Has CVS brought us the future of drugstore beauty?

I’m not sure about you, but I’ve read up about CVS a lot recently and it certainly seems like they’re taking an aggressive position when it comes to beauty. Last week I spoke about how they’ve partnered with Kiss Products, Inc. to launch the brand Joah Beauty, bringing K-beauty inspired cosmetics into mass retail. Well, it turns out that CVS is broadening its beauty offerings in a big way through at least two other strategic partnerships. Firstly, they’re collaborating with the on-demand, at-home beauty service company Glamsquad to pilot BeautyIRL (IRL stands for “in real life” by the way), an exciting store-within-a-store concept that reimagines what the beauty aisle of CVS could be. And secondly they’ve also partnered with eSalon, the bespoke hair color company, to bring their Allure award-winning custom color kits to the masses.

Each partnership brings more fun, more personalization and more convenience to the beauty-shopping experience which really hasn’t existed at the mass retail level before.

Totally exciting stuff!

If you’re lucky enough to live in Andover, Massachusetts, Stamford, Connecticut or Florida you may have access to one of these BeautyIRL concept stores right now. So far CVS has made it available at just 4 locations in the U.S. (FL got 2, while MA & CT got 1 each), but there are plans to expand the offerings online and to more store locations by 2019. I have my fingers and toes crossed that one will come to NY soon! (However I’m not horribly far from Stamford, so maybe a field trip is in order 😉.)

So what is BeautyIRL exactly? I believe the idea is this: you feel like you’re walking into a stand-alone beauty retailer but in reality you’re simply wandering into the (enhanced) beauty department of your local CVS. It seems there’s a whole bunch of uber cool offerings in these concept spaces. There’s a “trending” section with up-and-coming indie brands; an expanded K-beauty section; more natural and/or organic products; and a whole section where you can shop just beauty mini’s. If that doesn’t excite you already, well get ready! A whole slew of on-demand, personalized beauty services are also on the menu thanks to Glamsquad including consultations, makeovers, blow-out’s, and various skincare services. Also, in massively big news for me, there were will a “Test-and-Play Hygiene Bar” where you can (finally!) sample and touch your favorite drugstore brands. Oh my gosh, are we finally getting drugstore testers???

But CVS is not stopping at just cosmetics & skincare. You can also now get bespoke hair color kits in the new BeautyIRL locations thanks to their partnership with the e-commerce company eSalon. Color consultants will be on-site to match customers to their perfect hair shade and to operate a device that will create and dispense custom shades. The whole hook is making the product available for immediate purchase.

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A bespoke color dispensing device from eSalon in a BeautyIRL space. Image source: CEW.org.

The concept of BeautyIRL builds off CVS’s biggest beauty campaign yet, the “Beauty in Real Life” campaign which initiated earlier this spring. All of the beauty promo imagery from this campaign was released with absolutely no retouching or digital manipulation of any kind to foster more realistic beauty standards. It also featured a diverse roster of “real” women (so no models or celebs) to give the campaign a more relatable feel.

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Image source: Allure
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The new CVS Beauty Mark which stands for ‘Beauty Unaltered.’ Image source: CVS Instagram

If the BeautyIRL concept is a success for CVS, I think it will mark a definitive change in drugstore & other mass retail beauty shopping. If you read any article about the future of retail there are a few trends that always get discussed: enhanced experience, more product choice, and more personalization. Consumer expectations are shifting and we generally want more of our in-store shopping experience. CVS is attempting to answer to those needs with their new beauty initiatives. I’m excited to see what happens next!

What do you think about CVS’s beauty initiatives? Would you go into a BeautyIRL space if it was in your local CVS? I’d love to know!

xo, Erica

Sources used: Allure, InStyle, Elite Daily, CEW.org. Cover image source: InStyle.

