Ah, the beauty industry. Not only does it give us some of the most mood-enhancing, but joy-spreading products out there—it’s also like one of the biggest clubs in the world. Everyone has at least some tangential connection to the world of beauty products, and that means everyone out there has some sort of divisive opinion.
There are some beauty products that have such polarizing reviews that they almost become a part of beauty lore. Something about the way people can disagree so strongly makes these take on a dramatic, mythical effect. So what are the most divisive beauty products out there—and more importantly, why do people feel quite so strongly?
Chanel No. 5
There are some products that are controversial almost because they’re so popular. Chanel No. 5 really epitomizes this category. To many, it’s the smell of high class, the smell of femininity… Basically, the smell of perfume. But others claim it’s cloying, heady, and old-fashioned. If you don’t enjoy a vintage vibe to your perfume, you probably won’t like this. But for me, it’s a classic for a reason—and people who “don’t like it” probably just don’t get it.
Boy, have we been on a journey with coconut oil. When it first rose to prominence, it seemed to be everywhere and people seemed to use it for everything. Whether it was cleaning your teeth or removing your makeup, there was nothing for which coconut oil wasn’t touted as a miracle cure. But over the years, many have fallen out of love with the product. While there are certain things it does well (as a mask for bleached hair, this is one of the most cost-effective on the market), it’s not quite the one-product-wonder we first believed it to be. And please, for goodness sake, keep it off your face.
For many of us, Vaseline was our first introduction to the beauty product world. Slathered on chapped lips during a wintry morning, it seemed a miracle to our tiny brains. But now there are a fearsome group of Vaseline nay-sayers who will stop at nothing to take the product down. Why? Well, the primary complaint is that it’s a cheap barrier cream that does nothing except form a protective layer over the skin, rather than offering any moisturizing properties. Well, that’s true—but sometimes, that’s exactly what you need. And when it comes to petroleum jelly, Vaseline reigns supreme for a reason.
Many claim this cheap little tub of moisturizer is essentially a budget version of the ever-famous Crème de la Mer. Others think it’s a greasy blend of occlusive and irritants that only a fool would put near their face. What’s the truth? Well, for my money, it’s something in between. This isn’t a cream that’s suitable for everyone. Sensitive or acne-prone skin types should avoid, but if you’ve never had an issue with Nivea then you don’t need to cease use immediately, either.
Boscia Luminizing Black Mask
Many rely heavily on masks such as this one from Boscia to pull out the impurities lodged deep in pores. If you’ve ever used one, you know the deep, gross satisfaction of peeling it back and seeing what lurked beneath. But these masks also have their fair share of detractors. Some claim the pulling and tugging required to remove them actually damages the skin. Scary stuff! My view is that a little pulling here and there is probably about as damaging as rubbing in moisturizer or washing vigorously. Do I think these masks are the best way to clear pores? Probably not. But they are the most fun.
Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay
Speaking of pores, do I have a product for you. The Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay is as close to a religion as any beauty product. Some claim it’s totally transformed their skin, created smooth, poreless clarity where once existed a clogged and congested mess. But for many, this mask is just way too much. If you’ve ever tried it, you know what I mean—it’s intense to the point of painful. But then, when you wake up the next morning, it all seems so worth it. I think it’s worth the hype, although it definitely needs to be used sparingly to avoid doing more harm than good.
Tweezerman Blackhead Extractor
How do you deal with blemishes? Do you wait them out, patiently, like everyone says you should? Or do you go crazy prodding and poking and making everything worse? Well, this tool claims to be the middle way—allowing you to successfully extract your clogged pores without having to use dirty fingers. Does it work? Kind of. Sometimes I find it helpful, other times a nightmare. Worth a try, sure—but a miracle product it is not.
Is there any beauty product that causes more of a stir than face wipes? Many skincare gurus treat them almost as if they’re actively evil forces. But for many people, they’re a staple in terms of quick and easy makeup removal. The reality, though, is somewhere in the middle. They’re not the most environmentally or fiscally friendly method of makeup removal. A cleanser, warm water, and a washcloth should be your go-to. But in times of need, it’s far better to reach for a wipe than do nothing at all.
Annie Walton Doyle is a writer based in Manchester, UK. She typically writes about beauty and other "personal aesthetics," with a healthy dose of both social commentary and stupidity. When not touching makeup, she enjoys pubs, knitting, nature, and mysteries. Find her on Instagram @anniewaltondoyle.