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October 2016

Curator's Corner, 10/30/2016

CC logoYour bi-weekly link roundup. 

- Need some last-minute Halloween costume ideas?  Slime eyeliner or Super Mario hair should have you covered.  To really up the creepiness factor, you could also glue dead scorpions to your nails. (WHY??)

- In other trend news, succulents seem to have taken the beauty world by storm in both hair color and nails.

- Collecting Vintage Compacts shared another in-depth post on Italian enamel compacts.

- On my radar for purchase:  this new book on the history of Dior makeup (would have given my eye teeth to help research!) and Pat McGrath's newest release, Metalmorphosis.   Also this beautiful Chanel palette, but it's looking doubtful I will be able to get my hands on it, which is killing me.

- I am constantly cutting out pictures of beautifully styled cosmetics from magazines and catalogues, so this peek into a day in the life of a makeup stylist was an incredibly fascinating read. 

- I'm firmly with the author of this Nylon piece, which comments on a new campaign shaming women for applying makeup while commuting. 

The random:

- Another book on my wishlist.

- Fellow Hillarys of the world, unite!

- Unlike most food that gets the pumpkin spice treatment, this sushi actually sounds delicious.

How are you?  Any fun Halloween plans?

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Friday fun (and fright): Halloween roundup

It's almost Halloween, so in keeping with the spirit I thought I'd share some sweet and spooky items I've come across.  Hopefully you'll enjoy this mix of vintage and new makeup ephemera.  However, I must warn that if you're a plushie aficionado like me, you may not be able to sleep after seeing some very bizarre vintage stuffed animals.

We'll start with the good stuff.  I've loved this vintage Pum-kin Rouge since I spotted it at the IPBA website a while back, and a recent Instagram post by the Glamourologist jogged my memory.   Pum-kin Rouge, a blush that was meant to be flattering on all complexions, was first introduced in 1922 by the Owl Drug Company.  In an effort to stay competitive with ever-popular French-sounding brands, in 1925 Owl Drug began marketing Pum-kin Rouge under the Darnée Perfumer name.  You can read the entire Owl Drug story, which is divided into two parts, over at the excellent Collecting Vintage Compacts blog. 

Pum-kin Rouge tin(image from worthpoint.com)

Even more rare than the round Pum-kin Rouge tin is this octagonal compact with a different pumpkin design, which appeared around 1928.  You can barely make it out in the photo below, but if you look closely you can see a woman's profile in the middle of the pumpkin.  So cool!

Pum-kin Rouge compact(image from ebay.com)

In terms of contemporary pieces, I admired these Halloween-themed highlighters from Etsy seller Bitter Lace Beauty.  (You may recall that this is the same company responsible for the rainbow highlighter frenzy.)  I didn't purchase them because I'm not sure how much I really want to branch into indie companies in terms of collecting for the Museum, but they're pretty cute.

Bitter Lace Beauty Halloween highlighters

Bitter Lace Beauty Halloween highlighters(images from @bitter.lace.beauty)

There were also these adorable coffin packages containing highlighters and glitter eye shadows from ColourPop.  Alas, they were only available to one lucky winner of a Halloween giveaway, not for sale to the public.  It's a shame, I would have snapped these up in a minute.

ColourPop Halloween giveaway sets

ColourPop Halloween giveaway sets(images from bustle.com and @colourpopcosmetics.com)

Now we're moving on to the very strange and scary items I found, all of which are vintage.  You may want to get some towels to sit on in case you soil yourself.  Okay, maybe they're not that bad but I have to say, if I found any of these at a vintage shop or flea market I'd hightail it out of there real fast.

First up is this super weird lip-shaped box.  It's listed as a powder box on Ebay, but it looks more like a trinket box rather than something cosmetic.  Still, since it's lip-shaped maybe it was intended for makeup.  So while I'm not certain of its original purpose, I do know that it really freaks me out.  This isn't comical like Charlotte Tilbury's new Pocket Pout (which honestly reminds me of those goofy novelty wax lips and/or Mrs. Potato Head), it's just creepy as hell.

Vintage lip-shaped powder box
(images from ebay.com)

I nearly jumped out of my chair when I saw this pop up in my Ebay search for vintage compacts.  Do you know who this character is? (I didn't but thought he was absolutely the most horrifying thing I've ever seen on a compact).

Vintage Charlie McCarthy compact
(image from pinterest.com)

If you said Charlie McCarthy, the doll companion of '30s-'40s-era ventriloquist Edgar Bergen, you are correct.  If you said "Why the hell is some terrifying dummy on a makeup compact?", that's also an acceptable response.  It's actually a pretty remarkable likeness, which makes it all the scarier.  *shudder*

Charlie McCarthy(image from britannica.com)

Also disturbing is that the asking price of another one I found is $199.95.  I'm sorry, but who would pay that amount to have this evil thing staring back at you?

I saved the most frightening items for last* - hopefully they won't leave you with nightmares.  If violence against plushies upsets you, don't finish reading! 

Searching for vintage compacts on Rubylane, I came across this little monkey.  He's got kind of a scary face that reminds me of the original cover for Stephen King's Skeleton Crew.  But whatever, he's makeup-related so it's probably okay, right?