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Imitation or rip off? The case of Revolution Beauty

If you’re a makeup lover, you live for a great dupe. (If you’re a makeup newbie, ‘dupe’ is short for duplicate. When you apply that to makeup you’re talking about products that are either very similar or near identical both in color and texture.) It’s very challenging these days to have a truly original idea in makeup whether it comes to unique packaging, formulas, or color schemes. In a sense, we’ve seen a variation of everything before. And the drugstore has historically been a goldmine for dupes to many high-demand and expensive products. Take for example, the similarities between the Cover FX Custom Cover Drops and NYX’s Total Control Drop Foundation; both boast the ability to customize your foundation coverage with a thin, watery formula that’s delivered through a glass stopper. So if you had the option to buy a similar foundation for $14 (NYX) or $44 (Cover FX), chances are you’d go with the lower-priced item.

Many in the beauty community make the case that the drugstore or other lower-cost retailers help democratize the experience that higher-end makeup products provide. If you love the color and ornate packaging of a Tom Ford lipstick but don’t have the budget to buy one, L’Oreal or Maybelline can provide you with a similar experience if you buy one of their lipsticks. I personally see nothing wrong with this way of thinking, nor do I see a problem with L’Oreal or Maybelline creating more affordable lipsticks that may by happenstance be similar to higher-end ones. But things get a little more contentious when you study what UK drugstore brand Revolution Beauty (formerly known as Makeup Revolution) has done throughout its past.

As someone who lives in the U.S., Revolution seemed to come bounding onto the beauty scene very suddenly a few years back. At first they occupied a small end-cap in Ulta, and now they take up nearly half an aisle; their popularity has exploded. They are generally well-received by social media influencers and consumers who praise their low price points and gobble up their seemingly endless makeup releases.  So where is the problem exactly? If you peruse Revolution’s site, amongst their vast offerings you’ll find several products that go well beyond the imitation or ‘duplication’ of well-known higher-priced items; these products could easily be considered rip off’s of said higher-priced items.

In 2017, Twitter shouted Revolution out for copying the iconic rose-gold, fluted packaging associated with the Charlotte Tilbury brand for their Renaissance Lipsticks Luxe launch. Quite famously in the same year, Kat Von D tried publicly shaming them via Instagram for blatantly copying her best-selling Shade & Light Eye Contour Palette. While the packaging on the Revolution Ultra Eye Contour Light and Shade is different and much cheaper than the Shade & Light, everything else from the color selection to the sequencing of colors are nearly identical between the palettes (I’m sure the formula isn’t identical though). Revolution’s response was matter-of-fact and unapologetic: they are in the business of making dupes so that makeup can be accessible to all.

It doesn’t stop there. Revolution has essentially copied other popular products from Too Faced, Ben Nye, Kylie Cosmetics & KKW Beauty as well.  Here are just a few visuals for comparison.

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Original Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette – $49.00 (Source: Ulta)
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Revolution version: I Heart Revolution I ❤️ Chocolate Palette – $15.00 (Source: makeupmusthaves.nl)
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Original Too Faced Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bar Palette – $49.00 (Source: Mecca AUS)
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Revolution version: I Heart Revolution I ❤️ Chocolate Salted Caramel Palette – $15.00 (Source: makeupmusthaves.nl)
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Original Shade & Light Eye Contour Palette from Kat Von D Beauty – $48.00 (Source: Pop Sugar AU)
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Revolution version: Ultra Eye Contour Light & Shade – $15.00 (Source: Pop Sugar AU)
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Original KKW Beauty Creme Contour & Highlight Set (with brush) – $48.00 (Source: Pinterest)
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Revolution version: Creme Contour & Highlight Set (with brush) – $20.00 (Source: Revolution Beauty)

 

From comparing the packaging and the overall execution of the Revolution products in all the cases above, you can see that they’re similar enough to be identified as a lower-priced ‘dupe’ for those very popular higher-priced makeup items, but also different enough not to put themselves under the threat of copyright infringement. Revolution has figured out a way to successfully skirt this fine line so they can quickly capture the popularity of other makeup brands. Customers don’t have to wait for makeup artists or social media influencers to tell them that these Revolution products are ‘dupes’ for luxury items; they can make that association much quicker for themselves if the packaging and layout look similar enough or nearly identical.

