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August 2013

Cultural appropriation in cosmetics ads

This recent post by Jonathan Walford, founding curator of the newly opened Fashion History Museum, briefly discusses some fashion collaborations that caused a stir due to their cultural insensitivity.  It also spurred me to write about how the same issues exist in beauty marketing.  (The many other instances of cultural appropriation in fashion and the "We're a culture, not a costume" campaign launched a few Halloweens ago were also caught in my mind.)   Normally I like to avoid anything remotely controversial, but to fully explore cosmetics history sometimes it's necessary to take a look at the industry's dark side.  I'll be using the fashion industry as a guide for this post, since cultural appropriation is conducted similarly in the beauty industry.

First, what is cultural appropriation?  Entire books have been written on the subject, but in the context of fashion or makeup, it's when companies take a culturally important symbol or idea (usually of a non-dominant or marginalized group) and use it for profit rather than true cultural appreciation.  In short, "when designers take cultural styles and put them out of context, market them in a disrespectful manner, or simply act without permission, this is cultural appropriation."  (You can read this excellent primer on the subject for more information).  Cultural appropriation is marked by a failure to acknowledge the significance behind a cultural artifact or the reduction of a group to a harmful stereotype.  It may not be quite as overt as out-and-out racism (like this sadly unforgettable 2012 Illamasqua ad or these Cibu hair products) which makes it hard to recognize at times.

Why is cultural appropriation a problem?  Because it not only erases important cultural meanings and histories, it also directly ties into the larger issue of racism.  As one fashion blogger writes, "I don't think the issue of institutional racism and discrimination can be completely divorced from the question of cultural appropriation.  They feed into one another. One would not exist (at least not in the same way) without the other...reducing an entire culture to a simple 'inspiration' for your outfit, art project, fashion collection, or photoshoot is disrespectful and unhelpful, especially when we look at the bigger picture."  I also think it speaks to the cluelessness and/or indifference of some beauty/fashion industry leaders, which, given that it's 2013, I find ridiculous - that lack of cultural unawareness is inexcusable, and given that they're clearly not doing their research on the culture they're appropriating, extremely lazy. 

Now let's take a look at some examples of cultural appropriation in beauty ads from the past.  I'm going to keep my comments on each one brief, since unfortunately there are a lot.

A 1940 ad for Coty's latest shade Tamale references "dark-hued" skintones - not necessarily in a perjorative sense, but it's problematic since not all "Latin-American" women have the skintone Coty describes. 

Coty Tamale
(image from vintageadbrowser.com)

As for this Harriet Hubbard Ayer ad for "Mexican Rose" lipstick, I dislike that merely slapping a sombrero on the model's head signifies Mexico.

Harriet-hubbard-ayer-1962-mexican-rose
(image from hprints.com)

In 1963 the film Cleopatra starring Elizabeth Taylor debuted.  Prior to the film's release, in 1962 Revlon created an entire Egyptian-themed collection that included Sphinx Pink lipstick and a Sphinx Eyes eye shadow and liner set.

Revlon-sphinx-collection
(image from flickr.com)

And even before that, other companies romanticized ancient Egypt to sell products, including Angel Face (1958) and Harriet Hubbard Ayer (1960).  

Angel-face-bewitching
(image from flickr.com)

Harriet-hubbard-ayer-rose d'egypte
(image from hprints.com)

These strike me as problematic due to their fetishisation of women in ancient Egyptian history, the watering-down of a culture to highly glamorized images, and the exoticising of non-Western cultures.  Multiple companies participated in this last tactic as well.  These ads for Revlon Persian Melon (1957), Dorothy Gray Jewel of India (1960), and Elizabeth Arden Sheik lipstick (1963) present a strong othering through the depiction of a variety of Middle Eastern cultures while at the same time using Western-looking models - I suppose to make these faraway places to seem, as one of the ads suggests, "mystic" rather than threatening.