Vintage Schuco monkey

And then I saw the next photo.

Vintage Schuco monkey(images from rubylane.com)

My approximate reactions (bonus points if you can name the horror movies these are from):

Terrified

gif

ack

Apparently there was a German toy company named Schuco that produced these abominations in the 1930s (insert Nazi joke here.) These are stuffed animals that one essentially mutilated to reach the makeup hidden inside.  They came in a variety of colors and critters, with a powder compact shoved in the tummy and a lipstick in the neck.  :(

Vintage Schuco monkey
(image from liveauctioneers.com)

Vintage Schuco bear
(image from pinterest.com)

If the sadist makeup-user preferred, they could also tear the shell off a turtle or gut a dog, cat or duck.  Their faces look so unhappy to me, what with their downturned mouths and lifeless eyes - could it be because their innards had to get brutally ripped apart every time someone wanted to powder their nose?

Vintage Schuco dog and turtle

Vintage Schuco duck and cat

Of course, you could always choose to "only" yank the head off to access your favorite perfume rather than both decapitation and disembowelment.

Vintage Schuco monkey - perfume
(images from liveauctioneers.com)

I don't know, maybe it's because I have an unnatural affection for plushies, but these upset me to my core.  I really can't tolerate seeing their little bodies split apart like this, not even for makeup.  It's just wrong!  Plushies should not be dismembered for any reason.  As with the Charlie McCarthy compact, I'm also astonished at the prices.  Granted, these stuffed animals are somewhat unique and Schuco is well-known enough to fetch a nice sum, but $300??  This is one of those pieces where I know, rationally, that it would be an important item to have in the Museum's collection, but my heart says absolutely not.

Anyway, if you're not scarred for life please tell me which of the fun picks you liked most and which of the scary ones most haunted you.

 

*I did come across this gun-shaped compact, but ultimately decided not to include it as I realized my post was turning into a political rant.


The owls are not what they seem: Laneige x Lucky Chouette

As soon as I laid eyes on this collection a while back I knew I had to procure it for the Museum.  For the 3rd iteration of their Laneige Meets Fashion project, this fall Laneige teamed up with fellow Korean brand Lucky Chouette (chouette = owl in French.)  Lucky Chouette is actually a sister line to Jardin de Chouette, a higher-end line founded in 2005 by Jae-Hyun Kim.  Since I'm feeling too lazy to describe the aesthetics of each, I'll direct you to this great profile of both over at Style Bubble.

And now for the makeup!  How freakin' cute are these owls?!

Laneige x Lucky Chouette

I learned that they have names and personalities.  Bella is the pink owl and Vely is the blue one.  Laneige describes them thusly:  "Chouette, which means 'owl' in French, is a symbol of good fortune. An encounter between Laneige and Lucky Chouette gave birth to a lovely pair of owls that promise to bring good luck to all.  We have two muses: Confident, outgoing, and outspoken, Bella Chouette is especially charming with her full lips. Shy Vely Chouette is prudish and prone to blush."

Laneige x Lucky Chouette

Laneige x Lucky Chouette

Laneige x Lucky Chouette

Laneige x Lucky Chouette

Bella's eyes are actually part of a plastic overlay on top of the blush, but she's still pretty adorable without it.

Laneige x Lucky Chouette

Laneige x Lucky Chouette

I figured that obviously Lucky Chouette clothing would be chock full of owls, and my hunch was correct.  While there are plenty of pieces without the owl motif, the bird does figure prominently and comes in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes.

Lucky Chouette

Lucky Chouette

Lucky Chouette
(images from luckychouette.com)

In poking around the Lucky Chouette site, I learned that besides Bella and Vely, the owls from past seasons also have their own names and personalities.  Too bad I don't know Korean, because I'd love to understand the creation story.

I would also be able to read about each owl's style and character traits based on these little bios that pop up when you click on one of the owls.  I always like to see a designer that really thinks about their work.  In the case of Jae-Hyun Kim, these profiles show that she genuinely thought about each creation and their style inspiration - it's not simply "I think owls are cool so I'll just slap a bunch on my clothes", there's actually a story behind each one. 

Marine Bebe Chouette - Lucky Chouette

Icy Chouette - Lucky Chouette

My favorite, obviously, was the punk-inspired Rebel Chouette...at least, her spiky crown looks to be pretty punk.  She's particularly lucky too!

Rebel Chouette - Lucky Chouette(images from luckychouette.com)

Now let's take a quick peek at the original Jardin de Chouette line, which, you guessed it, also works in several owl designs each season.  The photos below are from shows spanning 2006 through 2014.

Jardin de Chouette

Jardin de Chouette

Jardin de Chouette(images from jdchouette.com)

Overall, I enjoy the styles of both Jardin de Chouette and Lucky Chouette - I'd wear one of those owl sweaters from the latter in a heartbeat.  Perhaps it's the extensive use of a beloved critter, or the fact that there's a higher-end line and a diffusion line, but this is reminding me quite a bit of Paul & Joe and Paul & Joe Sister.  Of course, the silhouettes and general aesthetic/feel are different, but both Jae-Hyun Kim and Sophie Mechaly express their allegiance to their favorite animals by working them into their collections in new and exciting ways each season.  I also think Lucky Chouette was a great choice for a collaboration with a makeup line.

