Clinique might not be the most-Instagrammed beauty brand — but that doesn't mean it isn't getting screen time. Whether you realise it or not, over the last couple of decades, Hollywood filmmakers have been slipping its highly recognisable yellow moisturisers, green lipstick tubes, and cheery fragrance bottles into major movie scenes. Sometimes, the products even get a shout-out.
After stumbling upon Born Unicorn, an online archive that chronicles nearly every makeup, perfume, and skin-care product appearance in film history (and a very good place to spend an entire Saturday), we discovered the Clinique phenomenon. And the proof is in the credits.
Let's start with Legally Blonde, which could be renamed Legally Blonde & Dramatically Different. First, there are the opening credits, which screen over Elle's sorority house dresser that contains Clinique's Happy Perfume and that famous yellow moisturizer. Later, Paulette dabs on the Clinique compact blush. Oh, and let's not forget the famous scene in which Elle (Reese Witherspoon) visits Brooke Windham (Ali Larter) in jail. "I brought you the essentials. Ralph Lauren 120-count sheets, the entire Clinique skin care line... " she says across the glass partition.
But the brand isn't just for bubbly sorority girls-turned-lawyers. We also see the lonely Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) swipe on a peachy-pink lipstick in Lost in Translation. That green tube is unmistakably Clinique — and very flattering, we might add.
As most rom-coms do, What Women Want features a whole lot of products on various vanities. Anyone who has seen the movie knows that the main character's ex-wife, Gigi, doesn't skimp on her beauty routine, and her dressing table features that beloved Clinique lotion.
It shows up in darker films, too. The 2002 star-studded drama White Oleander showcased another Clinique-garnished counter, seen in a screen-over of Claire Richards's (Renée Zellweger's) bathroom sink. Again, the seafoam green product packaging is recognisable as Clinique's Different Lipstick and Colour Surge Butter Shine Lipstick.
But why are all these blockbuster film vanities dominated by Clinique? We reached out to the brand, who had no knowledge of any paid product placement, then asked celebrity and TV/film makeup artist James Vincent if he could shed some light on the phenomenon. He chalked it up to familiarity. “I think Clinique is used so often because it’s immediately recognisable to everyone — even those who don’t know makeup,” he said. “Even non-makeup wearers and male viewers know the brand because they’ve grown up with in their bathrooms or on their mum's makeup vanities.”
Props that are commonplace and nostalgic situate the viewer in the scene, even if it's subconscious, which is key for having an emotional connection with a film. “There's something very comfortable about knowing that Clinique will always be consistent,” adds Vincent.
There might not be any official Oscars in the brand's future, but it'll always be a Best Visual Effects winner to us (and fictional Delta Nus everywhere).
Read these stories next: