Blurring the lines.
Snap. An image is captured—whether you wanted it to be or not. These days, it seems almost impossible to take a breath without someone photographing it, uploading it, and sharing it with others across the cyber-abyss. Ah yes, welcome to the Facebook/Instagram/Twitter nation. But fear not: there are now a slew of smartphone-friendly products specially designed and engineered to blur, soften, or instantly airbrush your snapshot to make your immortal moment appear picture-perfect—with or without the help of your flash.
It was Max Factor and his son Francis who first created their famous Pan-Cake “foundation and powder in one” series specifically designed for film actors in the 1930s. Fast-forward 80-plus years and one can’t help but imagine what they’d think of the products coming out today that address the social-media photo phenomenon.
Last September, Cargo Cosmetics released an entire HD Picture Perfect line, including its big seller, HD Picture Perfect Translucent Powder, and CC Cream—a colour-correcting product that rectifies tonal imperfections like redness and dark shadows, and features innovative colour-adapting pigments that deliver undetectable coverage. This spring, they will unveil HD mascara and an extension of their HD concealer line.
“Technology has upped the ante, so our need to look more attractive under harsher or less-flattering circumstances is greater,” says Nina Soriano, makeup artist and brand ambassador for Cargo. “Cosmetic and skin-care companies are very savvy. They realize social media is a powerful and important tool and have thus helped create what has now become a realized category.” Future innovations for the company will include HD products in other categories, like for eyes and lips.
Other brands include Make Up For Ever, whose HD Complexion line offers High Definition Microperfecting Primer, and Smashbox, which stocks a Liquid Halo HD Foundation that’s infused with 100 per cent gel-covered pigments that mimic photo filters, thus blurring imperfections. It is liquid light technology found in a bottle, and it’s now a magic potion to thousands.
Last spring, Hourglass Cosmetics, an independent company known for its high-performance beauty products, introduced Ambient Lighting Powders, which offer photoluminescent technology. It is their No. 1 product, and their limited-edition palette version sold out within three weeks. “You never know when you are going to be photographed, or use Skype or FaceTime,” says Carisa Janes, founder and CEO of the company. “When you don’t have the power to alter images using an Instagram filter, these non-traditional powders—which capture, diffuse, and soften surrounding light create a smooth focus effect for picture-perfect lighting at any moment. It was something that I wanted in a product that I couldn’t find.”
There are now a slew of smartphone-friendly products specially designed and engineered to blur, soften, or instantly airbrush your snapshot.
It’s difficult to count how many companies are following this face-to-photo movement, but industry specialists know the marketplace is growing. “The data isn’t yet in on this trend,” says Karen Grant, vice-president and global beauty industry analyst for the NPD Group, a worldwide marketing information company. “But we think it’s an important direction within the industry, and we’ll be watching as it develops.”
The pressure of looking good in a selfie or a Facebook tag may be one reason for the surge of instantaneous facial-fix products, but the poor economy is another—goodbye, expensive plastic surgery and hello to the boom of at-home products that promise results.
“These products are another way for the technically savvy consumer to understand they can look better on their own,” says Maria Corbiscello, president and CEO of Studio MC2, a fragrance and beauty company, adding that long-term benefits will be the next stage for these immediate-results-oriented products.
And so it is. Enter the skin-care contenders. Last September, Peter Thomas Roth promised “Photoshop-perfect” with his BB Blur cream. Along with anti-aging peptides, Roth’s product offers a blurring effect thanks to light-reflecting diamond dust. Oil-free and offering an SPF 30, it joins a handful of others making the leap from plain old products to camera-ready skin care. Mass-marketing brands have also bellied up to the beauty bar. This year brought two products from Garnier: Skin Renew 5 Second Blur Instant Smoother, which launched in January, uses light-reflecting technology and Ultra-Lift Transformer Anti-Age Skin Corrector launched in February as the company’s first-to-market for auto-adjusting pigments, immediately transforming skin’s quality and boosting luminosity and uniform skin tone. L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Miracle Blur instant skin-smoother finishing cream contains Opti-Blur Technology, which diffuses light on the skin for a soft-focus effect, instantly smoothing lines and wrinkles, hiding pores, and minimizing flaws and imperfections. Then there’s Toronto’s Indeed Laboratories, which conceived Nanoblur, a finishing product used for high-definition TV and smartphone photos that gives its users a flawless photo finish.
“Nanoblur is not a colour corrector, nor is it an anti-aging product, but rather an optical that acts like a filter for your face,” says Dia Foley, who is vice-president of sales and marketing of the cosmetic company. The product can be applied underneath or on top of makeup for a photo-ready look.
While all of these products are hybrids, offering high-pigment corrective technology and light-reflecting properties paired with long-term skin-care benefits, insiders say it’s just a matter of time before the next generation in this category appears.
“Optical blurring and other photo-optic advancements are just the beginning,” says Cargo’s Soriano. “Makeup is an ever-expanding category. It feeds on people’s vanities—as does social media. In many ways, the two are a perfect match.”