Two-score and none-of-your business years ago, I temper-tantrumed my way into a My Little Pony collection. Words like “glorious” and “life-changing” get tossed around casually these days, but back in the early ’90s they firmly described the feeling of owning a troop of horned, multicolored ponies. Of course, times change when you no longer need to threaten to poop your pants in order to force a trip to Toys “R” Us, and these days if I read about one more unicorn-themed cosmetic directed at adults I will gouge out my eyeballs with a tiny bedazzled pony brush.
The unicorn makeup trend surfaced around last summer, and has reached a real fever pitch recently, dominating beauty blogs with its cutesy, Lisa Frank–esque aesthetic. To clarify: Unicorn makeup is makeup with any color that people call “unicorn.” (The same can be said of mermaid makeup, but in that case, mermaid makeup is makeup with a color that people call “mermaid.”) Unicorn makeup is certainly not rainbow highlighter, which had the decency to bow out from social-media celebrity almost as soon as it emerged. To avoid confusion, here are some examples:
In the hazy days of summer ’16, Hollywood Life dubbed a beauty look fronted by Gigi Hadid as “unicorn makeup.” Given that one of the world’s most beautiful people was morphed into Ziggy Stardust if Ziggy Stardust had gangrene, you’d think the practice would stop then and there, but no. This was just the beginning.
In the fall of 2016, unicorn eyeliner made its debut, followed by unicorn lashes, unicorn snot, and unicorn brushes. This happened while general unicorn makeup looks sprinkled Instagram timelines. It was a campaign waged mostly by bloggers and makeup companies that had skin in the unicorn game (i.e., they created a unicorn product and wanted to profit from it). It’s even inspired tangential products. Most recently, unicorn dildos drilled their way into the unicorn conversation.
Now, listen, I can look beyond the cynical effort to entice women with magical tokens from their childhood. I can even look beyond the creepy infantalization of naming makeup looks after toys. What I cannot abide by (and I say this with sober sincerity) is overlooking that unicorn, mermaid, or rainbow makeup is hideous outside the confines of a My Little Pony cosplay meetup. If that’s your thing, please bedazzle your cheeks with all the rainbow glitter you can. If it’s not? Maybe stick to contouring.