What do you think?  And are you more of a Bella or Vely?  I'm more of the shy Vely type, although I like to think I have Bella's lashes.  :)

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Vintage makeup highlights from DuBarry

This post is a result of my very kind mother-in-law gifting me some vintage DuBarry items, which she found while cleaning out her deceased mother's belongings.  She knew I would appreciate them and give them a good home, and I'm really pleased to have vintage makeup that came from a family member.  I'm okay with buying vintage items without knowing anything about who they belonged to, but obviously I feel more of a connection to the object when they come from someone I actually know.   Anyway, these items inspired me to learn a little more about the DuBarry line and, of course, purchase some other items so they didn't feel so alone. ;)

I'm not going to rehash the entire history of the line, as both Cosmetics and Skin and Collecting Vintage Compacts have excellent, thorough histories of both DuBarry and Richard Hudnut, the founder of the line (along with many other brands.)  The story in a nutshell:  DuBarry originally started as a fragrance developed by Hudnut in 1902.  In 1929 a makeup and skincare line was spun off the fragrance as an additional revenue source.  The line wasn't doing so well by the late 1930s; however, ever the businessman, Hudnut expanded his lucrative "Success School" (a charm school to prepare young debutantes for their coming out events) to include a new DuBarry "Success Course" that borrowed many of the same principles but without the debutante focus.  Part fat camp, part beauty and fashion tips, the Success Course earned the company over $4 million in a little over 3 years.  Not only was it a major money-maker, the course also helped the DuBarry makeup line gain significant brand recognition.  Since the 1960s the company passed through many owners but is still being sold today.

Without further ado, let's take a peek at some notable DuBarry items from their golden age (roughly 1940s-60s).  I found this beautiful fan-shaped color guide over at the Baltimore Shoeseum, an online museum that  specializes in swing era artifacts.  Let's hear it for another Baltimore-based online museum!  I'm sort of tempted to call and ask if they'd be willing to deaccession it to me, as I think the Makeup Museum would be a better fit.  ;)  I think this is from the early '30s.

DuBarry color guide(image from baltimoreshoeseum.com) 

There's also this gorgeously designed face powder.  Love the butterfly and reversed colors set on a diagonal.

DuBarry powder box
(image from etsy.com) 

But what DuBarry was particularly known for was the use of an image of Madame du Barry, a.k.a. the last mistress of Louis XV who, along with rival Marie Antoinette, lost her head in 1793. Collecting Vintage Compacts' entry notes that Hudnut named the line after Madame du Barry, but I'm curious to know what the source is on that and why Hudnut chose her.  In any case, there is no fabled tale of how Hudnut arrived at using Madame du Barry as inspiration the way there was with Harriet Hubbard Ayer's Madame Recamier skincare.  And it shows:  the company came up with vague likenesses of Madame du Barry for the product packaging rather than borrowing a real portrait.

The powder box below looks quite early and also resembles this etching.

Early DuBarry powder box(image from etsy.com)

This box also appears to be very early and is somewhat similar to this portrait.  These two boxes are the only ones I've seen with these particular designs, so I wonder if they were samples or prototypes not actually put into mass production.

Early DuBarry powder box(image from etsy.com)

The only exception to DuBarry's lack of faithful reproductions of the Comtesse was a sketch of a sculpture by Augustin Pajou. 

Madame du Barry by Augustin Pajou, 1773
(image from louvre.fr)

Roughly from the start of the line in 1929, DuBarry utilized a drawing of the sculpture for ads and powder boxes and continued to use it up until the early to mid '40s.

1930 DuBarry ad
(image from cosmeticsandskin.com)

1941 DuBarry ad(image from library.duke.edu) 

Naturally I had to get one to add to the Museum's collection.

Dubarry powder box

Okay, maybe I got 2!  But the design was a little different and I figured variety couldn't hurt.

DuBarry large powder box

I also liked the pattern on the sides.

DuBarry large powder box

Just to give you a sense of the size, that 2nd box is body powder and way bigger than the face powder pox.

Dubarry powder boxes

But starting around 1935 (at least according to the ad below), DuBarry displayed a different, completely imaginary representation of Madame du Barry, and it appears that in 1942 they began adding her to their packaging and phasing out the other, accurate Madame du Barry depiction.  I've looked everywhere online and there is no portrait of Madame du Barry that even remotely resembles this one. 

1935 DuBarry ad(image from library.duke.edu) 

It appears to be an amalgam of the Pajou sculpture (the asymmetrical, drapey neckline), this 1770 portrait by François-Hubert Drouais (hair is up with one lone curl around the neck), and this 1771 portrait, also by Drouais (hairstyle is similar, although DuBarry seems to have swapped out the blue ribbon for a blue jewel on the packaging).  You can see, however, that the woman on the box is not a direct copy of any portrait, as was the case with the Pajou sculpture.

