HI FROM THE FUTURE

Estée Lauder Is Sending Serum to Space 

I guess I was hoping that I wouldn't still have to worry about fine lines and wrinkles in space.
SCORPIUS on the dramatic summer night sky with THE MOON rising from the mountain at far. Below is the urban area of hong...
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This is an op-ed by Allure contributor Leah Prinzivalli.

Since the race to enter space heated up the 1960s, the U.S. has launched humans, robots, and a surprising amount of monkeys into orbit. On September 29, 10 bottles of a hyaluronic acid serum will join that prestigious list, as Estée Lauder becomes the first-ever beauty company to shoot a campaign in space. That's one small step for serum, one giant leap for expanding capitalism to the rest of the universe (because it's really going so well down here).

Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Multi-Recovery Complex will hitch a ride to the International Space Station in a resupply mission alongside thousands of pounds of cargo and supplies. As CNN Business reports, five percent of astronaut time aboard the space station is currently allocated to "commercial and marketing activities." ABC News reports that Estée Lauder will pay $17,500 per hour for the astronauts' help. (It's unclear exactly how much time will be allotted to this particular project.)

"[The serum] will be photographed in the space station's iconic cupola window to create images for use on Estée Lauder's social media platforms," according to a statement from Estée Lauder. All that work, and the serum isn't even getting its own commercial. This may actually go down in history as the greatest lengths ever gone to for the 'gram.

A NASA spokesperson told Allure that Estée Lauder approached NASA with this proposal once the space agency opened up to marketing opportunities in 2019. "We are thrilled to reinforce our leadership once again as the first beauty brand to go into space," said Stéphane de La Faverie, group president of The Estée Lauder Companies and global brand president of Estée Lauder, in the company's statement. "NASA is at the forefront of space exploration, and as a leader in skincare innovation, Estée Lauder is proud to support the incredible work NASA is doing to promote a space economy by being the second-ever commercial product to launch."

"We need to expand people's perspective on what we can accomplish in space," Phil McAlister, director of commercial spaceflight development at NASA Headquarters told Allure in a statement. "We really believe this type of activity can help catalyze and expand space exploration markets for many businesses, by demonstrating the value of conducting commercial activities in space." 

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The Trump administration has urged this type of commercialization of space, and the serum isn't the first consumer product to make it up there (Budweiser, for one, has been running barley experiments above the Earth.) I have to wonder if it's just a coincidence that Estée Lauder heir and chairman Emeritus Ronald Lauder is a longtime friend to Trump; according to federal disclosures, Lauder has previously made political contributions to pro-Trump organizations. (Representatives from Estée Lauder Companies declined an interview for this piece and said they were unable to comment on LI have to wonder if it's just a coincidence that Estée Lauder heir and chairman Emeritus Ronald Lauder is a longtime friend to Trump; according to federal disclosures, Lauder has previously made political contributions to pro-Trump organizations. (Representatives from Estée Lauder Companies declined an interview for this piece and said they were unable to comment on Ronald Lauder's campaign contributions or his relationship to Trump and his administration.)

Whatever the genesis of the idea, some think it's out-of-this world (sorry). "It's going to grab people's attention and you need to grab people's attention in [beauty]," says Nikky Cronk, a creative strategist in the beauty industry and founder of Wonderhouse Consulting. She praises the novelty and, just as importantly, the subtle reinforcement of Estée's science credentials. Skin care is a science, and perhaps consumers will internalize that there are innovative minds behind this new formula, just as we assume of space flight. "I think this is quite genius, to be honest," she says. 

Others are more skeptical. There's no doubt that the campaign will produce some cool grid photos, but what about the precedent set by using space as a soundstage? Paris Marx, tech journalist and host of the podcast Tech Won't Save Us, has written about the risks of expanding our Earthbound habits to the rest of the universe. "This plays into a larger idea of what space is supposed to be and who it's supposed to serve," says Marx in an interview with Allure. "There was an idea in the past that space was more for moving our scientific knowledge forward and better understanding the universe…. It brings into question: What are our activities in space supposed to be moving us toward?"

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In particular, I was struck by what Marx describes as "maybe an idealized version…that [space] was the place where our Earthly disagreements and problems didn't follow us." The fantasy of space travel is, in part, to start the hell over, to leave behind the "Earthly problems" that plague us and build something new from scratch. It's interesting to me that this particular Estée Lauder serum, Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Multi-Recovery Complex, is formulated to "fight the look of multiple signs of aging." 

Your trusty beauty editors toiling away on Earth have worked so hard to banish the stigma against aging from our industry, and it's a shame to see those ideals symbolically held up even outside our planet. I guess I was hoping that I wouldn't still have to worry about lines and wrinkles in space.

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