I know the lunar new year started on January 25th, but it doesn't end until February 8th, so I figured we could still talk about the beauty stuff. Frankly, just looking through the limited editions are a bit of a bright spot right now, at least for me. It's been kind of a rough beginning to 2020 for a lot of people, I think, including a whole country that celebrates the occasion. Lovely things in lucky-colours packaging can't fix a damn thing, but they're at least a momentary pick-me up, every time you pull them out.
And see this pretty beaded necklace featuring the Chinese character Fu, for luck/ happiness/ fortune/ blessing? My Mum made it, so popping it into a bunch of photos is another reason to post. 🥰
lunar new year 2020 beauty
Every year seems to bring several more limited editions, most clad in red or red and gold. This year, some took on the challenge of making the Rat look covetable (key when you're aiming at a North American crowd. too), and one or two brands opted for something different...
Charlotte Tilbury created a new, limited edition Matte Revolution Lipstick shade called Magic Red, a deliciously deep, vampy shade, and popped a vivid red lid on a limited-edition Magic Cream. $39 and $125 CAD / $34 and $100 USD at charlottetilbury.com.
Clinique made the cutest Year of the Rat Cheek Pop Highlighter Gold Celebration Pop, a sheer, fragrance-free golden glow powder. First glance might make you thing it's see-it-from-space shimmer-tastic, but keep in mind that Clinique's aesthetic is enhanced natural – think luminous rather than blinding, especially when applied with a brush rather than heavily swatched with a fingertip. $30 CAD at thebay.com (I think it's sold out in the US?)
Elizabeth Arden Advanced Ceramide Capsules in a limited-edition red container comes with a sweet bonus: two mini tubes of ceramide capsules (great for travel), a pocket-size Elizabeth Arden Red Door mirror, and a red Chinese New Year pouch. (This one's especially lovely for anyone with dry and/or mature skin that needs help retaining moisture.) $98 CAD at thebay.com and Shoppers Drug Mart* stores.
Estee Lauder has the most beautiful, collectable, refillable Year of the Rat Pressed Powder Compact to commemorate the first sign of the Chinese Zodiac. The powder is a "natural matte" finish in a light/medium shade, and the twinkly compact makes the rat look sweet and elegant. $220 CAD and $200 USD at esteelauder.com.
Fresh is in the red for the first time with a limited-edition bottle of Black Tea Age-Delay Firming Serum. $212 CAD and $160 USD at sephora.com. The recently-launched Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment in Icon, although not specifically a lunar-new-year edition, is appropriate too, given its classic red shade and tube. (Coincidence? Hmmm.) $32 CAD and $24 USD at sephora.com.
Givenchy has gone for a more graphic limited-edition pattern this time around, and a glorious orange-coral Le Rouge Luminous Matte High Coverage lipstick in shade 316 Orange Absolu. $49 CAD and $38 USD at sephora.com. Also on point for the season is Givenchy's newish core collection of Le Rouge Deep Velvet Lipstick, a six-shade matte formula glamorously attired in red suede. $49 CAD and $38 USD at sephora.com.
MAC went down a different colour path from lucky red and gold with the Lunar Illusions collection. I haven't covered the brand in a while, partly because it seems to launch a limited-edition set every day that ends in "y," but this design decision deserves props. From $23 CAD and $19 USD at maccosmetics.com.
Rodial has entered the lunar-new-year limited-editions arena for the first time with a Chinese New Year Kit that consists of three full-sized hydrating and plumping bestsellers: Dragon's Blood Cleansing Water, Eye Gel and Velvet Cream. $110 CAD at shoppersdrugmart.com*.
Shiseido has again done a beautiful, gold-splashed limited-edition 75mL bottle of Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate. I wonder if it's refillable? I confess, I haven't checked to see if the top comes off, and the bottle I shot isn't where I am right now. $165 CAD at thebay.com and sephora.com.
Vichy released a dreamy gold-accented limited-edition version of the Mineral 89 bottle as part of a Lunar New Year 2020 kit that includes Pureté Thermal 3-in-1 Micellar Cleanser, Aqualia Thermal Light gel-cream moisturizer and Mineral 89 Eyes. The brand very kindly sent a bottle to me; I picked it up from my lovely Superintendent a day or two ago. It's okay if I keep refilling it every time I purchase a new bottle of Mineral 89, right? (I've bought most of the many bottles I've finished – can't live without it.) $39.95 CAD at londondrugs.com*.
traditions, colour schemes and – rarity tactics?
I had a few questions about Lunar New Year and how the related merchandise is received by celebrants (quite well, I expect, given that there are more and more on offer each year). Is red-and-gold the preferred colour palette, or are other options just as popular? Are items that feature the year's zodiac sign more covetable in general, or only for people born in the year of that sign? And do people who celebrate the lunar new year appreciate the marketing?
While Lunar New Year isn't quite the gift-giving insanity Christmas is, in addition to new clothes, shoes and accessories to herald a start to a prosperous year, people do buy gifts for loved ones. "We could just give lucky money, but that seems so impersonal," says Wendy. "Lucky money is usually given to younger folks by older, married people. I see makeup as friend-to-friend gifts, or something special for a sister. A nice lipstick like the Givenchy, I might give to my mom because of the special packaging."
Red, or red-and-gold isn't necessary, but "Chinese New Year is traditionally associated with red and gold, the way Easter is associated with pastels," Wendy points out. "Shoppers are more likely to pause and appreciate a red-and-gold palette during the celebrations, and it makes gift-giving easier. Items packaged in black and white aren't as desirable because they won't convey the happy feelings you're supposed to enjoy at this time of year."
Something adorned with the zodiac sign "is a rarity tactic," she says. "Each sign only comes around every 12 years, which appeals to collectors. The zodiac symbols are special for people born under that sign, but if you're a collector, having it on something is a must."
The season has become "a money-making thing for retailers," she acknowledges. "I was at Marshall's and saw a fortune god statue for sale, and pillows with Chinese-lantern prints. I never saw that when I was growing up." (Wendy grew up in Toronto.)
"Other cultures celebrate the lunar new year, too," she notes. "But the market all seems aimed toward the Chinese. Maybe it's because the wealth and population size here make it worthwhile? That said, I love browsing through all the wonderful gifts available. But given that we live in a multicultural society, I'd like to see other cultures celebrated the same way."
over to you
From our chats here, I know the limited-edition packaging appeals to a broader audience than just those who celebrate Chinese New Year traditions. I mean, of course they do. Obviously, they make me look twice, three times and more (in part because I'm half Chinese), and besides, who can resist such pretty things?
Would love your input if you have anything to share!
*londondrugs.com and shoppersdrugmart.com are non-affiliate links