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The Business of Beauty Haul of Fame: The Heartbreak Kids

Will you buy my Valentine?
A close up of a woman applying lipstick
Milk Makeup launched its highly anticipated Cooling Water Jelly Tint on Feb. 6. (Milk Makeup)

Welcome back to Haul of Fame, the weekly beauty roundup of new products, new ideas and Apple’s accidental plan for a hair trend.

Included in today’s issue: Act + Acre, Attitude, Benefit Cosmetics, Cetaphil, Costas Brazil, Em Cosmetics, Future Society, Granado, Jolie, Harper’s Bazaar, Kerastase, L’Oréal, La Mer, Michael B. Jordan, Milk Makeup, Saltair, Sol de Janeiro, Tower 28, Trillion, U Beauty, Unite, Zizia Botanicals and Zombies!

But first…

Do you recognise the phrase, “Heartbreak feels good in a place like this?” Of course you do. It’s from Nicole Kidman’s epic AMC Theatres commercial, which has been viewed over 1 million times on YouTube, spoofed on “Saturday Night Live” and turned into a TikTok sound clip with nearly 10 million plays.

As we near Valentine’s Day, it’s clear that Kidman isn’t the only one turning heartbreak into viral gold. Beauty brands are mining breakups, too.

The most visible is Phlur, the fragrance company helmed by OG fashion vlogger Chriselle Lim. Its breakout scent, Missing Person, was directly tied to Lim’s 2022 divorce. “I was so devastated, I felt like I had no room for creative ideas,” Lim told me last week. “Then I realised, the devastation itself was the concept.” Lim filmed herself crying about the breakup on social media; soon, others were using TikTok’s duet feature to commiserate — and hype her $99 bergamot scent.

The sad-girl success of Phlur, combined with the moody thrill of Billie Eilish songs and the irresistible anxiety of Emma Chamberlain podcasts, has spurred other labels to get a little lovelorn. Mooncat’s Valentine nail hook is an acid-stained red called Your Heart’s a Black Hole. Romand’s new Sanrio collaboration, which hit the US on Feb. 2, features wistful bunny My Melody and the phrase “Whatever, Girls” across its palettes. Byredo has brought back its limited-edition maroon mascara, Mixed Emotions, to complement its navy one, which is called Tears In the Rain. Billie launched its new bodycare range on Feb. 6 with a commercial that riffed on the tear-soaked monologue in “10 Things I Hate About You.” (In this version, Jameela Jamil takes the Julia Stiles role.) And Ulta Beauty’s exclusive product launch with CBD brand Homebody is a powdered bath soak dubbed I Rose Above It.

Considering the numbers, throwing shade along with lipstick shades is a smart move for beauty brands looking for a Valentine boost. That’s because while the National Retail Federation marked a 9.9 percent increase in V-Day spending last year, many aren’t buying for their romantic partner. In fact, a 2023 Census Bureau poll found 52 percent of American women are currently single, and according to the Pew Research Center, a whopping 65 percent of them aren’t looking to change that. If brands aimed at women want to keep making Valentine’s Day a bottom-line boost, narratives that bet against romantic love have a strong chance to charm shoppers.

As for Lim, she remains unmarried and extremely successful. At the launch of her latest perfume, Strawberry Letter (which debuted on Feb. 6 and sold out 10 hours later), she called the fragrance “a little naughty without caring; like the ‘coquette’ vibe in a bottle. It’s not really about falling in love with anyone but yourself. It’s a love letter from you, to you.”

WHAT ELSE IS NEW…

FRAGRANCE

Can Brazilian brands turn their vibes into a K-Beauty style sensation? Storied Brazilian perfumery Granado opened its first US retail location on Feb. 1 at 611 Madison Avenue, across from Dior. In Aspen, Sol de Janeiro celebrated its Cheirosa 59 perfume with an influencer trip on Feb. 4. And former Calvin Klein maestro Francisco Costa has brought Costa Brazil back from the brink after its former parent company, Amyris, went bust.

Elsewhere, Future Society launched its Optimal Habitat fragrance primer on Feb. 2, designed to “extend [the] wear time of fragrance up to 24 hours.”.

Meanwhile, it’s a tough week for warm musks. The popular fragrance suffered a TKO at the hands of Naomi Watts on new show, “Feud: Capote vs. The Swans.” While sniping at her husband’s mistress, she snarls that her perfume is “too much sandalwood for a woman with her face.” The barb has already been memed by Diet Prada.

