Why Zodiac-Inspired Beauty Products Are So Irresistible
“Personalized” horoscope beauty products make us feel like we’re part of a community.
There’s a corner of my beauty cabinet that hasn’t been touched for years: a graveyard of unopened hot-pink lipsticks and bright-purple eyeshadows—shades that could not be less “me.” This cache will continue to grow because these products feature a detail that makes them irresistible in my eyes: The word “Sagittarius” is printed on each of them. I’m unable to ignore the siren call of horoscope beauty products—one step below having a compact monogrammed with my initials—intended just for me and the other roughly 625 million Sagittarians in the world.
“I think that products designed around astrological signs intrigue us because they are meant to be a reflection of who we are,” says Strange Invisible perfumer Alexandra Balahoutis, who launched her Perfumes of the Zodiac back in 2011. “They give us the sense that we can understand how we might be experienced or interpreted by others.” A lipstick or a perfume that takes into consideration how each of the sun signs sees the world is “a chance to embrace who we are and be seduced by our own charms,” she says.
“I think that products designed around astrological signs intrigue us because they are meant to be a reflection of who we are.”
Balahoutis was ahead of the trend, which has picked up momentum as of late. Last year, Wet n Wild introduced a collection of horoscope-themed highlighters, eyeshadows and lipglosses, and Bite Beauty revealed its Astrology by Bite Amuse Bouche lipsticks month by month, cleverly building up anticipation. And after launching this past October, Fresh’s Zodiac Sugar Lip Treatments (a collaboration with famed astrologer Susan Miller of Astrology Zone)—featuring the same balm but in different packaging for each sign—have almost completely sold out.
In addition to appealing to today’s New Age-curious, healing-crystal-obsessed beauty lover, horoscope-linked products are also a way to “have people connect with a brand,” says Amy Chung, beauty industry analyst at market research firm The NPD Group. Without the need for sophisticated apps that blend customized shades, sun signs—of which there are only 12—check off consumers’ desire for personalization.
“Even if you don’t necessarily love the colour or design of yours, you’ll buy it anyway. It’s mass customization.”
Even though there’s nothing particularly customized about a lipstick shade or an eyeshadow that’s supposed to suit every Capricorn in the world, considering these products don’t take into account, well, anything, really (certainly not skin tone), Chung says that consumers continue to eat them up. “It’s like those mugs with astrological signs [on them],” she says. “Even if you don’t necessarily love the colour or design of yours, you’ll buy it anyway. It’s mass customization.” Chung doesn’t see it crossing over into hair care or skincare, though, adding that the trend belongs in categories “where people are willing to be more experimental.”
Toronto-based astrologer Aerin Fogel isn’t surprised that at a time when consumers expect tailored products and experiences, beauty products based on birth signs resonate. “It’s such a human struggle: the desire to be totally individual but also feel like you belong to a community,” she says. “Your [birth] chart is unique to you, but at the same time, there are these archetypes that give you a sense of relation to everyone else on the planet.” Even if that means all Sags are supposed to wear hot-pink lipstick.