Press play: Jeremy Scott for MAC

I was supposed to write a post rounding up all the delectable Chinese New Year goodies, but not all of the ones I ordered arrived.  I didn't want to write it without having everything in hand so instead, I thought I'd celebrate the packaging design mastery that is the MAC Jeremy Scott collection.  You might remember Scott's teddy bear-themed Moschino/Sephora collab from last year, but the MAC collection is under the designer's own name, and dare I say, even more amazing design-wise than the "beary" cute goodness served up by the Sephora collection.  This is especially true for those of us who grew up with mix tapes and CDs - as a child of the '80s and a teen/young adult in the '90s, the nostalgia is quite strong with this collection.

Scott wanted it to look like "something you'd buy at Best Buy" and that's exactly what it resembles.  Every last detail on each of the three pieces (CD, cassette tape and boom box) make them look like the real deal.  As a matter of fact, I left them sitting on the kitchen counter for a couple days before taking photos and every time I walked by they threw me for a loop.  I couldn't remember whether I was supposed to be making a mix tape or CD for someone, or thought maybe the husband is making one for me, as he did early on in our courtship.  It was sort of like being in a time warp.

MAC Jeremy Scott

The collection is obviously inspired by music and the fact that Scott remains one of the top designers for the world's leading pop stars.  It also reflects his perspective on the similarities between music and makeup .  He explains to British Vogue:  "Music plays a huge part in getting me into the mood, whether that be music from certain time period, or something aggressive or something that sounds ethereal – it envelops me and gets my mind in a certain frame for creating. Often when I’m designing clothes for my girls like Katy Perry, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, either for a tour or for a red carpet event, I will play their songs and channel their spirit. Or when I miss them, I play their music and they’re with me, they’re chatting in their room. Music carries the essence of somebody. That’s why we fall in love so hard with musicians, they’re connecting with our hearts on such a visceral level...I’m fascinated by music and how you can change the mood of a whole room just by changing the song. Music fills the air and wraps itself around you. To me, that’s a similar quality to what make-up can do – both have such a transformative quality. You can wear a plain white T-shirt and scruffy jeans, but put on a bold lip and there’s a whole different feeling. Make-up can overpower the apparel. I wanted this collection imagery to show different inspiring moments in music, including a boom box, cassette players and CDs, and really play on the frivolity of a night out as well as make-up and music’s transformative power."

MAC Jeremy Scott

MAC Jeremy Scott

MAC Jeremy Scott

MAC originally approached Scott two years ago for a collaboration, since they've been doing the makeup for his runway shows for years.  The reason it took so long for it to come to fruition was in fact the design aspect.  I can absolutely believe it would take years to create makeup packaging that 100% mimics the technology we used back in the day to listen to music.  Scott notes the importance of the packaging to him and his hopes that one would display it. "Any time you have special molds for compacts and cases, that takes a super long time. I wanted the compacts to be a living thing — maybe after you’ve used all of the makeup, you still want to keep it because it’s an object. I think it can be repurposed and sit on your shelf."

MAC Jeremy Scott

MAC Jeremy Scott

MAC Jeremy Scott

The coup de grace in the collection (and the most divisive among makeup enthusiasts, as we'll see shortly) is the boom box eye shadow palette containing 29 shades.  It's simply filled with breath-taking details, from the box to the outer case to the interior of the palette.  I'm wondering whether MAC did all of these in-house or worked with an outside design firm.  Either way, the collection is beyond creative and unique, and I hope whoever came up with the designs gets an award.

MAC Jeremy Scott

MAC Jeremy Scott

MAC Jeremy Scott

MAC Jeremy Scott

MAC Jeremy Scott

MAC Jeremy Scott

MAC Jeremy Scott

While many shared my favorable opinion of this collection, there was a handful of detractors who outright abhorred the eye shadow palette.   Some commenters claimed that the overall gigantic size of the palette made it clunky and inelegant, but it was the inside that seemed to make people the most hostile. Many took issue with the "waste of space" necessary to achieve the equalizer effect.  Here are a few rather harsh comments

  • "That wasted space is making me sick."
  • "All I can think about is the other eyeshadows that could of been in that palette..."
  • "What a complete over production of excess packaging. Poor Earth."
  • "It looks like they forgot to add the rest of the shadows in the palette. I mean I get the concept but it shouldn't be for makeup...don't these companies realize consumers don't care about that stuff we care about cost effectiveness and getting as much as you can for your money when you're purchasing these products."
  • "Why are we being sold half empty products? The packaging is a joke."
  • My OCD is kicking in full force."
  • "What incredibly wasteful packaging. Plastic destroys our environment people. At least HALF of the packaging on a couple of these products could have been done without. It’s a shame how complacent people are about environmental destruction... and all for what? Eyeshadow."

