Wednesday, June 1st, 2011


Guerlain Giant Bronzer

How do you tackle delicately designed products?

In the past few years, there has only been one compact I found difficult to swatch away (Lancome Bamboo Bronzer from last year, which I wasn’t able to snag a backup of).  I recently purchased the bronzer photographed above, which is a mega-sized bronzer from Guerlain for this summer’s launch.  I’ll review the Guerlain bronzer in full soon, but for now, I’m curious to know how you handle products with complicated, delicate, or just plain pretty designs emblazoned, embedded, or imprinted on the actual product.

Do you buy two?  One to use and another just to look at?  Do you just wait a few weeks to admire it before using it?  Or do you dive right in and get to the business?

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100 thoughts on “Are some pieces of makeup more art than function?

  1. Sometimes I try to go around the design, but when that doesn’t work I normally jut bite the bullet and say bye-bye to the pretties. ^^;

  2. emma

    give right in! it is way more fun to use a prettily designed product than just a, well, fine one. that’s how I see it :)

  3. Giana

    I have that problem with the new Mac surf baby blush with the gold overspray! I’m afraid to use it but I’m sure eventually I will

    • CJ

      Haha, I came here to say the exact same thing!

    • It’s not an overspray, it’s supposed to go down into the blush more than the usual overspray!

      • Emily

        It’s just a thicker overlay than normal. It doesn’t go into the blush itself. I saw it mangled at my local MAC store.

        • It doesn’t go all the way to the pan, but you can use it for substantially longer than say, Marine Life or Golden Nectar that were gone with three swipes of a brush for me!

  4. Laurel

    I thought of this exact compact when I read the question! And that was exactly why I didn’t purchase this bronzer. I pretty much try to stay away from things that I think are too pretty to use because then I won’t use them! I’ve never found that a beautiful product’s color was not dupeable or something that made me unable to find a similar one I’ll actually use

  5. Faith

    I don’t buy them! I think they’re a waste.

  6. Carrie

    I feel a bit bad about ruining the design, but I go ahead and use it because a) it’s why I bought it and b) I don’t have so much cash that I can spend money on a higher-end product (since the really pretty ones do tend to be higher end) only to stare at it in a drawer.

  7. Megan

    I’m pretty practical – almost annoyingly so- I really only splurge for really functional items. I tend to avoid buying the super complex products, but they sure are pretty! A great blog I follow is makeupmuseum.org. I think the girl who runs it doesn’t even use a lot of the products, she just collects them as pieces of art.

  8. Maygan

    Did you see the new Dolce an Gabbana bronzers! They are works of art!!!

  9. Dianna

    I think I would go broke if I was buying one product just to look at and the other – for purpose…:)
    No, I would dive right in, they are mass-produced after all, no matter how pretty they are… I am cynical that way.

  10. Mia

    Dive right in!

  11. karen

    Stare at it a little then dive right in! I find that I appreciate the packaging decorations more than the design on the actual product. In any case, sometimes overlays make the product too shimmery! :)

  12. jenn

    I have not been able to drag my brush across Lancome’s bamboo bronzer either. I also bought 2 Marine Life’s last year & can’t seem to break into either one (so I have never even sampled them even though one was to save & one was to use.) I have a few others that I don’t have the heart to “ruin” by using them

  13. daphne

    You know, when I got my Marine Life, I was really tempted to seek out a backup just to admire. Pretty makeup designs are certainly fun! But when it comes down to it…it is a manufactured product, you know? It’s NOT art. It may have been designed by an artist, but ultimately it was mass-produced by a machine for a specific purpose – to be used on your face, ultimately resulting in a ruined design. So yeah, dive right in. There’s plenty of legit art out there to enjoy in that way.

