Cult beauty products that are secretly horrid

History records a list of things–whether they be tragic novels, children’s movies, chocolate bars or strengthening exercises–that have achieved what is pleasingly referred to as cult status. You know the ones–Wuthering Heights, Babe, the Reese’s Piece, the burpee, this type of thing. Their virtue is respected regardless of personal preference; they transcend their decade of production; they unite consumers, and reveal oddities like Vegemite-haters and PB&J non-combiners and people who don’t like the Dixie Chicks.

Some cult beauty products, however, have achieved this status inexplicably. I do not refer to those products, like 8 Hour Cream, which are regrettably Wrong but Wromantic (apricot-scented petroleum jelly, sadly, cannot really be deserving, despite its loveliness), but of those that have all the actual charm of the Emperor’s clothes. Following, therefore, is a short list of beauty products that deserve to go the way of the Branch Davidians. Read on.

St Ives Apricot Scrub. This so-called cult product is essentially cheap sunscreen mixed with ground-up swimming-pool bottom. The smell alone is sickening, but the texture is the fascinating part: St Ive may as well have stuck with orthodoxy and pointed his disciples to a Brillo pad.

Clarins Beauty Flash Balm. It is, similarly, the smell that gives this one away; it’s reminiscent of an early stage in the manufacture of rubber cement, and feels a little like the goop that is customarily tinted blue and poured onto contestants on children’s television shows. Like all of these things, it should have been disposed of safely and respectfully in the 1980s.

Blotting papers of all kinds. The favoured ones when I was a gurl were from The Body Shop, but there are umpteen variations — lilliputian rectangles of rice paper, dusted on one side with powder and designed to absorb tiny droplets of sweat or oil from one’s mid-afternoon nose. People will buy anything, srsly. For interest’s sake, the correct product to use in this situation is a Starbucks napkin.