The use of Eastern religious themes and terminology in marketing cosmetics and other beauty products is growing in American culture, although observers are not sure how much the trend has to do with religion.
Beliefnet.com (March 24) reports that companies such as Cover Girl and the Body Shop “have given Far Eastern civ a makeover, using some common, and some rather complex, religious concepts to name products for their spring campaigns.” Ellen Leventry writes that Cover Girl’s “sheer Karma” collection uses terms like “reincarnated,” but company officials deny that there are any religious aspects to the ad campaign.
The French perfume maker Guerlain has brought out a new scent called “Samsara,” apparently uninformed that the term means the endless cycle of death and rebirth that is the root of all suffering. The cosmetic company Shiseido recently released a fragrance which the company’s web site says is “inspired by Eastern spiritual thinking.”
Whether or not there is much thought, Eastern or otherwise, behind these ads, Leventry notes that they demonstrate how Eastern influence is no longer alternative. One marketing analyst with a youth-focus says that “We’ve seen Eastern influences gradually going mainstream, and teen girls are jumping on the bandwagon.”