There’s something I find cathartic about putting on makeup every day. I almost never deviate from the ritual of moisturizer, primer, eyebrows, eye shadow, foundation, powder, and blush. It’s more about the routine than the cultivation of a look that I enjoy. It’s “I am going to look this way and this is how.” Aside from my other indulgences of comics and video games, it’s one of the things I do purely for myself. So when I see cosmetics based on comics or video games I like, I run into a dilemma: do I buy the whole damn collection sight unseen because I am a fool for specialty collections, or YES, OKAY I AM BUYING THE WHOLE DAMN COLLECTION BECAUSE IT IS A THING I LIKE THAT REFERENCES A THING I LIKE; I DO NOT HAVE SELF CONTROL.
When MAC Cosmetics (cool thing I learned: MAC stands for “Make-up Art Cosmetics” so… “Make-up Art Cosmetics Cosmetics”) came out with the Wonder Woman collection in 2011, I wanted it all up in and on my face. Wondy has a special place in my heart—well, not so much a special place in my heart as friends and family think she has a special place in my heart so they always get me a bunch of Wonder Woman merchandise and it becomes A Thing and I don’t want to correct anyone so now I have tons of cool Wonder Woman stuff. (I totally like Dazzler more, but you try to find Dazzler merch because Dazzler glassware does not exist, AND WHERE IS HER MAKEUP COLLECTION?!)
I liked the Wonder Woman collection, but they sold like faithful, well-packaged hotcakes (designed by Mike and Laura Allred!) so I didn’t get to purchase anything from it and buying four year-old make-up online skeeves me out a little. Don’t talk to me about their Archie collection; that shit sold out in like three seconds.
Sometimes package design and a license to pop cultural icons does not a good product make. But a cursory googling of comics-themed makeup collections led me down a rabbit hole of indie cosmetic companies that can get away with coy allusions to That Thing You Like without <REDACTED COMICS AND/OR VIDEO GAME COMPANY> and getting litigious. In the case of Espionage Cosmetics, they got the blessing from Gearbox Software to create a collection based on the Borderlands series. These indies often sell sample sizes on the cheap, so it’s easy to splurge and subsequently feel guilty for splurging on. I’d never tried indie make-up before, so it was interesting to step outside of the larger corporations, but with the added bonus of buying an eye shadow named after the prettiest video game character ever:
Solid Snake is a deep gunmetal-y blue with predictable blue glitter that was difficult to consistently distribute throughout my lids. Let’s put it this way: it was so underwhelming that I didn’t even bother to photograph a swatch. I think wearing blue eye shadow in earnest should be punishable by law. I also have an irrational fear of wearing glitter on my eyes because it’ll probably get into my eyes and shred open my retinas, and then I’ll be blinded by my own lust for beauty. Geek Chic Cosmetics, the company that sells this shade, is obnoxiously heavy-handed with their marketing toward fandom with package design that edges on horrendous. So why the hell did I buy this damn make-up?
Because I like Metal Gear Solid.
I was excited to see two separate things I enjoy combined. Instead, I played myself. I felt so burned that I held off on a Skyrim(!) make-up collection I’d been eyeing. Caveat emptor.
Here’s a couple of ways indie cosmetics companies can up their #brand #awareness when creating special #geek #collections:
- Better Package Design: Okay, everyone knows purchasing the licenses to use a Captain Marvel or Batman logo are cost prohibitive. This doesn’t mean that the graphic design team can’t get creative and take a few liberties. Also, hire a graphic design team. It’ll pay off in the end.
- Unique Formulas: Many larger cosmetics companies release limited editions that are just repackaged items in their permanent collections (the red lipstick from MAC’s Wonder Woman collection is literally their popular Russian Red). Consider putting a bit of effort into your special collections, Beauty Industrial Complex.
- Actually Weaponizing Your Products: Why not just go the extra mile and give us the feeling the expertly lacquered lipgloss and apply it toward installing a pistol at the bottom? There’s nothing wrong with using femininity as a tool, (not that wearing makeup is inherently feminine). I’m just saying that I would like to own a powder foundation that can be blown into the lungs of the Patriarchy.
And as the Patriarchy takes its final breath, it will whisper “Eyebrows… on… fleek.” (International Spy Museum)