(featured image courtesy of Kimberly Clark).
I stumbled across the YouTube phenomena of “Anti-hauls” and “What I’m Not Going To Buy” videos when I received the notice of Jackie Aina‘s latest upload with likewise words in the headline. (I subscribe to her channel). The featured image of the how-to guru looking very “Ehhhh” towards products surrounding her included the Shea Moisture haircare line and a Huda Beauty palette. I watched Aina’s “Anti Haul! Spring 2017” takedown and since then, for the past week, I’ve been hooked on watching more videos of the “Anti-haul” tag.
An anti-haul is the opposite of gushing about products the beauty obsessed should buy and paint their faces with sooner than later (aka “February 2017 Favorites.”) For years, this has been the pattern of beauty blogging, which then got exacerbated on Instagram where beauty hauling became actual themes for many accounts, along with images of swatches galore to precisely show just how blinding that Colourpop highlighter really was. YouTubers feverishly uploaded tutorials and with featured products that made it seem if viewers didn’t have that specific Laura Mercier concealer or Giorgio Armani foundation, good luck trying to look as “fleek” or primed as Nicole Guerreiro or Nikki Tutorials.
Makeup brands from the drugstore to Sephora caught on to the rising popularity of trends such as the Kim Kardashian staple of highlighting and contouring and more outrageous lip colors (despite only a niche consumer gravitating towards the latter), and began issuing palette after palette (this really took off when Urban Decay delivered their first true classic item, the Naked eyeshadow palette) and derivatives of holographic highlighters, lip kits (who know you brought that back), glittery lip toppers, skinnier black eyeliner pens and pencils, metallic lipsticks, and their version of the Ben Nye or Sacha Cosmetics setting banana powder. Prices also got exorbitant with the average matte liquid lipstick at Sephora costing $20-25 dollars and palettes at $45+. The business of fashion was certainly of a new dawn as makeup fans shared their excitement on social media and pressed “follow” on budding influencers and brands.
“You don’t wear the packaging. You wear the eyeshadow.” –Eyes On Allison, youtuber
Let’s stay two years of makeup lovers chasing down “exclusive” makeup launches both at brick and mortar locations and online, it began to murmur on those aforementioned platforms, including Twitter, that a lot of these so-called “limited edition” products and palettes dropping like flies–plenty via collabs with beauty bloggers (often now with followers into the millions, or close to)–were all starting to look alike or appear egregiously gimmicky (look up the Blush La Rose ‑ Absolutely Rose Color Highlighter by Lancome). It may have been around this time that drag queen Kimberly Clark took it upon herself to cut the bull and call out brands for continuing to hit the weak spots of makeup fans with tired collabs and recycled colors, cleverly (and sometimes) awfully immured by convincing packaging.
The thing is, makeup buyers know a color when they see it and a texture that isn’t all that great. But the want and desire overwhelm the reality of “You don’t need it” or “That looks the same as the last.” I know this like the scar on my right wrist all too well because I fell for the Gwen Stefani eyeshadow palette collab with Urban Decay. I knew, I KNEW, it wasn’t all that flattering on my brown skin. I wrote a review back when I bought it and at the time I had a slight change of heart in that it was doable. It could’ve been the excitement talking because I adore Stefani, but her whole collab line with Urban Decay was (surprisingly) a bust. Same for when I impulsively bought the Anastasia Beverly Hills Glow Kit in “Gleam.” Ashy as hell colors for me, I bought it for “Hard Candy”, one of the four pans. Buying a palette for just one shade or a few? Major fail!
