Chatter: Trying to be Edgy

Nobody likes a tryhard, yet so many brands are trying to be edgy lately. I’m not offput by crude humor in the slightest, but I can’t help but feel like brands are desperately grasping more and more for attention via punchy names and claims.

Isn’t it a little tired? Isn’t it enough to have a great product and solid marketing?

Brands

NARS Orgasm has been out for ages and the name makes sense for the color they are suggesting it is inspired by. It doesn’t strike me as tawdry even if the average shopper would feel unnerved asking for it by name in Sephora.

Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara isn’t a particularly nice formula – but oh man, such an edgy name! There are plenty of other products out there that are trying a bit too hard. Some are good, some are clearly banking on their shady name to make sales.

Trying to be Edgy

Oh, marketing. Urban Decay has a history of products with shady names. Okay, it’s one thing to name a color something off-beat. They’ve teased their new Troublemaker mascara which is, allegedly, “sex proof.”

Okay Urban Decay; I know that Wende founded the brand with the aim of going against the grain. With an effortless edginess in mind. But in their tagline, “Beauty with an Edge.” But isn’t marketing, “sex-proof,” mascara trying to be edgy a little (a lot) harder than is necessary?

Urban Decay themselves state on the product site:

Troublemaker holds up in hot and heavy situations and still looks good in the morning. We tested it ourselves, and it lasted through saunas, snowboarding and sex!

One – all of your consumers would expect you to test products in-house before releasing them. Two, gee UD, bet all of those were very stringent tests.

Why would you leave makeup on in a sauna? Just sayin’.

Reviews

Urban Decay’s site suggests there are five reviews to the product so far. When you click the link, however, it takes you to a blank review section.

Trying to be edgy? Urban Decay's latest mascara sure is.

Other accounts on the internet from people who got them early are besides themselves (with glee) with how scandalous the claims are, proudly proclaiming that, “it’s totally true!”

Oh good, now we can all sleep at night,

The Bottom Line

I’m not sure when Troublemaker releases but I don’t plan to buy. My criticism for their (and many other brands’) marketing strategy isn’t the main reason why, however. In general, I’m not keen on splashing out on prestige mascaras but that isn’t helped by trying too hard to be edgy. I will not be trying this unless I come across a sample tube.

Seriously, how much of their clientele was reaching out to them and going, “Hey Urban Decay, your products are really great but there’s just this void in my life and in the market. I really need a mascara that can withstand–“

Cool Beauty Products I’ve Seen Lately

Being a blogger on a no buy is a challenging position to be in. I ought to remain at least vaguely aware of wtf is happening (ABH Subculture) and what cool beauty products are launching. ALl oh this, of course, without becoming tempted enough to make purchases.

You are cordially invited to join me in marveling at my first world problems.

Anyway, as a result of

  • trying to stay at least semi-abreast of what is coming out or
  • shopping for other things and seeing ads or seeing unrelated albeit interesting search results and
  • occasionally tagging along with a coworker to Ulta during lunch to help her with product recommendations

–I’ve seen some cool beauty products lately! I haven’t purchased any of these items, but I wanted to share what caught my eye.

Cool Beauty Products I've Seen Lately - Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush Mini

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush Mini

I’ve tried an Hourglass mini before, but ultimately invested in the full sized product because, well, the product is fantastic. I imagine that’s no different with the Ambient Lighting Blushes, but let’s say you’re gift shopping and have a limit of $25-30. This little one, currently only available in Mood Exposure, runs $24.

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Sunscreen Dispensers

When I was a kid, my grandparents had a boat that they docked in Rhode Island. My family would visit and we’d hang out on the docked boat or go on little boating adventures on the Narragansett Bay. I marveled at the novelty of being, “entrusted,” with a moment of, “control,” over the helm. When docked at the marina, I took great joy in feeding the resident (jerk) swan flock fistfuls of Cheerios. I can’t recall ever visiting the area’s beaches, though.

Last weekend, languishing with a mouthful of gauze while flicking through Google Now cards on my phone, I was presented a headline about the town of Narragansett. Initially confused, I realized it was due to my interest in sun safety. Apparently, the small town has installed sunscreen dispensers. Even better, they are free for beach-goers to use!

What?! This is a thing?! (I don’t get out much – my area doesn’t have these.)

Sunscreen DispensersSunscreen Dispensers in Narragansett, RI.

How cool is that?! The sunscreen dispensers are paired with signage that features application instructions, sponsorship information of a local business that helped fund the installation and maintenance of the dispensers, as well as a mirror.

As it happens, they aren’t the pioneers. Some hasty Googling lead me to find that New York City has placed 100 dispensers across 27 locations including beaches and even a fishing pier. Miami Beach did it a couple years ago! In 2015, they installed 50 dispensers at beaches, pools, and parks. Other areas have, too.

It’s an awesome public service. I love the example Narragansett, NYC, and Miami Beach are setting in regards to sun safety. Even if you didn’t use what was provided, simply seeing the dispensers is a good enough reminder to apply and reapply at the beach. I hope that more areas (not just beaches) follow suit to help encourage good sun protection habits; I’d love to see them paired with water fountains.

Chatter: Content, Consequence, and Controversy

Grab a cup of coffee or tea – I’ve got a wall of chatter for you today.

What a shame it is that a content creator cannot issue a straightforward (not harsh, nasty, or spiteful) review of a product. Or, perhaps, she can – but not without being lambasted for being a bully, or for, “sabotaging swatches,” or for, “having it out for,” or, “being jealous AF of,” whoever collaborated on the product.

Ridiculous.

Let’s call a spade a spade. Jaclyn Hill has a bit of a blemished history when it comes to collaborations.

