Beauty Bullshit: Almay Smart Shade Makeup
This product review marks a low point in my beauty blogging career because I purchased this product with the specific intention of making fun of it. I paid for it, with my hard-earned money, specifically because I knew it was complete and utter crap.
Almay Smart Shade makeup claims to adjust its pigmentation to fit the color of your skin.
According to the Almay website, these products allow you to “take the guesswork out of finding the right shade of concealer.
Concealer [the product that I will be looking at specifically] instantly adjusts to your perfect shade. Breakthrough shade-sensing technology starts out white and adjusts to right.” Amazon adds that “the shade sensing microbeads start out white and instantly adjust to match your natural skin tone”.
|Almay Smart Shade Concealer|
So, being intelligent and science-literate individuals, let us consider the possible explanations for Almay’s supposed phenomenon:
- Some sort of chemical is mysteriously able to bind to melanin in your skin. Not only is is absorbed into your cells (allowing it to find the melanin), it is somehow excreted back into the makeup product, where it causes a conformation change in the pigments (meaning it has to be able to bind to them as well). This conformation change affects the way that the pigments reflect light. Furthermore, something about the chemical prevents it from binding to hyperpigmented areas, which one would want to be covered by makeup.
- This makeup is filled with microscopic nanotechnology that is able to intelligently determine the shade your makeup should be, and, consequentially, can trigger a chemical reaction that changes the pigmentation in the product.
- Almay is run by lying liars who lie.
Before investigating the mechanism that Almay uses for their product, I first wanted to try it out.
|When it first exits the tube, the product is essentially white with a few black spots.|
|A bit of speading.|
|As you start to blend, the color begins to get darker.|
|As you rub it, it starts to look a bit more like skin.|
|By the end, it looks nice and flesh-y.|
So, obviously, I concluded that Harry Potter is non-fiction and Almay is owned by witches.
The problem is that what I am seeing is not exactly what I am investigating. I’m not curious whether or not the makeup changes colors. That would be quite easily disproved the first time anyone used the product. I want to know whether “Smart Shade” makeup is a real thing. Is anything about this product “shade sensing”?
Above, we hypothesized about four possible mechanisms: a chemical mechanism, a technological mechanism, a magical explanation, or a deception-related mechanism.
The chemical mechanism and technological mechanism are both likely impossible, and, if they were possible, they would certainly be well beyond our current scientific abilities. (Furthermore, if these mechanisms existed, I highly doubt that Almay concealer would cost a mere $8.99 on Drugstore.com.) Assuming that we are comfortable ruling out magic, it seems most likely that Almay is being deceptive.
Luckily, Almay’s parent company, Revlon, made it rather easy to investigate what is going on. They got a patent!
According to Revlon, Smart Shade makeup is comprised of “…a composition would exhibit one standard resting color and a second application color so that there is a consumer perception that the cosmetic composition is ‘smart’, e.g. it changes color to exactly match her skin tone.” Note the word “perception”. Revlon is quite aware that their product is all smoke and mirrors.
So how does the product actually work?
In chemistry, there is a rule of thumb known as “like dissolves like”. This allows us to predict solubility. In essence, it means that a solute will dissolve better in a solvent with a similar chemical structure. Polar solute will dissolve better in polar solvents (such as water).
Nonpolar solutes will dissolve better in nonpolar solvents. Since oil is non-polar, oil and water do not typically mix.
Although oil and water do not mix on their own, if you input a lot of energy, you can make an emulsion, which will cause normally non-mixable components to blend.
|One common emulsion is a vinaigrette.
According to Revlon’s patent, Almay Smart Shade makeup is an emulsion of water-in-oil. The pigments in the product are hydrophilic, or “water loving”. The “shade sensing microbeads” are simply water and pigment. When you spread the Almay makeup on your face, these pockets of pigment break open and change the color of the product.
There is absolutely nothing “shade sensing” about this makeup.
Revlon justifies this deception by claiming that “…for color cosmetics… the consumer has almost too many colors to choose from. [This will help] simplify the shopping experience… One obvious way to do this is to provide three or four general categories and ask the consumer to determine what category she falls into… for example… eyebrow categories may be ‘light’, ‘brown’, or ‘black'”.
So, in other words, they think it’s just too hard for you to make real decisions about what products you want. They want to explicitly limit your choices. And apparently Revlon thinks there are exactly three colors of eyebrows. Has Revlon seen any human beings?
|According Revlon there are exactly three colors of eyebrow in this picture.|
Even more tellingly, Revlon states, “Foundations with higher opacity are harder to match with skin… a foundation manufacturer that sells a relatively high opacity foundation may need to have 24 to 30 shades… [This] means more expense for the cosmetics manufacturer.” The reason that many people think that this product matches their skin is simply because there is very little coverage.
And Revlon likes it that way because it is cheaper to make less shades. However, people with very light skin (ahem), very dark skin, or unconventional coloring still won’t be represented in this brand.
Sorry Revlon, but hell no. Hell no to deceptive advertising, hell no to limiting my color choices because you are too cheap to provide the colors I genuinely want, and hell no to eliminating full coverage options.
If you have any beauty claims you want researched in future Beauty
Bullshit blogs, feel free to leave them in the comments below.