The female beauty industry is one filled with ludicrous, unnecessary and downright dangerous items to primp, tease and pluck your way to beauty and (apparently) a better life. Evermore new and inventive things are being brought out every day (sculpting lasers anyone?), but it’s not these new-fangled products that this article will deal with. No, it’s some of the supposed stalwarts of beauty that don’t deserve their place in any woman’s artillery of looking good. Here are my top 5 most useless beauty buys:
1. Eyelash curlers
If you weren’t familiar with the sight of eyelash curlers, you would presume that the twisted metal contraption was some sort of medieval torture device. Aside from not really doing much, they are extremely fiddly and can be excruciatingly painful (tip – never get a drunk friend to try and curl your eyelashes, a trapped eyelid is not pleasant). Mascara is a lot easier to apply, relatively painless (apart from the old “stabbing the brush into the eye” trick) and makes you look like much less of an idiot whilst using.
2. Under eye concealers
Is it just me or do these never work? The idea of a magical concealer that instantly hides those annoying and ever-present dark circles is certainly a tempting prospect. Lured in by the shiny gold tube and glowing reviews of an Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat magic pen, I skipped home naively thrilled at the hope that I would never look like a zombie arisen from the grave again. Erm, no. I looked equally as tired but with the bags under my eyes glowing like greasy shiny beacons and ironically standing out even more than the normal dark circles. The dull yet only cure is sleep.
3. Coloured mascaras
Ooh look at all the different shades of mascara you can get. Blue, pink, purple, even yellow! I’m getting a bit bored of my normal black actually. Yeah, I’ll be different and buy something crazy, I want to stand out from the crowd! Blue it is, this will look great for a wacky party. (After putting it on) It doesn’t really look any different…hmm actually it looks a bit odd. (2 years later after finding it at the back of your drawer) I’m going to throw this away now, I never use it.
4. Heat defence sprays/serums/lotions/potions
Trying to get the balance right between trying not to kill your hair and trying to make it look good is always a tricky one. Hair product adverts bombard us with guilt-tripping messages of “EVERYTIME YOU STRAIGHTEN YOUR HAIR IT DIES.” Torn between not wanting your hair to fall out by the time you’re 25 and wanting it to stop resembling a bird’s nest, you buy a heat defence product. But these just gum up your hair and make it twice as difficult to straighten, meaning that you press twice as hard with the heat or spend twice as long trying to iron it flat, rendering the whole process of protection useless.
5. Velcro rollers
You don’t have to be a genius to work out that Velcro and hair don’t mix. Ripping out matted clumps of hair tangled in a Velcro roller is not a fun way to spend an evening. So instead of the glamorous 40s style curls you were hoping for, you end up with a giant halo of frizz. Lovely.
Originally published on The Yorker 6th December 2010