  14. Lilly

    I am currently having big issues with my MAC Surf Baby blush, My Paradise… I don’t wanna touch the hibiscus inside!!!. And also, I am struggling ’cause I wanna buy a Marine Life from an eBayer and I know the overspray will be gone after one use. I had trouble with Givenchy’s Sari Glow blush in Maharani Pink ’cause it had a golden overspray, too, and now it is completely gone… I pretty much try to handle them carefully from a corner where the design isn’t very harmed from the usage… By the way, is Marine Life worth buying?

  15. Lindsay

    Actually, I often will deliberately *not* buy it, even if it’s a product I’m really interested in. I think I’m more emotionally-tied to the gorgeous overlays; I get actually Pissed.Off at them. Even without an amazing design like the Lancome, I internally snipe that they know full damn well the overlay shimmer is gorgeous and what will draw people in. It seems cheap and tacky as all get out to not actually *make* the product the same as you intentionally made it *look*.

  16. Glitterati

    I try to work on one side first, but that usually does not last all that long before I am all over it. Buying it to display it seems like a waste of money, unless you have a really good space to display it :)

  17. Stef

    WOAH that’s HUGE! :O Are we supposed to rub our cheek on it directly? :/

  18. The only “art” pieces I own are the Revlon Floral Affair blushes and Physician’s Formula Face and Body Bronzing Powder (cute smiley face sun). I never actually used the Revlon blushes, so they are safe. I don’t mind the smiley face being obliterated. The bronzer is not expensive, and I love it so much that I would repurchase. Then I get to see the smiley face again! LOL. The only time I would buy a product and never use it would be if I bought vintage makeup or a discontinued item to collect. Does anyone remember Fetish Cosmetics? They were around in the late 1990s. I found some lipsticks on eBay and bought them, but I am never going to use them.

    • Amy M

      I totally remember Fetish cosmetics. They had these peel-able liquid eyeliners that I was obsessed with. I think I also remember lipsticks with little rubber whips attached, but it’s hazy. Ah the memories of makeup past… sigh…

  19. Joanna

    At first, my inclination is to save the product to keep the design intact. But then I ask myself, what am I saving it for? It’s not like it’s going to be passed down to future generations!

    So, I just take a few moments to appreciate the pristine design and then dive right in and enjoy the product. I can always find photos on the internet later on if I want to see what the new product looked like.

  20. Sara

    uh, no. I find the buying of back-ups altogether ridiculous, but buying one to simply look at is a waste of money and also quite selfish for others who wanted to purchase the item to actually use and lost their chance.

    • Carrie Ann

      I don’t think it’s selfish to buy 2. The products are there for you to purchase and if you want 2 and you can get your hands on them, you have every right. If there’s no limit on how many a person can buy, they shouldn’t feel guilty about purchasing more than one. People get backups of limited edition products all the time because they’re limited edition. Once you run out, you may not be able to get another.

  21. Dana

    I would never buy anything that I would just look at and not use. I would use it right away or admire it for a few days and then start using it. If I bought something just because it was pretty and not useful I would definitely regret purchasing it.

  22. xTesset

    I adopt the same mentality with this as I do when I buy beautifully designed cakes. Take a picture, then eat it! (or in this case, use it :)

  23. andi

    I’d try to avoid items like this because the hoarder in me just won’t sit well with the idea of ruining designs like this and if I’m not going to use it, it would just be a waste of money.

  24. Jen

    I bought one Marine Life last year and at first I tried to avoid using all of the gold overlay, but I didn’t want to waste my money on a product that I wasn’t going to use, so now I’m fully enjoying it, even if it’s without the gold!

  25. I either don’t use it, or, more often, I’m trying to use it carefully so that I don’t ruin the design.
    Of course, if I could afford it, I’d buy two :) One item would only be for admiring and the other would be the item that I would actually use.

  26. I have so many products that I know I wouldn’t ever get around to finishing something, so I just don’t use anything too pretty and just admire it.

  27. If the design is REALLY beautiful, I buy two. One to use and one to stare at. I bought two of MAC Marine Life last year. I couldn’t bear to ruin the little gold seahorse, but I really wanted to use the pretty powder. So it had to be two!

