The narrow line between excitement and cosmetic safety in the Fenty Beauty x MSCHF campaign

Are we truly aware of what we smear?

“Ketchup or Makeup?” is written on a bright red box that holds six identical ketchup packets. How can you know what you’re going to wear on your lips when there are no graphic cues to distinguish them? And they either contain a lip gloss or sauce to spray over chips. It is not the beginning of a mathematical problem, but the dilemma from the 83rd drop of MSCHF in collaboration with Fenty Beauty, in which the collective of designers launch a new provocation against the culture of consumerism curated together with the Rihanna make-up brand, with its origins creator of cutting-edge collections. The social campaign also confuses the lines between food and beauty, a match that has always been lucky in marketing, and is completed with a guerrilla marketing activation with a Hot Dog cart that brings the exciting experience of not being sure about eating ketchup or makeup to NYC street passers-by, as the @amalydominguez video shows.

Sachets can only be opened to smell (or taste) the contents in order to determine whether they contain ketchup or cosmetics, hence the product must be consumed as soon as possible in both situations.The box is a collector’s item or the latest craze for posting video reactions on TikTok, as many creators have already done, saving most of their money from spending $ 25 to buy 3ml of Fenty lipgloss on the ketchupormakeup.com website, instead sold on Sephora.com for 22.90 euros for 9 ml, with the exception that the shade of the 9 ml is available on the site is slightly less red than the ketchup-colored nuance of the innovative creation and it doesn’t have an expiring date. The collaboration is MSCHF’s first foray into the world of beauty, which is heavily influenced by stereotypes and capitalist exploitation. It focuses on creating induced needs and gatherings of people who are insecure about their own flaws and run to the miraculous product to “make up” for a particular lack, providing fertile ground for the social criticism that the collective of artists has always engaged in. With the cooperation, Mrs. Robin Fenty’s company also declares its willingness to toy with the hype machine and the public’s ignorance of the substances in beauty products, which are increasingly chosen more for the allure of the packaging than for the usefulness or aesthetic value of the item.

Because of TikTok and Fenty Beauty ketchup sachets, experimentation in the world of beauty is returning. At the beginning of 2022, there was talk of Safe Beauty, a post-pandemic trend that at times was geriatric and identified consumers’ interest in full control of what they applied to skin, eyes, and nails to prevent bacterial proliferation.Do we truly know what we smear? is the question posed by Fenty Beauty’s ketchup sachets.Typically, while buying makeup, the intended effect is what is read rather than the product’s ingredients. When purchasing makeup, most people read the impact the item is supposed to produce rather than the contents list. According to the Human Highway report for Cosmetica in partnership with Netcomm from March 2022, a lot of people know much more about the ingredients and formulations that they spread on their body today than we did in the past for obvious reasons of information availability, and we are also more attentive to the characteristics of products in terms of sustainability towards the environment: 33.4% of consumers pay attention to this figure for personal care and skincare, while the 28,5% who wears make-up can are aware of eco friendly system without damaging the environment, only 6% of people pay attention to this figure.

This was proven even if the Fen and MSCHF box had been designed to resemble a lip box; without the humorous disclaimer of the marketing campaign, very few individuals are aware that they are actually ketchup on their lips, as the images from the collaboration suggest.

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