Revlon-persian-melon
(image from weheartvintage.co)

Dorothy-Gray-Jewel-of-India
(image from etsy.com)

Elizabeth-arden-1963-sheik-lipstick
(image from hprints.com)

This idea of non-Western cultures as "exotic" curiosities is persists today, although perhaps it's not quite as blatant. Take, for example, this ad for Catrice's summer 2013 collection. The first part of the ad copy reads,  "African appeal: colourful, traditional, exotic."    

Catrice-Fall-2013-LAfrique-Cest-Chic

Catrice-Fall-2013-LAfrique-Cest-Chic-Collection-nails
(images from chicprofile.com)

Another feature of cultural appropriation, or at least, insensitivity, is the lumping together of distinct groups without recognizing their unique characteristics.  I'm a bit embarrassed to say I own a lipstick from MAC's 2008 Style Warrior collection and have actually used it in an exhibition.  Not only does the ad copy mention stereotypes ("Amazonian Princess, African Queen, Crouching Tigress"), it combines all the discrete cultures from whence they came.  I frankly don't care that they tried to justify this with the word "cross-cultural".

Mac-style-warrior-promo
(image from kingsrowe.com)

Mac-style-warrior-lipstick
(image from hotbeautyhealth.com)

There's a similar issue with this Art Deco ad for their summer 2013 collection.  The ad copy says that it's inspired by the "amazing colors and warmth of Africa".  One could argue that this isn't really cultural appropriation because the inspiration is so vague and doesn't reference a specific people within the continent, but at the same time that very fact is troubling - does the model accurately represent how all African women dress?  I guess it's not supposed to and simply be evocative of Africa as a whole, but it looks like a costume some marketing director dreamed up.

ArtDeco-Cosmetics-Tribal-Sunset-Summer-2013
(image from makeup4all.com)

The Art Deco ad brings me to my next point.  One of the biggest offenders in cultural appropriation within beauty advertising is the use of exclusively white models to represent a non-white culture, like this ad for indie brand Lime Crime's Chinadoll collection from 2012.

Lime-crime-chinadoll
(image from beautyandbrainsblogger.wordpress.com)

Two beauty bloggers have expressed quite well all the things wrong with this ad, so I won't rehash it here.  I will say that, as the others have pointed out, it basically reinforces some very negative stereotypes.

And sometimes, the company is so lazy it doesn't even point to which culture it's ripping off.  This was my frustration with Pupa's China Doll collection (which, as I revisit it, seems to align with Lime Crime's offenses), and Marcelle's Riviera Maya collection.  Then there's also Essence's "Tribal Summer" collection this year, which confuses Aztec culture with Native Americans. 

Essence-Summer-2013-Tribal

Essence-Summer-2013-Tribal-Summer
(image from chicprofile.com)

The ad copy:  "Tribal dance! The new essence trend edition “tribal summer” ensures a stylish mix of patterns, trendy Aztec prints and cool tribal designs in warm colors like orange, pink, red, purple, lilac, copper and gold to spread the pure feeling of summer. This trend edition offers lots of must-haves for all urban squaws. These include our popular pigments in bright colors, longlasting lipsticks and a bronzing powder with a tribal embossment. The absolute highlight is the tip painter set so you can create THE nail trend of the summer – Aztec nails – on your nails. And there are also cool nail feathers and a feather hair extension for the ultimate tribal look!"  I'm not really sure how you get from tribal to Aztec to "squaws" back to Aztec and finally back to feathers.  

In 2010 there was a collection that was considered so offensive it was pulled even before it could hit the shelves (good job, beauty bloggers!)  The fashion label Rodarte collaborated with MAC for a collection inspired by the city of Juarez, Mexico:  specifically, the bloodshed from the city's drug wars and the innumerable women who have disappeared served as a point of departure for Rodarte's fall 2010 collection, and was the foundation for the MAC collaboration.  The product names included Ghost Town and Factory, while the promo image...well, it speaks for itself.

Rodarte-mac
(image from blog-3-2-1.blogspot.com)

Long story short, after a huge public outcry the collection was not distributed for sale to MAC stores.  (The Awl has a great piece describing the whole debacle.)  I think what bothered me most wasn't that the Mulleavy sisters were ignorant to the situation in Juarez; rather, they had actually visited the town and decided to romanticize the women workers waiting in lines for their factory jobs in the middle of the night.  Essentially, they directly used the suffering of the people of Juarez to sell clothes and makeup.

Now that we've seen some obvious examples of cultural appropriation in beauty ads, let's talk about how one can determine cultural appropriation.  Looking at the Makeup Museum's collection, there are some pieces that walk the very fine line between appreciation and appropriation.  What makes some okay and some not?  As one author points out, "The former is acceptable when designers or companies create completely unique items that are only inspired by cultures, not direct imitations...it’s important for companies to understand the importance of a certain object, pattern, design, or idea to a culture before using it."  More guidelines are offered by Fordham law professor Susan Scafidi:  "Consider the 3 S's: source, significance (or sacredness), and similarity. Has the source community either tacitly or directly invited you to share this particular bit of its culture, and does the community as a whole have a history of harmful exploitation? What's the cultural significance of the item — is it just an everyday object or image, or is it a religious artifact that requires greater respect? And how similar is the appropriated element to the original — a literal knockoff, or just a nod to a color scheme or silhouette?"  These are important things for me to consider moving forward. 

I do think there's a benefit to cosmetics companies borrowing from various cultures or groups - it brings that culture a little closer to those who might not be able to experience it firsthand in a way that's different from other means.  As scholar Johanna Blakeley writes, "Like other art forms, fashion is a powerful conduit for cultural diplomacy, translating the aesthetics of one nation or culture to people in far-away places who wouldn’t necessarily have had the occasion to think about that other world. What’s unique about fashion as an aesthetic object is that it’s something you wear: it provides the opportunity for an extremely intimate connection with a foreign perspective and it gives people the opportunity to literally walk in the shoes of another culture. The fact that fashion design elements can be sampled quite freely makes it even more likely that cross-cultural communication can occur…at the very least, in the form of fashion trends."  I think the same can be said for makeup.

As long as companies put some thought into these types of collections and not be insensitive to the cultures they're celebrating, that they can successfully launch a collection inspired by a particular group.  (One of the best examples of cultural appreciation, rather than appropriation, that immediately came to mind was NARS's 2011 Modern Kabuki collection.)  And while some companies may remain indifferent or unaware of how their next collection may be perceived, others recognize their previous missteps, demonstrating that redemption is possible.

That was long!  If you made it this far, thank you.  And I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Local interview!

The fabulous Paulette of Ms. Charm's Chic approached me a little while ago asking if I would like to be interviewed for an article at her blog.  Naturally I jumped at the chance!  You can read her post here.  If you're local, definitely check out Ms. Charm's Chic for all the latest fashion news (and other cool stuff)  here in our little town! 

Thank you again Paulette!!  I am so honored!


Couture Monday: Michael Kors Beauty

We've got another fashion designer wanting to break into the beauty business.  Like Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors launched several successful fragrances previously, but is now branching out into cosmetics. 

The carefully edited line (there are only 24 products) consists of three "moods" - glam, sporty and sexy.

Michael-Kors-Glam

Michael-Kors-Sporty

Michael-KorsSexy
(images from chicprofile.com)

The gold packaging is borrowed from the name plates that appear on Michael Kors bags and other accessories.

Michael-Kors-bag

Michael-kors-belt

Michael-kors-bracelets
(images from nordstrom.com)

According to an interview in the August issue of Allure magazine (p. 166), Kors got the idea to start a makeup line when he won the CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award three years ago.  Spurred on by the encouragement of friend and colleague Diane von Furstenberg, Kors "combed through photographs of past collections for inspiration...these pictures, too, were populated by happy, glowing people who seemed to be on permanent vacation.  'I realized that I'd been playing with these three moods - sporty, sexy and glamorous - and balancing them,' says Kors."  He adds, "In a weird way, I thought about creating cosmetics just like I always think about creating apparel and designing accessories... How would you set up the perfect closet?  You need a gorgeous cove of caramel basics, a section of sexy red and black dresses that knock everyone out, and the audacious things - like white pantsuits and gold tops - that aren't a bit practical, but they're totally divine."  The division of colors and textures into these three categories clearly represent Kors's aesthetic.

I like that there's not a huge amount of products.  Basics like mascara or concealer are not included since the emphasis is on creating one of the three signature looks using the shades provided.    I also like that he works in some impractical shades - hopefully this means we'll be seeing some creative limited-edition pieces that are pretty to look at but aren't quite as functional as the permanent items. 

What do you think?


Curator's Corner, 8/24/2013

CC logoLinks for the week.

- Been hearing a lot of buzz for Armani's new Rouge Ecstasy lipstick - the first CC ("color and care") lipstick on the market, which is apparently an "incomparable skincare lipstick that combines high-impact color with the ultimate comfort of a moisturizing balm." Not sure if I believe the hype as it sounds like a fancier version of tinted lip balm, but I'm willing to try a few shades. ;)

- Enjoy this slideshow of art history-inspired nail art.

- A reminder not to steal from Sephora - not only will you be arrested, you make the rest of us beauty junkies look bad!  Still, it's somewhat impressive this woman almost managed to abscond with nearly $3,000 worth of stuff.  Even if I wanted to shoplift from Sephora, I could never get that many products into my hands without the salespeople noticing - every 5 seconds a different one asks if I need help.

- Beloved '90s brand Jane Cosmetics is back.  Surprisingly, this one of the few things from that decade that I can't recall. 

- This is cool:  a multi-faceted exhibition that combines fashion and perfume.

The random:

- Feast your eyes on these butter sculptures.  I also got a kick out of these muffin top cupcake molds.

- Another Basquiat collaboration.

- In mermaid news, the statue of The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen turns 100.

- I always link to an interview with one of my idols...can't wait for the new album.

- And, of course, I always link to Glossed Over's annual Vogue live blog.  Great insights expressed with truly hilarious snark - it's a must-read.

What were you up to this week?


MM Musings, vol. 12: Where's my audience?

Makeup Museum (MM) Musings is a series that examines a broad range of museum topics as they relate to the collecting of cosmetics, along with my vision for a "real", physical Makeup Museum.  These posts help me think through how I'd run things if the Museum was an actual organization, as well as examine the ways it's currently functioning.  I also hope that these posts make everyone see that the idea of a museum devoted to cosmetics isn't so crazy after all - it can be done!

Tumblr_lyfqikoXFk1r8vvoxo1_500In this installment of MM Musings, I want to discuss how the Museum might be able to attract a broad audience. 

Generally speaking, museums aim to reach the widest audience possible.  Not only is it a part of their mission to provide educational and cultural opportunities and information to all citizens, a bigger audience translates to more revenue.  For museums with large, more general collections, getting people from all walks of life is a challenge, but not nearly as difficult as it is for a small-sized museum with a collection that appeals to only a tiny segment of the population, i.e. the Makeup Museum.  How do I get people who aren't really interested in cosmetics in the door?  Should I even care about attracting a wide audience or simply cater to beauty addicts? 

I'm going to answer the second question first.  On the one hand, I feel like I should care about getting through to those who have little to no interest in makeup.  I feel as though museums, even niche ones, have a duty to educate and provide intellectually stimulating experiences to everyone.  I would hate to see women dragging their incredibly bored husbands/boyfriends around - there needs to be something for them too.*  And of course, there's the financial standpoint - more visitors equals more funding. 

On the other hand, dreamer that I am, if the Makeup Museum has even one fulfilled visitor I'd be happy.  Mission accomplished!  I admit there's a selfish angle to this too.  I want to show off my collection because I personally find it to be fantastic, and because I like it so much, I sort of don't care how others feel about it.  It's cool to ME and that's all that matters.  Which is awful and I feel guilty for writing that.  Plus, no foundations would provide grants for "pet projects" which, I guess the Museum would be if I'm not willing to prove that it performs an educational or cultural service for the public.  "Give me money because I think my collection is awesome" isn't the best approach.

