Welcome to a new category of posts! Based on the phrase “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle,” this category is a hall of shame for cosmetic and skincare items which have been designed, packaged, or otherwise gimmick-i-fied so as to provide a “feature” that is completely irrelevant (or, in some cases, antithetical) to the product’s function or normal use.
Example: “New! Eyeshadow you can store underwater!”
The inaugural entrant in this category is Stila’s newly-released Solar Lighted Compact, which Stila describes as “an eco-friendly, solar-powered, [sic] compact with illuminated logo and mirror” which “is sure to make a statement no matter where you go.”
Indeed. That statement is: “Look at me! I’m a slacktivist!”
I am not sure what Stila is alluding to when they describe the item as “eco-friendly.” Is it eco-friendly because it is made “from recycled material”? It doesn’t say how much recycled material, it doesn’t specify that the recycled material is post-consumer content, and it doesn’t say what part or parts of the product are made with recycled material. It also does not say that the compact itself is recyclable.
Or, are we to assume that the juxtaposition of “eco-friendly” and “solar-powered” means that it’s the solar-powered feature that’s eco-friendly? If this is the case, I wonder if Stila has done its research about the eco-friendliness of solar panels. Solar panels cannot be recycled, although they can be stripped down and the various metals can be melted down for re-use. However, this is an economically inefficient procedure that is usually reserved only for the giant solar panels you see on buildings, satellites, etc. No one is going to break down a compact to get the tiny solar panels out of it; there’s not enough good bits to be recovered to make it worthwhile.
But the fish-on-a-bicycle part comes in when you ask why in God’s name such a thing would be desirable in the first place. Let’s think about the circumstances under which women actually apply makeup, and see which ones might necessitate the use of a solar-powered lighted mirror.
1. At home, in the mornings. Nope.
2. At the office. Nope.
3. On a date. Normally women head for the bathroom to reapply makeup, where presumably there is adequate lighting. If they try to do it tableside, then a glowing compact is likely to do them a disservice by freaking out their date.
4. At a nightclub. I suppose that if the bathrooms at the nightclub are filled with people doing lines of coke and throwing up (as nightclub bathrooms are so often depicted in films), then you might want to avoid them. And I can also see that blacklight might not be the best light for applying makeup. However. NO ONE CAN SEE YOU. (See above, in re: blacklight.)
Then, of course, there is the charging issue. Because you have to charge the thing, and recharge it when it runs out of power. Stila says:
for best results, place compact in direct sunlight for about 9 hours to charge. the compact can also charge in ambient room light, but not solely under fluorescent light if the compact has lost all charge.
First of all, find the damn shift key. I know that your logotype/wordmark features all lower-case letters, but that doesn’t mean that you can just take the shift keys off your computers and throw them away. Does all internal stila correspondence feature capitalization-free sentences? “dear ms. jones: we regret to inform you that your position as junior account executive has been terminated. we apologize for the inconvenience. please clean out your desk by friday at 2 pm. we wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors! sincerely, management.”
More importantly: 9 hours? And if it’s 9 hours of direct sunlight, then how long in ambient light? And where does Stila (excuse me, “stila”) think women keep their makeup? On the windowsill? How about in the bathroom, in their bedrooms, in drawers, in boxes, and in their purse? At least three of those locations are short on ambient light. So you have to remember to get it out and leave it on the windowsill for 9 hours before you want to use it. That means you really have to plan ahead, to a degree that I think most women are unlikely to sign up for.
Who is stila marketing this to? Young women who read “eco-friendly” and “solar-powered” and think that by spending $50 (!) on this compact they have bought not only makeup but moral virtue. They are Helping The Environment!
They will, undoubtedly, be the prettiest slacktivists on record.
Stila’s Solar Lighted Compact is available now for $50 from stila.com. Image from the stila website.