LUSH recently launched a cosmetics line. Am I excited? Hardly. Not only is the line full of ingredients I don’t love, parabens and talc for example, but I find the whole concept insulting. I’ll tell you how it’s supposed to work. At the LUSH store, you stand in front of this color wheel and close your eyes. A LUSH employee spins the wheel for you, you open your eyes and immediately choose the first three colors that appeal to you in that moment. I chose a dark blue and two shades of bright pink, called “Feeling Secure”, “Passionate” and “Believe” respectively. The LUSH employee, bless her heart, provided a “color reading” that could have been a direct quote from a personality quiz in Seventeen Magazine. Really. Your first choice represents your strength or weakness, so my strength is that I am feeling secure and everybody knows it. Woefully inaccurate. The second choice represents my subconscious. Yes, that’s right, this color wheel knows what your subconscious is up to. Mine is telling me that I need to access my passionate side. The third choice is my aspiration. I want to believe!
I like to think of myself as an intelligent and introspective person. As such, the idea that an inanimate object and a stranger can have anything to tell me about my emotional state is insulting. Our emotions are more complex and unique to us as individuals than three words on a color wheel could ever represent. The whole thing is just really silly. I feel bad for the LUSH employees who now have to pretend to take this seriously. The one who did my reading saw my skepticism and chirped “it’s all developed using people who have synesthesia,” which only added more ridiculous leaps of logic to the mix. Firstly, synesthesia is a mixing of two different sensory experiences. So, a synesthete may hear a sound or smell a scent when looking at a given color. Emotion is not a sensory experience. They do not associate a color with an emotion. Secondly, the experience is different for each synesthete. Not every person with this condition will hear Beethoven when they see brown. Lastly, my brain obviously does not work the way a synesthete’s does, so their reaction to color has no bearing on my reaction to color.
Somewhere in all their “research” LUSH decided that happiness is a bronzey color that I am not at all attracted to and would never pick out. So, I will never have or want happiness? Maybe to me happiness is lime green. I wish LUSH wouldn’t try to justify this silly concept by claiming to have researched it. The word they are looking for is “rationalized” not “researched.” It’s not valid psychology; it’s more like getting your palm read. If you want to get your palm read, fine. I think this concept will work well for LUSH. I can imagine that people will like it. LUSH is simply playing to a weird desire we have in our culture: we want outside forces to tell us who we are. People love personality quizzes. Companies that sell electronics tap into this too. Which iPod color are you? Teenage Girl, are you a Taylor Swift or a Lady Gaga? Either way, you are definitely going to need to buy a new perfume.
One of the taglines for this collection is “Ask us how you’re feeling.” This makes me shudder. Somewhere inside me my teenage self says “F@#* you! Don’t tell me how I feel!” whenever I see this.
In theory, if I wore the colors from my reading I would be more powerful and in touch with my inner self. Blergh. Personally, my makeup has much more to do with where I am going than what I am feeling. If I wore purple and hot pink makeup to work would my co-workers think I was feeling secure and passionate? No, they would think I was feeling psychotic, an emotion that is nowhere to be found on the Emotional Brilliance color wheel. On rare occasions when I’m around just friends, I feel comfortable wearing whatever crazy color combination fits my mood. So, here is my own makeup/emotion game. I did a bunch of different makeup looks, see if you can match them to my mood. I wonder how the Emotional Brilliance system would interpret them.
A) In need of a creative outlet.
B) Attempting to seduce a boy who likes punk music.
C) Ready to meet the boyfriend’s parents.
D) Confused about whether I’m a lady or a rainbow.
E) Confident, playful and a little defiant.
F) Default Friday night, ready to bro-down look.