I haven’t tried any of the Revolution products pictured above. I know most people talk about their great quality, but I would rather put my money towards other drugstore items or even other Revolution items that didn’t so blatantly appropriate others’ successes. I don’t hate Revolution Beauty. I happily use their Conceal and Define Concealer regularly, which everyone says is a dupe for Shape Tape but I don’t personally agree on that. I just find some of their business practices troublesome.

I do think makeup should be accessible to all incomes. I do think drugstore brands should be able to recreate luxurious experiences at more affordable costs. But that doesn’t mean drugstore brands can’t be innovative, and it doesn’t mean drugstore brands should take what Too Faced, Kat Von D, or KKW Beauty is producing, change the packaging ever so slightly, and call it their own.

I really would love to hear your opinion on Revolution Beauty. Do you think what they do is wrong in these instances, or just another example of lower-cost duplication?

Xo, Erica

Summer trend how-to: blue eyeshadow

Every summer heralds bright, bold colors into makeup from everything to lipsticks, to blushes and eyeshadows. Bright corals & pinks, and deep bronzes & oranges typically dominate the color schemes of spring and summer. This season one of the trendiest colors that seems to be popping up everywhere is bold blue eyeshadow. Every other big palette launch this season has some variation of blue, from deep shimmery tones to brighter royal blues to indigos. Good examples of this are the KKW Beauty x Mario Palette from earlier spring, the new Urban Decay Beached Palette, and Fenty Beauty’s Moroccan Spice Palette. So if you’re going to play with color, summer is a very inspiring time to do so. You’re spoiled for choice.

But how do those that are “color-adverse” experiment and play with such bold, bright colors? Is there a way to make blues more wearable? Blue can be notoriously hard to work with, both texturally and optically. For example darker navy shadows, particularly matte ones, can be difficult to blend across the eye without catching. Lighter blues or baby blues can sometimes look dated or retro on the eye, especially if you blend them all the way up to the brow (I don’t mean retro in a good way here).

But like any other makeup trend, it’s not what you apply that makes the difference so much as how you apply it.

So here is my practical guide to making the blue eyeshadow trend your own this season.

 


First, let’s start with a few easy application tips.

Application tip #1: Soften your edges

When applying blue eyeshadow, remember to keep blending as much as possible! As I mentioned earlier, blue can be difficult to pull off so you want to make sure you’re softening and blending the edges of your shadow to create a more wearable apperance. If you find your shadows are getting patchy, try blending a matte flesh-toned shadow over your eye primer first; it will take away the slight tackiness of the primer that some shadows can cling to. This happens particularly with mattes.

(If you need more help learning the basics of eyeshadow application, please refer back to my how-to post here first, which is perfect for beginners.)

Application tip #2: Don’t blend too high

I won’t stay here long since I mentioned this earlier, but blending blue too high up towards the brow can look dated and weird depending on the tone you’re using. Just avoid it.

Application tip #3: Concealer

After applying your blue shadow, make sure to apply a good correcting concealer under your eyes. This will help cancel out the blue/purple undertones that occur naturally around our eyes. If you skip concealer, all those blue tones between the shadow and the undereyes could make you appear a bit ill.

 


Now let’s move onto ways to wear the blue shadow. There are 3 main tactics that I use to make blue eyeshadow more wearable on myself, which I hope you’ll find helpful.

Tactic 1: Strategic placement

This is all about where on the eye you choose to place the bright color. The easiest and most fun thing to do is smudge it underneath your lower lash line. You can do this with either an eyeliner or a powder shadow, or layer both. Paired with a more basic or neutral color on your eyelid, the contrast between the upper and lower lid space will really stand out. If you don’t like the idea of putting such a bright color under your eye, you can certainly line your top lash line instead. It’ll still add a lovely point of interest without letting the bright color take over your look.

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Look #1 Lower Lash Line – I applied the Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Pencil in Chaos with a limited edition Chanel shadow layered on top. Contrasted with the sepia color on the eyelid, it’s like color theory in action.