1942 DuBarry ad(image from periodpaper.com)

1946 DuBarry ad

I bought this one too, along with the ad above. :)

DuBarry powder box

Then in 1949 DuBarry changed the likeness on the packaging yet again.  This time Madame du Barry appears with the ridiculously high powdered wig hairstyle that we associate with the French Revolution era.  Again, as far as I could tell, there is no portrait of Madame  du Barry that resembles this - here's the closest one I found - but even the face on this DuBarry packaging looks nothing like her!

1950 DuBarry ad(image from etsy.com) 

This image was used through the mid 1950s.

1954 DuBarry ad(image from flickr.com)

To round out the Madame du Barry representations I had to get this one too.  This is probably the most common DuBarry box I came across.

Dubarry powder box

The next item I thought would be a nice addition to the Museum's DuBarry holdings were these lipstick blotting sheets.  Clearly men are the only ones who are affected by lipstick transfer and it's their comfort we have to worry about most, not the simple fact that women would just like a lipstick that stays put so we're not constantly touching up. *eyeroll*  Still, I thought it was amusing that they put a cartoon man on the case and I don't have any vintage lipstick blotters in the Museum's collection.  (And like the DuBarry powder boxes it was super cheap, which is always a plus.)

DuBarry lipstick blotting sheets

DuBarry lipstick blotting sheets

DuBarry lipstick blotting sheets

Based on the graphics I really thought this was from the early '60s, but I was way off.  Turns out DuBarry's "Treasure Stick" lipstick was introduced in 1947 and was sold at least through 1951, according to the ads below, so these blotting sheets are from around then as well.

1947 DuBarry ad
(image from pinterest.com)

1951 DuBarry ad(image from etsy.com)

Finally, here are the items that once belonged to the husband's grandmother which my mother-in-law kindly passed along to me.  Thanks, M.!

Dubarry lipstick refills

Dubarry lipstick

Naturally I was eager to find out approximately when they were from.  Just at first glance they appeared to be early '60s to me, but I couldn't say so with any certainty, so off I went to search for clues.  Based on the ads below it didn't look like the lipsticks I have are from the '40s.

1941 Dubarry ad(image from library.duke.edu)

1945 DuBarry ad(image from library.duke.edu) 

It wasn't from the mid-'50s either.

1956 DuBarry ad(image from pinterest.com)

Low and behold, in 1958 we see a new lipstick tube and bullet that are very similar to those bestowed upon the Museum.  With the debut of the "Royal" lipstick (you've seen this ad before), there also came a new case.  However, it's gold-toned and not silver like the ones I have.  Hmmm...

1958 DuBarry ad

1958 DuBarry ad

1959 DuBarry ad(image from mudwerks.tumblr.com)

It's hard to tell, but judging from this 1961 ad below, it looks like DuBarry made the switch to the silver casing by then.

1961 DuBarry ad(image from pinterest.com)

1962 DuBarry ad(image from adweek.com) 

So while I'm still not 100% sure, I can say with confidence that the lipsticks I was given date from the late '50s or early '60s, especially given that the prices are the same on the refill boxes and in the ads. 

Just for fun, how cute is this "Morning Noon and Night" set?  Now that would be quite a find!

1964 DuBarry ad(image from pinterest.com)

DuBarry went on to launch a pretty interesting campaign for their Glissando range starting in 1964 - at least, from an advertising point of view.  Since there were so many ads I simply couldn't narrow it down, but they were a good representation of mid to late '60s style.  As noted earlier, the brand changed hands several times over the years but is still around today.  I kind of wish they would look to their golden age and re-introduce packaging with an updated (and accurate) depiction of Madame du Barry.  As Collecting Vintage Compacts points out, the Comtesse's consumer appeal cannot be denied:  "[The DuBarry] fragrance could not have failed to be recognized by the buying public as representing the essence of feminine beauty, intrigue and even a hint of scandal."  Indeed, I can see many people buying makeup with the King's favorite adorning the packaging.  :)

So those are some highlights from DuBarry when they were in their prime.   Which ones did you like best?

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Curator's Corner, 10/16/2016 (plus fall exhibition note)

CC logoYour bi-weekly round up of links...and as you might have guessed, no fall exhibition this year.  Nothing was really coming to me (I don't even have a color trend for this season!) so I decided to skip it than put up something I wasn't happy with.  Hopefully I'll get my act together for a holiday exhibition though.  ;)  Onto some links.

- Congrats to 17 year-old James Charles, who has become Cover Girl's first, well, cover boy!  How cool is that?

- In beauty history, Collecting Vintage Compacts shares the fascinating Golden Peacock brand's story, while XO Vain neatly condenses the 6,000 year old history of mascara.

- Are any other Gen X'ers confused by this article?  I don't think we're being left out.  Certainly not catered to the way millennials are, but I still find plenty of products that suit my needs.

- I wish I worked in an office like this

- Recent trends: mirrored sunglass nails, chocolate mauve hair, and for the guys, beard jewelry.  Also, everyone has seemed to have lost their minds over Harry Potter-themed makeup and brushes, which I bet was no doubt influenced by this Redditor's amazing mock up of a Harry Potter line.  I wish I had their Photoshop skills, as I have so many ideas for collaborations!

