How Some Beauty Products Differ Around the World

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When you walk through the beauty aisle, you may not think much of how the products you purchase everyday might differ in another country. I mean why would you? Different packaging and products that are sold across the world don’t affect you, do they? Well, they could. Read on!

Whether you watch a diverse group of beauty YouTubers, read beauty blogs or follow beauty brands on social media, you may have noticed the change in packaging, altered logos, and even entirely different products being sold in other countries. But, why? Why does the Maybelline Matte and Poreless foundation come in a glass bottle in the US, but come in a squeeze tube in Europe? The same goes for L’oreal True Match foundation. In the US, we have a glass bottle with a twist off cap, but in the UK they have a pump. We also have a Maybelline Dream Cushion foundation in the US, but in Asia they have a full coverage cushion foundation with much more sleek packaging and a BB cushion as well.   

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If you have never noticed these alterations, just take a look at your favorite brands on social media. You will immediately see the brand promoting a product you have never seen, then when you read the caption it will say something along the lines of “only available in select Asian markets.” But what is the reasoning behind this? Do beauty shoppers in other countries want different things? We know beauty standards and preferences change depending on our culture and location as we have seen in a number of photoshopping experiments, but how does that alter the way a product is packaged?

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Photo via Mashable 

If the US shopper and the European shopper are getting the same foundation formula, what does the packaging have to do with it? If it has to do with convenience, you would think that Americans would want the most convenient packaging, which would be a bottle with a pump. But what if it has nothing to do with the consumer? Is it all about the cost? Does it cost more for a company to make a plastic tube in the US than in Europe? Or did the companies test how different packaging sells to different demographics? If so, I personally find it hard to believe that the average American beauty shopper prefers a pumpless glass bottle to a tube.

And what about this? A popular mascara, Lash Paradise from L’Oreal has a completely different font from one country to the next. It again is the same product, but the font and the product’s coloring are completely different, then there is the Maybelline Lemonade Craze eyeshadow palette, which was released in the US this year. It came in yellow square packaging. Then, a few months later it was released in France. But the promotional photos showed the packaging had been changed to be horizontal and the shadows were organized differently. Now to most shoppers, this may just seem like a simple change because they have the same theme and shade selection, but why? Do French stores have wider shelves for wider palettes ? Or did they just want to shake things up for appearances? This same question has been posed regarding book covers for ages, but has there ever been an answer?

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Photo via Maybelline

This got me thinking about differences in beauty across cultures. My holy grail shampoo and conditioner used to be John Frieda Full Repair, but one day, it just went missing from stores. I searched online and I could only find it on Ebay. I ended up asking the manager at my local beauty store, and he told me the line had been discontinued. I’m sure you can imagine how heartbroken I was. That is until I looked on the UK based website Feel Unique. They still produce and sell the Full Repair line across the pond. So what made them stop it in the US, but keep it in the UK? Apparently the brand launched a new collection to replace the old one, yet the new one is also in the UK. So did UK shoppers express more interest in the Full Repair line than US shoppers?

Now there are websites such as Feel Unique and ASOS that provided these continental exclusives and are available for out of town shoppers. In fact, that is how I discovered a lot of these instances. But then there are the products that are only released in limited countries from the start. It is understandable when a brand’s initial launch is in one location, so they can test it in a specific market just like how Starbucks try new menu items in certain locations before launching country-wide. Food tastes vary around the world, but beauty is so universal. Yes, the looks we go for are drastically different, but that can be said for people that live on the same block. So why do major brands like Maybelline, Soap & Glory, and Rimmel have products exclusive to specific countries?

For instance I spent years watching vloggers from the UK rave about the Rimmel Wake Me Up foundation. It was dewy, medium coverage, and just ideal for a natural day, but it is not sold in the US. Of course if you search hard enough online you can find anything, but Rimmel does not stock it in American drugstores. Is that at their hand? Or do the US drugstores not want it? I am sure plenty of US based shoppers have requested for it to be brought to the US, so why isn’t it? Does it have to do with trade laws, tariffs, or cruelty-free status? Or is it all about marketing and demographics?

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Photo via Maybelline 

The product that first got me so intrigued in this topic was the Maybelline Tattoo Brow Peel-Off Tint. This was so hyped up on the Maybelline Instagram and Youtubers were sharing their reviews left and right. Essentially, it is a brow product that you apply, let dry for 20 minutes, then peel off to reveal natural color that lasts up to 3 days. Does that not sound awesome? Well if it does, I am sorry to say you can’t just run to the store and pick it up if you live in the US. Instead Maybelline launched a US version called Maybelline Tattoo Brow Waterproof Eyebrow Gel. Rather than coming in a tube with a small applicator, this product has a large applicator, a separate spoolie to brush through your brows, and only stays put for up to 2 days. I have tried the US version, it is fine, but is also widely inconvenient. You have to pull in your own brush, try not to lose the spoolie that comes with it, and reapply everyday. For some reason, this highly coveted peel-off product has not come to the US and from what I can tell has no plans to. Is it that Maybelline thought Americans wouldn’t be interested in waiting for a product to dry for 20 minutes, but would rather have 3 moving parts to one product? On nearly every post of this, I see a commenter asking if this is coming to the US. So why hasn’t it? Is there ingredient that the FDA hasn’t approved, but the EU has? What is this inconsistency all about? And where is the transparency?

I also noticed that this is so much more common for drugstore brands. Nearly all luxury and even mid-range brands have the same packaging and product availability overseas. Is it all about the shopper and the marketing strategy, or the brand ensuring they can pass customs? Let us know your thoughts, and which products you can't wait to have available in your country!

BeautySamantha AnnComment