Ô, Lancôme!

Ha! I do like Lancôme. They do nice cosmetics. Nice metallic shades. And defo a step up from No. 7 when it comes to quality and finish and pretty much everything else.

Cosmetic Waste

On the other hand, browsing through their counter last week, I was more than slightly miffed to discover that their eye shadow palettes come in pre-set fours. That is: you buy a palette, and the shades you get are four shades chosen by Lancôme.

Now I have a problem with that. Take the palette I am using right now. Its got a pink that I use for smokey effect around the eye socket. And there’s a purple that, at a pinch, I’ll use on eyelid (re-inforced with a metallic purple from Urban decay): but given what I wear most of the time, I really want plum. Which is what I used to call purple, before I knew any better.

That leaves a slightly off-white that I can’t see myself using much…and a silver, that I like, but doesn’t fit most of the time with the rest.

No. 7 do similar: pre-set palettes with three colours, which provide a better mix but, because I use up colours at variable speeds, quickly run out of one colour, meaning I have to replace the whole palette when all I need to replace is one bit of it.

You can see where this is going. Next to bigger stuff like trans rights, discrimination against marginalised groups and man’s inhumanity to man, I guess cosmetic waste isn’t quite such a big thing. Or maybe it is.

One thing that I have been struck by over the last year is just how much of some very expensive products go to waste. The bottom of perfume bottles: the second and third colours in colour palettes. What seems, at times, to be about a third of all nail polish.

That is seriously wasteful and, from writing some quite serious reports about corporate social responsibility and waste, it is exactly the sort of thing that needs to be addressed – and an area where the cosmetics industry lags very behind other industries.

Sweet solutions

Sweet manufacturers, f’rinstance, save significant amounts of energy just by cutting back on the packaging of their easter egs. Supermarkets are very concerned when it comes to the amount of material that goes into packaging, and are also looking at techniques techniques for cutting down on waste. It is, as they say, an interplay, because if you cut down on packaging too much, you tend to increase waste.

And make-up is expensive. A single unused colour in a palette is approximately £10 of wasted purchase. Just imagine a food retailer selling jars of caviar and expecting customers to just accept that the last 20% couldn’t be dug out! There’d be a (very posh) riot!

Mac rules!

Which is why I was both impressed – and seduced – by the Mac counter in Debenhams yesterday. And not just because of the slightly cheesy “Wonder Woman” campaign Mac is currently running online!

Mac is, of course, even pricier than Lancôme. But it does feel good. A full four-colour palette is likely to set you back about £50, but…here’s the pitch: you buy the palette holder… a sleek, black branded creation, with four empty stations in it. Then you buy your palette colours one at a time.

So I bought myself a holder and a plum colour – and nothing else. Later, I’m sure, I’ll add to that, a colour at a time. And as I use up colours or change seasons, I’ll move new ones in or out.

Its pricier stuff – but probably cheaper in the long run than Lancôme: possibly, bizarrely, cheaper even than No. 7.

And its absolutely brilliant marketing. I get to flash a sleek Mac branded palette around the place – and actually spend less on the product than if I’d switched to a cheaper brand.

Talk about building customer loyalty!



8 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    spirifer said,

    This is why I tend to only ever buy single pots/tubs/palettes of eyeshadow and blush. I envy the Americans – their run of the mill make up is so much better than ours, even in their supermarkets and pharmacies. I bought a Max Factor magnetic palette, which sounds very similar to what you describe, in a supermarket, plus the four colours to go in it for about $10, I think (it was a while ago).

    They also have some good clothing shops for tall women (LTS are starting to annoy me because they seem to be going far more for fashion than classic these days).

    What about a girlie shopping trip to the States at some point?! ;-D

  2. 2

    Circadian said,

    I don’t know if this is an appropriate question, but do you find that you notice (and can name) more shades of colours now? (Just a random thought that the article brought up.)
    Also, I wonder which works out more expensive – the cosmetics palettes or printer ink cartridges (another example that came to mind immediately about forced waste)? Wait, what do you mean my roots are showing? (I hope computer nerds are welcome here!)

    • 3

      janefae said,

      definitely much more colour sensitive, in the sense that i am far more aware of the various colours “out there”. Though i think that is a social thing: women buy much more fashion: fashion comes in a much wider variety of colours and shades.

      For blokes, the work decisions often boils down to which if three colours do you want your suit in? Dark (grey or black-ish), blue or brown. ick!

      Same sort of game with shoes. The boy recently went out with me shoe buying. For him. He sat down and got his feet measured. They were up a size. So he looked around the shop and… sleected a pair identical to the ones he was already wearing. Yep. Very blokey.

      However, whilst i think the colour thing is mostly social, i think smell is possibly a hormone thing. I definitely am far, far more sensitive to different scents now and while again, women are expected to be, i don’t even have to try to be sensitive. It just happens.


      • 4

        andrea said,

        the shoes the boy chose are also the ones that come with a toy in the heel…that could have a good deal to do with the choice

      • 5

        Circadian said,

        (and replying to andrea) Consistency and toys – yes, sounds very male 🙂
        (And thanks for the info on colours and scent sensing. Interesting – I hadn’t even thought about the olfactory side of things.)

  3. 6

    Louise Harris said,

    As you have discovered this make up thing is expensive, wasteful and often goes unnoticed the the Other Half! Do you wear mascara? If so, you are not supposed to use it 6 months after opening, eye infection risk etc, but it never runs out that quickly so you then have to decide on the risk! As for colours a few of us did gently persuade a local trans friend that bright blue went out in 1986 and it was awful even then! xx

    • 7

      janefae said,

      oi! we all have our mistakes to make. 🙂

      i fear i went for the blue for a while…but happily am a good deal more sober now (unless i’m out clubbing, which is quite another kettle of fish).


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