Cosmetics Campaign Earns Praise for Taking Off the Makeup
Recently, cosmetics ads have come under scrutiny for promoting the unattainable notion of “flawless” beauty through retouched images and postproduction magic. But Dermablend Professional, a corrective cosmetics brand that specializes in foundations and concealers, has taken the opposite approach, and the results are inspiring.
In a series of videos, dubbed Camo Confessions, real women and men are seen removing their makeup and embracing their own unique skin. Their campaign, launched last month, has captivated the Internet this week, after Ad Week called the videos “remarkable” and spotlighted the brand’s creative approach to empowering consumers.
Among the campaign stars are YouTube sensation Cassandra Bankson, known for her expertise at covering up her severe acne, and Cheri Lindsay, a woman with vitiligo, which causes skin depigmentation. At first they appear with their makeup on, but they quickly make themselves vulnerable by wiping off and remove their “camouflage.” Both women talk about struggling with their conditions, coming to terms with them, and eventually embracing them. Bankson, whose video has racked up over 500,000 views, was bullied her whole life and called names like “freak of nature” and “Exorcist.” Bankson initially turned to makeup as a crutch to cover up what she saw as her flaws, but it has become, for her, a means of expression. “I used to use makeup to cover up and to hide who I was,” she says in her video confession. “Now I use it to express myself.”
For Lindsay, whose video has been viewed over 800,000 times, the campaign was a chance to speak out about living with vitiligo and to answer the question she’s often asked: Can you still live a productive life? In her own words: “Hell, yes.”
“Don’t hide,” says Lindsay, an assistant volleyball coach who started living with vitiligo as a sophomore in college. “Nobody is 100 percent perfect,”
The idea for the campaign was sparked after consumers started “voluntarily sharing their pictures and stories to our website and Facebook page,” a Dermablend spokesperson tells Yahoo Shine. “We knew after reading these stories that we could take this idea further and allow our consumers to create a sense of community where they can share and find strength in each other.”
According to Ad Week, the women in the videos spoke freely without a script when filming and completed each clip within five minutes, bringing the people on set to tears. Dermablend — whose products range in price from around $22 to $45 and are sold at major department stores — found that 60% of Americans have a skin issue they would consider camouflaging with cosmetics. So, for many, these emotional stories hit home.
“We are overwhelmed by the amazing response of this campaign,” says the Dermablend spokesperson. “In just three weeks, our videos have become viral, reaching more than 1 million views.”
The usually critical media has responded positively as well. Shape magazine called the ad “inspiring, relatable, and genuinely real.” Total Beauty describes it as “an inspired marketing campaign that’s not only moving, inspirational and impressive but also altruistic.”
“Sometimes we forget how much bearing the way we look on the outside has on how we feel about ourselves on the inside, or even how other people treat us,” writes a blogger on Bella Sugar, “We were moved to tears by the stories.”
Dermablend has also created a call to action for people to create their own Camo Confession videos. For every clip shared and uploaded, the brand will donate $1 to Look Good Feel Better, an organization dedicated to helping women who suffer from the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatments.
In a time when airbrushing is facing a surprising backlash, “real beauty” campaigns have proven to be a boon for companies looking to connect on an emotional level with consumers. Earlier this year, an Aerie campaign showcasing unretouched models in their underwear drew a lot of positive attention. Make Up for Ever’s unretouched ad for HD makeup made waves in 2011. And celebrities like Lady Gaga and Lorde have slammed magazines for being too heavy-handed with the airbrushing wands. As Lorde Tweeted last week, along with an unretouched image of her own, “Remember, flaws are OK.”