MAC Jeremy Scott

The collection also seemed to dredge up the age-old discussion of buying makeup just for the packaging.  I'm cringing from this Reddit post: "So the New eyeshadow palette is half empty because of the equalizer design/Sound waves. And I saw someone on IG saying that she bought it, was never going to use it, But just had to buy it because of the packaging. This palette costs 75$! I hear so many on youtube talking about packaging and how they are gonna buy something just because it looks cute/beautiful/whatever, and I don't understand how that can be enough of a reasoning. Makeup is (in my eyes) not decor But something to be used. So my question is, can anyone explain Why packaging is enough of a reason to buy something, What you do with the makeup that you don't use But is pretty or just give your overall thoughts on gimmicky packaging and limited edition “collectors items”? :) I'm sorry if I Sound super judgy, I just dont get Why you would buy something only for the packaging, name, brand or theme if you know you don't like the colours or wont/cant use it."

It seems my decade-long attempt to get people to understand that collecting makeup with interesting/beautiful packaging is just fine, and even worthwhile from a historical perspective, has gone unnoticed.  It's disheartening to say the least, as many respondents chimed in with how they appreciate nice packaging but would never buy makeup just for the packaging alone and not use it; apparently it's "mindlessly consumerist" and "dumb".  One of the positive things in that Reddit post is that the OP noted that she sees "so many" on YouTube purchasing makeup just because it's pretty, without any intent of using it.  So maybe more people are getting into the notion that appreciating makeup as an art object in and of itself is an acceptable pursuit.  Still, I'm tired of people being judgmental about collecting makeup.  (I'm also sick of these same people claiming not be judgmental by adding drivel such as "to each their own" or "whatever, it's not my money" to their disparaging comment, as if that makes their statement non-judgmental.  Please.  It's like someone texting "fuck you" with a smiley face emoji - doesn't make it any less obnoxious).  I mean, no one's forcing them to buy things just for the packaging, so what do they care if other people do?  There's no harm in companies making whimsical packaging or in people buying it.  I don't want to continue rehashing my stance on makeup collectibles and why they are museum-worthy, but you can read it here.  In the case of the Jeremy Scott collection and the issue of waste, it's annoying to see people complain about what they perceive to be excessive packaging.  I guess if you only look at makeup solely as a utilitarian item, you're narrow minded and have no imagination that's fine, but I don't think it's right to be holier-than-thou and pontificate about the environmental impact of certain items when they were designed to be collector's pieces.  I wonder whether these people complain as much about this for other objects or only makeup.  I'm also betting that the vast majority of people who bought the collection aren't necessarily going to throw the items in a landfill when they're done using them - as Scott suggested, they are more than likely to keep them as display pieces.  Finally, I think in the case of this particular palette, it's actually a decent value - at $75 for 29 colors, it comes out to about $2.60 per shadow.  (Alas, the quality was dismal, but that's not what I'm focusing on, obviously).

The other packaging-related thought I have rattling about in my head that is that the collection still has not sold out.  On the release date (February 8), I woke myself up around every half hour starting at midnight so that I could have a chance of nabbing the collection before it sold out, which I was sure it would do in seconds.  Instead, over 2 weeks later all three pieces are still widely available at various retailers.  I'm wondering whether it has something to do with the packaging - not because wasted space issue, but because it's not appealing to a younger crowd.  You would think the bright colors would be a natural draw for a youthful demographic, but CDs, tapes and boom boxes probably don't have the same nostalgic impact on, I'd say, anyone under 25, so the packaging might have missed the mark with a good portion of MAC's target audience.  I'm having this vision of a group of teens/early 20-somethings walking by the MAC counter and being genuinely confused as to what they're looking at ("What's THAT supposed to be?"), since they were raised in the digital age where music largely doesn't exist in these sorts of physical formats anymore.  Indeed, I'm not the only one who thinks this might be the reason behind the non-sellout status of the collection.  I also think one commenter's musing that the collection might have been more palatable to the youth if it had included a record-shaped compact is hilarious - maybe those teenage hipsters who listen to records would have bought it.

