Saturday, 13 August 2016

The World of Harry Potter and Pondering Fandom Makeup

The reason I got into indie makeup to begin with was a picture of the long-discontinued Why Not Zoidberg? Intertube (lipstick) from Shiro on reddit. Shortly after that, I stumbled onto a picture of their Pokemon-themed eyeshadow collection. And I was done for - but since then I've moved from buying things for their names/fandom/unlicensed use of copyright. When Shiro announced a Harry Potter collection last year, and I didn't jump at it, despite my love of Harry Potter, I knew I had pulled away from wanting to buy fandom products.

L-R: Shiro & Co Hand Blended Butterbeer lip gloss, White Chocolate Frog highlighter, Amortentia lip gloss

I have collected a few things from the Harry Potter collection over the year, though: White Chocolate Frog highlighter, and lip glosses in Amortentia and Shiro & Co. Hand Blended Butterbeer. And the reason I got these: White Chocolate Frog got really good reviews as a highlighter, Butterbeer was cute, and Amortentia looked outstanding in swatches. I got these based on their merits! Further cementing of my triumph over being swayed my names and themes, my desire for Arcana This Is Not Canada notwithstanding, I don't want to wear these because of Harry Potter, I want to wear them because they are decent products. 

Butterbeer was my most frivolous purchase. It's described as "Our take on a frothy mug of caramelly butterbeer! A bit of sparkly “foam” head to start off, topped up with a sheer warm-caramel colored gloss (you can even see the bubbles, it’s seriously cute). Scented with our own house-blended butterbeer flavoring!"

I got it because it looked like a frosty mug of beer. So I have some things to work on. It's cute, but it's basically a clear gloss that smells like butterscotch. It's purely a novelty product for me. I didn't have a clear gloss, and would occasionally like to use one once in a while. It's the same Shiro gloss formula as their others, which is non-sticky and comfortable. I'm not a huge fan of the squeeze tube, but a clear gloss is forgiving to the packaging.

One swipe of Butterbeer on both my arm and lips.

Amortentia is described as "Love potion gloss! Enthralling pinky-magenta with a dash of rosy sparkle, sure to steal hearts wherever you go. Opacity leans on the more opaque side of moderate. Flavor: Pomegranate and a hint of alluring rose." 

One swipe of Amortentia:

The scent is...ehhhh. At least it doesn't smell too much like rose, and the scent dissipates quickly. It is a really beautiful colour, though it requires some finesse to apply with the doefoot. It leaves a beautiful pinky stain after the shine of the gloss wears off (after a few hours, or a meal) that lasts for a few more hours. I prefer not to build up my glosses, but you could easily build up this one a little more if you wanted. It is decently opaque. 

One swipe of Amortentia on my lips:

White Chocolate Frog is my favourite of these three, though. It's described as "Mid-toned milky ivory with minimal shimmer and a smooth glow-y finish." It's a beautiful pearly white that flashes a cool silver. I love it. This was the first Shiro product where I noticed that their miling had gotten finer. It's a smooth, easy to apply, easy to blend product. However, like the other Shiro highlighter I have, The Last Unicorn, it can be very dramatic. I tend to wear it with a very light hand, but it's easy to put on a lot of it and be a sparkly disco ball.

Like the Chocolate Frogs in Harry Potter, these have "wizard cards": a wizard hidden under the top label. I got Draco Malfoy.

One swipe on my arm:

Blended on my cheekbones:

I like all three and would recommend them heartily...but I've been thinking about the use of fandom to promote collections and am no longer as comfortable with the proliferation of use of unlicensed work in indies as maybe I once was. Although, I don't think comfortable is the right description, it's more like didn't think about it.

It's been a quietly simmering issue in the indie world. There are a not-insignificant number of consumers who have spoken up and said they're uncomfortable with it and that's why they don't buy from certain indies/don't buy indies at all. And it's a legitimate concern, albeit small potatoes. Indies usually aren't making items based on small fandoms, it's the big ones that make loads of money. Where there's more concern for protecting the intellectual property, but you have to doubt that there's any monetary damage in the long run. Putting that aside and focusing on the actual grey area of using other work to promote, inspire, and profit off of:

Plenty of indie companies, Shiro included have received cease-and-desist letters to stop using copyrighted works...and then get around it by not actually using the copyrighted names but using phrases and references that make it pretty clear to a fan what it's talking about. And I used to not really think about it, but in more recent times I've delved a lot more into copyright law and content creation, and it tends to make me feel a bit icky. It's tangled up in a lot of things, like small businesses and large corporations, and different kinds of creators, but I think when it comes down to it, if it makes me uncomfortable, it's not really worth it, is it? Makeup is supposed to be fun and not make me feel distantly guilty, in a weird, twisted way. And occasionally I do wonder about the ethics of using unlicensed work to base your work off of, but without any real concrete thoughts on what I should do. 

I have noticed a lot of indie brands moving away from creating collections based on fandoms (Corvus and HelloWaffle come to mind, having shifted to being inspired by things in the public domain), but others have continued to make them, veiled or not (Darling Girl, Southern Comforts, etc). There is demand, since whenever a new collection based on a relatively popular work, people tend to post things like "BYE MONEY" and "I didn't need to eat anyway." But I think, for me, I will cease purchasing these items for now. I don't really want to get wrapped up in it again, and it can be pretty easy to forget that when there's a shiny new product. Or it can be for me, when it's not a deeply held conviction, which at this point, it isn't. I think it's more that I'm not longer interested in wearing all of my interest on my sleeve (or face), rather than concern for intellectual works. I also don't mean to pick on Shiro for this - these products just happened to be the ones I was swatching while thinking about this. It's heavily prevalent in the indie community, in all kinds of products. 

I'm going to keep enjoying my fandom things as they are, but for now, I'm stepping away from this particular section of the indie world. 


  1. I'm a huge Hunger Games fan (and a formerly huge, now more lowkey, Harry Potter fan), so I was excited when I discovered Shiro's website earlier this year. The more I thought about the brand, though, the more problematic it seemed. Shiro's founder is making a considerable amount of money from her customers' enthusiasm for characters and worlds that she didn't create. Yes, the makeup itself is beautiful, but it would be much less successful if not for the fandom aspect. I've seen posts on Reddit by people who aren't super excited about a particular Shiro eyeshadow, "but it's called 'Baker's Boy'! How can I not buy it?" And that gets into an ethical gray area for me. Shiro is a much larger operation than, say, people who sell fan merchandise at conventions. But then where do you draw the line? Is HP-inspired makeup fine so long as the creator doesn't make too much money? That's not really a sustainable position, either. And it's not as if Shiro is hurting J. K. Rowling's bottom line, you know?

    I'm not sure there's an obvious answer, but I'm with you: I don't feel great patronizing brands that have ignored cease-and-desist letters from the intellectual property they're ripping off. I wish this issue were discussed more often in the beauty world.

    1. Exactly Shiro et al aren't causing the creators to lose money - and may in fact, inspire people to read/watch/play in order to get it - but I just don't feel right buying that stuff anymore. And having definitely been one of those people buying stuff purely because of the fandom it was in, it's an easy way to bring people to your doors...but without it, these companies would have to work harder to market.

      I also don't feel good knowing that these companies have received these cease-and-desist letters and obeyed the letter, not the spirit of the directives. I feel like it's tiptoed around because these guys are small businesses and involved in the makeup communities. But indie makeup's blurring between business and friendship is a much larger issue that I think explains this avoidance of the subject in part, at least.

  2. I don't know about HP and this makeup, but your new bob looks awesome!

    1. Thanks! I always return to my bob. I really think it's my most flattering hairstyle.


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