Therefore, if the Museum ever does occupy a physical space, I will endeavor to get anyone and everyone to visit.  As I said previously, this can be hard for even large museums with huge collections that would appeal to a broad range of people.  So audience diversity would be particularly tricky for a niche museum.   

However, the plethora of niche museums makes me think that it is possible to provide programming for all audiences.  This article profiling the recently opened ABBA Museum in Sweden particularly gave me hope.  "[We] think the new ABBA museum could withstand the test of time even with its highly specific subject matter. It would have been easy to treat the band as a curiosity of the past and merely showcase old costumes and videos while the band’s comprehensive music catalogue filtered through the loudspeakers. But the museum designers have made what could have been a kitschy nostalgic relic of a space into something modern and fresh, thanks to interactive elements and high-tech showpieces that will appeal to even kids and casual fans."  The article then highlights the museum's cutting-edge interactive features.  My vision for the Makeup Museum is exactly this.  While I plan on some room for vintage items, it won't have that musty, "cabinet of curiosities" feel - I will link them to contemporary cosmetics via specially-themed exhibitions and/or create some highly advanced interactive components of my own.  

Additionally, I think cosmetics just might be an odd enough topic to reach a wide audience even if they're not usually interested in makeup.  For example, I'm not a dog person at all, but would I go see Foof (The Museum of the Dog) in Italy?  Of course!

Foof-italy
(image from details.com)

I'm terrified of surgery and the unconsciousness that's a result of anesthesia, but I would totally visit the Anesthesia Heritage Centre in London.

Anesthesia-museum
(image from visitlondon.com)

It's the sheer novelty of these places that draws people in, and if I may toot my own horn, I think I'm creative enough to make cosmetics into an appealing theme for a museum.  As long as it's got a modern, dynamic feel vs. a static one (which, admittedly, how it is now - the objects just sit on shelves), I think it would be successful at reaching a wide audience.  The biggest hurdle as I see it would be how to handle the gender issue.  Other niche museums, while devoted to a an odd topic that may not attract everyone, have the advantage of not being quite as gender-specific as a cosmetics museum.  By and large makeup is still viewed as a women's sphere, so the challenge is to draw in the guys without making them feel like they're out of place (or for the really macho dude-bros, losing their masculinity - heaven forbid!).  This is where creative programming and exhibitions come in.  I would have a permanent exhibition of men's grooming and yes, even cosmetics (more on that in a later post), along with gender-neutral exhibitions - say, makeup used in film.

Given how much I struggle just to get people to visit the Makeup Museum online, perhaps I shouldn't be so optimistic that a public space would engage a diverse audience.  Having said that, the Museum in its current form is pretty different from how I would manage it in real life, and I think even overhauling the website to make it more museum-like and less of a blog would go a long way in attracting visitors outside of those who are makeup-obsessed. 

Thoughts?

*I realize that's a rather sexist way of looking at things - there are guys who are interested in makeup and women who couldn't care less.   I was just trying to give an obvious, relatable example of who would be more likely to enjoy their visit and who would rather gouge out their own eyes than go to a museum devoted to makeup.


Quick post: a breezy Paul & Joe find

I found a little treasure on E-bay last week - this Face Color Powder from Paul & Joe's 2004 Santa Fe Breeze summer collection.  How cute is this pineapple print?

Paul-Joe-Bijou-Indien

Paul-Joe-bijou-indien-open

Paul-Joe-summer 2004

Both the pineapple print  and the lotus-like bloom (seen on Vent Sec lipstick and Roche Rouge powder in the archive photo above) appeared on shirts from the summer 2004 menswear collection.  It's interesting to see that the summer 2013 Paul & Joe collection wasn't the first to borrow a pattern from the men's line. (Sorry for the screen shots.)

PJ-summer2004-mens-pineapple

PJ-mens-summer2004-pineapple2

Paul-Joe-mens-summer2004

Unfortunately I couldn't find any pictures/video of the women's summer 2004 fashion collection or a description of the cosmetics collection, but no matter - vintage Paul & Joe is so nice to stumble across.