  • "Love it!! Only people who grew up with this stuff will get it."
  • "i need this!!! as an 80s 90s lover i must have this"
  • "i was born 79..i'm so happy all you guys don't want it..that means it will be around for 2 weeks. i thought it would sell out..but i forgot a lot of these people are so young the probably never had a real boom box. Maybe if the palette was a record the kids would be more interested in it."
  • "Such beautiful collectors items. Millennials born in the 80's can appreciate this I think. The new generation Z peeps... Not so much."
  • "The packaging is everything and calling me. #90sgirl"

Final thoughts:  it might be the nostalgia talking, but obviously I think the collection was worth every penny due to the incredible packaging.  The design is also a perfect reflection of Jeremy Scott since it's just as fun and over-the-top as he is.  Even without his name on every piece you could most likely tell it was his collection.  While I'm dismayed at how some people criticized the packaging of the eye shadow palette with no legitimate reason, I'm heartened by my fellow xennials who recognized and appreciated just how faithfully every detail of the music technology we grew up with was replicated.  The only thing I would have done differently is add a Walkman palette to the mix - I was positively glued to mine in the '90s and still miss it to this day.

What do you think? 

It's 5 o'clock somewhere: boozy makeup packaging

I remember thinking how cute and novel these wine bottle-shaped lipsticks were when they were making a sensation back in the fall.  (I do have one on the way but the package somehow keeps getting delayed so here's a stock photo for now.)  I'm not a wine person - gives me a horrible headache - but I do appreciate adorable makeup packaging so this gets a thumbs-up from me.  I mean on the one hand I'm not fond of wine once again being associated with a clichéd feminine stereotype (all ladies love wine, shopping, chocolate and shoes, amirite?), but on the other hand, this lipstick is just too cute.

Chateau Labiotte wine lipstick
(image from

Turns out, this isn't the first time lipstick has been designed to resemble booze.  I was positively tickled when, during one of my customary Friday night vintage makeup searches on Etsy (I lead a very exciting life, I know), I came across this miniature lipstick cleverly packaged as a whiskey bottle.

Carstairs miniature whiskey bottle lipstick

Carstairs miniature whiskey bottle lipstick

Carstairs miniature whiskey bottle lipstick

It really is mini!

Carstairs miniature whiskey bottle lipstick

I'd never heard of Carstairs before, but apparently from roughly the '40s through the '60s they did a good amount of advertising for their White Seal whiskey, which is still sold today.  In addition to the lipsticks, they offered mini screwdrivers and toothpicks, along with seal clock figurines and the usual print advertising.  According to one (no longer active) ebay listing, the lipstick bottles started being produced around 1944 and other listings say they're from the '50s, so I guess they were used as promotional items for a few decades.  Here's a photo of one in Madeleine Marsh's excellent book, which also dates it to the '50s. 

Carstairs miniature whiskey bottle lipstick in Compacts and Cosmetics by Madeleine Marsh

I'm guessing that for the most part, the lipsticks were provided to bars and liquor stores and given away as a small gift-with-purchase, as there are quite a few full boxes of them floating around. I would have bought this one in a heartbeat because how cute would it have been to display it alongside a whole Chateau Labiotte set?

Vintage Carstairs whiskey lipstick set

Chateau Labiotte set(images from and

But the individual lipsticks are obviously a lot cheaper and I have many things I want to purchase for the summer exhibition, so I had to pass for now. ;)  As for the lipstick itself, a company called Christy Cosmetics, Inc. was responsible for producing it.  I couldn't find much information about it online, other than it was a New York-based company and was also the manufacturer of a line called Diana Deering (who was an entirely fictional character, or, as the patent puts it, "fanciful".)

Christy Cosmetics ad, 1944(image from

Diana Deering ad, 1944

Diana Deering/Christy Cosmetics patent(image from

I'm sure there's information about Christy out there somewhere, but as usual I lack the time and other resources to do proper research, i.e., looking beyond Google.  If anyone knows anything about their relationship with Carstairs and how they were chosen to produce their promo items I'd love to hear it.

Uh-oh, we have a situation here.  Once again a certain little Sailor is up to no good.  "It's just my size!" 

Bottoms up!

I better go get this wrapped up and into storage before he smears it all over his face in attempt to "drink" the non-existent whiskey.  In any case, Happy St. Patrick's Day and I hope these lipsticks have inspired you to let your hair down and enjoy some adult beverages tonight!

