I recently had an epiphany, and it's changed the way I look at beauty. Beauty Products are toys for adults
We've all heard this saying before; "It's what on the inside that matters". And I'm not arguing with that. It is. But sometimes it's not what's on the inside that counts at all. For instance, I am such a sucker for gorgeous, shiny, sexy-as-hell beauty packaging. If it's shiny, pretty or even slightly glittery, the 5-year-old girl in me comes out and I suddenly need to hold that product in my hands and play with it. My natural reaction is to grab it to experience its textures and scents. Whether it be lathering on a new serum, applying blush to my cheeks, or smearing lipstick all over, its starts with the outside allure.
The whole experience of beauty can be very cathartic. It can feel like playing dress up (but in an appropriate and socially acceptable 'adult' way.) At times, it takes you back to the feeling of being a kid. More and more, I'm realizing that beauty is capturing our inner child. We all started as children that grew, but at our core, that child still exists. We change, but we still want to experience the mystery, wonder and awe of life like when we were kids. It came so naturally to us then. Sometimes we experience that in romance, love, travel, or creating a child. These are very meaningful experiences. Other times though, it's far more materialistic than that - it can come in the form of a beautifully packaged eyeshadow palette, cute lipstick or gorgeous fragrance. Get those things in my hand, and I'm like a kid again. Exploring these new beauty products and opening them for the first time helps us regain the childlike curiosity and imagination that we once had.
And it's not just me that's had this epiphany. The brands are onto us. The 1990 quote by artist Jasper Johns "Everything I do is attached to my childhood" shone brightly projected at New York Fashion Week this month. As I reflect on some of my favorite childhood toys, they include Barbie (Mac did a collab. with Barbie), Crayola Crayons (Crayon Case is selling a palette that looks like crayons), and Street Fighter (still waiting for that release!) I love how the aesthetic, brand and style of these new products reflect these brands' overall ethos and values – because it brings out the inner child in me. They know it too, because there's more effort going into ensuring there's a connection with the audience and the brand.
I may be pointing out beauty packaging, but this correlates with beauty trends too. As a child, you wanted pastel colored hair like a doll – check out Gigi Hadid's purple wig at Jeremy Scott's NYFW show, or just scroll Pinterest and you'll see it's not only acceptable but still a very in-trend to die your hair blue, green, purple or even rainbow. I specifically remember my Mum saying no to Rainbow hair when I was 8. Well guess who's going to the hairdresser this week Mum?! #vindicated. You want to wear glitter all over your face like when you were a little girl? Well it's more than acceptable – it's even in your highlighter. You don't even have to go to the glitter store like some weirdo. And what child didn't love unicorns? Now the unicorn trend is everywhere. And finally, whilst your dyeing your hair rainbow, why not go for a rainbow makeup makeover too? These are trending hashtags people – not strange people who live on their own out in the woods.
It feels like the older I get, the more serious my life responsibilities become. It can feel harder to be willing to pursue these fun new looks. Having a cute but demanding 1 year old banging at my feet who wants to be picked up from morning till night does minimize my time and willingness to try new things. Perhaps beauty brands lay on the childhood nostalgia thick to get through and tap into that childhood wonder that is still inside of me. Because I can tell you – I may never grow out of this unicorn and rainbow stage. Maybe allowing that childlike wonder to be awakened (even if it's just to be sold to) is exactly what we need to express who we truly are and find fun and joy in our lives. Either way, brands are going to make a K.I.L.L.I.N.G. off me if they keep this up.
Cover photos thanks to Matt Biocich for Anna Cinquina. Product photos courtesy of the brands.
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