Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Tricky tricky! Which package contains more product? Lip Gloss Edition (PLUS photos and review of L'Oreal Colour Caresse Wet Shine Stain in Infinite Fuschia) (picture heavy post)

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Here is the third (and possibly final) installation of the series in which I look at the tricks packaging design plays to make you think you're getting more product than you really are. You can see the previous editions here. This time I'm going to look at a bunch of tubes of lip gloss, and holy shit, there's a lot going on here. Not one of these is without its illusion - so it took me a long time to choose which products to compare here, because every time I checked the label, I was surprised by the size. Some of these still confuse me, even when I know how much is actually in there. Let's get to it. Which of the two tubes below do you think contains more product?
L'Oreal Colour Caresse Wet Shine Stain in Infinite Fuschia ($10) vs. e.l.f. Super Glossy Lip Shine in New York City ($1)
L'Oreal Colour Caresse Wet Shine Stain in Infinite Fuschia ($10)
vs. e.l.f. Super Glossy Lip Shine in New York City ($1)
This one's not too tough, I think. Though the way the e.l.f. tube is pinched at the bottom makes it look wider than it is, it has really light/thin packaging and is full of product from top to bottom. There's no wand or applicator of any kind inside the tube to take up space. The e.l.f. gloss is 0.35 oz. and the L'Oreal gloss is 0.21 oz.

By the way, e.l.f. does not list the sizes of their products on their website, which I think is kind of shady. They (usually) have them printed on the labels, but only on the removable stickers that tell you the shade name. That's frustrating if you're buying something online. Luckily, most things are cheap enough that you're not going to get terribly ripped off, I guess.

This L'Oreal stuff was actually one of the first things that inspired me to look more closely at packaging. It's fairly small to begin with, but then there's a lot of extraneous material that's there just to make the tube look bigger, without making space for more goo. Look:
L'Oreal Colour Caresse Wet Shine Stain in Infinite Fuschia
L'Oreal Colour Caresse Wet Shine Stain in Infinite Fuschia
With the cap on all the way, the wand only reaches about 2/3 of the way into the tube. That means that either there is no product in that bottom third of the container, or you're never going to be able to get it out. It's just there to make the tube look long and elegant or some shit. And most of the package is opaque, so you can't even see what's going on in there. So I thought I'd compare this with some other tubes that look more straightforward. Which of these looks biggest?
L'Oreal Colour Caresse Wet Shine Stain in Infinite Fuschia  vs. Revlon ColorStay Mineral Lipgloss in Perennial Pink  vs. Rimmel Stay Glossy Lipgloss in Fuschia Fever
L'Oreal Colour Caresse Wet Shine Stain in Infinite Fuschia ($10)
vs. Revlon ColorStay Mineral Lipgloss in Perennial Pink ($8)
vs. Rimmel Stay Glossy Lipgloss in Fuschia Fever ($4)
Okay, setting aside the fact that I have way too many pink lipglosses, and I don't even wear gloss that often (this is not all of them), I was sure that the L'Oreal tube would be the smallest here. Except, as it turns out, the Revlon tube contains 0.15 oz. WAY FUCKING SMALLER. Yeah, it has that pinched shape . . . very clever. I did not notice that when I bought it. Well, it was on sale, anyway.

But the Rimmel package is pretty straightforward, right? No obvious tricks? The Rimmel is 0.18 oz. Only a little smaller than the L'Oreal, but doesn't it look bigger? Or at least the same size? I didn't take a photo of the Rimmel tube with the cap off, but it has just as much product in the part under the lid as the L'Oreal one does. The trick here, I guess, is that the clear plastic on the tube is fairly thick, much like the glass that this Maybelline nail polish bottle is made of. This sort of thing is really hard to detect unless you look at the tube from the bottom.
Bottom of Rimmel tube
One more:
L'Oreal Colour Caresse Wet Shine Stain in Infinite Fuschia ($10) vs. Revlon ColorStay Mineral Lipgloss in Perennial Pink ($8) vs. Be a Bombshell Lip Gloss in Hot Mess ($14) vs. Avon Lip Radiance Mini Swirl Gloss in a discontinued shade ($2)
L'Oreal Colour Caresse Wet Shine Stain in Infinite Fuschia ($10)
vs. Revlon ColorStay Mineral Lipgloss in Perennial Pink ($8)
vs. Be a Bombshell Lip Gloss in Hot Mess ($14)
vs. Avon Lip Radiance Mini Swirl Gloss in a discontinued shade ($2)
I left the first two in for reference. To the naked eye, the Be a Bombshell gloss seemed to me to be at least the same size as the the Revlon. After all, it's a little longer. By now I knew that the Revlon was significantly smaller then the L'Oreal, but before I'd figured that out, I though the BaB was possibly larger than that one as well. Nooooope. Be a Bombshell is 0.11 oz. This is an extreme case of thick plastic packaging. And it's the most expensive one! They have cleverly covered the entire base of the tube with a sticker, but you can still get a good idea of how thick the plastic is by looking at the end of it.
End of Be a Bombshell tube
As for the mini Avon gloss, look how tiny that fucker is. It's a sample, basically. But . . . the Avon one is 0.12 oz.! Almost as big as the Revlon gloss and bigger than the Be a Bombshell gloss. Again, same sort of features as the e.l.f. package above: thin plastic package, full of product from one end to the other, and no wand inside to take up space. But still, I never would have guessed that there was more in there than in the tube above it.

