An article in Business of Fashion, published Friday, interrogates a new trend in the beauty community: mystery bags. Stylized after the Japanese tradition of fukubukuro, in which citizens line up for “lucky bags” filled with unknown treats to start the new year off with good fortune, brands like Colourpop, Charlotte Tilbury, Fenty and Sephora have all released mystery items to the delight of some fans. If you’re thinking, “Makeup is far too expensive to spend willy-nilly on a surprise—something all but guaranteed to look horrible on my skin tone. What are people thinking?” consider this alternative: it makes for an incredible YouTube video, and everyone is a YouTuber now.
There are few benefits to ordering mystery makeup packages that go beyond filming yourself: these “lucky bags” are always listed at a lower price than the total value of the products inside of the packaging (BoF uses Colourpop as an example: their $25 mystery bag includes items guaranteed to be worth more than $55) but they’re also, more often than not, used by brands to get rid of unsold overstock from past collections. In the case of Jeffree Starr cosmetics, this has led to criticisms from customers who’ve allegedly received expired items. Not only that, but there are always limitations to what can be sold: it’s impossible to know the skin tone of the person buying the box (these are never individualized for the purchaser in the same way, say, an online styling service like Stitch Fix sends mystery boxes geared toward the costumer’s preferences) so you’re guaranteed a bunch of eyeshadows and lipstick stuff, things that are considered universal.
But once again for the people in the back: you may get stuck with bullshit, so its truly only meant for those who love surprises... or budding YouTubers.
Even if you purchase a mystery makeup box and aren’t thrilled with your items, you could always film yourself opening the bag, giving an honest opinion on the crap inside and monetize the video on YouTube. You could make money by surprising yourself without ever having to swatch an expired matte liquid lip in a witchy green shade. Think of the social media clout! It’s a win-win.