  28. Lee

    I admire the prettiness but I’ll start using it right away. It’s not gonna stay nice forever, even if I don’t open it and I might as well use it while I love it.

  29. snm

    I think they definetely are.as you get into make up,you start to realize that even though an expensive product really lives up to its price tag,it is never about just the performance of it.The brand name,fancy packacing and beautiful designs such as those make them worthy.as much as I love buying make up and have too many in my stash,I always buy the ones that I can work with,as I am a student with a budget:) but since people can make collections of many “unnecessary” things(postcards,mugs etc),why not buy such beauty just to stare at it? it is like getting the pumps which you can never learn to walk with:D

  30. When I really like the way something looks, I usually wait a while to use it, then start using it very carefully. For example, the button-type-thing on my MAC Jeanius shadows is still intact.

  31. For me it’s a reason NOT to buy a product when it’s to “pretty”. I would’t use it at would would regret that I spend a lot of money. I prefer cool packaging. It’s the complete opposite.

  32. i just get my brush and i actually dont care about spoiling the design or pattern and swipe swipe away and enjoy the colour of the product. too busy a person to sit looking at a pattern all day and i cant afford to buy pretty things to just sit in a drawer and have no purpose. use them up then get something new.xx

  33. vicxen

    If a product is too beautiful to look at, why buy it. Isn’t the purpose of buying a product is to use it. I like packaging but art powder deco seems a bit over the top. Unless the product is totally functional, I wouldn’t care if the art design faded but if it wasn’t functional and bought it purely for aesthetic purposes then not only would I feel like a fool but have also wasted $$$ for some eye candy.
    No thank you.

  34. SA

    I’ve only encountered this once with a blush, but I basically just stare at it for a bit and then try to use around the pattern :)

  35. evo

    I actually bought that bronzer last week. The Bay was offering $10 off if you had their beauty card plus I redeemed some points and was able to get it for $50 :) It’s too purdy to use plus the compact is huge! You’ll never run out of it

  36. Jamie

    Usually, I’ll admire it online, but when I buy it, I use it immediately. I’m considering getting the Guerlain bronzer if your review is very favourable, and I’ll have no issues using it right away. The Lancome Bamboo Bronzer came out before I became makeup obsessed, but I do believe if I had known about it, I would have bought two: one to use and one to stare at lovingly. It’s just that beautiful.

  37. Alessandra

    I’ll usually stare at the product for a few days and then the excitment of using it takes over, but there’s always that pinge in my heart when I first swirl a brush into an emblazoned blush, like last year’s Marine Life.

  38. JoleneAL

    I prefer not to buy them. I don’t have the space and like knick knacks — you have to display them to enjoy, then dust. YUCK :D To each their own though.

  39. t_zwiggy

    I’m really looking forward to your review on this bronzer. I’ve been contemplating whether or not to buy it for a while now. I would appreciate if you could swatch it next to (or at least compare it to) the Guerlain Terra Inca Sublime Radiant Powder that you reviewed a while back, because I don’t think I can justify getting both.

    If the product is really pretty both in the and on the skin, I’ll get a backup if I can. If it’s really limited and hard to get (like Marine Life), I’ll most likely try to focus on one corner/side of the product, just so that I don’t mess up the entire design. I could never ever just dip my brush straight into the product and use it like I normally would. I often get really upset just by looking at your pictures of the messed products, and I tend to scroll past it really fast because it’s so painful to look at lol.

  40. Megan

    As much as I like to look at them I am often put off by fancy designs, especially if I’m buying online as I can’t tell if the item has an overspray or not. Also, the OCD side of me doesn’t want to ruin them! If it comes to it and I end up using them, then I often just use one side (or a corner) so that the rest of the pattern stays intact. I’m such a loser, haha!

  41. Polly

    I absolutely understand your feeling! Most of my pretty-designed hi-end products had been admiring for a while (2-3 days) before being touched.

