Cargo, your lip gloss insults my intelligence

If you are not familiar with Sarah Haskins and her video series, “Target Women,” you should be! She does a great job of hilariously exposing the absurdities of advertising that, well, targets women.

In the Sarah Haskins spirit, I have to share with you my unhappiness with this product, Cargo Classic Lip Gloss.


Ordinarily, I would not spend a whopping $22 for lip gloss. But, it was for the wedding, and came with a bunch of other stuff I wanted in a package deal, so I ended up with it anyway. What makes this particular lip gloss so special is its “Timestrip technology:”

“Timestrip™ is a strip that remembers when a product was first opened and alerts you when it is no longer wise to use it. Simply insert the Timestrip™ into the cap and it is immediately activated. As the months go by the Timestrip™ window gradually turns red and, when the entire window is red, it is time to replace your gloss.”

More propaganda from the Cargo Timestrip website:

This “best-before” date has become so important that European countries recently launched legislation requiring cosmetics companies to have a PAO (Period After Opening) time frame listed on their products.

But how are you to remember when you first opened the product? Most women have multiple glosses in multiple locations: purses, bathrooms, offices. It is almost impossible to know when each gloss was used for the first time.

Enter Timestrip® technology. Simply insert the strip into the cap of the gloss to activate. The Timestrip® window will start turning red, indicating the passage of time. When the nine months are over and the entire window is red, you know it is time to throw out your gloss.

CARGO Founder Hana Zalzal explains, “We are proud to be the first to offer this technology. Women can now be assured that their gloss is fresh and effective.”

I suppose I should be thanking my lucky stars that some benevolent materials scientists out there have created a technology that allows me to sleep at night now that I can be sure my gloss is fresh and effective. But seriously now, this is banking on a variety of dubious marketing techniques:

  1. Naturalness: They have formulated the product without parabens, which are effective preservatives typically used in tiny amounts but which strike carcinogenicity fears in the hearts of conspiracy theorists everywhere.
  2. Germiness: Partly because they removed the parabens, this product will grow tons of bacteria, requiring its disposal after nine months. They liken this to food, as if old lip gloss were as dangerous as old milk.
  3. Technology: But never fear! In today’s day in age, there is no need for forgetful women to rashly continue to use germ-ridden lip gloss. We have valuable technology to fix everything. Don’t worry your pretty little head about it.

From where I’m standing, it’s pretty obvious that the real point of the exercise is, first, to charge more for the lip gloss in the first place and, second, to stimulate additional lip gloss purchases that the customer otherwise wouldn’t have made. C’mon, almost no one actually follows those makeup guidelines. Alot of people don’t even change their toothbrushes often enough, and they are used to physically dislodge chunks of bacteria from the inside of one’s mouth. I’m pretty germphobic, but oldish lip gloss doesn’t bother even me.

Of course, it’s not really wrong for Cargo to advertise in this way, but I will not be purchasing this particular product again. The gloss itself is not anything $5 couldn’t buy you at Target, and the Timestrip doesn’t even work!!! I opened my gloss 3.5 months ago, and the Timestrip reads 6 months. Never again, Cargo, never again.

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