Thursday, March 6, 2014

Guest post from Savannah Scorpion: "Pigmented" is a Bullshit Marketing Term


I am Savannah Scorpion, beauty junkie and retail drone. I guest post periodically to give y'all an insider perspective on expensive beauty bullshit. It's been a few months since I've posted, chiefly because I have been doing some job-hunting. One of the fun things about working in retail is that I've gone thorough a more rigorous hiring process than most politicians--for significantly less money.

I'm here to talk about a word that I see bandied about a lot in the beauty industry:


One of the biggest trends that I have noticed is how beauty companies talk about pigmentation. More expensive brands love to talk about how intensely/richly/sensuously pigmented their products are--as if mass brands have low quality pigments.

Let's break through the bullshit.
I went to an amazing money pit called art school. Pigment is discussed in every visual arts class. Pigments are the material used to make colors. However, your pigments are pretty useless if you don't have fillers, binders, oils, waxes and other detritus, so that you can apply the pigment to whatever surface you are working on.

Art students do not use the most pigmented paints and pencils right off the bat, because using such products is a waste of money when you are learning basic techniques. The more pigmented products are more difficult to work with, and are meant to be used by artists who have developed their own style.

The came concept can be applied to cosmetics--with a major exception:

Expensive products do not always have the best pigments. NYX Cosmetics and Wet N Wild carry some very pigmented products [Ed. Note: Also, remember this?]. Some Urban Decay eyeliners are patchy as fuck, and in my opinion, Zero, their basic black pencil, is some mediocre smeary bullshit.

Pros will use any product that works--and I've seen many a makeup kit filled with products from Maybelline, Wet N Wild, and Revlon. Now, artists will also use brands with a reputation for their intense pigments, such as MAC, NARS, and MUFE. Keep in mind:

They are pros. Makeup artists have years of experience and if they are working on a film, TV show, or theatrical production, they aren't paying for their products out of pocket.


Super-pigmented products are finicky as hell to work with. I recently purchased a mini kit of Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tars (Anime/NSFW/Black Dahlia/Ophelia), and while I definitely enjoy them, there's a definite learning curve to applying the lip colors, and if you don't put a primer underneath, they can smear all over the place. I also purchased a NARS blush (Exhibit A, from the Guy Bourdin collection), which is a very bright deep coral-red, that can go from "70's disco goddess" to "clown" if you over-apply even the tiniest bit. I spent plenty of time as a youngster working with sheer blushes from mass brands before I worked with more intensely pigmented blushes.

If you are new to makeup, I would not recommend spending a lot of money buying expensive "pigmented" products. Practice with more accessible drugstore products.

If you feel ready to start experimenting with products that have higher pigmentation ratios, invest in quality brushes, and use a very light hand.


  1. I have to say, some of those Wet n Wild trios are probably the best thing ever for eyeshadow beginners. They're pigmented AND cheap as hell, so if you overapply you can start from scratch without wasting big bucks.

  2. Hm. I feel like I have different feelings when it comes to pigmentation depending on the product. Give me maximum pigment in my eyeshadow. Give me moderate pigment in my blush.


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