The Business of Beauty Haul of Fame: Should You Get Carded for Skincare?



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Welcome back to Haul of Fame, the weekly beauty roundup of new products, new ideas and at least one gratuitous mention of musical theatre.

Included in today’s issue: Alpyn Beauty, Armani Beauty, Beautycounter, E.l.f., Gen See, The Hair Shop, Infuse, Inn Beauty Project, Laneige, Le Mini Macaron, Le Monde Gourmande, Love Wellness, Necessaire, Nette, Onyx Professional, Peace Out Skincare, Rare Beauty, SexyHair, Shani Darden, Summer Fridays, Supergoop, SweetSpot Labs, Tatcha and Zendaya.

But first …

The next time you buy your favourite face cream, you might have to show ID. The Swedish skincare line Mantle just put an age restriction filter on its site, asking visitors to enter their birth date before they can enter. Mantle sells formulas that look like Instagram slime creations, but contain active ingredients like retinol and glycolic acid that can help firm and tone mature skin. Products could easily irritate or damage a child’s skin barrier.

CEO Josefin Landgård hopes the move will help curb Gen Alpha’s growing obsession with skincare, redirecting them from free radicals to free range playdates. She told a Swedish TV station she was “alarmed” by the rise of Sephora Tweens, and dismayed that children were more interested in looking youthful than simply being young. In February, Dove launched their own TikTok campaign warning kids from using anti-ageing ingredients. On Mar. 25, Kiehl’s UK and Ireland posted an Instagram manifesto that read, “Childhood goes by fast! Don’t let your kids waste it on a 10-step skincare routine.”

There’s already a fair amount of policing and outrage around tweens shopping for skincare and cosmetics. But here’s a “hot take” that’s merely lukewarm: some young people will always be obsessed with the physical instruments of beauty. They will watch their mothers, their siblings, their babysitters and their first crushes apply lipstick in the mirror and wait with a creeping new hunger to do it themselves. They will delight in the strange feel and smell that comes from pressing a cold glob of face cream onto their foreheads. They will squeeze eyelash curlers over and over, watching the little rubber bumpers clamp up and yawn open. They will insist they look “different” because they actually brushed their hair, kind of, before school.

That natural fascination with beauty and transformation can be a lifeline for young people who feel othered, or inspired, or even merely bored. The problem is that when we speak to young people, specifically young women, any excitement around aesthetics can get vilified fast. Skin cream is a fear of adulthood instead of a curiosity that makes you breathe deep at the sink. Lipstick is suddenly a stand-in for patriarchy, instead of a doorway to who you might, one day, get to be. It’s a bummer, because how we choose to look is part of how we choose to exist in the world. Kids deserve to acknowledge that reality, just as they deserve to unplug from aesthetics altogether if that’s what they prefer.

Now look, nobody should use an acid peel or a Botox dose unless they remember watching “Felicity” on network TV. Tweens trying probiotic serums is ridiculous. But when we turn common sense into a moral panic over “girls growing up too fast” or “toxic beauty standards starting at birth,” we rob the next generation of self discovery. We create a “trouble in river city” vibe about retinol, instead of saving the stern tones for very real dangers like cruelty and tribalism. And we make skincare the new vaping — which is to say, the new middle finger every kid wants to flash their elders.

As for Mantle, I think the formulas and the packaging are gorgeous. But I thought the same thing about Absolut Vodka ads when I was 14. I would go to their website and put in a fake birthday so I seemed 21. If ninth graders really want a $148 Swedish retinol serum — and I’ve gotta say, I’m not sure they do — they’ll plug in some fake birthdate from the ‘90s and shop away.

We’ve gotta do better than this.

What Else Is New?

Skincare

We’re about to see a lot of sunscreens that are also makeup primers. How do I know? I’ve been testing them. Mar. 26 brings Supergoop’s version, Mineral Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40, which claims to boost glow and blur pores. InnBeauty Project’s answer is its Mineral Sun Glo Broad Spectrum SPF 43, with antioxidants to help brighten and defend skin. Tatcha’s own SPF entry, which hit shelves on Mar. 19, is a Kissu lip tint which comes with sun protection as well as creamy colour. Saint Jane’s version won’t be out until May, but wow is it good. You’ve been warned.

On Mar. 21, Summer Fridays introduced its Jet Lag overnight eye serum, which boasts a 100 percent consumer test rating and a very smart product image featuring a Jennifer Lawrence look-alike. Is she wearing lipstick while putting on overnight eye cream? Yes. Do I want it anyway? Like you even have to ask.

Onyx Professional launches 18 new items, including foaming sugar scrubs, dry body oils, serum and lotion body duos, and hydrating shimmer mists. Retailing for under $10, they have cheery packaging that seems destined for college dorm showers come September.

It’s the tea (literally). On Mar. 26, Alpyn Beauty debuted Instant Bright Eye, a wrinkle-fighting eye cream with chamomile extract. On Mar. 25, Infuse premiered their Yerba Mate Radiance Eye Cream, with added caffeine for brightness.

Peace Out Skincare dropped its new Acne Gel Cleanser on Mar. 26 with 2 percent salicylic acid and maltobionic acid, a fruit extract which is — I am not kidding — also used to help keep vital organs safe during transplant procedures. (The skin is the body’s largest organ, after all …)

Shani Darden has unveiled her Body Reform Treatment Serum, the brand’s first body-care product but likely not her last. It promises “retinol results from head-to-toe,” and if that can happen after a few weeks of use, it will have a very long wait list despite the $72 price tag.

