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Vanity Fair (Fare)

  • Nov 4, 2009
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Cosmetics industry, as with all other industries in this world, is here to make money.
Now that we got that over with, let's take a look at it from a lover's point of view.

Cosmetics industry is without doubt one of the most successful industries in the world. It constantly has a new flow of clients amidst its ever expanding client base with a life span of 60 years minimum, almost as long as each of us lives! For those who are serious about their skincare, teenagers from the age of 12 (or perhaps even earlier these days!) are told to use some form of skincare or beauty products. Be it as simple as a face soap or as complicated as the eye shadows. Creams, powders, lipsticks, nail polish... well, which lady hasn't had her love affairs with these?

I began early with a mom who's very conscious of a good skincare. I am also blessed with a good skin to begin with (unlike some of my sisters who have had their shares of problem skins to the extent they have to go see dermatologists and apply special creams). Still, from the age of 12, I was already "educated" to take care of my skin. The skin is as important as a smile, if not even more so. A flawless skin is an asset, I was told by my aunts. And you do have to follow the regime sets out by the beauticians. So, followed I did and I've not regretted since.

Now, the simple truth about our skins, especially when it comes to the face, is that all skin ages. The earlier you start taking care of it the better. You do not start to avert aging by the time you reach 30, 40 or 50. You begin young! Also, the food one eats, the fruits & vegetables one consumes, the amount of sleep and the degree of stress in one life's all accounted for the condition of your skin. We are merely touching the tip of the iceberg here, just the basic. Your face and your skin. This alone is a big segment of a mega power industry. It generates billions of revenues each year and women and men from all over the world pay a certain "tax" on this. 

The beauty of this industry and since it's a beauty industry, lies in beauty. It is fascinating to see the types of products and varieties of each products this industry can come up with. It's not only innovative, it is interesting (for me). While Travels sell adventures & experiences, Cosmetics sell hopes and the idea of beauty. Since Cleopatra days, women have applied cosmetics. So, it's not only a very old industry, it's an ever changing industry. That's why it's fascinating. It has its own history, it's own culture and its own life! This is getting philosophical and I could go on and on but that's not my intention for this review.

As early as I had been initiated about beauty and its regime, I almost began my career path in this industry as well. I took a Beautician course right after graduation as an inroad into this industry while I was searching for jobs. It's a 3 month course and I was taught to do facials, manicures, etc, etc... I then took an external exam (conducted by Cidesco of Switzerland) and after passing the exam, got a Marketing Executive job with Clarins. Now you know why I'm so familiar with this brand (& others, I spent a great deal of time going to numerous departmental stores & check out cosmetic counters every day while I was at that job! ;-)) I worked for less than half a year but eventually left it when I found out how hard it is for a newcomer to represent a brand. That was my initial plan, that is. No, not interested in setting up salons. I wanted to be the agent of a brand. Anyhow, that's all history now. What I did find out in the few months I worked in that company was that the cost of cosmetics is super low. It only accounts for 10% or even less of the retail price. If you have read my review till now, here's the big industry secret! 1/3 is usually consignment portion (ie payable to the retail store for their presence in the 1st floor of the store; yes, ever wonder why that's the department you often enter the store with? It's because it's the most profitable and with the high traffic of goods, you get the drift...), another 1/3 is advertising, marketing & distribution cost and the last 1/3 is the company's share of the product. Hence, when you pay for $100 for a cream, that cream normally costs less than $10 to manufacture! 

Anyhow, I'm still a fan of these cosmetics and skin care products. To me, the design component dominates. I love the shape of a bottle, the color of a powder and the smell of a cream. It's very important although most people don't make conscious choice. For example, you like some products possibly due to the texture or smell of the products, but you told yourself, it's some plant extracts that's good or even vital for a good skincare. I did that many times. So, it is fascinating from a psychological perspective of what motivates us to spend and after spending, be happy with our choices! I think the cosmetics industry as a whole master this well. You can't deny this when you think about the amount of money travelers spend each day at the Duty Free Shop! 

Now, we might think this industry is saturated. Perhaps. I don't think so though. I notice the amount of men's fragrance that have popped up in recent years. Less new ladies fragrances are marketed and invented while plenty of new ones for men. In addition, other products like colored lenses (contacts, that is), health supplements and products like Fancl are selling like hot cakes! I can't wait to see what they will come up with in the next few decades. It'll definitely be exciting times!