HAIR CARE

Shower anxiety is apparently a thing that brands want to fix. On Feb. 6, Act + Acre released a shower filter that (it claims) can be installed in just 60 seconds; it serves as a Brita for hair and skin. Jolie’s similar shower filters are having a downtown moment, thanks to a new ad campaign, plastered outside every bar in Dimes Square. Kerastase has similar shower vibes with its new Première Collection, which officially drops on Feb. 12 but has already been spotted at Sephora. It works by “targeting the calcium that exists in shower water,” which may weaken hair strands.

On Feb. 4, Unite launched 13 of its products at Ulta Beauty, including its best-selling Blonda oil. Also in blonde news, Camila Cabello went platinum on Feb. 4 with the help of stylist Nikki Lee and L’Oréal’s Féria power toner. And the ultimate blondie, Paris Hilton, is the new face of Living Proof.

Iskra Lawrence launched two new Saltair products, Santal Bloom dry shampoo and Moisture Bound leave-in conditioner, on Feb. 5. You might also catch the model mogul in the Adore Me lingerie show during NYFW. Be sure to ask her for a sample of her new-ish body wash; it’s great.

Cécred officially announced its existence on Feb. 6. Since the hair care line is by Beyoncé Knowles, everyone is already talking about it, but I’ve gotta mention one thing: The brand is being repped by Shadow, the mighty creative marketing agency that routinely scores media coups for E.l.f. and American Eagle. Don’t underestimate this partnership.

SKINCARE

It’s cool to think that makeup artist Diane Kendal used Cetaphil on models at the Feb. 2 Marc Jacobs show, because teen girls everywhere also use Cetaphil, and so do many adult women who still feel, at least emotionally, like teen girls. Ah, the circle of life!

Dime launched in Ulta on Feb. 4, marking the first time ever that the indie skincare brand has been in an IRL store.

There are more luxe and mass skin soothers hitting the market. In the drugstore aisle, Attitude debuted its Oatmeal Sensitive Collection on Feb. 6, which includes gentle cleansers, lotions and deodorants. On the high end, U Beauty’s Super Intensive face oil dropped Feb. 8 “to prevent and resolve dry, dehydrated skin and combat zombie cells.” The oil feels amazing on dry skin, and the formula uses a “magnet” molecule to attract and then neutralize free radicals, one of the main culprits of skin damage. Still, talking about “zombie cells” makes me yearn for the next season of “The Last of Us.”

Funnily enough, the video game language continues with Trillion, the new “microbiomic skincare line” that works by “influencing the weight of good bacteria on the skin and working to keep invaders out.” I am intrigued. I would also like to play through this level on Twitch.

COSMETICS

Milk Makeup launched its highly anticipated Cooling Water Jelly Tint on Feb. 6. Five out of six colours are currently sold out at Sephora, thanks in part to some funky animation by artist Gio Medalla, who turned gummy candy into makeup for the social media campaign. I will say, this is an instance where the product does match the hype, thanks to a gorgeous colour payoff.

La Mer introduced its Tinted Lip Volumiser tubes on Feb. 2. They are made with sea kelp, so you should wear them when sipping Moss, the new “functional beverage” from dream date Michael B. Jordan and Dr. Smood that also features ocean algae. Erewhon, look what you’ve done to us!

Elsewhere in the lippie space, Tower 28′s new LipSoftie tinted lip treatments premiered on Feb. 6. The very next day, tubes of Zizia Botanicals Rose All Balm were in bloom. Zizia’s formulas are created by clinical herbalists, so the brand tends to launch products slowly, depending on when plant ingredients are actually in season. That’s pretty admirable, and the formula is shiny without being greasy.

Em Cosmetics launched a Portrait Mode setting powder on Feb. 2. It’s a clever name and the packaging, a black-and-white chequered compact, was clearly designed for Instagram domination.

Ogee’s new Beyond Clean volumizing mascara debuted on Feb. 8, alongside a new brow wax and detailer pen from Benefit Cosmetics called Frankly, My Brow. The products seem to mimic the effects of microblading without any needles.

Feb. 8 also brought new R.E.M. Beauty launches, including a Hypernova Satin Matte blush and bronzer, plus a “cloud like” setting spray. The products are described as “ultra sensorial,” which is a neat way of saying “you can totally feel them.”

AND FINALLY…

A few weeks ago, Apple invited some fashion editors to explore their new Vision Pro headset thing-y in Soho. (Brooke Bobb at Bazaar really liked it!) The device goes over the head quite tightly, which means if it catches on, hair styles will have to adapt, and IRL eye makeup may become much harder to see. It’s already happening in the new Apple product ads; look at this ponytail!

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