  • 1995, her shade with scandal-ridden Gerard Cosmetics. Sure, the lipstick was apparently fine – but when things went sideways with the whole Manny and Jen fiasco, she could (and should) have been more tactful regarding her choice (which I agree with) to end her relationship with Gerard.
  • Champagne Pop, from Becca, flew off the shelves to a ridiculous degree. The spinoff palette, unfortunately, was a failure. Because Jaclyn for some reason refuses to hire competent PR people (read: not her mom and sister) to help her navigate such sticky situations, she bombed spectacularly when she unceremoniously turned the blame at Becca.
    Sure, it was Becca’s manufacturing process. But when your name is on a product, you are at least partially culpable. There’s also plenty of constructive ways to respond to ugly situations without saying, “It’s their fault! I’m innocent!” Yeah – real professional.
  • Then, Morphe. There was talk for over a year about a second Jaclyn collab palette with them…when info should have been released, it was withheld despite a leak. When it should have launched, it was delayed with little-to-no acknowledgment, let alone explanation, as to why (beyond wishy washy excuses and denials of it being what was leaked). Eventually, it launched – and spoilers: it was exactly what was leaked. The shadows aren’t a special formula, and as far as I can tell (from the few people honest enough to create content without either a) being in Morphe’s pocket or b) trying to impress brands, or Jaclyn, or whomever) it isn’t worth the price.
    I haven’t bought their products, I don’t plan to, so I can’t comment on quality from a first-hand point of view. I can say, however, that I’m not surprised.

Over the years, there’s been a cult of personality developed around Jaclyn. Now, there’s a fairly venomous fanbase who seems to think she can do no wrong. They are so active, so pervasive, that they are attacking content creators who are even just vaguely critical. Not even critical of Jaclyn herself, but suggesting that Product X, although decent, is not quite worth Price Tag $Y. Not saying, “don’t buy this,” or, “this is garbage,” or, “wow, what a failure,” just, “From a value standpoint, there are better options,” and, “there seem to be some inconsistencies in how this product is being presented – here is how I got these results.”

Rabid

In a sub-industry inundated with nothing but positive reviews, even fans cannot deal with even the slightest hint of honest yet sensitive criticism. Dare to tell the truth that something didn’t blow you away? You’re obviously a hater, just jealous of others’ successes.

That’s a mature, well-reasoned argument now, isn’t it? It is possible to be impressed by someone’s career successes and simultaneously critical of products they are associated with. These are not mutually exclusive ideas!

Many of the fans losing their minds on those brave enough to issue criticism are young, impressionable ladies who think their behavior is just fine … online. Naturally, none of them would be willing to be so brazen in real life. Having a rabid fanbase so drunk on your cult of personality, however, does reduce the positive perception others may have had and reduces your credibility. No, it isn’t as if Jaclyn is telling these people to go hiss at, “her haters.” But she isn’t asking them not to, either – and people in her camp do support this behavior.

This behavior has some content creators refusing to even touch the product for fear of the drama that will inevitably ensue. It has others, who did a great job approaching the matter respectfully and maturely, refusing to engage with their followers any further for fear of inciting more issue. That is not okay.

Repeat After Me: Criticism is NOT a Fate Worse than Death

Criticism in and of itself is not a negative thing. Yes, of course there are ways to issue it that are – but so much of the vitriol I’m seeing on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, etc. is not in response to negative or nasty content. It is in response to earnest, thoughtful content that is clearly making great effort to not bash the product or Jaclyn.

We must ALL face criticism in our lives. Sometimes it is thoughtless garbage. It isn’t always. If you think you’re so above reproach that you should never, ever be criticized? My, you have some growing to do. I suggest starting with getting off the YouTube and Instagram comments section and doing some soul-searching.

For the rest of you (us), we should encourage professional, thoughtful content creators to create as they intend. We need more of their work! We need honest, thoughtful reviews and discussions…even if the peanut gallery thinks otherwise.

…and Before You Think think this is a Jaclyn Bash…

–it isn’t. I think it is quite impressive that Jaclyn has been able to establish and grow her brand over the past few years. At something like age 26 or 27, she has successfully built a lucrative career in an industry and format that is difficult to grow in without years of experience behind you. When it came to 1995 and Champagne Pop, she clearly has an eye for what will be on trend, and she worked to establish relationships to create in such a way to capitalize on that. For someone who does NOT have an experienced management team or higher education behind her? That’s incredible! …but she still has opportunities to grow.

TPDTY: On Upselling for Consumers and Salespeople

A month ago, I went for a wax at a popular waxing chain. The first-time service, albeit uncomfortable, went well! Part of how this chain makes money is through selling their in-house line of skincare products for use at home after the service. I generally eschew these things unless the person I’m working with can make an excellent case for them. Most do not.

Upselling

Afterwards, the esthetician who rendered my services tried (gently, unlike this hair stylist) upselling me on some of their retail line. According to my esthetician, the products contain growth inhibitors and exfoliants. Both are cool, but not enough to sell me on a $27 tub of 45 wipes. She gave me one of the wipes to demonstrate how saturated they were (unlike some wipes that are halfway dry); it was pretty solid. But then again, for $0.60 per wipe, they ought to be.

Know Your Products (or Services)

I asked what its active ingredients were to exfoliate – like an AHA or salicylic acid; she balked. She ultimately went on to tell me that it contained lavender and aloe vera for soothing purposes – great, but not what I asked. The packages did not list that information either which, as a consumer, I find disconcerting.

Needless to say, she didn’t make the sale. I later went to research the products and found that they do have both AHA and BHAs – but no information on what kind or on concentration. Ouch, not worth it to me when I can use any number of products I already own.

As a Consumer

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