    And when it comes to the more delicate piece like this one, the admiring period is a bit longer (maybe 4 – a week) but I also fascinate in using new shade/product so I can’t hold my hands from touching it for too long.

    I might buy more if I love the product itself and they will surely be used. Because make-up is not like other stuff such as jewelry, clothes, or shoes, it will expire in time so no point to keep it.

  42. Miriam

    I look at it this way, we only get one life and if I see something artistic I absolutely adore, you bet I’m going to dive full force into it. I have a deep passionate admiration for art and all things that make my senses wild! Who knows what tomorrow will be like or even the next minute, that’s why I feel if something is that beautiful, appreciate the person and their idea to make something like that but enjoy the product in itself by actually using it. That’s why it was made :-)

  43. I take a photo for posterity’s sake, then I dive in. I don’t like to buy things and not use them!

  44. All of the above. :) Some I just have to buy two of (Mac Marine Life, Chantecaille Protected Paradise and other LE powders, some Guerlain Voyage Powders, etc.), some I don’t use for a while (Guerlain eyeshadow palettes with pretty designs, some Guerlain blushes, Chantecaille eyeshadow palettes, etc.) and some I don’t actually use at all. I have lots of Estee Lauder and Lancome powders just sitting there unused because they are too pretty to touch, and since I have plenty enough other products to use, I don’t touch those. I know, I’m crazy. :)

  45. I can honestly say, I’ve never even bothered with products that have an overspray. I do find them very pretty to look at, but in the end, it’s just makeup.

    The main reason I stay away from these, is because I usually love the colour when the overspray is mixed in, but once it’s gone, I find the colour very flat looking. I really, really loved the look of the Surf Baby cheek powder, but the swatch of the main colour did nothing for me. Also, I don’t want to get stressed out trying to get my hands on these products!

  46. Deb

    I cringe a little, but if I want to use the color, I’ll just use it – after I’ve taken pictures from every angle, of course.

    But wow, if I had that Lancome Bamboo compact, I dunno, I might never use it! I don’t use bronzer anyhow, but that is STUNNING. I would be so scared to drop it!

  47. I’m torn with this one. On the one hand I bought the make-up to use but on the other my artistic side can’t help but want to save and marvel at it. If it was a cheaper make-up I might purchase two, with expensive brands I’ve have to weigh the value of a show piece. I don’t have any pieces in my collection that are pristine for fear of swatching but I could always considering taking several photos of the piece to capture it’s beauty and then dive in.

  48. Chau

    If the quality is exceptional then I’ll buy it and dig my brushes in it. Otherwise, I’ll skip it. I just can’t use it comfortably, especially when these items tend to be collectible and very expensive. Last fall, Dior secretly released the Tailleur Bar eyeshadow palette that featured the Dior New Look. The image was engraved in details (you can clearly see the model’s hand, hair, nose, chin, face , crazy right?). I looked everywhere for swatches but found none. I guess no ladies were brave enough to make a dent in the palette! But the colors didn’t win me over. I have all the colors in my stack.

    Anyway, It was a masterpiece, only available at Neiman Marcus in the US. At that time Neiman had it for quite a while at very limited quantities. I had to resist myself SO hard. Until now I am still wondering if I made the right decision. But practical wise, I wouldn’t dare use it.

    • I have the Tailleur Bar palette since August and have been making regular dents in it. I’ve found a few blogs willing to swatch but only on the large areas. The only problem is the areas that I consistently work on is helping it crumble eventually. I definitely like the light blue-gray tone!

  49. dovile

    Personally, I don’t really care. I dig right in. LOL I buy makeup to use it, not look at it. :)

  50. Michele

    I have the Dolce and Gabbana Sicilian Lace bronzer from last year. I keep it in my purse and use it more as a compact as opposed to my everyday bronzer. I’ve only actually used it a few times.

