Snarky Letters to Cosmetics and Skincare Companies

By Voxy  


Dear Philosophy (excuse me: philosophy),

I get that the whole “we don’t use capital letters” thing is your little signature doodad. However, that qualifies as your one free gratuitously nonstandard use of the English language — meaning that you don’t also get to play fast and loose with apostrophes. Witness the text on the card bearing the sample of Eternal Grace (excuse me: eternal grace) I recently received:

“philosophy: a graceful heart is forever young. it’s beat timeless. it’s joy effortless. it’s capacity for love limitless.”

While I appreciate the Lawrence-Ferlinghetti-ness of the whole thing, I want to take those apostrophes (excuse me: apostrophe’s) and do something useful with them, like put them into a box and send them to a developing country where no one can afford even one apostrophe, much less several. We could probably throw the shift keys from your keyboards in there too, since you all don’t seem to be using them.




Dear SleekMakeUP,

Do I even need to tell you that your recent “50% off sale in honor of getting 20,000 fans on Facebook” sale was a disaster? If you have 20,000 people who like your FB page, and you tell them you’re going to start a ginormous sale, did it not occur to you that you were likely to get 20,000 orders — and that maybe you should have servers that are just slightly more powerful than a Mac Plus?

We don’t need to go into details, but that was the single biggest international Charlie Foxtrot of a sale I have ever seen.




Dear Clinique,

My relationship with you is complicated. When I was growing up I thought you were a brand designed for older women. This is probably because my mother used your products, and she was really the only older woman whose beauty product stash was accessible to me. That may not have been fair of me, but what did I know? I was twelve. The vibe is not really helped by your packaging, much of which seems to have remained fundamentally unchanged in the last couple of decades, or by the fact that your “Dramatically Different” moisturizing lotion looks exactly the same now as it did then. Or, come to think of it, that your Clarifying Lotion 2 still — STILL! in 2010!— has alcohol as the first ingredient (and your other clarifying lotions also contain it very near the top of the list of ingredients).

However, in a strange reversal of marketing tactics, now that I am old enough to fit into the demographic niche you always seemed to target, I find that I have somehow missed my window. Did I blink? My feeling of having been ditched is due to your new “3Things” iPhone app. The description starts off well enough:

“Looking for some spontaneity in your life? What you need is the new 3things app from Clinique – absolutely free to anyone who likes to try new things and have fun. Clinique’s 3things project is all about how doing 3 simple things each day can make a real difference to your skin. Now, doing 3 simple things every day can make a real difference to your life too. Once you open the app, just give your iPhone or iPod touch a quick shake and you’ll be given three random things to do for the day. There’s a huge range of activities including fashion, wellbeing, culture, food & drink and more. Suggestions can be anything from hosting a movie night for your friends to learning to Salsa! So, what are you waiting for? Download Clinique’s 3things now and shake up your life!”

… until you see that the full name of the project is “3 things to do before you’re 30.”

Pop quiz! Choose the correct answer.

People over 30:

A. Do not like to try new things and have fun.
B. Are not interested in fashion, wellbeing, culture, food & drink, etc.
C. Do not watch movies.
D. Do not have friends.
E. Have no interest in Salsa (and why is this capitalized, by the way?)
F. Do not have iPhones.
G. Do not know what iPhones are. We are just cavemen who fell on some ice and later got thawed out by some of your scientists. Your world frightens and confuses us!

I guess it’s a pretty direct path from “3 things to do before you’re 30” to “The Bucket List.” Better get right on those skydiving lessons, I guess.




Any letters of your own you’d like to share? Post ’em in the comments.

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  1. Posted November 28, 2010 at 10:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

    This is just the most delicious post. I so enjoyed it. I really hope that someone from each of the companies actually reads this. Thanks for the most fun blog of the day.


    • avatar Voxy
      Posted November 28, 2010 at 10:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks, Marcia, and welcome! Glad you enjoyed it. I felt better getting it out of my system. :)


  2. avatar Wormold
    Posted November 28, 2010 at 7:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thank you, Voxy, for this!
    Funny thing, I always thought Clinique was a young line. My mom used (and still uses) Estee Lauder, and now that I am “old” (thanks mom!), she puts a bottle of Advanced Night Repair in my stocking every year. Which is great and all, since that stuff is awesome and expensive, except for the whole “you’re old, why don’t you own a house and get married!” subtext. Cosmetics are potent things.


  3. avatar Voxy
    Posted November 28, 2010 at 8:47 am | Permalink | Reply

    On reflection, it occurred to me that as a 30+ woman with a more-than-full-time job, maybe I don’t really need an app that’s going to tell me *three more things I have to do every day.*

    But I can hear the student excuses now: “Oh, I didn’t have time to do my paper because my iPhone told me I had to walk two miles, make a home-cooked meal using local produce, and call three friends I hadn’t spoken to in a long time. Can I turn it in on Monday?”


    • avatar chaosbydesign
      Posted November 28, 2010 at 10:04 am | Permalink | Reply

      Then you could tell the students that if they are that influenced by what their iPhone apps tell them to do, you are going to create one for your class — “3 things to do for class every day”. I wonder if they’d be so keen to follow those directions?


  4. avatar a biologist
    Posted November 28, 2010 at 1:41 am | Permalink | Reply

    Here’s something “spontaneous” and “new” they can include in the app: mistake the sample size bottle of Clinique clarifying lotion for the bottle of eye makeup remover sitting next to it.

    Spontaneous, but not fun. I’m over 30 so maybe I get one or the other. The gigantic G&T I had post-eyebath was certainly fun.


  5. avatar marigolds
    Posted November 27, 2010 at 11:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Maybe “IT IS joy effortless?” Maybe Yoda wrote that copy. Or a native German speaker.

    Fuck it; maybe an illiterate boob wrote the copy. I’m done defending you, “philosophy” [sic].


  6. avatar chaosbydesign
    Posted November 27, 2010 at 9:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Heh. Clinique will piss off *a lot* of it’s (sorry…) customers with that app. The ‘before you’re 30’ thing is completely unnecessary!


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