Lunar Cosmetics How the Moon is Communicating Key Values in the Beauty Industry
As we ushered in a rare Supermoon last week, we couldn’t help but notice how images of crescents and craters are taking over spritz bottles and cream jars in the botanical beauty industry, with product names increasingly referencing the moon and cosmos.
Where Fat and the Moon and Moon Juice have built their entire brands around the mystical allure and natural associations of this celestial body, others such as Fig + Yarrow, Crystal Cactus, and The ILUUM are bringing out moon-inspired products, including ‘Moon Mists‘, ‘Moon Oils‘, and ‘Moon Water Magic‘. Beyond the botanical sector, emergent cosmetic brands like Glossier and Sunday Riley have developed ‘Moisturising Moon Masks‘ and ‘Blue Moon Cleansing Balms‘. But what is it about the Earth’s only natural satellite that is proving to be so culturally relevant for consumers? And what does the moon say about the products it’s inspiring?
The moon has long been a powerful symbolic force across different cultures – inspiring mythical tales and science fiction, serving as the subject of rituals and worship, and providing a cyclical focal point for religious and agricultural calendars. In a way, the changing iconographical significance of the moon provides a mirror for human culture and ideology. In the early 20th Century, the crescent and star came to be popularly recognised as the symbol of Islam. In the Cold War era, photographs of the moon acquired a political character, signalling the United States’ triumph in colonising the moon.
Spirituality: As an astrological symbol, the moon has garnered new-found relevance in an age where millennials are increasingly turning to astrology for spiritual comfort. With today’s technological overload, turbulent politics and precarious economics, non-orthodox spirituality is offering people a greater sense of meaning and direction in life. From memes to newspaper articles, the mainstream is now talking about ‘mercury retrogrades’ and the spiritual effects of blood moons. Consequently, as society becomes more astrologically literate, moons on beauty packaging come to signal a promise of ‘spiritual wellness‘.
Naturalness: Then there’s the fact that the moon is a literal representation of the natural world. As an icon of Mother Nature, the moon subliminally communicates a sense of ‘naturalness’ and ‘organicness’, much in the same way that images of fruit on juice cartons signal ‘real, natural ingredients’. Similarly, linguistic references to the moon in product names (e.g. ‘Moon fruit’, ‘Moon mist’, ‘Moon water’) evoke wholesome natural contents, suggesting a natural production process, by extension.
For eco-conscious consumers, the moon effectively takes on the role of a quality seal – instantly signalling that a product is in tune with mother nature and her rhythms.
Feminine Power: The moon also speaks to target female consumers through its almost universal association with feminine power, given the relationship between the lunar and menstrual cycles (both last 28 days). This is in no doubt an evocative image in the age of the #MeToo movement, with the popularisation of feminist discourse. The moon also appeals to target audiences in the beauty sector through its more general associations with femininity as a whole. These associations are perhaps most vividly reflected in the Romance languages, where the word for ‘moon’ is gendered female (e.g. ‘la luna’ [Spanish & Italian], ‘la lune’ [French], ‘la lua’ [Portuguese], and ‘la lună’ [Romanian]).
The rise of the moon in the botanical beauty industry exemplifies just how effectively brands can communicate key values when they harness the right symbol, understanding the semiotics of their packaging visuals. As consumers continue turning to spirituality, embracing feminine power, and expressing concerns for product naturalness, the wider cosmetic industry should begin to take note of the moon’s semiotic power.