First my No.7 blusher, then my Maybelline mascara, followed by my L’Oreal lipstick, and most recently, my No.1 summer essential: Clinique’s pore minimizer sheets. Even Wrigley’s Extra mints in the dinky blue cardboard box. Why are manufacturers obsessed with discontinuing products? Or appearing to discontinue them, only to rename, repackage and launch them back at us a few months later? And not just any old products; my favourite products!
Never one for OTT lashes of the kind favoured by the late Barbara Cartland, it took me years to find a comparable product to No.7’s long-discontinued Sensitive Eyes mascara, one that was hypoallergenic, didn’t clump, and wasn’t waterproof but find one I did: Maybelline Lash Discovery. Reasonably priced and nicely packaged in a slim, silver wand, it was nothing short of perfect. Not good enough for Maybelline, though. It was arbitrarily banished to the bathroom cabinet in the sky to make room for lash-fattening volumisers designed to turn lashless Lucys into Liza Minellis (albeit with a little not-so-well-publicised help from falsies). Or so I thought.
A rekky ’round Superdrug and their mind-boggling Maybelline display took some doing (and don’t let’s get started on why brownish black is so hard to find, much less the universally flattering plum) but, having deciphered the POS spiel, I happened upon what I took to be Discovery’s successor renamed Define-A-Lash repackaged in a lurid green tube just a little too chunky to sit comfortably in my cosmetics purse. Intriguingly, up until very recently Lash Discovery was still alive and kicking in the States, along with at least ten other how-did-we-live-without mascara options to match one’s every blinkin’ mood.
When I was a child, my mother would routinely apply a little Bourjois rouge to my cheeks prior to sending me to school lest my damask complexion be mistaken for sickly pallor. Even at the tender age of six, I knew powder blush was not for me (I was traumatised by an early viewing of Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?) and much preferred the user-friendly, more subtle texture of Mummy’s Lancôme crème blusher, deftly packaged to resemble a little apple with a stalk handle. I never looked back, not even when the 80s demanded warpaint stripes of brick red blusher applied with all the subtlety of a clown in a power cut.
With an eye on value, my product of choice became No.7’s cream blush, packaged in a dainty square box with a clear hinged lid yet still robust enough to withstand the rigours of life in my make up drawer. Boasting around eight shades, I plumped for the warm tones of cinnamon and for many years we rubbed along happily until the dread day I discovered Boots had decided to repackage the entire range. Their existing stock was relegated to the half-off bin and quickly disappeared. In its place was a push-up tube which purported to offer more product but not in any colours that suited me.
As luck would have it, my sister located a small cache of cinnamon (or should that be kanel?) in a Stockholm branch of Åhléns and sent me three, but in time even they went the way of all things. My only recourse was the wonderful Cosmetics à la Carte. Having been introduced to this superior cosmetics emporium by my dear friend Sue in the 90s, I beetled off to Motcombe Street safe in the knowledge that their renowned custom-blending service would save the day. I was not disappointed. Whereas big name make-up houses routinely sacrifice classic lines to embrace new trends (you will wear yellow DayGlo eye-shadow!) Cosmetics à la Carte eschew such vagaries, offering both an unrivalled range of colours and textures, as well as cutting edge products in all the latest shades.
And when a recent packaging malfunction occurred and I had cause to return a product, Cosmetics à la Carte’s customer service proved second-to-none and a replacement was dispatched the same day. Indeed, the speed of their response suggests such problems are a rarity. My next quest is for a successor to the late lamented L’Oreal Color Riche in Honey Brown (121). Last year I tried in vain to find supplies on eBay and I did spot one for sale, albeit for the princely sum of £18 plus P&P! I’ve not yet had the time to test-drive replacements but am looking forward to wiling away an hour or so in the civilised surroundings of Cosmetics à la Carte’s newly revamped Knightsbridge store with all its infinite possibilities.