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What makes a beauty product iconic today?

The New Untainted Cult Favourites

issue ten : icons & iconoclasts

By Kat Nugent

Everybody has their sacred beauty products that they can’t live without, the “Holy Grail” lotions, potions and paints that they recommend to anyone who will listen – whether it be their closest friends or total strangers they strike up conversations within public bathrooms. From pots of mysterious balms providing magical healing properties to pink and green tubes of high-street mascara loved by professional make-up artists, every decade has its handful of beauty products that capture the hearts (and wallets) of the collective consumer space.

Interrogating the term “Iconic”

As we look forward to the approaching new decade, it’s an important time for us all to take a step backwards and reconsider what qualities a product should have in order for it to be labelled as ‘iconic’. As of today, the majority of cult-favourite products get their traction and their iconic status because of their efficacy (and, for most, a cleverly-composed marketing campaign). But as we confront our increasingly dire environmental crisis we must ask ourselves, is this really enough? What good is a mascara that doubles the length of your eyelashes if its packaging ends up in a landfill? Can an anti-wrinkle eye-cream really be a ‘holy grail’ product if it needs to be tested on animals or contain ingredients complicit in destroying our planet’s delicate ecosystems?

Consumer Power

We’re living in a time where the consumer-value attached to a beauty product must extend beyond what it can do for them and address also what it is doing for or to our planet. Like every consumer choice we make, the pounds we spend are votes for the kind of world we want to live in. What message do we give when we spend our hard-earned money on a product that cares for our planet? What message do we give when we spend it on a product that harms it?

Let’s recognise our power as consumers; the power to change the beauty industry for the better. Changing consumer demands can lead to revolutions in trends. If we make it clear that we’re looking for products that are kind to ourselves and to our planet (and that we won’t fall for lazy and deceitful greenwashing), businesses will have no choice but to change their offerings and production practices accordingly in order to survive. Let’s change what it means for a product to be iconic. It’s not enough for cult products to only be the serums that achieve that perfect balance of dewy without being oily or the highlighters that bounce light perfectly, they need to also integrate socially and environmentally responsible practices to claim the title of ‘iconic’.

When it comes to a product achieving iconic status, word of mouth rules. It’s about spreading your love for the product. So let’s use this power responsibility, only sharing the glowing reviews for the products that are truly iconic in this day and age. 

The New Cult Favourites

In the spirit of spreading the love, here are some of our untainted product icons; the hero staples that we believe capture what it means to be a “cult product” today:

The Mascara: Inika Vegan Long Lash Mascara

A mascara that gives high-impact, long, fluttery lashes without any of the clumping or flaking, this certified vegan, Halal and cruelty-free product is one of our cult favourite makeup staples.

See it in action in our Date Night Editorial from Issue Nine. 

The serum/ Solution: Skin Alchemists Apothecary Sésenne Facial Elixir

This facial elixir can be described as nothing short of light in a bottle. The rich and opulent formula nourishes your skin overnight leaving it glowing, plumped and rejuvenated when you wake up.

Read our full review here.

the Moisturiser: Josh Rosebrook Tinted Nutrient Day Cream SPF30

This combined moisturiser and SPF really is a must-have. Apply throughout the day to moisturise and protect your skin. The best part of this product? It doesn’t leave you with that ghost-like ashy tint as many other naturally derived mineral sunscreens do.

Read our full review here.

The Lip Balm: Twelve Beauty Hyuraoil

If you’re looking for a naturally-derived lip treatment that will give you a long-lasting high-shine look, while also enriching and plumping your lips with vitamin E and natural hyaluronic acid, look no further! 

Read our full review here.

The Concealer: RMS Beauty Un cover-Up

Unlike many concealers that can sit on top of your skin, this one really melts into it. It provides seamless and buildable coverage to even out skin tone and if you wish, to disguise any blemishes.

Read our guide to choosing the best concealer for you here.

The Lipstick: Kjaer Weis x Caroline Issa in Sucré

A strong red lip can elevate any look and this one is a sure-fire favourite. Delivering a vibrant rich colour and a velvet-matt texture, this product is also a blue beauty icon, donating 25% of all proceeds to Women for Women International.

Read our full review here.

The Foundation: Gress Skin Minimalist Corrective Foundation

In the untainted space, finding a high-performance advanced foundation isn’t a piece of cake, so we thank the heavens for this magic foundation from Gressa. While you apply this product as an oily serum, once on the skin it transforms into a soft powdery finish that can be built from lightweight to full coverage.

Read our full review here.

The Haircare: Tabitha James Kraan 4-in-1 Conditioner

An absolute dream for those blessed with curly locks, this 4-in-1 conditioner by self-proclaimed ‘hair geek’ Tabitha James Kraan is a multi-use hair product that really delivers. Restoring dry and frizzy curls to their bouncy and shiny glory, the conditioner can be used as a traditional conditioner, leave-in treatment, styling aid or curl cream.

Read our full review here.

The Blush: Kosås Blush Duo in Papaya 1972

We are so excited that Kosås has now landed in the UK (this brand is now available at Content Beauty)! One of our hero products from Kosås is their blush duo in papaya 1972. The pressed powder blush duo features a peachy blush and subtle highlighter, the perfect combination for a dreamy romantic look that goes from day to night.

Read our full review here.

See the product in action in our Blushing Beauties editorial.

Please remember that everything we buy has the potential to go to landfill, whether it is recyclable or not. Only buy new products when you have run out of your current products or if it is absolutely essential. Your wallet and your the planet will thank you.

Top Banner Image: Avon Cosmetics, 1966

untainted |ˌənˈtān(t)əd| adjective
not contaminated, polluted, or tainted: the paper was untainted by age.

UNTAINTED is a directional beauty platform, pushing the boundaries of clean, sustainable beauty. We are inspired and motivated by the Japanese philosophy of Wabi-sabi.

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