Ugh, Makeup Products Now Have to Pass the 'Selfie Test'

In Depth

Makeup companies have set a new bar for product testing—makeup that’s good enough for a selfie.

In this New York Times piece, reps for brands like CoverGirl, Smashbox and Avon break down how the popularity of selfies has affected their testing methods and how it’s changing the scientific makeup of makeup.

Traditionally, checking different forms of lighting has been the primary measure of how a product fares in real life and in photos. The new trend is to also test makeup using iPhones. Because everyone wants the perfect selfie.

CoverGirl’s principal scientist Sarah Vickery says, “We’ve got one type of consumer who is constantly taking pictures, and what really matters to her and her social group is how she looks in a selfie. It’s something we really have to pay attention to.”

The NYT reports:

…A handful of brands are beginning to design and tweak their wares to stand up to the specific challenges of phone photography — among them, that a flash can make foundation look white, or that in daylight selfies, cool colors can look warmer.
Warmer may sound better, but cool shades are more flattering on some complexions (Dita Von Teese embraces them) and can make teeth look whiter.
“We don’t see this as just a passing fad,” said Lisa Lamberty, vice president for global and regional color cosmetics at Avon, which has also begun to look for benefits it can offer the selfie generation.

There’s already makeup out that vows to enhance your face for photos, and foundation is the mother of all these selfie-tailored goops:

In July, CoverGirl introduced its Outlast Stay Luminous Foundation, the first product it tested using an iPhone 5 and 6. (The research staff actually used their own for what Ms. Vickery referred to as a “quick and dirty test.”) Scientists spent nearly two years cycling through 43 iterations of the product before settling on the final version.

Other makeup brands are increasingly tweaking their formulas to meet demand for products that make you look amazing in photos. The hard part is figuring out ingredient combinations that are both selfie-ready and don’t look shitty in real life:

In April, the company opened a life-size light box, a 20-by-20-foot blacked-out space in Culver City, Calif., that it calls Flashbox, to test how its makeup responds to different lighting conditions, one of which is selfies.
So far, Ms. Tomandl said, tests using an iPhone 5 and 6 and a Samsung Galaxy have alternately provided validation — “like, O.K., the performance is where it’s supposed to be” — and at other times sent the researchers back to the lab. Going forward, all products in development will be subjected to such testing.

For lipsticks, the focus is on adding more pigments that make the color pop. With mascara, it’s all about volume, and this is all partially for the purpose of selfie-worthy pics:

For selfies, that means as intense as possible, as fast as possible. At CoverGirl, this is referred to internally as “a one-pass wow,” and it depends at least as much on the brush as on the formula.
The company tested 40 iterations before settling on one it says is so different from the typical brush, it has a different name: the “lash styler.”

Selfies continue to change the world.

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