Clark is credited with starting the anti-haul shift in beauty videos when she began her “Anti Haul” series. While she also touches on other topics, her claim to fame is her consistent roasts on the beauty industry. Fellow YouTubers like Tiffany at Tifjef069 (her anti-hauls are hilarious) and Kelly Gooch joined in and in winter 2017, the tag really took off with the likes of Aina, sharing their own “I’m good” announcements. The reasons for most “anti-hauls” center on the fact that items are not unique, same ol’ same ol’, or simply too expensive for what they are. Clark is especially ruthless, making quips that eviscerate the desperation of brands, too eager to sell anything to stay relevant, even if a trend has already passed (like Maybelline just now releasing a rainbow highlighter pan). She pleads to her viewers to not fall for another palette of 30-50 mismatched eyeshadows or a Marc Jacobs coconut primer for $44. Where was she when I needed her most during my “If I don’t get the Gwen Stefani palette” hissy fit at Macy’s.
I’ve been really enjoying these anti-hauls. Not only are they entertaining, they are an interesting turn for the state of beauty consumerism and, again, the power of social media. It’s easy (easier) as consumers without a YouTube channel or an unpopular Instagram account to denounce products. But to see someone with a million followers or an impactful video declare “You do not need this ridiculous [insert brand and item] here” makes for a grab the popcorn conundrum.
Brands from BeneFit to online-only like OFRA have become dependent on beauty bloggers spreading the word and getting the makeup obsessed to spend their hard earned “coint” as Tiffany says. When a blogger says “no”, it’s directly telling the brands to knock it off. We’ve caught on to you making fun of us by introducing another palette, less than a month from your last “got to have it” release, and all you added were two new colors that are questionable, to begin with.
For bloggers of color, anti-hauls are also a chance to speak further on why they refuse to purchase from certain brands on a political front. Both Aina and Tiffany eloquently roasted Jeffree Star for his past inimical jokes on “throwing battery acid” on a Black woman to make her skin lighter, as captured in an old video, clearly made during his early fame on MySpace and pre-plastic surgery. This really came to light when vlogger Stephanie Nicole made an almost hour-long video about the incident during her review of his first eyeshadow palette, Beauty Killer. This was succeeded by Kat Von D. She attempted to expose him in her own YouTube clip, while also publicly cutting ties with Star. Star responded to Von D and only made references to the racist and sexist comments by admitting he had made some mistakes. A lot of Black bloggers still aren’t having it and the anti-Jeffree movement is carrying on.
Both Aina and Tiffany also disclosed in that admitting to not liking particular items from Tarte and Juvia’s Place respectively, both brands either blocked them or took them off the PR list. So there are consequences to dispensing honesty in that a blush or business tactic were extremely unfavorable.
Because anti-haul videos are major on YouTube right now, are brands going to listen to why these bloggers are saying no and encouraging their viewers to do the same? Or will it be chopping block season for some of the most liked vloggers and bloggers? It’s a fine line in admitting you don’t like something while still trying to be “cool” with a certain company or brand.
Clark makes her videos as if she has nothing to lose and this is true. She has no affiliate links and admits that a lot of her opinions are cultivated from lots of research, conjuring a unanimous agreement that an item is straight up awful and a waste of money.
Anti-hauls are the trend no beauty lover saw coming (though we all thought it or at least wrote it in the comments section). I love seeing the people take back the power as it is us that make the M.A.C.’s and Smashboxes of the world lots of money and registered on the cosmetics radar. The thirst is always real for new, must have products in makeup. Every weekday I sit at my work desk and think, at random, “Damn, I really want a new lipstick” when I already have over 25 of them in a Caboodles organizer. Realistically, brands have to cook up ads, slogans, reinvigorate hues, and packages every season. It’s no different from the fashion industry trying to find new ways to remix a blazer, cocktail dress, or jeans.
But until we consumers hit pan on a palette or a throw away a mascara wand that has seen better days, we just might have to say “no” to that “new” set or celeb endorsed drop of the same “50 shades of beige.” (Unless, of course, you do really want it). Stay strong! As Kanye West said during his 2014 MTV Video Vanguard acceptance speech that came across like an outburst, as a PSA to all cosmetics brands: “Listen to the kids, bro!”