Yes, I'm vain, I know it and I revel in it ;-)  

{Aren't we all?}
Vanity Fair (Fare)

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November 06, 2009
nice entertaining write up, Sharrie. I have to say I used to go out with a Japanese woman last year and she said that she began taking care of her skin when she was a mere 10 years old. I'm a lot older now, and I do notice that I don't look the same way I used to look like...but I recently ran across one person I used to work with about 11 years ago, and she says I look exactly the same. maybe she was just being polite? he-heh. =)

Glad you liked Cyborg She.
November 06, 2009
My experience is that men age quickly as soon as they crossed 50! For women, it's around 45 or so. You probably look the same anyway if you're not anywhere near that unless you begin to drop hair! Men's problem is not so much skin but rather going bald! Although, if you drink & smoke, there is a huge difference. Also, men can get away with the less than perfect skin. For women, it's expected to be flawless & porcelain like as far as I can tell from comments from other women friends & colleagues! It's the same with figure, men are 'allowed' to put on weight. For a woman, it's a sin it seems! Although I've probably passed the age as to who cares?!
November 06, 2009
too true. My hair is still long and thick thankfully. he-heh.
November 04, 2009
Most excellent review, Sharrie! I am one of the lucky ones that was taught at an early age to adhere to a strict skincare regimne. I have also had my various love affairs with skincare products and cosmetics through the years. Great insight, and in my opinion, not vain at all, rather smart, really. :)
November 05, 2009
Thank you, Aunny! Long live the cosmetic industry! :-)
November 04, 2009
Sharrie....you make so many good points here. Vanity is alive and well and sometimes it's healthy. It's just who we are as human beings and it's not going to go away. Like you, I remember my grandma and her sister vying for the latest creams to deter wrinkles. Also, we live in a youth dominated culture (especially in the U.S) where you're simply ignored if you look old....and that goes for both men and women. I've always taken care of my skin, and now as a result of that I look about 10-15 years younger than I really am. Sometimes I feel guilty about that....almost as though I'm not being true to myself. Maybe one of theses days, I won't care as much, but I'm not sure, as I my grandmother and aunt cared until the day they died.
November 05, 2009
Donna, looking young is true to ourselves. You simply haven't accepted that you look young YOURSELF! Whoever dictates that one has to look old just because one is of a certain age? ;-) Don't have to feel guilty about anything, you don't owe anyone any explanation how you look or live your life :-) Hehe, unless that person is paying for those costly beauty products. Otherwise, live & let live! :-)
November 04, 2009
What a fascinating review, Sharrie.  I think you've got most aspects of vanity down!  I completely agree with you; as with all things health-related, it's always best to get into good habits young and practice them in moderation throughout your life.

There's nothing wrong with being a little vain ;P
November 04, 2009
Haha... tell me about it! My mom gets even more vain as she ages. So I bet we will as well! I used to laugh when my grandma was staring at the mirror for ages and worried about her appearances & dressing when we were going out for meals. Boy, now I see my mom doing the same thing. One day if I do live long enough, I can well imagine what I'll be doing most of the time! Let me give you another good advise, Debbie! Take a lot of photos of yourself while you are still young. At least you'll have more pix to post on the net in the future! Most people would prefer a younger version of themselves as they age ;-)
November 05, 2009
Haha, my mother's super vain as well! She's the kind who would do mother/daughter plastic surgery :P Yes, I can see myself staring in front of the mirror for ages worrying about my appearance... Heck, I do it already! And thanks for the advice! My mom's a firm believer in that, too, so she takes plenty of pictures of me, and has me take plenty of pictures of her. Thank goodness we live in the digital age where it's so easy to document everything on the internet! ;P
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About the reviewer
Sharrie ()
Ranked #3
I'm a traveler at heart & have been nicknamed Travel Queen by friends & colleagues alike. Traveling has been my life passion for the last decade or so. As we enter a new decade, I'm excited … more
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About this cosmetic


Cosmetics are substances used to enhance the appearance or odor of the human body. Cosmetics include skin-care creamslotions,powdersperfumeslipsticks, fingernail and toe nail polisheye and facial makeup, permanent waves, colored contact lenseshair colors, [hair sprays] and gelsdeodorants, baby products, bath oils, bubble bathsbath saltsbutters and many other types of products. Their use is widespread, especially among women in Western countries. A subset of cosmetics is called "make-up," which refers primarily to colored products intended to alter the user’s appearance. Many manufacturers distinguish between decorative cosmetics and care cosmetics.

The manufacture of cosmetics is currently dominated by a small number of multinational corporations that originated in the early 20th century, but the distribution and sale of cosmetics is spread among a wide range of different businesses. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which regulates cosmetics in the United States defines cosmetics as: "intended to be applied to the human body for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance without affecting the body's structure or functions." This broad definition includes, as well, any material intended for use as a component of a cosmetic product. The FDA ...
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