Tactic 2: Neutral color pairings

This is about grounding the look with more wearable colors so that the brights stay in a more supporting role and don’t overtake your look. Neutrals like brown, gray and of course black work perfectly alongside most bright colors. In the look pictured below, I used a slightly darker blue than in the first look and paired it with a bronzey brown. This look is slightly more editorial in nature since I placed the blue towards the front of the eye, but paired with the neutral brown it becomes a lot softer. I wouldn’t recommend this look though if your eyes are naturally close together, as it will make them appear even closer. In that case, you could switch the placement of the brown and blue, so that the brown is towards the inner corner and the blue is on the outer third of your eye.

This look is a recreation of an old Pixiwoo video that you can watch here.

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Look #2 Neutral Color Pairing – I applied a mixture of Earl Grey from the Too Faced Chocolate Bon Bons Palette with a limited edition navy-teal shade from Chanel to the inner corner of my eye. I paired it with a very wearable bronzey brown.
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Road Movie Quad from Chanel’s Fall 2017 Collection (discontinued), containing the teal blue shadow used in Look #1 (lower left side) and the darker navy-teal shadow used in Look #2 (lower right side). The bronze on the upper left side was also used in Look #2.

Tactic 3: Use more flattering tones 

Perhaps you’re not into these bright summer-trend colors at all, but you’re tired of just using the same tones look after look. The more the color is mixed with a neutral, the more wearable it will be. So think about using navy blues or gray-blues instead of bright royal blues, for example. You’ll still get the effect of the color but not all the attention or drama, so to speak. That’s what I did in the look pictured below. I used a gray with a pronounced blue undertone in the crease of my eye. The blueish color just peeks out above the crease, so the overall effect of the makeup is quite soft and very wearable.

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Look #3 Flattering Tones – I applied Dagger, a dark gray-blue from the Urban Decay Smoky Palette, in the crease of my eye and just above it for a soft peek of color. I smudged a matte gray underneath the eye for an overall more neutral look.
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Some examples of gray-blues from the Urban Decay Smoky Palette. Dagger is second from the top.

 


If you’re looking for some color inspiration, here are some swatches of both bright blues that can pep up your look, or more wearable blues to dress-down your look.

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Bright royal & teal blues. Top: Urban Decay Chaos Liner; Bottom: teal shade from Chanel Road Movie Quad.
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Darker, more wearable blues. Top: Dagger from Urban Decay Smoky Palette; Middle: Contrast from MAC; Bottom: navy-teal shade from Chanel Road Movie Quad.

A lot of bright blues come in palettes since pairing them with other shades is often necessary to complete a look. However, if you do not want to buy a whole palette just to get a blue you can easily go to MAC, ColourPop or Makeup Geek to buy a single shadow or create your own palette. I bought Contrast as a single and then put it in my MAC neutral palette. You can of course opt for a blue eyeliner if you’d rather not use a shadow. Your choice of products will all depend ultimately on what kind of look you want to achieve.

What do you think of bright blue eyeshadow? Would you wear it? Do you have any tips or particular looks you like to do with blue shadow? I’d love to know!

xo, Erica

 

Can we hit pause on highlighter, please?

After a few years, highlighter is still having a huge moment in the makeup world. It’s everywhere I look when I shop for makeup, in every conceivable form: powders, creams, gels or liquids in big pans, small pans, palettes, bottles, & mini’s. And in almost every color from gold to pink to peach to purple and blue. I would say every second or third tutorial I watch on YouTube or Instagram, or ad image I see online, features highlighter prominently. Either it’s slathered onto the skin so it can be seen in heaven or layered on top of creams or liquids to give an almost supernatural effect. (To read more about my thoughts on Instagram makeup, click here). “Blinding” skin is in and matte skin is BAD, people. Or at least that’s the message I’m getting.

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A Meditation on “Instagram Makeup”

I don’t know about you, but (surprise, surprise) my Instagram feed is one large makeup advertisement. I’m constantly inundated with updates on new launches, old favorites and collaborations from brands like Lancome, Benefit, ColourPop & Kiko Milano (just to name a select few). I wouldn’t have it any other way, but with every scroll it drives the point home that “Instagram makeup” is not something that I will personally strive to master.

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