Quick post: Celebrating (sort of) National Lipstick Day with Urban Decay

In honor of National Lipstick Day I thought I'd take a quick peek at how Urban Decay's lipstick tubes have essentially come full circle with their new Vice collection.  When the brand launched in 1996, the gritty, decidedly un-pretty feel of both the packaging and color names were fairly groundbreaking.  The design of the Vice lipsticks, which debuted earlier this summer, is a nod to the shotgun shell-shaped cases in which the lipsticks were originally housed. For your viewing pleasure I took some comparison photos (and skipped directly over the now-discontinued Revolution lipsticks.)

I kind of wish they kept the brown cardboard boxes and punk-inspired font.

Urban Decay lipsticks, '90s vs. 2016

The Vice packaging is definitely more sleek and modern, plus the company's name is engraved on the case, which makes it a little more luxurious than the somewhat plain-looking former case.  The only drawback to having a shiny metal case vs. a brushed metal finish is that the former gets very fingerprint-y very quickly.

Urban Decay lipsticks, '90s vs. 2016

Urban Decay lipsticks, '90s vs. 2016

Urban Decay lipsticks, '90s vs. 2016

Urban Decay lipsticks, '90s vs. 2016

Urban Decay lipsticks, '90s vs. 2016

Nostalgia is a powerful thing.  I remember thinking how edgy the whole Urban Decay line was and how badass the shotgun shell packaging looked - whipping one of these out made me feel like a rebel and even a little dangerous, which I enjoyed.  In hindsight, however, I think this design should be left firmly in the '90s.  I don't want to write a whole big long whiny essay because, you know, it's a special day for us makeup junkies, plus it's Friday and I wanted to keep this post light, but I must point out that I'm not sure Urban Decay should have referenced their original packaging at all, as much as I liked it back then.  Given all the gun violence we have now (and it was a problem in the '90s too, to be sure, but I was young and dumb and not as "woke" as I am now) any beauty product that evokes mass shootings shouldn't exist.  I understand you can't avoid it completely - we commonly refer to lipstick shapes themselves as bullets - but no matter how cool Urban Decay's packaging seemed in 1996 and its importance in cosmetics history, I just don't think it's appropriate now.*  I'm not the only one who shares this sentiment either.  Says Tynan Sinks at XO Jane, "In 2016, perhaps we could model our lipstick packaging after anything but bullets," while the author of A Life With Frills remarks, "I don't agree with the fact that Urban Decay are marketing these lipsticks as looking like shotgun shells. I understand that Urban Decay are a brand that like to push boundaries (and I love them for that) but given the way guns are used in the world now and the impact they have, it's not appropriate to trivialise them like this."  I think Jane at British Beauty Blogger says it the best:  "I get it that the roots of Urban Decay are all about the badass and the edgy and going against the grain – who needs make up to look pretty? It should speak to our rebellious side or our sexy side – but not, er, our inner killer."  I fully appreciate that Urban Decay wants us to remember that they were among the first companies to run completely contrary to many outdated notions of what's attractive and why we wear makeup, but I think in this instance they should have gone in a different direction.  Having said all this, I won't stop buying the Vice lipsticks anytime soon (I own 3 and have my eye on several more) but I felt the need to at least mention my issue with the packaging.  So, um, happy National Lipstick Day, I guess.  Leave it up to me to put a bit of a damper on it.  :P  At the very least, the tubes make an interesting case study in how the brand has evolved in the past 20 years. 

What do you think?  And did you own the original Urban Decay lipsticks?


*I'm particularly aghast that these lipsticks actually exist and are for sale.

When I paint my masterpiece: a makeup mirror for the true artist

I spotted this makeup mirror on one of the 204 design blogs I follow in Feedly and was instantly smitten.  It's a very simple design but rather genius. 

Makeup mirror table by Victor Pucsek

Created by Hungarian designer Viktor Pucsek, this modern vanity consists of a rectangular mirror upon a tripod easel.  There's a thin glass shelf at the bottom of the mirror for beauty items.   More details:  "The supporting structure is made from slim rods finished in solid ash that are hinged to the mirror top without any seams. The backing of the mirror is made of a laser cut copper sheet.  For storage there is a shelf provided made from beautifully crafted tampered glass, and for the perfect lighting there is a lamp that can be easily clipped and adjusted to everyone's needs."

