June 20th, 2008

summer reading

An Open Letter

Dear Lancôme,

I've been a faithful customer for several years now. I started out slow, with a lipstick here and an eyeliner there, but in the end you got me. I tried many other brands and I always ended up back with you because our chemistry was undeniable. You didn't make me break out with an allergic rash or itch uncontrollably, and even better, you knocked it out of the park with foundations that matched my skin tone just right. True, I was dubious over the years as your newest product replaced the older one I was used to. However, it always turned out right in the end, so I've shrugged my shoulders and gone with your latest trends. In turn, you never let me down.

Recently, one of your representatives broke the news to me that, once again, the foundation I'd come to know and love would be discontinued. It seemed to me that it wasn't that long ago that Photôgenic replaced another foundation, so it was curious to me that you were giving up on this one so soon. But I figured you had your reasons and I trusted you; I decided I'd have to get over my reluctance and go with the flow. I gave in and bought your latest endeavor, Color Ideal.

Turns out, this foundation isn't all that ideal. To start with, whoever told you that dispensing foundation via a little pump that, thanks to its squat design, squirts the product onto the bottle and not the customer was out of his or her mind. I would've thought you might have double checked that math on that, you being an expert in the field of make up and all, but I suppose everyone makes a mistake sometime. I might - *might*, mind you - be able to live with the terrible design on the packaging if what was inside knocked my socks off. Sadly, this foundation does not.

In fact, whatever the opposite of sock-knocking is, that's what this product does for me. As I put it on - struggling to get just the right amount out of the bottle, mind you, which is never a problem with an open-topped bottle one can readily use with one's fingers - I waver between thinking I look like a jaundice victim (very yellow) and a stage actress who's applying that extra layer of spackle in order to project some color out into the 10th row (let's call it "unnatural" looking on my skin and leave it at that). After careful use of a wipe to remove half of what I've just applied plus a generous powdering, things calm back down and resume looking more or less normal. The killer, though, the absolute topper, is how a few hours later this foundation, instead of blending more into my skin as time passes like your foundations always have in the past, appears to be rejected by it and stand alone, hovering somewhere just north of my face. It's as though I'm walking out of a steam room and whatever is on my skin is preparing to slide right off. How is this even possible?

In short, Lancôme, you've really let me down. Even if I could somehow manage to get a more "ideal" color to match my skin tone out of this line of foundation, these other qualities I've described are the kind of thing one expects to find in a brand that costs about 1/8th of what you charge. If that's what I wanted, believe me, I'd be far happier achieving it with all that extra money left over in my wallet when I was done.

I won't say I'm giving up on you, but I think it's safe to say I'm ready to give up on this particular foundation. It's awful. Truly and terribly awful. If you could get me a supply of Photôgenic (Buff 5(c)) that will last until you come to your senses and get it back together, I'd be glad to put this all behind us and consider it a small hiccup in what has been a beautiful friendship. Other than that, I don't know what you can do to make me happy, though I hope you come up with something because I think it would be a terrible shame for us to go our separate ways after all these years.

Yours (or at least I was),