There’s No Such Thing as A “Holy Grail” Beauty Product

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Welcome to issue #14. Fourteen! That’s the exact age I was during the height of the Y2K era that defined so many of our coming-of-age moments as millennials.

Fourteen newsletters in, I wanted to revisit the very first issue, where I talked about the limited words used to describe beauty and aging and how I am trying to expand beyond them. Another phrase I’m ready to kick to the curb? “Holy Grail” products.

As our friends at share, “Most of the uses of this term are informal and figurative…the reference implies a greatly desired and sought-after objective,” which is exactly how people use it to describe their favorite beauty products, as in, “This mascara is my holy grail!”

Out of curiosity, I just did a Google search for “holy grail beauty products” and it yielded “about 9,440,000 results.” Among those results are countless listicles and Reddit threads dedicated to purportedly game-changing serums and foundations. Cosmopolitan even has a “Holy Grail Beauty Awards,” which features the “190 best products and treatments out there right now.”

9,440,000 results! 190 products! At those numbers, the superlative feels diluted, no?

In the early Internet days, there were a handful of products that were given “Holy Grail” status, like MAC’s Ruby Woo lipstick and Clinique’s Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion. But in 2023, there are as many HG products as there are Teslas on the freeways of California. And though I appreciate the efficiency of using simple keywords like “holy grail” to distinguish one product from the thousands of others out there, I think it might be more helpful to call something out for what it actually does rather than just give it a made-up label.

I will no longer call a mascara “my holy grail.” Instead, it will be “the only mascara I’ve used for the past five years because it actually holds a curl on my stick-straight lashes.” Far less snappy, for sure. But at least you know what you’re in for from the very start.

Anyway, enough of my rambling, but before I go, I want to thank you for being here. Seriously, I would make each and every one of you a mixtape to express my gratitude if I could. Tell you what, here's my Spotify playlist for when I want to bring things back to simpler times.

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Jenny Jin Headshot Vertical 2023
Jenny Jin

Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...
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