Shopping For Lip Colors by Catalog when I should QR

Updated: Aug 21, 2020

Flipping through beauty catalogs is one of the simpler joys. The pages smell glossy, as they did when we had the time to feel the weight of print, imagining ourselves as the flawless ladies within those pages. Sometimes there were tiny sample packets tucked in the creases. I do not harbor the fantasy of waking up with separated eyelashes, or poreless skin, knowing the reality of clumpy mascara smeared onto a pillow if one does not use makeup remover and toner.

But the shopping experience of a catalog feels more ritualistic than clicking “Buy Now” on the shopping cart saved with items that have become an engrained regimen.

“What does this one do?” I ask the woman who is a representative for Amway.

I might be the only nostalgic one, but catalogs are more fun than reading a mass of conflicting reviews. The simplicity of scanning the QR code which is how most items are purchased here seems prone to over purchasing. Given that I had worked in beauty, I already owned many more products than I actually had the surface area for. I’m pointing to a cheek and lip duo produced in three shades. One of them is a deep burgundy paired with a cadmium red. The doubly potent combo seems overpowering to me, but I’m intrigued.

“Here,” the representative pulls it out and hands it to me while typing on her phone.

In terms of packaging, it resembles a little rectangular eraser shaped white tube with the curly font. Line illustrations of a wide eyed French girl accompany the layout. It’s clearly marketed towards a younger demographic, as my lip products are gold plated (chipping now), and perhaps gaudier. I imagine hunting the tiny white eraser tube slipped in among stains, glosses, matte lipsticks, and conditioning pencils.

Popping off the cap, it smells neutral tinged with a fruitiness. My biggest concern is the opacity. Typically, two-in-one products are neither one nor the other. It must be too translucent for the lips or too dark for the cheeks. Hopefully, the bold shade I’ve selected mitigates both of these predictions.

As for texture, it glides on smoothly. I pucker once or twice. Thankfully, it tends towards creaminess as opposed to stickiness. The weighted feeling of substance on the lips is exacerbated by humidity such as I have only experienced on the Equator. Creamy, comparatively, is weightless.

Colorwise it is not as deep as pictured, perhaps due to CMYK printing. Really, the catalog accuracy doesn’t bother me as it contrasts well, without being offensive to my medium complexion. The darker hue verges on the edges of my lips and the lighter one towards the fuller part, almost acting as a built-in liner with how the applicator is shaped. It feels as if I am painting with a square tip brush.

I can already tell that the color is settling and will last for hours. Snapping closed the handheld mirror, I smile to check that nothing has caked onto my teeth. I’m clear. The finality in that last gesture is as enjoyable as the opening of the catalog pages.

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