Quick post: Halloween beauty roundup

I've noticed that many indie brands are really pulling out all the stops for Halloween in recent years.  Forget special holiday packaging - these companies put their energy into crafting some spooktacular design for Halloween items.  Here are my picks for 2017.

Halloween 2017 makeup

1.  I'm still waiting with bated breath for Unicorn Cosmetics mermaid brush set, but in the meantime they released a pretty awesome set for Halloween.  Not only do these brushes come in a coffin-shaped pouch with bone-shaped zippers, their handles change color.

2.  L.A. Splash has all your favorite classic horror ghouls in their Halloween liquid lipstick collection.

3.  These American Horror Story-inspired palettes aren't new - they were originally released last year, I believe - but they are new to me so I had to give them a shout-out.  (As of today, however, it looks like they're sold out).

4.  The remarkably simple design of Makeup Revolution's Ghost Powder works for both adults and kids...and at that price you can get one for you and another for the little Halloween'ers in your life.  I bet my niece would love this!

5.  With the name Pretty Zombie Cosmetics, makeup inspired by all things spooky isn't just for Halloween, it's the brand's entire raison d'etre.  This year they introduced new colors and packaging for their liquid lipsticks, which appear to be a nod to Beetlejuice.

6.  This one was also released last year, but once again I only found about it now.  In honor of Elvira's 35th anniversary, Lunatick Cosmetics released a coffin-shaped palette complete with pop-up spiderweb and candelabra.  Perfect for any Mistress of the Dark fan.

I hope everyone has a fun and safe Halloween!  Which one of these was your favorite?


Curator's picks and pans for 2016

Today, thankfully, is the last day of 2016.  As I like to do every year, I'm taking a look back on the prettiest, most Museum-worthy pieces of the year (along with some not-so-great ones).  Here they are in no particular order.

1.  NARS summer collection was definitely a highlight.  Konstantin Kakanias' illustrations of oh-so-chic ladies lounging at a warm and sunny luxury resort at the French Riviera immediately brought a smile to my face...and made me want to book the next flight to Saint-Tropez. 

Konstantin Kakanias for NARS

2.  These beautiful hand-made gold leaf lipstick cases from Givenchy caught me totally off guard - I was so happy I was able to get my hands on them as they are true Museum pieces.

Givenchy Le Rouge Kyoto edition

3.  The Dolce & Gabbana Sicilian Bronzer was also difficult to track down and I had a fit when Nordstrom nearly canceled my order, but fortunately they came through.  The image on the bronzer came directly from D & G's spring/summer 2016 collection, which in turn was inspired by "carrettos", traditional Sicilian donkey carts painted in bright colors.

Dolce & Gabbana Sicilian Bronzer

Honorable mentions include Too-Faced's Totally Cute palette (because mermaid stickers) and Chanel Ombres Lamées (so intricate, not to mention gold and shiny!)

Now for the pans. 

1.  You would think that Mara Hoffman's geometric, colorful patterns would work well on cosmetics packaging, but the Sephora collection just left me cold.  I'm not sure why because I like her designs in other contexts, but seeing them on makeup did nothing for me. 

Mara Hoffman for Sephora
(images from sephora.com)

2.  Sonia Rykiel, one of 2016's many casualties, was an extraordinarily talented designer.  It's a shame that none of her style translated to Lancome's fall collection.  These patterns were just so...blah.  A better way of saying that, I guess, is that they simply weren't representative of her aesthetic.  Like some other fashion designer collabs, this was a missed opportunity - Lancome could have done so much more with Rykiel's impressive body of work.  It's particularly surprising given that Rykiel had a successful makeup line in Japan for a number of years, so you would think there would be a little more to this collection.

Sonia Rykiel for Lancome(images from lancome-usa.com)

3.  MAC Vibe Tribe.  I don't want to re-hash this but you can read my rant here.


That wraps it up for 2016, from a collectibles standpoint, anyway...I'm too lazy to write about makeup trends from this year.  :P

What do you think of these?  Are there any not on this list that you think should be?  Take a look in the archives and let me know.  :)

I'm on Instagram

InstagramI don't know why but I felt a compelling urge to join yet another social media platform that 1. I don't understand, and 2.  will never be able to keep up with. (How do millennials keep up with all this social media?!)  I've held off for a while on joining Instagram because of my lack of photography skills.  But then I learned there are such things as filters, so maybe my photos won't be so bad. Plus there are so many great artists and photographers on there, and I found it's a heck of a lot easier to keep up with them if I had an account.  Not to mention how much I adore looking at pretty pictures of makeup, and Instagram seems like the best place to get a quick fix, even more so than Pinterest and blogs. 