Couture Monday: Marc Jacobs Beauty

After years of producing successful fragrances, Marc Jacobs has finally joined the beauty game in full with a new 120-piece line that debuted at Sephora last week as well as his new beauty boutique in Soho.

Marc-Jacobs-palette

Marc-Jacobs-lipstick

Marc Jacobs-nail-polish
(images from sephora.com)

After years of leaning towards more natural territory for the runway, recently Jacobs felt that stronger makeup is necessary to complete a certain look, which was the impetus behind the cosmetics line's creation.  "A young girl looking natural - that's what I did every season.  And then one day the face didn't feel finished.  Maybe it's because my shows became more theatrical.  Maybe it's because I grew up.  But I realized that makeup is a vital accessory.  Even if it's just a groomed eyebrow, there has to be a final punctuation to the look," he states in the August issue of Allure.   

The line is also influenced by famed makeup artist Francois Nars, a long-time friend and colleague whom Jacobs managed to coax out of runway retirement into doing the makeup for his shows in 2009.  Says Jacobs, "When I started working with Francois again, the mood got more stagy, with more references to the '70s and '80s.  But the shows are a theatrical presentation - not real life."   This interest in the '70s and '80s might account for products like the super high-gloss Lip Vinyls.  Additionally, the August issue of In Style notes how Jacobs paid homage to some of his favorite film characters through the names of a few of the products, just as Nars does.   (Jacobs has even had his makeup done by Nars for the artist's 2009 book commemorating the 15th anniversary of his line.)

I also like the promo images thus far.  "We wanted an image that suggested this love for the ritual of two young women putting on makeup,” Jacobs told elle.com. “There’s a certain reference to a backstage sort of glamour—or staying home and being in your bathroom and putting on your makeup for hours and talking...the images are meant to stimulate or inspire someone to be irreverent, to enjoy the process, and do what feels right for them. It’s about transforming oneself to be the person you’d like the world to see.”

Elle-marc-jacobs-beauty

Elle-marcjacobs-beauty
(images from elle.com)

Finally, I think the packaging is very representative of Jacobs' aesthetic - the black is sleek and fashion-forward, while the rounded edges hint at a youthful playfulness and a bit of quirk, which is exactly what you see in his fashion (especially the Marc by Marc Jacobs diffusion line).   The rounded edges are also repeated on the bottom of the nail polish bottles, representing a smile. 

Marc-Jacobs-bottle-smile
(image from sephora.com)

I do hope that like Dolce & Gabbana we will see limited-edition items with cool designs in a fairly short amount of time.  I think we will.  If M. Nars eventually caved to creating Makeup Museum-worthy objects, I have a feeling Jacobs will follow suit. 

What do you think of the line so far? 


Curator's Corner, 8/17/2013

CC logoThis week's links.

- Oooh, new Eye Paint from NARS - can't wait to try these out.

- Apparently reusable cotton pads  are the next big thing for "green" beauty.  I'm intrigued but also a bit concerned they might be terribly scratchy - anyone tried them?

- The first images for Cover Girl's Hunger Games collection have been released.  Look for the collection in October.

- I'm weeping at the fact that I will most likely not be able to get my hands on this amazing holiday creation from Marcel Wanders for Cosme Decorte.

- On the nail front, CVS will now be requiring IDs for those buying nail polish remover in an attempt to prevent its use in making meth.  I find that to be kinda sad. 

- What might be even sadder, though, is when nail art goes horribly wrong.

- Move over, UV rays - science has determined that sugar can be almost as damaging for your skin as the sun.  I knew there had to be a reason I look older than I should!  I've been diligently wearing sunscreen every day since I was 17 (and spent little time in the sun up to that point anyway), so I was puzzled as to why I look older than my similarly-aged peers.   My raging sweet tooth must be to blame.  Sigh. 

The random:

- Despite my fine lines I will not be giving up my addiction to sweets, especially to ones that are as adorable as these animal face doughnuts

- Yay, Tina Fey will have a new TV show!

