You know the saying, 'You don’t appreciate what you’ve got until it’s gone?' For me, it rang true when my beloved No7 lipstick in Siren, a matte, brick red shade that could sway even diehard fans of MAC’s Ruby Woo, was discontinued. No longer to be. Gone.
It was as reliable as some of my oldest friends, brightened my whole face, lasted all day (really) and provided me with an instant confidence boost. No matter what I was wearing or how I felt, applying it served as a much-needed pick-me-up.
I'd put finding out your favourite beauty product is being discontinued up there with stubbing your toe twice in the same place or missing your last train home. It’s frustrating, inconvenient and irksome. That's before I've touched on the hassle of having to search high and low for a replacement or paying double the price for the discontinued product on Amazon (as I may have done a few too many times). Really, who has the time, energy or patience?
MAC’s Director of Makeup Artistry, Terry Barber, is sympathetic to our outrage and explains why sometimes the closest alternative just won’t do. "There’s a sense of rebellion which happens when consumers' beauty products are discontinued," he said. "When you know that it delivers, the idea of being palmed off with something new becomes of the highest annoyance." So why does it happen? Well, according to Barber, brands typically discontinue products to make space for new trends and better technologies. However, to consumers, the scope for innovation feels more like theft.
But that’s where social media comes in. Thanks to the likes of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, consumers now have direct access to the biggest beauty brands on the planet, as Charlotte Libby, Global Colour Cosmetics and Fragrance Analyst at Mintel explained: "In the age of social media and instant information, consumers are feeling increasingly connected to the brands and companies they buy from." Alex Fisher, Mintel's Senior Beauty Analyst, expanded on this: "Consumers have higher engagement with beauty brand and retailer accounts than bloggers when it comes to social media sites, especially when they are highly visual such as Instagram or Snapchat," she said. "Brands use these accounts to promote new products, show off photo-worthy packaging, and announce collaborations. These kinds of posts in a consumer's social media feed then become an instant connection to their favourite brands and what they are doing."
It makes sense, then, that consumers would utilise this special connection, often leaving comments under brand posts, sending direct messages to companies and getting hashtags trending in a bid to bring back discontinued products they just can't imagine their beauty arsenals without. Due to customer demand earlier this year, MAC launched their Throwbacks collection, comprised of lipsticks and eyeshadows in their most popular shades from the '90s. According to Barber, its reintroduction provides a sense of nostalgia and comfort. "They’re like finding clothes at the back of your wardrobe that you’d forgotten about," he said. "You then realise they've gone full circle in being fashionable and they’re still completely relevant." His favourite pieces in the drop? "The lipstick in Marrakesh – it's a brick red which makes you look like a '90s Helmut Lang girl, and Shrimpton which is the perfect soft '60s beige and works perfectly with your natural lip colour."
Cosmetics giant Estée Lauder also understands the daunting and time-consuming process of hunting for a replacement, and in response, set up its 'Gone But Not Forgotten' programme which delves into its beauty archives to recover products that have been discontinued within the last 24 months for consumers. The process is simple; in the UK, reclaiming your beloved product is just a phone call (0370 034 2709) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) away. Almost all of Estée Lauder’s brands participate, including: Estée Lauder, Bobbi Brown, Clinique, GLAMGLOW, Jo Malone London, MAC, Michael Kors Beauty, Origins, Smashbox and Tom Ford Beauty. Even better? The process generally takes no longer than seven days.
One of the biggest comeback stories is Giorgio Armani’s Face Fabric Second Skin Makeup, and it's largely thanks to Khloe Kardashian. Two years ago, the online beauty community despaired as the brand took the foundation off shelves; meanwhile Khloe took to her blog to lament its loss in a post titled "The Most Missed Products In Makeup History", writing: "Kendall and I heard it was going to be discontinued and I bought, like, 20 on Amazon. I literally have so many." While the brand couldn’t comment on Khloe’s influence, her 100 million followers and the united power of the consumer voice on Twitter was undoubtedly the leading factor in the matte foundation being brought back into shops fewer than two years later.
So the next time your find your favourite lipstick or failsafe foundation is being phased out, before you start stockpiling in a panic, tweet it out and DM brands directly before having a (completely justified) meltdown. Alas, all good things come to an end and below we have a list of discontinued products we’re still mourning. As a wise individual once said, it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all...
This certified organic gel-to-oil cleanser was a staple on many a bathroom shelf up until it was discontinued in 2015. Massaged into dry skin, it melted down the most stubborn mascara, eyeliner and lipstick, and was a bargain at only £10. If you're listening, The Body Shop...
This is a classic example of a product that worked brilliantly but was confusingly taken off shelves and reformulated, leaving customers with a good but noticeably different version that never worked quite as well.
A personal favourite from Boots' makeup range, this was the perfect red. With warm undertones of orange and a semi-matte finish, it was a brilliant substitute for anyone who found MAC's Ruby Woo a little drying. I’m still not over it.
Dr Perricone MD launched the SUPER Range as a more affordable skincare collection aimed at a younger consumer. With an objective to be as natural as possible while remaining effective and results-driven, it was one of the first product ranges packed with high concentration formulas such as superfood-derived antioxidants. The 'Sun Kissed' tinted moisturiser was a standout product. RIP.
This was everything a lip gloss should be: non-sticky with a pretty sheer finish and available in 10 subtly tinted shades – it occupied a place in every teen's makeup arsenal.
The loss of Clarins' Extra-Comfort Cleansing Cream felt like a bereavement. Annoyance followed by stockpiling of said product ensued for fans of the shea butter-based cream. Calming the redness that comes with spots and brilliant for normal/oily skin types, it was a joy to use and had fans in beauty experts including Caroline Hirons and Sali Hughes. Clarins replaced it with their Extra-Comfort Anti-Pollution Cleansing Cream, £25, which is a good alternative, but can never live up to the original.