This month, as I have done every March for god knows how many years, I bought InStyle magazine, as this is the issue which comes with the annual, much vaunted “Best Beauty Buys” magazine: 100 beauty products that are, they assure us, those which the beauty “Experts” have determined are the absolute crème de la crème of what’s on offer to we beauty addict plebians. I almost didn’t buy it this year, because for the past several years it has been what I can only approximate 95% a repeat of the previous year, and 90% products that are out with most mere mortal’s budgets. I kind of just bought it to shake my head in wonder at how out of touch and pointless it has become in this modern age of beauty blogs, consumer tests, and other far more trustworthy and relevant sources of product recommendations.
I would swear that they used to have more alternative affordable recommendations for a wider array of products, especially skincare. This year’s sole choice for “Best Night Cream” is the Sisley Supremya at Night The Supreme (two “supremes” necessary), for the princely sum of, wait for it ….£475(!!!). Apparently Crème De la Mer’s £105 price tag has become chump change for the beauty editors, who receive the products gratis, of course. It's all good readers, maybe you just require a treat, a mask you can eke out - for that they recommend the rather cheap by their standards Sisley Radiant Glow Express Mask, yours for a mere £73. If I want to be reminded I'm a pauper who considers the fancy Olay a splurge I'll read Tatler or Vogue, so thanks for nothing on the skincare front Instyle!
I am not naïve to the way magazines work, they get everything free and breezily recommend the “best” (cough most advertised) products around, regardless of price. What irks me particularly with the InStyle 100 is the lack of imagination they apply to anything below a certain price marker. They’ve had the same mascara, eye shadow, and lipstick recommendations for quite a few years now, with very small variations. L’Oreal True Match Foundation continues to be their top pick for a cheap foundation, which boggles my mind because it is one of the worst I have tried, and there have been so many better formulas in the same price range for some time now. For years they recommended Maybelline Great Lash, which again I found awful. For the past few years it has been Masterpiece by Max Factor, which is decent, but not one I’ve ever read particularly outstanding reviews of anywhere other than in magazines.
I know, not everyone likes every product, but InStyle seems to stick to a very limited rota of products in lieu of the vast choice that is now out there. And maybe I've just had particularly bad luck, as nearly every reasonably priced recommendation of theirs I have tried in the past has been underwhelming to say the least.
As for their hair product choices, it's again more of the same. Especially the best “Curl Enhancer”: don’t get me started on their complete lack of interest here. This year, as with the past several years, it goes to Aveda Be Curly, quite possibly the greasiest, most lank curl cream since the one they recommended for the previous decade, Kiehl’s Crème with Silk Groom (the tales of curly girls everywhere wasting money on that stuff in hair forums were endless). Whoever is their hair “expert” clearly has no contact with anyone with curly hair, because a cursory glance of curly hair frequented sites like naturallycurly.com would show you the hundreds of products that are preferred to their lazy, trot out the same choice again every year selections.
I know I’m sounding a bit grumpy, but as a magazine fan I don’t see how they expect women to continue to have faith in their elitist and unimaginative recommendations of what is really the best. It’s simply not relevant when I can go onto any number of websites and find hundreds of reviews of products that tell me the real score. I participated as a tester for The Anti-Ageing Beauty Bible, I have tried expensive products both for testing and with my own money. I do think there are some things that are worth spending extra on. But I think it’s just as important to get top value for your pound or dollar in the drugstore, and this magazine’s uninspiring attitude when it comes to the bargains and insistence on picking virtually the most expensive product they can find in each category is truly frustrating to me. Was there really no other eye cream that you could recommend me other than Crème de lar Mer at £105, InStyle? Was there honestly no other cream you might also recommend for crow's feet? Whom, precisely, is your readership that you think they can afford these things?
I appreciate that these supplements are maybe not meant to be taken quite so seriously, and that sometimes we do just want to flick though and have one clear cut recommendation of a product as opposed to “Nancy from Leicester said it’s great, Mary from Wiltshire was less enthused - 75.7% of testers approve.” Too much information can be confusing. But if I am to be given an authoritative editorial voice, it needs to be a bit more modern and relevant than this outdated style of beauty journalism. It needs to feel remotely sincere and acknowledging that most of its readership cannot afford 90% of their recommendations, and that that gap is no longer acceptable in this day and age when we know there is a world of products out there for under £475 that can indeed make us look and feel better. High fashion is a fantasy world, I can't afford Dior but I still like to look at it. But when it comes to beauty products, which many readers do aspire to and look to spend hard earned pennies on, I wish magazines in general would stop continuing to produce such disingenuous addresses like this one to their readership.