- As I pointed out a little over a year ago, I'm someone who can't handle the flaws pointed out by basic magnifying mirrors so I think I might have a nervous breakdown if my skin were analyzed by this Panasonic Smart Mirror, which has finally arrived overseas.

- This is for everyone who doesn't think makeup design and packaging is important.

- Just for fun.

The random:

- Yay for my favorite band, who were inducted into Oregon's Music Hall of Fame (and were also an answer on Jeopardy!)

- In '90s nostalgia, the car from the 1992 classic comedy Wayne's World is for sale.

- If you think pumpkin spice-inspired sneakers are ridiculous, then brace yourself for these fake food accessories.  Not gonna lie, I'd wear the hell out of that bacon cuff bracelet.

- Loved this profile of a professional merman.

What are you up to?

 

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Fall 2016 haul

Happy weekend and happy fall!  And once again I've outdone myself.  This time I'm blaming Instagram - everything just looks so pretty I simply have to buy it.  Here's what I'm wearing this season.

Fall2016-haul

Speaking of Instagram, nearly everything in the photo above has been featured on my account so you can check it out there (also, right now I'm at 99 followers - won't you help me get to 100?!) I've included links to the pics below.  :)

The full loot list:

Whew!  Here are a couple things that I haven't shown previously. 

Bobbi Brown Flame lipstick and Union Jack eyeliner

MAC Bird of Prey and The Naked Time pressed pigments

MUFE Artist Rouge lipsticks

Becca Slimlights

Marc Jacobs Blacquer lipstick and Tabboo eyeliner, Charlotte Tilbury Tell Laura

What did you get for fall?


One of a kind? Armani fall 2016 runway palette

The past two runway-based palettes from Armani did nothing for me, but their fall 2016 one called my name.  It's especially odd given that I'm generally not a fan of floral prints, and I'd never wear any of what came down the Armani runway this season.  I also think the print itself reads very spring rather than fall, given the delicate, watercolor-esque pastel hues.  However, this palette seemed to be a little more tied into the clothing than in the past 2 seasons.  The other unusual aspect is that the pattern seems to differ on each palette.  Let's take a closer look.

As with previous runway palettes, it comes with a luxurious tulle pouch, and the outer case is decked out in fabric too.  While gorgeous, I don't think it would hold up well in one's makeup bag.

Armani fall 2016 runway palette

Armani fall 2016 runway palette

Armani fall 2016 runway palette

Armani fall 2016 runway palette

The top tier is a highlighting powder.

Armani fall 2016 runway palette

Underneath are the eye shadows.

Armani fall 2016 runway palette

The pattern came straight from the floral print on the runway pieces. 

Armani fall 2016

Armani fall 2016 bags

Armani fall 2016 bags

The pattern on my palette can be seen on the left lapel and right sleeve of this jacket.

Armani fall 2016 jacket(images from vogue.com)

And because I'm obsessed with finding the exact pattern, I cropped and rotated the lapel so you can see precisely where it is.

Armani fall 2016 palette and pattern

As you can see from the stock photo below, the pattern on the palette I received is markedly different.

Armani fall 2016 runway palette(image from giorgioarmanibeauty-usa.com)

And I noticed the palette that Karen at Makeup and Beauty Blog reviewed also has a different pattern.  I wonder if there are just 3 versions or if every single one has a unique swath of fabric.  In any case, these variations are what compelled me to buy it.  Not only was the print the same on each palette from the last two seasons, I couldn't really even match it exactly to the prints from the runway.  They looked like watered down interpretations of the designs, not actual reproductions.  Fortunately (and unfortunately for my wallet, as this was a pricey one) Armani's fall 2016 offering was way more interesting from a collectible standpoint.  :)

What do you think?  Have you seen these palettes in person or do you plan on purchasing?  I'm so curious to know if they're all different!

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MAC Liptensity: Groundbreaking or gimmick?

MAC Liptensity lipsticks

As soon as I saw the word "tetrachromat" in the various descriptions of MAC's  Liptensity lipsticks, I knew I'd have to investigate.  MAC's new range was created in partnership with a tetrachromat, someone with the very unique genetic ability to see up to 100 million different colors (us boring old trichromats can only see 1 million, boo).  Working with a tetrachromat allowed the company to produce "the most technologically advanced lip product to date" using "high-frequency tetrachromatic pigments technology" or at least, that's what MAC's telling us.  The bigwigs weigh in:  “It’s a tech story; it’s not a fun, frivolous collection were doing,” James Gager, senior vice president and group creative director of M.A.C., said. “It is super, super saturated, undeniable color load in this lipstick.” Adds Jennifer Balbier, senior vice president, global product development at MAC Cosmetics, “Liptensity contains pre-saturated pigment combined with a clear base — unlike most lipstick bases that are more opaque or 'muddier' — to give a 'true' color. When people say that the ‘color stays true,’ it’s not always true because it acts with your own chemistry.”  Sounds impressive, but is it for real?  Let's look into this a little further to see whether the world's first makeup based on tetrachromacy is really all that superior to what's currently out there or if it's just the emperor's new clothes.

