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Your Trendy Mascara Might Be Mostly Marketing

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Apparently Male Superheroes Are Divas About Their Costumes
Evangeline Lilly

A lot of weird stuff happens in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Racoons can talkhuman beings can learn to do magic, and Tom Hiddleston is hot. But possibly an even stranger aspect of the MCU is that it’s the men who are the ones with the uncomfortable costumes.

In an interview with NDTV while on the press tour for the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasptitular co-star Evangeline Lilly claimed she might have the best suit in the entire galaxy. “I don’t know if it was just because I liked it so much, and I felt so cool in it and I really wanted to wear it,” she said. “I slept in it. I ate in it. I bathed in it. I never took it off ... ever. I’m very Method.

But in a separate interview that went viral over the weekend, Lilly posited a theory about why this is. “I have been hearing Marvel male superheroes complain about their suits for years,” she said. “And I got into my suit and I was wearing it, working in it, doing my thing, and I was like, it’s just not that bad! And I was like, ‘Do I have the most comfortable suit in the MCU, or have men not had the life experience of being uncomfortable for the sake of looking good,’” she said while lifting up a high heel.

“And they’re just like, ‘What is this? This sucks! Why do I have to go through this?’ Whereas a woman’s like, ‘I dunno, this is like, normal? I wear heels to work, I’m uncomfortable all day.’ You get used to it, you tune it out!” Lilly added.

This isn’t the first time an MCU star has called out her male peers for being costume divas. In a 2013 Entertainment Tonight interview for Iron Man 3, Gwyneth Paltrow responded to Robert Downey Jr. and Don Cheadle’s claims that their suits were “torturous.”

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Is “New” Mascara All About the Marketing?

On the surface, mascara doesn’t seem like a particularly interesting product. I’ve often thought of mascaras as interchangeable tubes of boot-black goo. But you won’t hear that from brands, who spend a significant amount of research and development time getting their latest, or their first, mascara just right, as well as trying any number of tricks to differentiate it from the rest of the pack.

And people are buying: Last April, a report from the Benchmarking Co. that ran in WWD said that out of their study of 7,000 American beauty consumers, 98 percent of beauty consumers purchased mascara in the past year. What types of mascaras were they looking for? Volume, length, waterproof, lash separation, and longwear. In short: everything. No wonder there are so many mascaras on the market.

Here’s where marketing comes in: How do mascaras make themselves stand out, whether it’s an outstanding new formula, eye-catching packaging, an intriguing ingredient, or some other sort of hype?

To get a behind-the-scenes look at the complexity of building a mascara in a crowded market, Racked interviewed three beauty companies — Milk Makeup, Glossier, and Wet n Wild — about the development of their newest mascaras. We asked them about everything from brainstorming, product development, and formulation testing to packaging and marketing.

Ideation: what are we going to make, and why?

When a brand goes to create a new mascara, what “usually” happens is that there’s a “need that’s been identified,” said Elyse Kaye, an innovation and product development consultant who has worked extensively on mascaras for major brands.

“It’s usually a consumer complaint or a consumer desire. … It could have come from consumer research or even online social media listening,” Kaye explained. Perhaps “the consumer complaint was not being able to put [the mascara] on equally.” In that case, it’s her job to “change how it’s applied, change the composition.”

In any case, the initial phase is where the brand comes up with the “effect.” Do they want a curling mascara? And will they make sure it’s non-clumping? Or will they create something in an unusual new color? Or build the formula around a sexy ingredient, like coconut oil? What about a customized wand that promises miracles, like Chanel’s new 3D printed Le Volume Revolution?

Kush High Volume Mascara, which took 18 months to develop, is Milk Makeup’s third eyelash product. Their other two are Ubame Mascara and Weekend Lash Stain (both launched two years ago). When thinking up Kush, Milk developers had to make sure they would create a unique role for the company’s third mascara.

We thought about where we wanted to live in the mascara landscape and built formulas around that,” said Dianna Ruth, COO and co-founder of Milk Makeup. “We first thought about what we wanted the end effect to be, such as a more natural look [Ubame], a three-day stain [Weekend Lash Stain], or bold lashes in one swipe [Kush].”

Both Glossier and Wet n Wild listened to their customers on social media to discover what they wanted.

Glossier did initial research on its Lash Slick mascara — its first eyelash product — the way they often do. They “combed through thousands of comments, emails, tweets, and Into the Gloss interviews,” said the development team, who only wanted to be identified as such, via email. Mascara was the second-most requested product by the Glossier community, they told Racked.

And what did people want? Lengthening, lifting, defining, and a formula that “holds like a waterproof formula but without the struggle of taking one off,” said the development team.

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