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Glossier: Is Less Actually More?

Millenial beauty is all about less is more. It’s come a long way from the foundation lips and over-zealous lashings of bronzer that dominated the early noughties and has slowly begun to create its own identity away from the thick, black wings made famous by Amy Winehouse.

Today, it’s Pinterest boards of glossy lips, dewy skin and cheeks actually kissed by the sun (just with SPF providing a barrier from the UV rays, rather than being penetrated by sunbeds). This new approach to beauty has allowed a new range of beauty products to emerge, with stripped back packagings and promises of clear skin.

Glossier is one of those, and if the baby pink and white packaging hasn’t graced your Instagram feeds then you’re clearly not a twenty-something girl. Over the past four years, the company has risen from the ashes of Emily Weiss’ makeup-based blog, Into The Gloss, to become a cosmetics empire that is globally recognised.

Their products today include everything from beauty serums and moisturiser to a solid perfume and eyebrow gel, and the brand has become synonymous with the aesthetically-pleasing packaging. With each product looking the part, beauty bloggers have been flocking to the website to get their hands on the goods, ready for their package to arrive in the infamous pink bubble wrap pouches. However, with an exterior that’s been carefully created to fit in almost any beauty blogger flat lay, in addition to effortlessly slipping into the Instagram theme goals of students, do Glossier’s consumers know about what is inside their latest obsession?

In a November profile by women’s style and culture website, The Cut, writer Amy Larocca mentioned how “Weiss chooses not to share the details of her products’ formulations … she just doesn’t think her customers care about ingredients if they’re happy with the results”.

As much as that might be true, as side by side comparisons flooded the internet with Glossier’s latest launch, an “acne-buster”, Quartzy noted that 9.5% of Solution, their daily face exfoliating tonic, was kept under wraps. Glossier’s USP is the fact that it caters to what millennial women want: attractive, affordable skincare that looks nice on the shelf in your home. Their packaging, in every inch of its minimalistic glory, lacks the real depth of information that you need to know when covering your face with the product.

Visiting the Glossier website, five ingredients of Solution are listed with information as to what they do underneath; Lactic acid to reduce blemishes and dark posts; Glycolic acid that breaks the water bonds, cutting off dead skin cells to improve the tone and texture of your face; Salicylic acid to unclog pores; Gluconolactone to exfoliate; Anti-stress complex, composed of several ingredients to make the exfoliator gentle. Despite this list, one click on a link below and you’re introduced to the full list, made u of things that you’ve never heard of before and probably won’t be bothered to Google. Thus, it appears that for the brand, less is more, until it comes to the products involved.

In a study by Mintel, 56% of US consumers claimed that they’d stop shopping with companies that perceive to be unethical. While the Glossier website states that they are a cruelty-free and vegan company, shouldn’t they have to be just as transparent with their ingredients as other companies with their testing status?

As mentioned, the before and after photos work as a marketing strategy in a world where we’re making quick decisions. Impulse online shopping means that reviews aren’t often read and instead, we’re viewing visual information to help us make informed decisions. In an internet-dominated society, we place a high level of trust in information that we see online and stop to question the authenticity of images. Although the improvement images on the Glossier website may be real, it doesn’t mean that it will be the right thing for your skin type. One look a the site will display the reviews for Glossier’s Solution, which currently ranks as a 3.5/5. Several reports of breakouts scatter the otherwise positive stories, detailing how their once normal skin is now slightly suffering.

Quartzy reported that Glossier replied, stating that: “The reason why we don’t get into specific percentages for each [acid] is that we’d be giving up trade secrets”. However, many other cosmetic companies who have reached cult status for their skincare are more than happy to share the ingredients and percentages in their products.

In an interview with Racked in 2016, Emily said: “They don’t feel like they have a stake in [Glossier], they do have a stake in it. And that’s the difference between a marketing tactic and actually having your customer engaged in your process and your brand. It’s not something we did just to make them feel good. We did it because we wanted their help.”

So, do Glossier consumers really care too much about the lack of transparency in the products? The overarching response is that no, they don’t, and why should they? With their target market, it would be more surprising if their customers researched each of the ingredients used to create their favourite skincare products. What beauty consumers want from companies today are cruelty-free choices that use organic options where possible. Instead of presenting an issue with what is involved in the product, and creating an ideology that Glossier consumers lack information about the product is what can cause variations in the outcomes, more emphasis should be placed on informing customers that skincare is not a one size fits all path to perfect skin.

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