Tried & Failed: Our most absurd beauty products and trends

©Franziska Steinle

Everyone has made some bad beauty buys – including us. Here a few anecdotes from our beauty fails

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating” – it may sound a bit cheesy, but I love using this saying to justify new products that find their way into my bathroom cabinet. Which, of course, is bursting at the seams and includes the most bizarre things among its contents.

Such as, for example, an eyebrow gel enriched with short, sticky eyebrow extensions. It looks just as scary as it sounds. And don’t forget the light blue rubber mask that, when taking it off, unexpectedly takes the eyebrows and hairline with it. For incomprehensible reasons, I once also felt the need to create a hair treatment with olive oil, the residue of which remained in my hair for days. In the end, I had to was it twenty times back to back. Ouch. An internal survey in the hey woman! office showed that the others just are as easily seduced as I am and have their own stash of beauty corpses at home (except for our dear Julia, who did a thorough cleaning a while ago!). Or sometimes fall victim to similarly scary trends – like the hairy eyebrow extensions mentioned above – that they would like to quickly forget.

And because everyone has a fascination with horror, we don’t want to deprive our readers of these stories. Et voilà, a short selection from the hey woman! beauty cabinet of curiosities:

Julia Knolle (Editor-in-Chief): dyed blonde hair

It’s not a beauty product in the classical sense, but looking back, all documentation of myself from the time of dyed hair feels strange. What was I thinking during those years? Alone the stress of regularly getting it dyed. The mistaken belief that you look better with blonde hair. Now I think of myself as a brunette, some have named the color “street dog blonde.” What a relief it was when I finally made the decision to trust my natural hair color – because it already matches your complexion perfectly. No chemical color mix in the world would provide this result. The beauty industry really has us under their control! And until I go completely grey, one thing is certain: I’ll never dye my hair again!

Madeleine Abeltshauser (Fashion Editor): body scrub with coffee grounds

I don’t have many beauty products and I don’t like experimenting at all. Most of the bottles and flasks, pencils and tubes have been in my bathroom for years. And before I buy something new, I test it and make sure that I am sure. But recently, I let myself get carried away. My beloved body scrub had been empty for some time and I had had neither the time nor the motivation to order another. And wouldn’t you know, I got a free one: a body scrub made of coffee grounds. The packaging was beautiful, great brand, I was excited. The rude awakening came in the shower. For me, it’s clear: the smell of coffee under running water is not good. I would have been able to turn my nose, though, if it weren’t for the brown water and other unpleasant associations. But it was was a good reminder – my old favorite scrub is on the way.

Franziska Steinle (Brand Relations): makeup und excessive eyebrow plucking

When it comes to makeup, I keep it a bit like King Odysseus and his companion on the way back to Ithaca from Troy, but with the slight difference that I know I am still on the wrong path. The color is often off (the most critical problem) or the texture isn’t to my liking – too oily, to thick, or it irritates the skin. And I have the following to show for it: makeup that has found its way into my beauty cabinet and, there, created a sad rainbow of mud tones were never purchased a second time. Chanel’s Vitalumiere Aqua has so far come the closest to my dream of eternal partnership and eventually will be scrutinized once again.

One trend I could have done without – cue my mother’s omniscience, who tried to keep me from making this mistake  – was obsessively plucking my eyebrows, something that most likely every millennial between 1998 and 2006 has fallen victim to. For almost a decade, I tried to give my bushy eyebrows the perfect, feminine form that the rest of my family was blessed with using tweezers and other styling methods. After my initial efforts to keep them as thin as possible – who doesn’t remember the typical 90s look – not only did my acceptance of their position on my face grow over time, but, luckily, so did every single hair.

Julia Fricke (Executive Assistant): fake lashes

Pictures of Kim Kardashian and friends cannot be the reason why I wanted in on the fake lashes trend. It’s more the desire to always look radiant and awake, even if when not feeling that way. My short trip into the world of the artificial beauty industry started off promising (a 60-minute treatment, eyes closed relaxedly the entire time and soft, cooling pads on the eyelids) – but immediately afterward, my eyelashes already felt strange and foreign, even though I had picked a discrete version in order not to look like an Instagram model. Or was it my guilty conscience of going against the hey woman! creed of natural, healthy beauty?

After my eyes burned and itched through the night, the rude awakening came the next morning: instead of looking like an awake, well-rested person, my swollen, teary eyes looked back at me in the mirror. It was so bad that my boyfriend took me to the emergency room at the eye clinic (the cause was an allergic reaction, likely to the glue!) and then to the cosmetic studio immediately afterward to remove everything. Unfortunately, I lost a few of my real lashes in the process and my still-swollen eyes made me look pretty pitiful. The shock is still so deep that, since then, I am very sceptical of new beauty trends, tips, and tricks.

Catarina Teles (Social Media & Growth Marketing): shampoo & leave-in-conditioner

The problem is familiar: if you have straight hair, you want wavy hair. If you have curls, you want straight hair. You are never entirely happy with what you have. About two years ago, the structure of my hair completely changed and I went from having very straight hair to very curly and dry hair. Almost from one day to the next and after 25 years of knowing how to care for my hair, the change completely threw me off. Today, countless shampoos and leave-in-conditioners later, I still find myself surrounded by misinformation and empty promises on tubes and pots that have still not come true. For that reason, hair products are definitely my worst beauty buys so far – again and again.

Anna Bok was born and raised in Berlin. After stops in Freiburg and Florence, she made her way to Hamburg in 2007 to study journalism and art history – where she stayed and worked as a freelance journalist with various publications including Harper’s Bazaar, Süddeutsche Zeitung, and Blonde. She’s now returned to Berlin after nearly 10 years in the Hanseatic City. When Anna isn’t writing about beauty, fashion, or traveling, you’ll often find her on her yoga mat (recommendations for studios in Berlin welcome!).