So it turns out that broccoli in your all-natural conditioner might not actually be adding sleekness and shine to your locks. That revelation, perhaps obvious to you but not to me, comes from a terrific story from The New Food Economy. In it, Hillary Bonhomme asks a simple question: Why the fuck is there so much food in our bathroom cupboards right now?
Bonhomme decided to update her skin care plan for the first time in what she calls “a while” (Hillary: me too, oh, me too), and discovered that there had been a sea change in the beauty industry since she last looked for a nice lightweight night cream and some kind of fancy eye-gel. What she found sounded delicious, but kind of confusing. She spent some time at BeautyCon and talked to some experts in hopes of finding out why the world of skin- and haircare sounds so culinary all of a sudden. The result, to summarize with some mild profanity, is pretty much this: because you’ll think it’s healthy, and then you’ll buy more shit.
According to a 2015 report by the market research firm Mintel, “foodie skincare” has grown into one of the industry’s biggest trends.
“Attitudinal changes toward natural ingredients have acted as a catalyst in the rise of ‘kitchen beauty’—products that can be made at the kitchen table (or merely look like they have been),” according to the report. It’s about providing products with recognizable ingredients, supposedly made using processes you could replicate at home. This approach to marketing gives consumers a sense of control, in Mintel’s view, and helps to reassure people that a product is safe. But that’s not all: Increasingly, Americans literally want to feed their skin.
It’s a great, and thoughtful, read, and if you’re a person who occasionally buys the full-size versions of your Birchbox and ipsy samples, I strongly recommend it. But be prepared to feel like a bit of an easy mark. I, for one, feel betrayed by green tea shampoo and conditioner—or, as an ad that’s been up in the bathroom of my local dive bar for at least seven years puts it, “shampoozled.”