First though, what causes tetrachromacy and how exactly does it work?  According to this article, a tetrachromat has 4 different types of cone cells, i.e., the receptor cells that recognize color. The 3 usual cones that most humans have are attuned to wavelengths of red, green and blue (almost like a TV), while the special 4th cone detects yellow.  Not only that, scientists have discovered that to be a true tetrachromat, one not only requires the extra 4th cone, but their brains must also be able to distinguish it from the other cones.  In other words, some people have 4 types of cones but since their brains are wired like trichromats, it doesn't register any additional colors.  It's possible that by retraining the neural pathways to detect more colors, people with 4 cones may eventually achieve true tetrachromacy.  As vision scientist Jay Nietz told Discover Magazine, 'Most of the things that we see as colored are manufactured by people who are trying to make colors that work for trichromats...It could be that our whole world is tuned to the world of the trichromat.'  Furthermore, "[Nietz] also suspects the natural world may not have enough variation in color for the brain to learn to use a fourth cone. Tetrachromats might never need to draw on their full capacity. They may be trapped in a world tailored to creatures with lesser powers. Perhaps if these women regularly visited a lab where they had to learn—really learn—to tell extremely subtle shades apart, they would awaken in themselves the latent abilities of their fourth cone. Then they could begin to see things they had never tried to see before, a kaleidoscope of colors beyond our imagining."  Anyway, in addition to genetic testing,  in 2012 a reliable color test was developed to determine if someone was a true tetrachromat.

Another incredibly interesting tidbit:  to date, only people with 2 X chromosomes have been found to have this unique genetic trait.  As Popular Science  explains:  "For years, researchers weren’t sure tetrachromacy existed. If it did, they stipulated, it could only be found in people with two X chromosomes. This is because of the genes behind color vision. People who have regular color vision have three cones, tuned to the wavelengths of red, green, and blue. These are connected to the X chromosome— most men have only one, but most women have two. Mutations in the X chromosome cause a person to perceive more or less color, which is why men more commonly have congenital colorblindness than women (if their one X chromosome has a mutation). But the theory stood that if a person received two mutated X chromosomes, she could have four cones instead of the usual three." 

Now that we've got the medical explanation for tetrachromatic ability, let's think about what this means in terms of perception.  How do they see colors as compared to us boring old trichromats?  As expected, it's exceedingly difficult for a tetrachromat to explain what they see.  Fortunately, tetrachromats who have artistic ability in addition to their super human vision can help us understand it a little.  Take, for example, Concetta Amico (already smitten with her since she has the same first name as my mom!) whose paintings reflect a range of color nuances.  In this interview (which you should really read in its entirety - SO fascinating), she explains it this way: "I see colors in other colors. For example, I’m looking at some light right now that’s peeking through the door in my house. Other people might just see white light, but I see orange and yellow and pink and green and some magenta and a little bit of blue. So white is not white; white is all varieties of white. You know when you look at a pantone and you see all the whites separated out? It’s like that for me, but they are more intense. I see all those whites in white but I resolve all these colors in the white, so it’s almost like a mosaic. They are all next to each other but connected. As I look at it, I can differentiate different colors. I could never say that’s just a white door, instead I see blue, white, yellow-blue, gray."  Another intriguing snippet is her view on makeup: "I’ve leaned toward makeup as a way of leveling out all that color in my skin that other people wouldn’t worry about. I feel like I have to put concealer and powder on my face because every vein and blemish is so visible. I guess the fact that I see more color in skin is why I’ve never liked going out without makeup on. People ask why I always wear makeup.  They say I look good without it, but I can see in all the veins the red and the blue. I see too much."

This seems like a radically different approach to makeup and color than that of the MAC collection, so it could explain why the company chose to partner with another tetrachromat, Maureen Seaberg.  In 2013, Seaberg recognized the similarities between her experience and another tetrachromat who was being interviewed on Radiolab.  Via a DNA test doctors were able to confirm that she is a tetrachromat.*  No stranger to makeup (she'd mix colors herself if she couldn't find the perfect shade), Seaberg pitched a collaboration to MAC.  "The company I most admired for its diversity, philanthropy and having the most expertise with color was M.A.C. I composed an email to legendary creative director James Gager, who has said that all of his collaborators 'are like strange aunts and uncles coming home.' I hoped I was strange enough."

What did Seaberg actually bring to the table, though?  As some bloggers worried, a tetrachromat's shades might have nuances that would be completely lost on the rest of us.  No worries though, for Seaberg wasn't trying to make trichromats struggle to see something only she can.  "I see colors that other people cannot, but I was not trying to skew the products in invisible directions," she tells Buro 24/7.  She explains further, "It wouldn’t serve the consumer if I were sitting there playing with color in a way that would skew it in a way that people couldn’t really discern or enjoy it. So, we used my eyesight instead to spot these undertones and overtones and send them back to the canvas to say that a Bordeaux had too much orange... or if a pink had too much yellow in it and needed to cool off, we might remove the yellow and add blue to the mix… I was more trying to center the colors and make them as true to themselves as I possibly could."  For Seaberg, collaborating with MAC wasn't about creating colors that only made sense to her; in fact, she was doing a huge service for making them as pure and true as possible, and in doing so, made them work for a wider number of people.  She tells The Cut, "I had 24 shades that I started with. It was my job to tweak them and make them the most beautiful. I used my vision to look very closely at them and see if there were undertones or overtones that could be cleared up. We wanted to make them as pure and clear as possible...I had a feeling that if we could take out the things not true to the color we were going for, it would be more beautiful on more faces. They would behave more like neutrals. Doe in M.A.C Liptensity was used in every model on the Balmain autumn/winter 2016 runway, on models of every skin tone. It worked on every one. Whereas if there were orange tones, for example, it wouldn’t look right on some girls."  While the average person might not be able to appreciate how true the colors are since they're not a tetrachromat, it's really cool to know that someone with super human ability to detect color was behind them.

