Words: Ana Kinsella
I lean into the bathroom mirror and balance cautiously on my elbow. Squinting a little, I shakily draw the bright red lipstick onto my lips, trying to fill in what I left on my wineglass. “Oh my god,” I hear a shriek beside me. A girl has stumbled out of a toilet cubicle and bounded up beside me at the sink. “WHAT is that COLOUR!” With a shiver of misplaced pride I roll my lips together to smudge the colour in and show her the tube. “MAC Russian Red,” she reads off the tube before handing it back to me with a grin. “I’m going to buy it tomorrow.”
There is no feeling like the transfer of some decent beauty knowledge. In an oversaturated market where everyone is trying to sell you something, information is currency, and a good recommendation is a valuable thing. Beauty products, a huge, sprawling, booming industry that influences the lives of so many women, are sold to us through a combination of clever marketing, cunning and strategy. Mascara ads feature supermodels wearing fake eyelashes. Expensive perfumes can be but an ingredient away from much, much cheaper ones. And beauty editors at mainstream magazines are often going to have to favour the brand who paid for ad pages over the brand that actually works best.
Of course, once women started talking to each other across the internet, the power started to slip away from glossy magazine editors. Rather than relying on a blend of friends’ recommendations, shop assistants, advertising and beauty editorial for advice, we could begin to do our own research on our own terms before shelling out for a new top-dollar foundation. The user-generated review was about to change the way the beauty industry would work forever.