A little commotion for Sweet Spot Labs, the brand that’s managing to address sexual health and skin health without getting creepy. On Mar. 24, they expanded into over 1,300 Ulta Beauty stores with their OBGYN-approved full body cleansers and serums. Mar. 24 also brought the launch of Buff & Brighten, a spray for ingrown hairs that can also lessen hyperpigmentation. Who’s behind the growth? Melissa Barrett, a former ‘90s magazine editor who worked under Fabian Baron during his Calvin Klein Fragrance years before helping Clarins and Mugler hard launch in the US. Funny enough, Clarins’ revered former EVP Maria Dempsey is now the CEO of Love Wellness, Lo Bosworth’s line focused on sexual and hormonal health. Pay attention to the skincare-to-sex-care path; it might get paved with gold.

Cosmetics

Rare Beauty launched its Soft Pinch Luminous Powder Blush on Mar. 25. It’s a hybrid product that’s part blush and part highlighter; I suspect it works nicely as an eye shadow, too. With rumours of Rare Beauty on the acquisition market, it’s smart of them to keep the brand bobbing along in the press.

Armani Beauty’s new Prisma Glass gloss hit shelves on Mar. 25. It comes in five shades, which were feted by actress Lili Reinhart at a California launch party. Still, it’s Sydney Sweeney in the official imagery. This is great (Honestly! She seems fabulous!) but it’s odd to see her front the gleaming Laneige lip stuff and this gloss at the same time.

Speaking of Laneige, another very young, very blonde person — TikTok queen Alix Earle — gave fans a sneak peek of its Sweet Candy and Vanilla glossy lip balms, which officially launch Mar. 29. It seems like the brand has found its “type,” but I feel like they’re missing a big opportunity with women of colour like Coco Jones. Surely she’s got the same glam-girl-next-door vibe?

Gen See unveiled an Old Hollywood Eye Shadow collection on Mar. 26, including four liquid shades, two matte, two metallic, that “freeze” within a few moments of application. If you have hooded lids (like mine) the formula is pretty great because you won’t get weird crease lines below your eyebrows.

On Mar. 26, E.l.f. dropped a collaboration with Liquid Death water called Corpse Paint. It’s a curation of goth girl shades inspired by the death metal music genre that comes inside a tiny coffin. The collectible sold out pretty quickly, but HoloGrave is the original — and it finally restocked its fine point Dagger Eyeliner on Mar. 17.

Hair Care

Zendaya is a fantastic actress, but she’s also a very effective movie star — the kind who can move people to the box office and the beauty aisle just by posing on a few red carpets. Lancôme knows this; it has used the 27-year-old supernova in their ad campaigns for years. Now it’s SexyHair and The Hair Shop’s turn. The product and extension lines, respectively, are sponsoring hair stylist Ursula Stephen as she creates Zendaya’s newest hair looks. Stephen is the salon mogul known for Rihanna’s pixie cut and Serena Williams’ braids. Perhaps not coincidentally, she’ll work with Zendaya — and Hair Shop and SexyHair, of course — for the press tour of “Challengers,” the new tennis movie co-starring Broadway charmer Mike Faist, Josh O’Connor of “The Crown” and a lot of Loewe knitwear. Let’s play ball …

On Mar. 19, Necessaire dropped a new Rosemary Shampoo for thinning hair. Fans seem very excited, at least on Instagram, and yes, it’s a feat in itself that this young brand has fans instead of just shoppers.

Nail Care

On Mar. 22, Le Mini Macaron introduced two new gel colours, Vanilla Milk and Bleu Ciel, along with a manicure kit available on Amazon Beauty for the first time. I finally tried its tiny gel LED light, which, yes, is shaped like a macaron, and I can confirm it really does work like a salon gel manicure … But only if you can actually paint your nails without messing up, which I absolutely cannot.

Fragrance

Nette’s new fragrance, Pear Jam, dropped on Mar. 21, the same day as founder Carol Han’s birthday. Along with the fruity title ingredient, it’s got bulgarian rose, vanilla and raspberry pulp.

On Mar. 24, Le Monde Gourmande hit Ulta Beauty with an exclusive new fragrance, Pétale Éphémère, which features “base notes of fluffy marshmallow,” which is pretty cute.

BeautyCounter’s first-ever fragrance line hit actual beauty counters on Mar. 26. It includes five scents, including Second Skin, “the subtle yet distinctively-you smell left behind on a t-shirt.” So it’s like Phlur’s Missing Person, but $35.

And Finally …

Loving the news that Jen Atkin, Mary Phillips and Justine Marjan have banded together to form a talent agency called Highlight Artists. This trio is a supergroup of glam, and between the three of them, no Kardashian’s lips remain unglossed! Topicals creator Olamide Olowe has also launched a new agency of sorts, Cost of Doing Business, which is “specialising in storytelling and business development” to “create a new generation of thinkers who solve big problems for the communities that need it most and create generational wealth while doing so.” That’s a tall order, but Olowe, who is the youngest Black woman to ever raise $10 million in capital for an independent business, is up to the task.





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