So, what’s wrong with this picture?
Why yes, those are some delicious eco-friendly product samples, which just arrived from indie beauty line sumbody (tag lines: “Handmade. Pure. Earth-friendly Skin Care for the Eco-Minded Consumer.”)
And they are all packed up in lovely, landfill-clogging, styrofoam peanuts.
This seems like a good time to outline my plan for beauty product coverage here on Beauty Schooled, and I hope I won’t break hearts left and right when I say: You won’t get much in the way of all that.
I’ve been mulling it over the past few days since the above box arrived (Hence the radio silence. Well, that and Thanksgiving — happy belated, by the way!) and this is how things shook out.
On the one hand: I do love beauty products. Um, obviously — I’m dedicating 600 hours of my life to learning as much about them as Beauty U can teach me. In fact, while in the midst of said mull, I made a point to try out most of the sumbody goodies, and I am quite enamored of both the teensy little makeup kit (Helloooo, smoky eyes that stay put!) and the Lucky Lips balm, which you can’t even see in the picture above because it’s all buried in styrofoam peanuts, but trust me, it’s cute. Plus, there’s a general expectation when you tell people you’ve signed up for beauty school and are writing a blog about it that you’ll be sharing a lot of your acquired know-how.
On the other hand: In case you haven’t already figured it out, this isn’t a “how to” beauty blog. We’re not yet suffering a dearth of blogs or magazines dedicated to reviewing new products and teaching you how to get perfectly smoky eyes or Blake Lively hair, so I’m not stressing about how to fill a void there. There are lots of people who do that well. There are also lots of people who love getting free product samples and writing up breathless reviews of them, borrowing liberally from the marketing copy on the enclosed press release, so as to keep the free products flowing. And it’s hard to tell the difference sometimes. You might be very good at reviewing beauty products and love getting free products all at the same time. Who wouldn’t? They are free, first of all, plus generally pretty, sweet-smelling and covered with promises to make you pretty and sweet-smelling too.
I’m not saying you’re a (major) sell-out if you get excited over scoring a free hand cream sample at Sephora. I’m saying that almost everyone — myself firmly included, cue the image of me trying out my new free lip balm while worrying about the ethical implications of my new free lip balm — gets excited about that. And the purpose of Beauty Schooled is to ask why we get so excited. To explore our sometimes awfully complicated relationship with the Beauty Industrial Complex and our ideal of beauty itself. That means, whenever possible, putting my own beauty addictions under the same microscope we’re using to consider placenta facials or skin lightening.
So we’ll dissect marketing claims and ingredient lists, and we’ll scrutinize Big Beauty (Revlon, Benefit and friends) and indie/eco beauty brands alike. But until I’m more convinced of my ability to be an impartial, Consumer Reports-style judge, it means keeping product test drives (and their not-always-distant cousin, product advertising) off the blog.