Beauty fans world over will agree that when it comes to our favourite products seeing is believing. We’re wowed by before and afters on Instagram, are clued up on clinical studies and will take recommendations from our most trusted girlfriends before parting with our hard-earned cash. The latest beauty trend, however, is turning all that on its head. ‘Magic’ has become beauty’s new buzzword and has little to do with statistics or even science. Instead, it’s something that chooses faith over facts by repackaging the cues of mysticism. Is it a much needed extension of the wellness trend that makes us feel special by transporting us away from an overbearing digital existence or, is all just a bunch of hocus pocus?
“Magic is fun and makes you smile,” explains Julie Bell, Executive Vice President of Global Marketing at Benefit Cosmetics. Their latest and largest brow collection launches this week and includes packaging that’s peppered with images of a magician’s assistant and playful taglines such as ‘the wave of a micro-wand’ and ‘fuller looking brows magically appear’. "For us brows transform your face more than any other feature” continues Bell. “When we were working on the positioning of our new brow collection we thought long and hard about what is the most transformative thing and the answer “magically” appeared. Magic! It’s the most transformative and powerful way to transform yourself and at Benefit we believe that laughter is the best cosmetic and what’s more fun than magic?"
Benefit aren’t alone in conjuring up links between their cosmetics and magic. Amanda Bell, Makeup Artist for Pixi Beauty, reveals its part of the brand’s DNA. "The founder of Pixi is from Sweden where there is much joy derived from passing down from generation to generation stories about fairies, trolls, pixies and of course magic." Elsewhere and makeup sorceress Charlotte Tilbury launched her beauty line with leading products such as the Magic Cream and Magic Foundation, recently followed up by her Magic Eye Cream and Magic Night Rescue. Honest Beauty's Magic Balm owned by Jessica Alba is a US best-seller while Korean Spa's Magic Peeling Mitt and Starskin’s Magic Hour Foot Masks have been hailed as the new cult classics in the UK.
Big brands are in the act on too. “L'Oreal Paris loves the word magic or ‘magique’ and has attached it to everything from Revitalift Magic Blur to the entire Nude Magique range” explains BeautyMart founder Anna-Marie Solowij. She also believes the presence and use of magic within beauty isn't a new thing, instead it was a comeback of an old favourite jumpstarted the trend. “The first was Egyptian Magic, a heavy duty moisturiser made of beeswax, olive oil, honey and propolis. This 20 year-old sleeper, mainly popular with makeup artists, came back on the radar a couple of years ago, having been rediscovered by a new generation of bloggers and the smart buying team at Liberty who put it back on the map”.
The popularity of magical products may also be linked to our age. “This generation's interest and excitement about magic grew up with Harry Potter and Manga. They love unicorns, believe in crystals, the supernatural, meditation and other esoteric stuff such as Tarot and astrology” continues Solowij’. On a deeper level, it also appears to be form of escapism. “We’re living during a time that is unnerving – the recent economic crisis, global warming, terrorism, the refugee crisis. To many, the world seems spinning out of their control. Millenials see the world moving in a direction that is frightening and the idea of magic provides an escape”, explains Beauty Psychologist Dr Vivian Diller. The sense of childlike wonder that the idea of magic conveys also takes beauty fans to a world that is less knowing and cynical. In an overwhelming digital world where we constantly reinforce everything with imagery, that is a very appealing idea.
However, there is caution to be had with beauty’s new fairytale. “Promises of magic can lead a consumer to desire a product, but only real results will make consumers feel good and special in the long run. Broken promises actually make women feel duped, so brands have to be careful about making ones they can’t keep,” warns Diller. You have to wonder, why brands aren't allowed to claim a cream will reduce their wrinkles without evidence yet there are no rules when it comes to magic. Soweji feels a more light-hearted approached is best. “Magic is a belief, rather than a claim and adds an element of imagination for the consumer”. Only time will tell whether we’ll get bored of beauty’s new tricks. As for right now, with all its promises of magic and mysticism, the beauty world has us completely spellbound.