Brace yourselves for a little makeover! As your beauty editor, I often want to be able to take a closer, deeper look at products and stories I don’t want anyone to miss, and I haven’t always been able to fit these things into the bite-sized beauty news roundups at Hard Lacquer.
I’m super excited to expand this type of coverage moving forward in posts dedicated to giving you just that! Having this new space will also double as a good way to feature brands I’ve discovered on my own or who have graciously allowed me to test-drive their products and report back — and just as I always have, you’ll know when the latter is the case, and I will be 100% honest in my reviews. Let’s jump in!
Skin+Therapy: CVS Debuts a New In-House Skincare Range…And It’s Really Good!
One beauty editor with super sensitive skin and a penchant for pricey skincare (not me, I swear) did the unthinkable and changed her tune about a drugstore skincare brand. Skin+Therapy is the new anti-aging and advanced acne therapy brand by CVS, and it offers consumers nearly two dozen fully-loaded products under $20 that are 100% free of a slew of no-no ingredients for sensitive skin (sulfates, comedogens, irritating fragrances, etc.).
What they do contain are high-end goodies like squalane, an unparalleled moisturizing oil previously sourced from shark liver — which is wrongful — but now found in plant-derived formats thanks to beauty innovators like Emeryville-based Biossance, plus a slew of other known powerhouses like glycolic and hyaluronic acids, retinol, allantoin, with shea, other nourishing oils, and floral waters to balance things out.
Our go-to neighborhood drugstore is a Walgreen’s, so I haven’t pounced on it myself yet, but it’s always nice to find promising, affordable, high-quality brands to offer readers, and CVS Skin+Therapy sounds like it has the potential to be a sure thing!
Our Own Volition: The New Frontier of Beauty Meets Tech
Since first discovering Volition Beauty and now that I represent them as a brand ambassador, I’ve become more and more obsessed with the innovators and incubators on the front lines of the STEM x Beauty scene. It’s a fascinating, rapidly growing sector that I honestly can’t get enough of (and it looks like investors are finally starting to feel the same way).
The allure and access of the Bay Area’s tech stronghold seems to be wrestling away a longstanding East Coast dominance when it comes to cutting-edge beauty and shiny new brands, or at least staking a claim to it, because science! Even Connecticut-based Perricone MD relocated its HQ to SF and opened up a flagship at Berkeley’s posh Fourth Street Shops awhile ago. (By the way, their No Makeup line is pretty near perfect.)
Seeing new science and tech merge with the beauty industry is thrilling for me, and I feel blessed to be a part of it and get to glimpse these shifts from the inside. Unlike so many other startups, the force behind this new wave of beauty is tapping into an undeniably financially fertile industry by empowering us as individuals to know and express what we want, and offering us customization like we’ve never seen before.
Definitely read more here if you’re just as excited as I am!
“My Wife Doesn’t Use Beauty Products”: Birchbox CEO Calls BS On Clueless Male VCs and Good Old Silicon Valley Sexism
Everybody knows I love a good subscription beauty box; my monthly tab is about the equivalent of one high-end tube of lipstick per month ($10 apiece for Birchbox and Play! by Sephora, $14.70 for a discounted Glossybox). Some folks might prefer one high-end item over a pile of deluxe-size samples, but they keep my curious little hands busy with almost 20 new products to play with each month.
That would be disastrously expensive (or a troubling addiction, even) put any other way. What might feel overwhelming to some is like damage control or a nice, controlled burn for me: Beauty boxes mitigate those ill-advised impulse buys and help introduce me to new brands, products and beauty science in the process.
In the video above, Birchbox CEO and Co-Founder Katia Beauchamp explains how Birchbox was born out of a disconnect between a global $500B industry and the fact that its internet share in the US tops out at about 7% today, and the desire to bridge that gap in a meaningful way. Birchbox, a clear success story, was Forerunner Venture’s first major investment, and Katia and Kirsten Green, Forerunner’s founder and a leading woman in venture capital, talk sexism in the industry as well.
Why it is that fewer than 5% of women-run companies are getting VC funding, especially when virtually every single study and new research shows that ventures with strong numbers of women on the executive and board teams consistently fare better and are more successful, without fail? Another example? Take Glossier, with $8.4M in funding (some of it from Forerunner). Watch the video for their war stories on dealing with SV sexism and the inspiring vision they have for the future of beauty and women in tech!
+ Don’t ask any dumb questions, OF COURSE YOU NEED THIS. Bitter Lace Beauty is a Las Vegas-based, cruelty-free indie makeup brand that was under-the-radar until this rainbow highlighter straight-up broke the internet this week. Literally overnight everyone wanted a piece of Prism and few actually got their hands on one before the entire Etsy shop sold out — not just of this particular highlighter, but every. single. available. item.
Bitter Lace Beauty owner and creator of this magical unicorn gift from the gay heavens, Jenna, has promised to restock Prism ($22) very soon, so follow their Instagram, luxuriate in the dreamy swatches and video of it in action, and try not to pass out from holding your breath!
+ Do you like science class? Do you like beauty products (of course you do, you’re right here)? Here is a very informative and in-depth explainer of skincare delivery systems. There is a great analogy about how they’re like Caviar bringing you ice cream and all the factors involved in it landing on your doorstep perfectly cold and in a timely manner.
+ It’s a good thing you already knew this because of my Strobing 101 post, but it looks like achieving “dewy baby angel skin” through layering or mixing shimmery primers with your foundation is getting more and more popular! Yay!
+ Lush’s Magical Moringa is WITCHCRAFT. First of all, just to be kind of a dick about putting it through its paces, I put it on my T-zone before a barre class. “Haha, Lush, let’s see you survive THIS nightmare.” An hour of isometric lunges and planking and sadistic cardio later and it was like I hadn’t worked up a sweat at all.
But sometimes in barre class when a leg is fully lifted and bent behind me and my glutes are screaming for mercy and I can’t really feel my standing leg as I stare at the floor, my back in a perfectly straight line, I just watch as droplets of sweat drip-drip-drip onto my mat while the instructor counts off our reps, hoping I don’t pass out. It is not a dainty sweat, so how the eff did this stuff disappear all of that? How?!?! It’s made with cornflour, cocoa and shea butters, and a slew of wonderful oils. That’s it!
So next I tried wearing it under normal makeup and still looked freakishly perfect 8-10 hours later, like an airbrushed me had been airbrushed all over again. By angels. Like the ethereal velvet skin of creepy television beauty work, but… significantly less creepy.
I don’t understand it; the tub will last eons, I’d never wear it to bed (not moisturizing enough, which is the general consensus), and I highly recommend layering or mixing a face oil or moisturizer for any dry spots or if your skin is combination or dry, but if you are the kind of person who is desperate for something to sop up the oil that crops up on your face throughout the day or just need to keep a warm weather sheen at bay, either buy this or get a sample of it to try. Skin that skips “dewy” and goes right to “shiny” will love this.
The only cons are that you have to work fast and tinker with it to find out the amount and application that works best for you, but it’s a small price to pay for the freedom of not having to think about shine all day! You just scrape a bit out of the tub, melt it between your fingers, and work into skin.
And now for my favorite part of the makeover: you giving me your beauty questions to answer! (You can also email me at email@example.com!)
That’s it for now, my loves. More soon!