Makeup mirror table by Victor Pucsek

Makeup mirror table by Victor Pucsek(images from

The idea of makeup as art has a long history - which I won't go into now because it would be an entire book - but I view this table as a modern continuation of the theme.  Just for fun I rounded up some ads and items that portray the application of makeup as traditional painting.

Dorin of Paris ad, 1922(image from

Dorin of Paris ad, 1922(image from

I swear the word "niggardly" is not a racial slur! 

Bourjois Java face powder ad, 1922
(image from

(image from

Volupté released some palette-shaped compacts starting in 1940 (at least, that's when this ad is from - too bad I couldn't find a larger pic so we could see the text.)

Volupté palette compact ad, 1940
(image from

Volupté palette compact

Volupté black palette compact(image from

Don't you love these Avon palettes?  They were used as salesperson demos.  I wish stores today had testers in cute packaging like this!

Vintage Avon face powder tester, mid-1940s(image from

Vintage Avon face powder tester, ca. 1950s(image from

Here's a sketch for an ad by famed fashion illustrator René Gruau for skincare and makeup brand Payot, ca. 1951:

René Gruau, Payot
(image from

I wonder if this 1980 Dior ad (and this crazy palette hat from the fall/winter 2007 couture collection) took its cue from that illustration, even though it wasn't created for Dior. 

(image from

More recent examples include Chanel's Les Gouaches set and Stila's Masterpiece palettes from 2013.  I can't remember exactly when the Gouaches set came out (I want to say 2002) but I do know that 1. I bought it hook, line and sinker specifically because the pigments looked like real paint tubes and I could pretend I was an artist while doing my makeup, and 2.  I REALLY regret getting rid of it.  Back then I wasn't collecting and swapped it on Makeupalley because I never used it.  Little did I know I should have held on!

Chanel Les Gouaches set, ca. 2002(image from

Stila Masterpiece series palettes, 2013

Stila artistry collection promo, 2013(images from

As you can see, the general concept of makeup as art, along with the depiction of makeup as paint applied from an artist's palette are not new.   However, I feel as though the idea came full circle with Pucsek's mirror design.  We had one part of the equation (makeup colors literally shown as a painter's palette) but needed an expression of the counterpart, which is the face-as-canvas idea.  In the case of this design, the mirror stands in for the canvas through directly reflecting it (i.e., one's face).  The description of the mirror bolsters this argument:  "Figuratively a canvas which we can paint(ed) on to show the person we would like to be, identify ourselves with and the eyes we would like to see the world through."

In terms of practicality, I can't say I'd have any use for this as my foundations alone take up way more space than that shelf could accommodate, but if you have a small stash and want to feel like a true artist every day, this is a beautifully minimal way to apply and store your makeup.  It also seems like a very rudimentary setup, so I bet it's possible to go the DIY route...but I don't think would look nearly as elegant.  It may be a moot point anyway, as I'm not sure it's actually for sale.

What do you think?  Do you pretend you're a real painter when applying your makeup, or at least, find the idea appealing?  I definitely do...I can't paint or do anything remotely artistic, really, so makeup gives me a chance to explore and be somewhat creative.  I especially love playing with all my various brushes and seeing how they perform with different products and textures.


Friday fun: Sophia Webster for Maquillage

I spotted this crazy makeup set over at Musings of a Muse and immediately burst out laughing!  I don't know why but I found the notion of a palette and lipstick tucked away in a high-heeled shoe to be rather hilarious. 


I can't believe the mirrored heel detaches to reveal a lipstick inside.  That's pretty next level since it makes for a unique heel but also a great lipstick case.

Sophia Webster x Maquillage
(images from

There is actually a story behind this bizarre creation.  British shoe designer Sophia Webster collaborated with Maquillage to celebrate the brand's 10th anniversary for their holiday collection.  You might know Webster from her playful (and in some cases, completely impractical) shoe designs, particularly the famous Evangeline winged heels, which you get a glimpse of in the Maquillage promo.

Sophia Webster Evangeline

Sophia Webster Evangeline

I have to admit, I wouldn't mind owning these in silver.


Her designs remind me quite a bit of Charlotte Olympia's in that they're both more strange yet fun art objects rather than shoes.  I'd have significant trouble figuring out how to wear some of Webster's styles.

Sophia Webster Jade

Sophia Webster Chiara

Sophia Webster Coca Cola shoes

Except for these, from the spring/summer 2014 collection - every '90s woman NEEDS these in her shoe wardrobe, especially me since it's one of my favorite songs from the decade.  Too bad I had no idea they existed and now they're gone.

