be the foul mouthed documentary then:-) Will announce when i will be travelling then soon. Hug!

      Delete
  23. hello I just met your blog and I love, I really like your photos, so here you have a new follower!, luck in all your projects, many kisses and hugs! I leave my blog if you fancy following me!
    http://siempremisspetula.blogspot.com.es/

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    1. Hola Siempre Miss Petula!
      Muchas gracias y te deseo muchas suertes tambien!
      Abrazos! (And sorry for my rusty spanish!:-)

      Delete
  24. Hello, Rowena :)

    Thank you for this amazing text, I really missed your posts a lot :)

    I agree with you that price doesn't mean quality, and the best example one of my boyfriend's mother, she is the one that really enjoys expensive products. One time she bought some crazy expensive Sisley face cream, I think she paid about 350$ for it. She reacted soooo bad to it, she used it for her hands nad feet just so she could use it up, and not throw it away.

    Now I'm off to share this with all of my cosmetics addict friends :D

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    1. Hi Nic Charlie!
      Oh your welcome and i am glad you also commented your thoughts here- i really love hearing from readers- it is all the compensation that i need.
      Oh dear, Sisley is damn expensive and i can feel her pain. And thank you for your recommendations. Bug hug to you!

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  25. I found your blog and I absolutely love it. Tell us all the special qualities of the cosmetics industry. If you have such a foundation, powder, eyeliner, etc. Some of the products, not the post about what to look for when shopping?
    best beauty products

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  26. Thanks for sharing this great best beauty products info :) good work keep it up :)

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  27. For me, the only reason to buy cosmetics is to make you look pretty.

    ~Pauline @Kallony

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