Makeup That Says 'I'm Cold' (+ A New Chat Feature!!)
The Don't Buy List: Issue #39
Hello, dewy dust bunnies, and welcome to another edition of the The Don’t Buy List! I got a haircut the other day and my appointment went the way it always goes: The stylist complimented the thickness of my hair… then wondered aloud if we should thin it out. (I said no.) They raved about my natural curl pattern… then pulled out a hairdryer to blow it straight. (I said nothing.) This is not a humble-brag about my luscious locks!! This is a reminder that professionals and customers alike have been conditioned to associate “beauty” with “modification,” no matter what the starting point.
Before we get into the bulk of The Don’t Buy List, I want to introduce a new feature: The Unpublishable subscriber chat!! This is a conversation space in the Substack app exclusively for paid subscribers — think of it like a group chat, or a live AMA, or (possibly? maybe?) Twitter without the L’Eau de Musk. Every so often I’ll post a prompt, a thought, or a bit of breaking beauty news and we can break it down together. (For example: Last week, we could have been debating the Taylor Swift “FAT” debacle or the Kardashification of Jennifer Aniston on the cover of Allure in real time!)
To join the chat, you need to download the Substack app (messages are sent via the app, not email) and turn on push notifications so you don’t miss the conversation as it happens.
How to get started:
If you haven’t already, upgrade to a paid subscription to The Unpublishable ($5/month).
Download the app by clicking this link or the button below. Chat is only on iOS for now, but chat is coming to the Android app soon.
Open the app and tap the Chat icon. It looks like two bubbles in the bottom bar, and you’ll see a row for my chat inside.
That’s it! If you have any issues, check out Substack’s FAQ.
I’ll send out my first chat sometime next week. I’m really excited to get to know you all more ~intimately~ and I’m even more excited for you to get to know each other. In total, The Unpublishable is made up of over 50,000 readers questioning beauty culture, and it’s hard to put some of these ideas into practice, and I hope this chat can be a space for support and connection and collective action.
And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming…
Stacy Lee Kong interviewed me for her newsletter, Friday Things! Check it out for the dirt on my beauty pageant days, how working as a beauty editor destroyed my skin, and why I think beauty culture is (partly) to blame for the rise of Shein.
“There's been a huge debate about [fast fashion corporation] Shein recently, and people are like, ‘Well, I deserve to look nice, so I'm gonna buy this clothing from a company that exploits the workers who are making it and destroys the planet because I deserve to look nice.’ That is a symptom of living life on the surface—you're concerned with aesthetics at the expense of other people's lives and the well-being of the planet. These are the extreme downstream consequences of beauty culture.”
The full (lengthy! juicy!) feature is available here.
“Gender Blur: How nonbinary identity became a brand” by Alex V. Green for The Baffler made me think of all the “nonbinary” and “genderless” beauty brands that have launched in the past year or so. “Nonbinary identity … is both a way of being in the world and an empty signifier, one that companies, advertisers, and influencers alike can take on and off at will in order to pantomime radicalism, even while remaining largely uninvested in material political change,” Green writes. Please, please, please read the whole piece — and the next time Allure celebrates injectables as “genderless self-care” or Vogue pushes Brad Pitt’s “nonbinary” skincare products or a celebrity tries to monetize the promise of equality by launching yet another useless, unisex beauty brand, repeat the phrase “uninvested in material political change” five times fast.
Beauty Independent reports that “New Brand Futurewise Gives Slugging The Modern CPG Treatment” — and allows Futurewise executive Janet Park to suggest that slathering your face in a fossil fuel byproduct (petroleum jelly) somehow honors Native American and Black communities (who are disproportionately harmed by the fossil fuel industry). On the subject of slugging with petroleum jelly, Park says: