The Business of Beauty’s Haul of Fame: Red Hot Chilli Lip Gloss Makes Shoppers Feel the Burn

Welcome to Haul of Fame, a roundup of the biggest beauty moments of the week, what hype is actually helping, and what trends are likely to fade faster than a DIY spray tan.

Included in today’s issue: Travis Kelce, Fount Society, Vyrao, Oprah Winfrey and Shani Darden. But first…

Should beauty hurt? Judging by a recent spate of releases, the answer is “yes, at least a little.”

I’m thinking most about Maybelline New York’s recent revamp of their Lifter Plump gloss. The original formula has Hyaluronic Acid for extra moisture and shine. On Nov. 7, they unveiled a new formula via Instagram and TikTok with chilli oil that “delivers an intense heated sensation and plumping effect.” Consumer reviews on Maybelline’s own page are less poetic: “I couldn’t lick my lips without my tongue burning as well … It felt like rubbing pepper on my lips!” and “my lips were burning a lot” are two of the top comments.

This isn’t the only “ouch!” moment coming to a counter near you. Woowoo’s “natural” bikini wax strips showed up at my local C.O. Bigelow on Nov. 1 and Tweezerman’s facial razor hit Target on Nov. 4. At the CFDA Awards this week, several longtime editors were wearing Tom Ford’s now impossible to find Bruised Plum lipstick, a pummelled violet shade that looked—said one 30-something influencer—”like I got punched in the mouth, but in a cool way.” (Also at the CFDAs, Dove Cameron’s inky swirl of a ponytail was created by Dove hair care. Pairing the Spotify temptress with a shiny, happy staple of girlhood is a very good idea, and the Dove-for-Dove thing is cutesy in the right way.)

But back to the idea that you’ve got to suffer physically to succeed aesthetically. The notion isn’t new … not even in the lip category. Look at DuWop Cosmetics, which launched their best-selling Lip Venom in 1999 — 24 years ago! — and hit $4 million in sales before everyone realised that Lana Del Rey’s bee kisser was a metaphor, not a mandate. But as cosmetics procedures like Botox and Restylane became part of beauty salon culture, and ingredients became more focused on comfort-inclusive results, temporary beauty winces like pore strips and retinol scaries seem pretty passe. (See also: Tyra Banks telling a model whose hair bleach was so toxic, it was literally making her convulse to “take it like a model” in season 3 of “America’s Next Top Model.”)

Now look, extreme beauty is one of the luckiest breaks we can get. Being beautiful has been proven to advance career prospects; it helps manipulate the social media algorithm; it could get us a DM from Pete Davidson. But to justify the advantages of “pretty privilege” by saying, “well, at least you’re uncomfortable” makes it seem like a looks-based advantage in life is okay as long as it hurts, instead of tackling a more expansive idea of beauty in the first place.

But pushing the bounds of what’s pretty is exactly what brands like Rare Beauty, Peach & Lily, and of course Starface are doing extremely well right now — check the new P&L subway ads, with middle-aged adults smiling at the camera, revealing age lines and absolutely zero care.

See Also…

Travis Kelce just landed his first beauty deal. Taylor Swift’s latest paramour, who is also—according to my boyfriend, anyway— “definitely one of the best football players in his position, maybe ever”—is now a face of Rewind It 10, a boxed hair care brand for men. His partnership was announced this week. The brand is tagging it as “Travis Kelce’s secret weapon,” but perhaps his actual secret weapon is a brilliant woman. Cool box, though!

American football player Travis Kelce on a box of hair dye.

Australian fashion fixture Yasmin Sewell ran the fashion racks at Browns and Farfetch before becoming an energy healer; her aura-based fragrance line Vyrao launched mini bottles on Nov. 8 so you can test the potions without committing to any long term metaphysical side effects. The fragrances were developed with perfumer and biochemist Meabh McCurtin and psychic advisor Katt Nicholson; even though they’re “mini” they’re still $120 because — as we learned from “The Craft” — magic has a cost.

Fount Society launched their new body butter on Nov. 2 and it’s already on Oprah’s Favourite Things list. (You know what that means: Prepare to receive it in at least 2 of your holiday gifting exchanges.) New York dermatologist Dr. Ryan Turner, who you might have seen on NBC News, unveiled TNR skin the same day. It aims to simplify skincare routines by distilling them into just 3 products, including an “all-in-one Niacinamide treatment serum to combat blemishes, signs of aging, stress and irritation.” Dr. Turner has previously worked with CeraVe, so he knows the ropes of clinical skin care.

Earlier this week, Shani Darden launched a serum brush for “seamless and precise application.” I’m a little iffy on the science of this, especially since there’s so much data about the psychological benefits of human touch when we apply products by hand. But considering the number of new serum-esque foundations on the market right now, it’s a good option if you’re into foundation brushes but can’t quite get yours to work with the new U Beauty drop.

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