(images from and

Anyway,  I couldn't identify the shoe that the Maquillage palette is based on.  It looks sort of similar to the Amanda style, but it's not an exact match.

Sophia Webster Amanda

The slide-out palette in the toe of the Maquillage shoe looks a little childish (sort of reminds me of Polly Pockets) but the overall piece is just so weird and goofy I can't help but smile when I see it.  Plus, obviously it would make a great display item for the Museum.  Therefore I think I may have to order it shortly.  ;)

What do you think of Webster's style and the Maquillage design?

Meet Lilumia, the makeup brush washing machine

I meant to post about this back in August when it debuted, but am just catching up now.  The Lilumia makeup brush washing machine was introduced with much fanfare earlier this year as being one of the most innovative beauty devices to date, eliminating the need to hand-wash makeup brushes.  It's certainly a useful idea, especially for makeup artists whose brush-washing needs are greater than those of the average makeup consumer.  The Lilumia can wash up to 12 brushes at once in 15 minutes flat.


You do have to wipe down the "cleaning surface" after each use and empty the reservoir tray, but I imagine overall it's still faster than manual washing.  I definitely see the value of this machine, however, I must say I'm confused by the advertising.  What exactly are they selling again?


I mean, sex sells - it's a marketing tactic as old as time - but in this case it seems weird.  I'm not offended by the advertising going on here, just puzzled.  Lingerie, perfume, even makeup itself - I understand the use of "sexy" advertising for these.  But there's nothing remotely alluring about cleaning your makeup brushes, it's simply a necessary chore.  Unless teenage boys are the majority of Lilumia's target demographic, and I don't think they are, I'm betting the sexy strategy will prove to be fairly ineffective.  And the device itself...well, it resembles some kind of weird alien pod.  To my eye, it's about as seductive as a toothbrush.  So what's up with the ads?  As it turns out, Lilumia was founded by former lingerie model Fierra Cruz, so I guess she's sticking to what she knows. 

(images from

Still, if she really wants your average makeup consumer/artist to buy Lilumia, maybe she should try a marketing technique that would appeal to as many of them as possible.  People who use their makeup brushes regularly are going to be more interested in seeing whether the thing is worth their hard-earned cash than in scantily-clad models.  I'd suggest Lilumia tone down the sexy angle and play up user reviews, demonstrations, etc.  For me, seeing fellow beauty bloggers (not magazine editors) using Lilumia and giving it a positive review would make me much more likely to buy it than photos of young women in sexy underwear. 

In any case, I personally like to "baby" my brushes, and since I have so many I don't necessarily have to wash them after each use - I just use a fresh brush.  And I honestly don't mind hand-washing my brushes, as I find it somewhat relaxing.  So I have no need for this machine.  I'd also be curious to see how it stacks up next to the Brush Pearl, which received a less-than-stellar review.

Are you interested in trying Lilumia?  How about a #sexyceo t-shirt?  ;)

The latest in green beauty

Today I thought I'd bring you some very interesting green beauty innovations courtesy of one of my favorite design and architecture blogs, Dezeen.  First up is this hairdryer made out of bamboo, which was designed by Samy Rio and won top prize at the 2015 Design Parade competition.  It's sleek, minimal and looks like something you'd find in a high-end eco-friendly salon or spa.  

Bamboo hairdryer

Bamboo hairdryer

Bamboo hairdryer display
(images from

From an aesthetic perspective, the design is fantastic - it would look so pretty sitting on my vanity.  But from a practical perspective, I'm curious to know how a simple material like bamboo stacks up next to our fancy ionic hairdryers made of metal and plastic. Would my hair be as smooth as with a regular dryer?  How loud is it?  How does the drying time compare?  Bamboo is a recyclable, renewable resource and I would love to see it used more in beauty gadgets, but if it doesn't perform well, forget it.  

Next up are these false eyelashes fashioned from blades of grass and pine needles, while the glue is made from eggs and water.  Kingston University student Mary Graham designed these eyelashes to highlight the fact that while many cosmetic companies slap the "natural" label on their products, many of them contain ingredients that have been treated with artificial chemicals.  Plus, only 1% of the product actually has to be natural to be earn the label. 