My photos don't really reflect the pigmentation and purity of the colors, but so far so good:  I'm wearing Dionysus today (the aptly named wine/plum color) and it looks exactly the same on my lips as it does in the tube, and has stayed the same color all day without fading.  I have yet to try Blue Beat and Stallion but when I swatched them at the store I was impressed.

MAC Liptensity lipsticks

MAC Liptensity lipsticks

MAC Liptensity lipsticks

However, I'm not totally convinced by the hype.  Yes, these lipsticks are highly pigmented with a great texture (not heavy, with a satin finish that's neither matte nor glossy), but I do wonder whether I'd be able to tell them apart from other lipsticks - I'm not sure if consulting with a tetrachromat was truly necessary to create these shades, beautiful though they are.  Then again, I lack that pesky 4th cone so maybe I'm really just not seeing it.  I also want to know more about the particular technology that aided in the development of the formula - is there really a such thing as "high-frequency tetrachromatic pigment technology" and if so, how exactly does it work?  I couldn't find any information about patenting, and MAC didn't give many details besides divulging that the pigment was mixed into a clear base.  All this aside, Liptensity has opened my eyes to a color phenomenon I had no idea about previously, and a rather intriguing one at that.  And it was genius of MAC to harness the power of a tetrachromat to come up with these colors, even if it does turn out to be just marketing; the idea of a color Superwoman creating makeup is simply irresistible to me.  I'm curious to see if MAC will expand the "high-frequency pigment technology" to other products, like eye shadow, nail polish, etc.  Or if a company will work with a tetrachromat to program some sort of machine that could automatically calibrate 100% color-accurate pigments.  The implications for cosmetics are positively huge.

As for me, well, I'm pretty sad I'm not a tetrachromat given my love of color and comparing shades - I would be beyond delighted to enjoy that many more unique hues - but makeup can help refine my color detecting skills even if it's not anywhere near the level of a tetrachromat.  As Seaberg points out, "One of the leading researchers in this field says that one of the necessary components in 'functional' tetrachromacy is a lifelong exposure to color. Conceivably, paying close attention to your lipstick shades could train you as a super-seer! I urge everyone to do just that. As someone once said — color is a mystery we all swim in, yet it is so ubiquitous it becomes invisible. Don't let color be invisible to you. Stop. Look. Enjoy."  I know I will!

What do you think?  Is this just all a bunch of hullabaloo or do you think there's something genuinely groundbreaking here?

*The only accurate test for tetrachromacy is DNA, combined with other color tests administered by professionals - those online ones are complete crap.  Also, I was really struck by how Seaberg's perception of color is nearly identical to Amico's.  Both prefer colors found in nature, and yellow can be quite the visual onslaught. "The grocery store and the mall are a color assault, there’s too much of everything and too much that is not naturally beautiful. Too many harsh colors and candy-colored marketing style 'plastics' for my liking. I find red and yellow too much. Yellow stresses me out," says Amico, while Seaberg states, "I do notice a difference in the number of colors in the natural world versus those in manufactured, human-made things....yellow is overstimulating — it’s a little too much for my eyes. Like, an NYC taxicab is too much. It’s almost like when you look at bright sunlight for a little bit and you recoil."  Additionally, both agreed with scientists' claim that one must be immersed in color for most of their lives to be a true tetrochromat.  Seaberg notes that "the perfect storm for tetrachromacy is having it in your genetics and a lifelong exposure to color," and Amico states, "The reason they say I am a functioning tetrachromat is because I’m a practicing artist. If I hadn’t been immersed in art and if I hadn’t been an art teacher for the last 30 years I wouldn’t necessarily have the level of color definition that they are finding. So while I have this genetic gift of a fourth receptor in my eyes the fact that I apply it on a daily basis improves my color recognition. Think of someone who has superior muscles but never learned to run. You can have the potential but it’s only realized if you use it." 

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Curator's Corner, 10/2/2016

CC logo Your bi-weekly link roundup.

- Geode lips and a very authentic PSL manicure were the latest crazy trends dreamed up by beauty addicts.

- On the tech front, Smashbox has 3-D printed lipstick, while lip powder is poised to become the latest K-beauty craze taking the Western world by storm.  (Also, stay tuned for a post on MAC's Liptensity range.)

- The original rainbow highlighter is long gone, but as I predicted, the big companies stepped in with their own versions.  As these have reached cult status I'm debating whether to try to obtain them for the Museum if they ever come back in stock...and I'm sort of kicking myself for not buying the original.  The good news though is that I can still buy these Halloween-themed highlighters - too cute!

