The Big Bronzer
This pressed bronzing powder is Cargo’s answer to the question of how to improve on their original bronzer. Making it bigger was as creative as they got, along with a really sleek, snazzy compact with a mirror. The golden tan color of this suede-smooth bronzing powder is beautiful. However, the strong shimmer finish it has won’t make anyone think you’ve gotten your tan from the sun. Application is flawless and it layers expertly for more color (and shine), but the effect this bronzing powder has is best reserved for evening or special-occasion makeup. It works well to highlight the décolleté, but keep in mind that this powder will come off on clothing. Note that the formula for The Big Bronzer is slightly different from that of Cargo’s original Bronzer.
Strengths: Some good foundations; excellent lip glosses; several bronzing options; great eyeshadow sets (though not every color combination is recommended); some high-performance mascaras; the liquid eyeliner; a handful of innovative products that nicely distinguish Cargo from other makeup lines.
Weaknesses: A few otherwise good products are marred by an abundance of fragrance; no foundations with sunscreen; limited selection of brushes; the Blu-Ray concealer isn't worth the money; standard to below-standard pencils and lipstick; several items are overpriced for what you get.
Canada-based Cargo is a makeup line founded a little more than 10 years ago by a woman whose mission was to create a professional color line that would appeal equally to makeup artists and everyday women. Apparently, the dozens of product lines that existed just weren't good enough, obviously, she hadn't seen Stila, MAC, Laura Mercier, Trish McEvoy, Quo, Bobby Brown, or Nars, and on and on. Cargo hit the beauty scene with a blend of celebrity fanfare and panache that has become the standard for any new cosmetic brand that wants to grab attention and have the press write about them.
Celebrity gossip and fashion magazine write-ups aside (believe me, their recommendations aren't objective in the least, they love everything; have you ever read or heard a celebrity or a fashion magazine say that a makeup or skin-care product or brand is really awful?), there are plenty of reasons to consider Cargo an option when looking for a new makeup look or just to replenish your current supply. What Cargo doesn't do, however, is distinguish itself in any significant way to indicate you should abandon your favorite Stila, Laura Mercier, M.A.C., Revlon, L'Oreal, Rimmel, or [insert-your-favorite-makeup-line-here] products, although in some cases, you may indeed be tempted.
Several independent beauty stores retail the Cargo brand and you may be wondering what does Cargo do really well? This is definitely a line to shop if you're a fan of bronzers and lip gloss. They also have some reliable foundation choices, improved eyeshadow palettes, and a handful of innovative products worth your attention, assuming you're OK with Cargo's higher price point. (In that regard, this is a line to shop with caution because many of the items aren't worth the splurge.) It's admirable that Cargo donates a portion of lipstick sales to St. Jude's Children's Hospital, but, unfortunately, the lipsticks have one of the greasiest formulas you're likely to find.
What Cargo lacks are foundations with sunscreen, and their one liquid foundation is overloaded with potentially irritating fragrance chemicals. This is also not the line to look to if you're shopping for matte blush or eyeshadows. All manner of shine dominates, though this is typical of many makeup lines; so, if anything, Cargo is just following the herd. Another disappointment is that Cargo initially offered an impressive range of brushes, but that range has now been whittled down to only a few.
Advertising is where Cargo really falls off the wagon and joins most of the other cosmetic companies, bragging about what several of their products do not contain, such as paraben preservatives. The insanity is that although they in some cases push the claim that the product does not contain parabens, at least one-third of the line's formulas still do contain parabens. We don't get the rationale behind emphasizing that something is allegedly bad (and due to media hype lots of consumers are wary of products with these allegedly evil ingredients), and then at the same time continuing to include it in many of your products. Parabens are not the terrible ingredients they're made out to be; and it's clear that Cargo doesn't really think so either or they wouldn't keep selling products preserved with parabens!
For more information about Cargo, call (800) 295-8877 or visit www.cargocosmetics.com.
About the Experts
The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.
Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.