If there is one thing that can be relied on, it is the gathering of a large crowd for a newly-opened international retailer. But why is there such a hype around make-up brands, and why do I feel like I need to be a part of it?
The grand opening of Mecca Maxima Auckland saw lines forming at 4:30am of those desperate to get their hands on the cosmetic retailer’s 250+ brands. I was not one of those people, mainly because I completely forgot, but also because I feel there is an issue surrounding the hyped-up sale of make-up products - I feel there’s an expectation that young women like me need these 250+ products.
When I walked into the Queen St store, I immediately noticed how its mirrored ceiling and spot-lighting created a sense of overwhelming diversity of offering. All those products hit you at once. Marketing material positioned next to the products features young, fresh faces that seem to say, ‘Hey you - try this aloe vera and rosewater face mist, it’ll make all your troubles glide into the distance!’ This face mist in question is Mario Badescu, and in all honestly, it’s an amazing product, but had already sold out by the time I arrived in-store at 1:30 pm.
A trick for some of Mecca Maxima’s most popular items is limiting stock. Limited stock means higher demand and a faster purchase. This could contribute to the fact that even four and a half hours after the Auckland store’s opening, there were still long lines both inside and out as shoppers battled to reach their favourite products the fastest.
Mecca Maxima is an Australian brand, founded by Jo Horgan. It’s often called the peacock of make-up stores for its feature bright and shiny look. The Auckland store itself is only 263 square metres, but is the biggest of its three New Zealand stores.
Mecca Maxima itself does a good job at cultivating high-demand brands, and is known to take a cruelty-free stance on what it stocks. The frenzy that surrounds products like Urban Decay and Too-Faced are something that Mecca does well to draw on, with higher-demand brands featured in the store’s display windows and front of store.
The products, like those of most cosmetics retailers, are stacked perfectly – it’s an obsessive compulsory wonderland. The effort the staff have made with visual merchandising doesn’t go unnoticed. The store looks perfect.
I am not overly concerned with make-up, but I’m crazy for beauty creams and general skin wellbeing products. This is possibly contributed to by an inner need to get that ‘natural beauty’ look the models in the marketing images seem to achieve so effortlessly. Shoppers have known for a long while what we see is Photoshop, but that does little to quieten the voice inside that says ‘You need that product to look like her.’
Slowly I pushed my way to one of the skincare sections at the left of the store, consciously aware that this was the one day of the week I chose not to wear make-up to work. The staff wore immaculate make-up, and for the most part, the crowd of shoppers was glammed-up as well.
Among the crowd were several sets of girls in school uniforms. If there is any reason to ditch class, I suppose this is as good as it gets. Some looked as young as 14, browsing over contour kits and lip plumping serum. Society’s expectations for young women to fit the mould of labour-intensive beauty starts affecting younger girls every year, but this expectation doesn’t always have to be detrimental.
If these girls, or anyone at Mecca Maxima for that matter, are here for themselves, then there isn’t anything wrong with that. But if they are actively seeking out ways to confirm to society’s opinion of a ‘perfect’ woman then that is where an unhealthy obsession with reaching that impossible goal can begin.
Most women are familiar with the feeling we get when we enter a space such as Mecca Maxima. It’s a need to fit in while standing out, the pressure to conform while also wanting to be true to yourself and it’s the goal to be your most beautiful self, no matter how many products you need to load up in your tiny Mecca basket to feel like you’ve reached that goal, even just for a short while.
Regardless of my complicated relationship with beauty and skincare products, I was still excited to shop at Mecca Maxima. Every shopper seemed cheerful and happy, revelling in the girliness of their new purchases. There’s no doubt that at the very least, several thousand of us got the products we came for.
My top five Mecca Products:
Too-Faced Chocolate Bar Palette ($78): I kid you not, this palette is actually edible. It is made from pure antioxidant-rich cocoa powder and includes 16 matte and shimmer shades of natural browns. A fantastic purchase even if just to make my eyelids smell of chocolate.
Mario Badescu Rosewater face mist ($10): If you’ve ever wanted to feel like the most refreshed person in your office this is for you. Also acting as a setting spray, at $10 for a 115ml bottle this is practically an investment.
Apot.Care Black Detox Face Mask ($100): A charcoal infused mud mask that detoxes your skin. This mask is amazing for all skin types and goes far for the cost. Make sure you use a brush or have black under your nails for three days.
Karuna Hydrating Face Sheet ($12): Have you ever wanted to channel Hannibal Lector while also hydrating your skin, then this is the mask for you. Clinically proven to increase hydration by 40 percent after one use based on clinical testing, you’ll be sure to put the lotion in the basket.
Too-Faced Liquid Liner ($31): This liner is basically a jet-black liquid pen that makes sharp lines effortless. If, like me, you have a mental breakdown every time you mess up your eyeliner, then this pen is an invest for both your look and your mental health.