- Has the death knell for the Clarisonic arrived?  I hope not because I still love mine.

The random:

- OMG OMG OMG! Okay, it's just one song but I'm still so freakin' excited!!

- In '90s nostalgia, Nirvana's Nevermind turned 25 (!).  Less momentous was the 20-year anniversary of Weezer's Pinkerton.

- This guy's collection of hamburger memorabilia makes me wonder who has the largest makeup collection on the planet.  I'm almost at 900 items so maybe someday I'll be in the Guinness Book of World Records. :)

- Deeply, deeply, deeply sad these blankets are sold out.  I liked the color selection more than that of the ones I found last year.

- As with the aforementioned pumpkin spice nails, these fries are making me question whether the pumpkin spice craze has gone too far. 

How are you doing?  Excited for fall?  I sort of am but still mourning the loss of summer, as I do every year.


3,2, 1...Blast-off! Staff picks with Space Babo and Dr. McCoy (a.k.a. Dr. McCookie)

MAC's Star Trek collection may be old news by now, but I know certain Museum staff members are still quite enamored by it.  The collection also got me thinking about other space-inspired beauty products, which staff members promptly decided to "explore" themselves.  And by that I mean they made a mess.

Space Babo and Dr. McCoy

Space Babo and Dr. McCoy

In addition to the 2014 Clé de Peau holiday palette, Guerlain Météorites, and Anastasia Beverly Hills Moonchild palette, here are some close-up shots of the other galactic goodies they got themselves into.

They insisted on me buying a bunch of the MAC Star Trek collection for the Museum.  Look at those faces...I couldn't say no!

MAC Star Trek collection

MAC Star Trek - Set to Stun, Khaaannn! and Warp Speed Ahead lipglass

MAC Strange New Worlds

MAC Star Trek - Midnight Eyeshadow

MAC Star Trek lipsticks

MAC Star Trek - Skin of Evil and Enterprise nail polishes

They were also fascinated by these NYX Cosmic Metal Lip Creams.

NYX Cosmic Metals - Electromagnetic, Comet's Tail, Celestial Star, Dark Nebula, Galactic

NYX Cosmic Metals - Electromagnetic, Comet's Tail, Celestial Star, Dark Nebula, Galactic

What other out-0f-this-world beauty products do these scamps recommend?  Let's take a look.

Space-inspired makeup

  1.  BH Cosmetics Galaxy Chic palette
  2.  Dior Fusion Mono Eyeshadow in Meteore
  3.  Chantecaille Galactic Lip Shine in Polaris
  4.  Urban Decay Moondust Palette (see also their Moondust powder and cream eye shadows)
  5.  Anna Sui Lipstick V
  6.  Kat Von D Innerstellar Palette
  7.  Bobbi Brown Long Wear Cream Eyeshadow in Galaxy
  8.  Melt lipstick in Space Cake (love this shade!)
  9.  Givenchy Le Prisme Superstellar Eye Shadow Palette

Don't forget hair, skin and bath and body products.  :)

Space-inspired beauty

  1. Mugler Alien Divine fragrance
  2. 111 Skin Celestial Black Diamond Cream (I'm not actually recommending an $1,100 face cream, but the Babsters wanted to include it since they thought it was so fancy.)
  3. R & Co Outer Space hairspray
  4. Andrea Garland Rocket Girl lip balm
  5. GlamGlow Gravity Mud Firming Treatment
  6. Sunday Riley Martian Toner (see also U.F.O. Face Oil and Luna Sleeping Night Oil)
  7. Lush Intergalactic Bath Bomb (see also Aliens and Monsters soap)

All of these products are to say nothing of the tons of space-inspired items that have gone before.  Off the top of my head I remember the Cover Girl Star Wars collection, Too-Faced The Future Lovers palette and Galaxy Baked Eyeshadows, Chanel Cosmic and Ciel de Nuit nail polishes and of course Essie Starry Starry Night.  There are also the always-popular galaxy manicures and makeup, plus the Museum's own celestial-themed holiday 2014 exhibition. But I figured photos of these would be overkill, plus Museum staff was very keen on sharing more vintage pieces.  Space Babo and Dr. McCoy dug up a couple of really cool ads.

Max Factor ad - 1950(image from library.duke.edu)

Tussy ad, 1969
(image from sayhellospaceman.blogspot.com)

Finally, I knew Kigu had a flying saucer compact (and something I'd love to splurge on eventually - they go for quite a bit of money) but my little space cadets found that the company actually put out an entire line of these U.F.O.-shaped compacts between 1951 and 1961.  They were originally only available in plain gold tone, but in 1956 Kigu began offering them with a beautiful blue starry background.

Kigu flying saucer compact

Kigu flying saucer compact

Kigu flying saucer compact

This one is probably the most sought after - it's also a music box and debuted in 1957. 

Kigu flying saucer compact

This bejeweled one came out in 1958.

Kigu flying saucer compact(images from vintage-compacts.com and vintagemodes.blogspot.com)

So what do you think?  What out of this world beauty products are your favorites?  Space Babo and Dr. McCookie are all ears, as am I.  :)