Review: CARGO Lip Gloss (with Timestrip Technology!)

By Voxy  

cargo_closeup1Let me say straight out that I’m actually very impressed by some of the real technology that’s going into cosmetics and skincare products and packaging nowadays. However, I have little-to-no patience for things that are merely labeled as “technology” for marketing purposes — because, of course, if it has “technology” in it, it must be terribly, terribly advanced. Like, Space Age. Oooh, it has “technology.”

CARGO’s “Timestrip Technology” is merely this: a piece of cardboard that tells you how long it’s been since you opened the product, so you know when CARGO wants you to buy a new one it’s time for your lip gloss to go off to the Great Cosmetics Playground In The Sky. (The EU Cosmetics Directive folks have decided this is nine months, by the way.) I can’t remember the last time I heard the words “technology” and “cardboard” in the same sentence; I have this funny feeling it might have been in association with, er, feminine products.

The little piece of cardboard slips into a slot in the cap of the product. There’s a bubble on the back of the piece of cardboard that gets punctured when you push it all the way into the cap, and the tinted liquid inside the bubble begins to soak into a membrane inside the strip. The strip is marked with intervals — 1 month, 3 months, etc. — and as time goes by the liquid seeps further and further into the strip to show how long it’s been since you opened it. There’s a clear window in the cap where you can check in periodically and see how it’s progressing.


Before I get too snarky (too late?) I should add that this little gizmo is, in fact, a reasonably clever way of keeping track of how long your lip gloss container has been open, assuming you activated the timestrip on the day you opened the product. (See? “Activation.” Technology.) However, this is only valuable if you care about that sort of information in the first place, and if you need a little cardboard strip to remind you. Personally, I go with the “open the tube, pull out the applicator, and see if the product is unacceptably gloopy” method.

It’s a good idea; it just isn’t, to me, “technology.” It’s simply capillary action, which I did in 7th grade science as an extra credit project, and although I know we are getting dumber and dumber, 7th grade science is still not “technology.” (New, from Mercedes Benz! A technological invention that makes road travel easier! We call it “The Wheel”!)

“Technology” would be “there’s an app for that.”

(If that happens, I totally called it here first.)

The bigger problem that I have with it is that because the lid has to be big enough to have a window that you can see through to check the progress of the timestrip, the entire container is unacceptably bulky (although interestingly, the folks at Timestrip are pleased that they were able to create a strip that is apparently much smaller than their usual strips; eye of the beholder, I guess). The bottom part, where the actual product (which I am coming to, I promise) resides, looks like it contains a heck of a lot of lip gloss. Unfortunately, this is an optical illusion. It’s actually a tube inside a tube — a much skinnier reservoir of product inside a clear plastic outer tube that both magnifies the look of the inner tube and makes the bottom of the product the same circumference as the lid (which has to be big enough to accommodate the timestrip window). How do I know this? Because at Sephora, one of the testers’ clear outer tubes came off right in my hand. I’m surprised one of the Sephora salespeople didn’t rush over and say “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”

This bothers me on two levels: 1) it’s deceptive (well, of course it’s deceptive, it’s cosmetics, right? that’s the whole industry — but it’s deceptive in terms of customer perception of the amount of product and therefore the price/value ratio is skewed for first-time consumers), and 2) it’s really just unnecessary extra plastic packaging. Being extra earth-unfriendly for the sake of marketing “technology” that’s just a cardboard strip is a lose-lose to me. Oh, and, I guess, 3) I’d rather that CARGO made me use my own calendar to keep track of how long my lipgloss has been open and put that money towards more technology in the actual products, not creating what is essentially a timer on the packaging. I’m not paying for the timer, I’m paying for the lipgloss inside the packaging.

However! If the CARGO people are still reading — and who can blame them if they’re not?— let me redeem this review by saying that the lipgloss itself is very, very good — good enough to make me buy it in spite of the problems mentioned above. There are two lines of lip gloss: “Classic” and “blu_ray ™ High Definition.” The “blu_ray” line is a relatively recent innovation that’s designed to perform well under intense photographic conditions, and the buzz I’ve heard is that it’s excellent. There are seven shades of the blu_ray line and eight of the classic, several of which would be wearable by most people. (Some of them are exceptionally pale, so they’d go on well over a lipstick but probably wouldn’t be the best choice for bare lips.)

I bought “Big Sur” from the “Classic” line, because I liked it best out of the several colors that worked on me. The product is smooth, not too thick, well-pigmented, and (big plus for me) not sticky. It lasts reasonably well — glosses are not known for their staying power — and does not leave any dryness or crustiness behind when it’s worn off. It works well for me on either bare lips or on top of lipstick. It’s not one of those glosses that gives you a super-shiny, “I just dipped my lips in liquid plastic” look, which is good because we do actually go to work sometimes and might not want to look like our lips are covered in Saran Wrap. This is a lovely, sophisticated, smooth product with great lip-feel and just the right amount of gloss for day or an understated evening look.

Product: Love. Packaging: Hate.


CARGO Classic and blu_ray(tm) High Definition lip glosses (via Sephora)

Provenance: Purchased

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Good

Purchase again? Yes

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Let us know in the comments!)

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One Comment

  1. avatar Inthelab
    Posted October 27, 2009 at 7:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Maybelline or someone did this years ago with mascara, I seem to recall….

    BTW, I hate the EU and its bloody directives, but that rant is for another time.


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