  51. Devi

    I’m afraid to use any kind of makeup, design or not. It just looks so neat and pretty in the package, then we open it up and destroy it (“destroy” not meant to be taken literally xD). But then again, you bought it to use it, so dip that brush it and say goodbye to the neat pretty package. ;_;

  52. Carrie Ann

    Some products are definitely so pretty that you barely use them or don’t even want to touch them at all, like Marine Life from the MAC To The Beach collection or the sea star bronzer/blush from the recent Estee Lauder collection. I’m crazy about seahorses, so I had to get two of Marine Life.

  53. I love to buy produtcs with pretty designs, it’s more fun to apply a product if it’s also pretty in the pan. Just makes the experience more enjoyable. i love my leopard bronzer by too faced because the nice design goes all the way through, i never feel sad about using that one!

  54. Lisa

    I just take a nice pretty picture to have as a record of it. I’m weird like that LOL!

  55. Eibhlin

    Anyone foolish enough to buy one to use and one to look at has more money than sense.

    • Everyone is entitled to spend their money however they like it – we all have different priorities, wants, etc. No need to insult others.

  56. I feel embarrassed to admit that I still haven’t touched Marine Life. I probably never will either.

    • ericka

      Please, no need to feel embarrassed; I have yet to touch my Marine Life, too! I will eventually, but just can’t handle the thought of messing up the design just yet. Besides, I have other blushes to play around with until I’m ready. ;0)

  57. Paige

    I just dive in and use it :D I bought the makeup to be used, not to be stared at and cluttering my vanity.

  58. Nutmeg

    I go ahead and use it. Although some are very pretty, I bought it as makeup and not art.

  59. I like to wait a few weeks, lol.

  60. goldfish

    as pretty as the product really is i will use it as gently as possible. the only time i buy a back-up is when i absolutely love it and usually it’s either l/e or discon. for me the product must be functional to be kept in my collection. every piece is used gently used and well loved. (=^___^=)

  61. Leticia

    I believe makeup is intended to be used, so if I did decide to get one of those really beautifully designed products I would use it right away. It´s fun to see those gorgeous items out there, but in the end it’s makeup…I really stay away from products that are soooo pretty I would feel too sorry to run a brush through them!

  62. I try my hardest not to disturb the prettiness too much. I don’t know how I’m going to avoid messing up the pretty hibiscus on the My Paradise blush from MAC. I love it with the gold shimmer but I want the flower to stay forever!

  63. As soon as I opened the box, i dived right in and got to the business.. LoL I lOOOOOVE this bronzer.. it’s worth every penny!! My other terracotta bronzers are back to my drawers :)) This is how I feel – by the time I make any change to the pattern of this bronzer I will find another gem..

  64. susan

    wow, that Guerlain bronzer looks a lot like the Clarins Mosaic bronzer, hmmm. I bought the Marine Life and it’s still in the box, haven’t touched it, not sure if or when I will, although that is the whole point of buying it right?

  65. Roberta

    This may be weird but I take pictures in different angles amd then I just go for it. The only real work of art I had was Guerlain’s cherry blossom blush with over spray.

  66. meme

    I will look at it for a few days, then dig in. Usually I don’t go for high design as a turn on to my choices. Often they are only a layer of non transferable gold pigment. It’s the color created by the product over all that is important to me. Packaging can be a total waste of $ and they do charge for it!

  67. MJ

    I dive right in!

  68. Yumi

    still haven’t used my marine life, probably never? maybe if i manage to get a backup. or maybe i’ll finally get the nerve to…but then again i have so many other blushes to use it doesnt really matter.
    i don’t think it’s too expensive to buy backups…i just don’t eat out and get makeup instead, helps keep me eating healthier too. i don’t actually save money that way, it just evens out.