So in conclusion: these are way trickier to eyeball than most types of packaging, I think. You really, really, really have to read the labels. If the tube is clear plastic, you can sometimes tell how thick it is. And tubes without applicators in them tend to hold more product, but if you like a wand or a brush, that might be an expense you're willing to deal with. If you're going to be spending time studying the packages to figure out if they're tricking you, you'd be better off just to read the label to see how much you're getting. That is the ultimate lesson in all of these comparisons.

But speaking of the L'Oreal Colour Caresse Wet Shine Stain, here's what you should know if you haven't tried it yet: how it looks like through the transparent segment of the tube is not how it's going to look on your lips. It looks creamy in the tube, but it sets to a darker and more translucent color once you apply it. I tried to take a comparison photo . . . and why the fuck do they look almost the same in it? I swear that there is a significant difference in person. Sigh.
L'Oreal Colour Caresse Wet Shine Stain in Infinite Fuschia
Can you see it? I tried.
If you've tried the Maybelline SuperStay 10HR Stain Glosses, this is very similar. And this color, surprisingly, is a near dupe for the Maybelline in Ruby Indulgence, although you would expect that to be red from the name, right? It's not. Unfortunately I gave my Maybelline one away, so I can't compare them for you. They both have the same scent (fruity, but mild and pleasant), nearly the same applicator, same texture, same feel on lips, same wear, etc. If there is any difference, it's that the L'Oreal one is little more translucent, which I prefer. After you apply it, it remains somewhat tacky, but that means it won't come off if you press your lips together. It's firmer than a gloss and doesn't slide around or smear. It feels flexible but not dry. I don't like the applicator much, personally. It's too bendy and the shape makes it hard to be precise. It would probably be easier to apply with a brush, but I am too lazy for that. After a couple of hours, it will start to wear off the inner part of your lips. Still, most of it stays in place even after eating something greasy or oily, and it leaves a stain behind. Oil is actually your best option, though, if you need to remove it. It doesn't come off with soap and water.

I like it, but do expect it to be darker and more translucent in the tube. That's what I'm saying.

Is it just me who finds it fascinating how many tricks are used in designing packaging to make things seem bigger than they are? Maybe? Probably.


  1. Savannah ScorpionJuly 24, 2013 at 3:57 PM

    The Avon one looks cool. Pity it's discontinued tho. It doesn't surprise me that the L'Oreal and Maybelline stains are dupes of each other. After all, L'Oreal owns both brands. I've found that brands that use more "retro" packaging (coughBenefitcoughcough) are big winners of the "Golden Cocoon Award"

    1. "Golden Cocoon Award"! I love it! Yes, I had that but about L'Oreal owning Maybelline in there originally, but then I deleted it, I guess. Hmmm. But you make a good point - the higher end products with fancier packaging are likely to be even egregious than these!

  2. I love that you do these posts. I think this one has been the most surprising so far. The numbers blow my mind a little. I'm kind of tempted to go through my gloss stash and see how bad I've ripped myself off, but then it'll just make me mad xD

    1. I'm glad you like it! Yeah, I kept trying to find one that was actually bigger than the L'Oreal, which I assumed would be easy, but the e.l.f. was all I had. The cheapest one. I did not expect that.

  3. Meanwhile I'm over here this whole time NOT buying that Loreal because I thought it was small. I'm super strict about paying attention to weight on food products but have GOT to get better at looking at my makeup packages so THANK YOU.

    1. How is it both smaller and larger than it looks? What kind of witchcraft is it??

  4. clearly it's the Undetectable Extension Charm like Hermoine used on her bag while searching for horcruxes.


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