Saturday, May 18, 2013

Brand Snobism!

We all have favorite brands of cosmetics. Some we like more for makeup and others for skin care. There are products we started using very young, that our moms used before us and others that we've discovered on our own. Packaging, performance, colors influence our choices and of course publicity plays a big role but there's also another reason. Some brands seem more "fashionable" than others and it would seem, the higher the price, the better they position themselves.

Case and point, a discussion on Makeup Alley's Skin Care Board. The following question was asked:
"I want to treat myself to a high end skin care product which brand is better, Lancôme or Estée Lauder?"


What followed was quite interesting. One member stated that these where "old ladies brands".

Old ladies brands!

Now that made me laugh! She obviously hasn't stopped by neither of these counters recently! She continued by saying that she preferred brands considered, her words, "more couture" like Dior, Guerlain or YSL.


Ok I confess, I have been guilty of that sin as well, brand snobism. I grew up seeing my mom using Estée Lauder, Elizabeth Arden, Orlane, Guerlain and some Lancôme. For her Dior was for fragrances. She loved Dioressence and Miss Dior.

As soon as I was able to buy my own makeup, those brands where left behind... Well, only briefly since I ended up working for Estée Lauder (Clinique and Prescriptive), Lancôme, Dior and a few others. Needless to say that I got to enjoy a lot of good makeup and some of what some people call, high end skin care. La Mer, La Prairie, Orlane and Guerlain where all favorites. Oh and I almost forgot, Erno Laszlo. I can still see one of the girls who used to work behind this company's counter at Eaton's Downtown in Montreal. Always admiring herself in the mirror, putting on powder and looking like a precious porcelain doll. The perfect image for the brand.

We where all dressed in designer clothes and those of us who had to wear a uniform over them weren't too happy about it. Estée Lauder used to have this horrible mint green, Lancôme's was grey and don't let me start about Clinique's. We really, truly, hated to wear them. Skin and makeup, perfect! We used to look at customers weirdly when they would say that $25.00 for a blush was too expensive, that was a while back of course.

Too expensive! Really?

Oh and let's not forget how horrified we where when women would show up wearing the "wrong" lipstick! This was all it took to get them in our chairs for a "new look".

Real snobs!

Have things changed? Nope!

Recently I went to The Bay Downtown and noticed a performance of the same dance we used to do. Sales assistants from one counter looking at how another counter is busy and theirs is not. Makeup artists discretely looking at the work others are doing, thinking, Oye! I would have done so much better!

These days a Givenchy blush will take you back $52.00 and an Armani Face and Eye palette around $90.00. Lipsticks? The "nice ones" are over $30.00!

The prices make these brands alluring. To be able to boast that you own two Dior minaudières or several Lancôme or Dior mascaras, that's what it's all about and this is nothing. Some have makeup collections worth thousands of dollars and no, they are not beauty bloggers nor are they what we would call professionals. I sometimes think they would rather go naked that have less Chantecaille makeup or Chanel nail polishes. To the real snob, forget about drugstore brands! They are simply no good, their packaging horrible and there's no way a $10.00 loose powder will be as good as the Clé de Peau Beauté just purchased for $80.00!

Drugstore brands are often overlooked because they don't look like anything special, they are after all sold at the drugstore. It's much less "glamorous" to shop in a drugstore than in a "grand" department store. Don't we love to go to a big shiny and elegant cosmetic counter. Have you been to a Chanel, Dior or NARS counter recently?

Not everyone can afford a Guerlain compact powder and believe me, Marcelle makes a pretty amazing one! For most of us it's a matter of economics. If when we need something we can go for department store brands then that's great but, sometimes one has to make choices. Personally I wouldn't see the point in spending a lot of money for a trendy shade of lipstick, one I know I would wear only with a few outfits. On the other hand, for something I use every day, then yes I will invest more if I can.

For basics, makeup I use everyday, I go high end but for trendy I go drugstore.

Still, keep in mind that there are little treasures hidden at the drugstore. For example, Rimmel bronzers as well as some of their lipsticks, L'Oréal Infaillible eye liners, Marcelle powders, Essie nail polishes and many other items. You just have to look for them and maybe read reviews before you buy. Oh and yes, I know! Some drugstore items are just a pain to unwrap, especially compared to high end brands with their lovely boxes.

What about skin care?

The reason this rambling all started, well, I don't go for high end anymore. The brands I use would be considered mid range and are found at the drugstore. Avène, Biotherm, Clarins are some of the ones I'm more interested in these days. All the skin care lines available at the department store are in my opinion overpriced for what they do. None have ingredients worth talking about and most have way too much fragrance. When I think about some of the claims these companies make to have you spend $100.00 or more on a serum, it makes me smile. No wonder there's so much Photoshop on their advertisements. When I see a cleanser go for $40.00 I start thinking, do people, I know, women mainly, really think their faces will be cleaner with it than with a cleanser at $19.00? I guess so since they sell a lot of them. Plus, high end skin care items, with their luxurious presentation look so good all lined up in the bathroom!

Drawings: for Icaria's by CLPG

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