Natural false eyelashes by Mary Graham

Natural false eyelashes by Mary Graham

Natural false eyelashes by Mary Graham

Natural false eyelashes by Mary Graham
(images from

While I don't think these lashes are practical for most people (especially those of us with grass allergies) and certainly not intended for everyday wear, Graham believes that they would eventually win over cosmetic aficionados.  "With the ever-growing DIY culture infiltrating cosmetics I do believe that these lashes could catch on as a trend...people are now encouraged to go into their gardens and gather plants and mud to make face masks, so why not eyelashes?" Given how time-consuming it must be to make them and the fact that one can't re-use them as they wilt within 24 hours, I'm not sure how the average person would actually construct their own false lashes from plants.  But I could definitely see them working for magazine editorials and couture shows, especially since the materials change with the seasons.  "I want to create these lashes again but in the autumn so that I could use beautiful oranges and reds.  These lashes have seasons and would appear differently depending on the time of year. Almost like fashion trends, they are always changing and never constant," Graham says.  She also hopes to expand beyond lashes to form a full-fledged, all-natural beauty line that would feature lipsticks made from beetroot and mixtures of sand and chalk for a fake tanning solution. 

Would you try out either of these new beauty innovations?  I'd definitely try out the hair dryer but I'm iffy on the eyelashes.  Not because I don't love how they look, but my eyes are super sensitive and might react poorly to the materials, natural though they may be.

For the modern DIY beauty devotee: The Alchemist's Dressing Table

I came across this concept for a DIY cosmetics setup via The Fox Is Black a few weeks ago and I can't get it out of my head!  London-based designer Lauren Davies came up with a "collection of analog tools for the production of natural cosmetics at home, inspired by beautiful ancient rituals and the transformative powers of alchemy." 



Other Tools

Hand Tools
(images from

Here's the concept:  "The palette of copper and maple wood are chosen for their traditional and folkloric symbolism respectively. Cork is used for its insulating properties, borosilicate glass for its heat resistance and stainless steel for strength. All components are fabricated in collaboration with London-based craftsmen.  Together, the tools form a statement piece; reigniting a dialogue about our relationship with nature and the materials we use...The tools I’ve designed will enable women to forge a stronger connection to their personal beauty rituals and a more magical relationship with nature’s intricate mysteries."  I love this description.  Since I'm not too familiar with DIY beauty recipes and can barely figure out our French press, the video really helped me see how everything works.


The idea of mixing one's own lotions and potions is not new; in fact, up until the late 19th century most women concoted their own beauty treatments.  Says Kathy Peiss in her excellent book Hope in a Jar:  The Making of American's Beauty Culture:  "Nineteenth century American women inherited a tradition of cosmetic preparation, which freely borrowed from a variety of sources and reached back through the household hints and cooking recipes, cosmetic knowledge spread by word of mouth, within families and between neighbors.  Women often compiled their own recipe books and passed them on to their daughters...women's access to information about cosmetics expanded even more with the publishing boom of the 1840s and 1850s." (p.12-14)  You can even find these recipes today.

The Alchemist's Dressing Table works in these age-old traditions as well as the tools used, but modernizes everything to create a sleek, streamlined design.  The ancient Egyptians used a combination of a lead-based mineral and soot to make black eye kohl, and Davies provides a rather elegant way to produce soot that can be used in a recipe for eye liner.  Additionally, you can see the similarity between the ancient kohl applicator/mixing tool shown in these images from the British Museum and the one Davies designed. (And look! You can buy an entire book on cosmetic sets in early Britain!)


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I also liked how Davies modified an alembic to distill ingredients for beauty treatments, but still uses the traditional materials: copper, glass and sometimes cork.  Here's a reproduction of a traditional copper alembic and some 19th century alembics for comparison.

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As for practicality, I personally can't see any use for the Alchemist's Dressing Table myself as I'm a disaster at both cooking and science experiments.  The only value for me would be the packaging of the end product.  I'm envisioning putting everything into pretty little jars I found on Etsy with vintage-inspired labeling, and frankly, I can buy pre-made products that have that packaging.  Purchasing them would eliminate the risk of setting my kitchen on fire, which would no doubt be the end result of my attempt to distill some lavender.  I also imagine this set would be a rather pricey investment for consumers if it were put into production.  Having said all that, I certainly recognize the value of such a setup for those that need or want chemical-free, all-natural beauty products.  If, for example, a vegan and/or gluten-free lifestyle is a necessity, making your own products from start to finish is a way to be 100% sure the products you're using comply with your needs.  You control the entire process.  Indeed, Davies states, "I believe this could be the future of cosmetics for the modern woman who has a desire to be more in control of what she uses on her skin and the impact they have on our environment."  You don't even have to buy, say, rosewater since you can now make your own.  I suppose there are ways to make your own products without this carefully designed ensemble, but these are such beautiful pieces it makes mixing a homemade cream in your old soup pot - you know, the cheap one you got in college that's now scratched to hell - seem downright sad.