  69. Maya

    If it has a design that you can avoid in the beginning, I’ll usually try to keep the pretty part around as long as possible. As far as items like the bronzer you pictured here, which are completely covered, I just admire the beauty then dive right in lol

    • Maya

      By the way, I love that companies are making makeup into works of art! I know it goes away fast, and I’d never buy something just because it has a design, but it’s really pretty! Even though it’s just packaging, it makes it special haha

  70. PoetrysTruth

    I’m a cheap make up fiend who buys SOME expensive products so I would just use it. While I appreciate a pretty design, I’m more interested in the make up and how it looks on me. SO even with a special design my product is still getting used…no matter how pretty it looks in the package.

  71. studiodummies

    I haven’t bought any yet, but I was thinking about getting one of those Paul & Joe lipsticks – the ones where the actual lip product is a kitty – I’m worried that I would just keep it because I wouldn’t want to mess it up! But maybe sometime I’ll do the whole “get one to use, get one to keep” thing =D

  72. As I mention in the previous Guerlain blog a week ago, designs like this belongs on a fabric pattern or on a picture…not makeup. This is a gimmick. After all, this is just made of powder and once you start using it, the design starts to disappear over use. This is impractical. This is makeup…not Picasso.

  73. Katie

    Some of them I go ahead and use…like my Tarte amazonian clay blush. But I still haven’t touched my MAC Marine Life or the three blushes from the Quite Cute collection. They’re too beautiful!

  74. amanda

    depends if i bought it on impulse, because it was pretty and unique, or if i actually like the colour, in which case, i just use it!

  75. I take as many pictures of it as I can. I’m a bit of a photographic hoarder (as well as a regular one…), if that makes any sense.

  76. fks

    Fancy designs just raise the price of a product, without having any effect on quality. Since I buy product to use, the only determining factor is quality as a function of cost. Obviously, any fance embossed designs will not last long in my makeup stash!

  77. Sarah

    I bought a Chanel palette a few years ago, it was supposed to be a blush/eye shadow thingy, it’s got red, black and gold throughout in this oriental theme, I’ve never been able to swatch it let alone use it. It’s too pretty so I just admire it lol. Hey, my money to spend on what I want and do with it how I please and so I don’t regret it at all. MAC’s Marine Life, I bought a second specifically for use, the other I admire too lol

  78. Erica

    I would just not buy it. Plus, the novelty of it being a new/artistic product will go away after some time. So if I manage to buy it it would be something I actually use.

  79. cherryglass

    I dive right in! There is a responsibility to my inner child to open packages and swatch it immediately and enjoy it for its function while making a mess. It’s a sacrificial ceremony: I destroy the product to make myself look better. Cruel, yes. Example: The overspray on Marine Life was wiped off right away without even a swatch. I really truly love the coral/ watermelon part of it and it fills me with joy to see it on my sallow aging cheeks. The backups are difficult to justify for me considering sheer amount and variety of new products. That being said, I understand why people want to have beautiful things in pristine condition. It’s a hobby, too, not just mere face paint.

  80. shuz4ever

    I love keeping designs intact so i usually buy 2 – e.g. Mac Marine Life; Chanel tweed blushes; MAC Summer Rose etc – i use one and keep away the other – for me they are like mini-works of art! But if i can get my hands on only one item (its sold out etc like mac my paradise; mac giggly ; mac ripe peach; mac chez chez lame etc) then i hold off using the product for a while.

  81. Solangel

    I suppose those lucky enough to have the luxury of spending that much for something just to look at it can do whatever they want, as they are entitled to it like everyone else. The Lancome one, for example, 100$ on two bronzers when the first one will probably not be used up? If I’m going to buy something that is meant to be used, I will use it and pay for its function, not its look. If the product is LE and I know for sure that I will use every last bit of it, then yes, it’s reasonable to buy a backup. If it happens to have a pretty design then even better. Otherwise, no.

  82. buba

    I make this work for
    sorry for the English I’m Italian
    I have done many things for many brands
    I also did lancome Bronze bamboo
    before being confirmed, look with a magnifying glass designs in the dust
    chanel d’artifices I made about 20 prototypes
    There is much work in every study, there appears

  83. Anna

    Hi Christine,
    When can we expect review?