- XO Jane asks how many stuffed animals is too many for an adult.  As evidenced by the Makeup Museum staff page, I'm of the opinion that you can never have too many.  ;)

- Uniqlo always has the cutest t-shirts and designer collabs, and this latest collection created by legendary type foundry House Industries is no exception.  (Thanks to the husband for passing this along!)

What have you been eyeing this week?


Dior Bonne Etoile giveaway winner announced!

Thanks so much for entering the Makeup Museum's giveaway!  Art handler Secret Mission Babo (a.k.a. Ninja Babo) is very pleased to announce the winner. 

IMG_3534

 Yay for Citrine!! 

Oh no..."Ooooh, cookie!!"

IMG_3535

IMG_3537

And that's the third giveaway that's ended with a Museum staff member trying to eat it!  Fortunately I was quick enough to get the item away in time.  ;)

Big thanks to everyone who entered!  


Silly or sensible? The latest in beauty gadgets

One thing I love to research is the history of old beauty gadgets.  Today though I'll be looking at some contemporary gizmos that are claiming to make our beauty rituals easier, faster, and yield better results. (And we might laugh at them years from now, the way I do when I see the likes of these contraptions.)

First up we have Sephora's Smart Liner, a liquid eye liner whose shape resembles that of a tape dispenser.

Sephora-smart-liner
(image from sephora.com)

The curved handle supposedly allows for a foolproof application - tempting for those of us, like me, who still haven't perfected a cat's eye.  "Right- or left-handed, beginner or expert, this eyeliner’s ergonomic and innovative design makes perfection effortless and flawless."  I think it's funny that they mention it's good for both righties and lefties, as if regular eye liner pencils/brushes favor one hand or the other (they don't).

Next we have this decidedly dangerous-looking mascara from Avon, which I spotted in this month's issue of Allure.  Apparently the front-facing brush eliminates the "blind spot" one gets while using a regular mascara wand, which you apply sideways with your hand partially obstructing the view of your face.  (Click to enlarge.) 

Mascara.revolution

Other benefits of this newfangled wand include an easier grip, a lock on the applicator cap to keep the product from drying out, and a hinge that adjusts to 12 different angles, allowing you to get extra close to the lash line.  I admit I'm intrigued even though I hardly wear mascara (thanks Latisse!)

Speaking of lashes, I saw this recently released eyelash curler from Shu Uemura at Rouge Deluxe.  According to the blog author, this implement was 13 years in the making and had roughly 100 test designs, while the name comes from "the eight key words that drove the project: small, spot, special, safe, simple, side-bar free, sophisticated and shu uemura."  The eyelash curler has been around for a surprisingly long time and we've seen a few variations (heated, mini, etc.), but the S curler is innovative for its lack of a sidebar, i.e. the sides of a regular lash curler that limit the area along the lashline that you can actually curl. 

Shu-S-curler(image from shu-uemura.com.hk)

As you can see in the diagram, the lack of a sidebar means the curler will fit any eye shape, which is enticing for those who can't find an eyelash curler that doesn't pinch or neglect the outer lashes. 

Finally, Musings of a Muse alerted me to quirky line Pop Beauty's Buzzing Beauty Buffer, a vibrating sponge that's used to apply a foundation of your choosing.  You remember the vibrating mascara craze a few years ago (and Lancome actually released a vibrating foundation shortly thereafter, as did this brand) but I believe this is the first gadget that allows you to put in whatever foundation you want.

Pop-buzzing-beauty
(image from beauty.com)

I think this one is the least innovative of the bunch - it's basically an electric foundation sponge, which may not produce better results than using a sponge manually simply because it vibrates.  Then again, I thought the Clarisonic was a glorified electric toothbrush you use on your face, but soon realized how much better it cleans my skin.  Plus, the formulas of other vibrating foundations were what stopped me from trying them - I wasn't sure whether they'd work with my oily skin or if there would be a good color match.  With Pop's buffer I can use any one of the 10 or so foundations I have in rotation currently.

Are you game to try any of these?  Which one has the most promise in your opinion?  And is there any one (or more) that will be the object of great derision in years to come?