The bottom line is that objectively speaking, this is simply gorgeous.  It's not just the beauty-obsessed among us that appreciates this work - the Alchemist's Dressing Table was nominated for the 2014 Design of the Year Award at London's Design Museum.  I would dearly love to get my hands on it...especially if I had a physical Makeup Museum.  I'd have a whole room with this as the centerpiece and people could make appointments to come in and make whatever they want.

What do you think?  Do you mix your own products and if so, would you use something like this?

Brand overview: Tweezerman

Ah, humble tweezers.  Where would our brows be without them?  While this beauty tool is a must for most women, its appearance, not to mention the actual work of tweezing, tends to be rather drab.  To combat the tedium associated with shaping one's brows, over the years Tweezerman, the go-to company for this implement, has introduced many designs intended to up the tweezer ante. 

Tweezerman was founded in 1980 by entrepreneur Dal LaMagna, who quickly realized that tweezers had a much bigger market in beauty rather than health (i.e., promoting tweezers to remove eyebrow hair rather than splinters).  How did he come up with the company name?  "One day he walked into an account with his Dal LaMagna Grooming products (that was the name of his company originally) and the receptionist yelled out, 'Hey, everybody, the Tweezerman is here!' And the rest, as they say, is history."  Part of the brand's success was due to catchy advertising such as billboards proclaiming, "We aim to tweeze".  Free tweezer sharpening is an excellent strategy as well. 

More recently, Tweezerman has stayed competitive through the development of eye-catching designs that go beyond a range of colors.  There's a plethora of prints, from animals to graffiti and pop art to holiday themes:

Tweezerman animals
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There's also tons of shiny bling:

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And a limited edition design in honor of the brand's 30th anniversary back in 2010:

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Tweezerman has also gotten into the designer-collaboration game.  The first such partnership occurred in 2009 with Agatha Luiz de la Prada, known for her avant-garde prints.

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Next up in 2010 was the always delightfully kooky Betsey Johnson:

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2011 saw a collaboration with Gwen Stefani's Harajuku Lovers line.

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Cynthia Rowley continued the Designer Series in 2012. 

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I wonder what's up Tweezerman's sleeve for 2013!  In any case, I always love seeing mundane objects taken to the next level through interesting and colorful designs - it makes dull tasks slightly less painful, and in turn, you feel a little special when you put the object to use.  It may be silly, but I always feel a bit stylish and less boring when using my green croc print tweezers.  :)   

Which one of these is your favorite?  Do you own any limited-edition Tweezermans?

Tins for every occasion: Steamcream

I have no idea why I didn't know about Steamcream until years after it had been on the market - very much like how I missed cutting-edge nail polish line Laqa & Co.  And also like Laqa & Co., Steamcream has a huge line of beautifully designed pieces, some of which are the result of artist collaborations. 

What exactly is Steamcream?  According to the website, it's an all-over moisturizer (meaning it can be used on the face as well as body).  Natural ingredients like almond oil, orange flower water and cocoa butter are fused with steam.  "It’s Steamcream’s unique steam process that makes our cream much more effective on the skin.  The force of the steam fuses the ingredients instantly - holding them together in a very gentle and loose emulsion. When it touches your skin, the naturally moisturising ingredients and pure, calming essential oils are released from the light emulsion so they can sink past the surface reaching the areas they are needed fast."  Interesting concept, but what intrigues me most is the packaging.  There are at least 50 designs in the line and I could see nearly every single one in a Museum exhibition, especially the holiday-themed ones (I did pick up two for the most recent holiday/winter exhibition).

Here are a few of my favorites.

Arles, inspired by Van Gogh's Sunflowers, and Gaudy, with a proud colorful peacock:


Amani Na Upendo, which was designed by African artist Mustapha, and Planetarium:


These Hawaii-themed tins are adorable as well:


Some of the newer ones include Shé, in honor of the Year of the Snake:


And two with the theme "fabric of Japan", based on traditional kimono designs.

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That concludes this very brief overview of Steamcream, but I will be posting about individual tins as I continue collecting them.  :)