Photos of things you will see @makeup_museum:

  • Makeup collectibles I'm too lazy to write a post about here
  • Beauty products I actually use
  • Home decor
  • Art and design
  • Fashion
  • Baltimore and other cities
  • Any other things that strike my fancy

I think that about covers it.  I only have 3 photos right now but obviously will be adding more, so stay tuned.  And do you have any tips for me?  I'm still learning the ropes so I'd be grateful for any advice.  :)


Blog note: farewell to Couture Monday

Now now, this doesn't mean I won't be writing about the latest couture house releases and other fashion designer collabs with makeup brands, it just means I won't be posting them exclusively on Mondays anymore.  I simply needed more flexibility in my blogging schedule - I already have enough trouble keeping up and trying to do "fun" items on Fridays and vintage items for Throwback Thursdays - so I have made the executive decision to do away with forcing myself to post couture/fashion subjects only on Mondays.  Plus, it's a rather outdated notion to declare certain days to be certain subjects at one's blog...it was very common when I started back in 2008, but outside of a few bloggers I rarely see "themed" days of the week anymore.  So onwards and upwards!  Here's to an easier way of doing things at the Museum. :)

I'm going to Disney World!

No, really, I am - leaving tonight and spending a few days at Disney with the family!  I can't wait to take my niece and nephew around the various parks...and to carry this Marc by Marc Jacobs bag from his Alice in Wonderland collection (yes, I admit I bought it just for this adventure, and I got my mom this bag and coin purse so she will also be appropriately accessorized for our trip.  Too cute!)

Marc by Marc Jacobs Alice in Wonderland bag

Anyway, there won't be any posts this week (and there was no Curator's Corner this past weekend because I was too busy freaking out about what makeup to pack, obviously) but I'll be back next week.  In the meantime, you can check out some of my musings on previous Disney-themed collections here, here, here and here.  You can also catch a sneak peek of Sephora's upcoming Minnie Mouse collection here.

Have you been to Disney World recently?  I haven't been to Disney in over 30 years so I'm excited to see all the latest and greatest!


Quick post: Snowy Saturday: Neutrogena Limited Edition Norwegian Formula Hand Cream

We're getting lots of snow, so I thought it would be appropriate to do a quick post on some positively adorable winter-themed hand creams from Neutrogena.  As with the Nivea cremes, I know it's not makeup but this was just too cute not to share!  Neutrogena enlisted the services of Oslo-based design duo Ingrid Reithaug and Tonje Holand, better known as Darling Clementine, to create nostalgic illustrations that are inspired by traditional Norwegian design but have a thoroughly modern feel.

Neutrogena limited edition hand creams by Darling Clementine(image from neutrogena.co.uk)

Says Holand, “We were inspired by Norwegian cross stitch and handi craft – the classic winter jumper motif. Also by snowflakes and their intricate patterns and cold wintery aesthetic, and by scandi woodland scenery and wreaths. The final design contains cues from all three inspirations, with typical Nordic icons – the wooden cabin, gingerbread, reindeer, snow and mountains drawn in.”  You can also check out this short video which further explains Darling Clementine's creative process and inspiration.


I checked out Darling Clementine's website and there was a ton of other sweet Scandi-flavored items, everything from stationery to textiles.

Darling Clementine woodland card set

Darling Clementine mushroom print

Darling Clementine tin

Darling Clementine bowl

Darling Clementine laundry bag(images from darlingclementine.no)

Overall, I loved the Neutrogena hand cream illustrations - they're cute without being childish, distinctively Nordic but not blindly-copied, watered-down derivatives of traditional Norwegian designs.  I wish they were available in the U.S., but I haven't seen them anywhere. 


New year, new basics (that are actually old)

A few months ago I was digging my blotting sheets out of my makeup bag at work and realized that it was a total disaster.  Not that I had too much stuff crammed in there, but that the bag itself was an embarrassment.  Should a Makeup Museum curator really be walking around with this horribly beat-up bag?  (The paper stuck to the front is an old receipt...how it got there I don't know but I could never get all of it off.)


The corners were totally cracked.  It's a wonder things weren't constantly falling out.

Old makeup bag

When I dug out my blotting sheets I also noticed I needed to part ways with my beloved Paul & Joe mirrored blotting sheet compact.  I loved it and they don't make these particular compacts anymore, but the thing is a mess - completely faded, stained and torn. 

Old mirror

Old mirror

There was also this very worn powder compact.  I loved Prescriptives but dear god, this needed to go.

Aw hell no

In addition to my makeup bag, I came to the conclusion that the compact mirror on my vanity could use a refresh as well.  There is a huge wall mirror for the vanity, but it's a few feet from where I sit - even leaning over I can't get as close as I'd like.  And sometimes I need to get really up close (like when I'm not wearing my contacts) so I use a small compact mirror so I don't have to stand up to move to the wall mirror.  I know it sounds weird, but having a compact mirror is a lot more convenient.  For years I had been using yet another decrepit Prescriptives compact.  Again, should a Makeup Museum curator's vanity have such a bland, worn-down compact mirror?


I decided I needed some upgrades, post-haste.  First order of business, the bag.  I knew I definitely wanted to continue with a clear bag, as it makes it so much easier to find things.  After much research I got this one at Sephora.  It's actually part of a really cute set. I found the medium-sized one to be just right.  I absolutely adore the looks of Truffle Clarity clutches or pouches, which Sabrina at the Beauty Look Book brought to my attention (she knows the good stuff!), but I think even the smallest ones might be a little too large to fit well in my purses.  Even though the Truffle site has super-helpful pictures with the bags filled, I still couldn't quite visualize how they would look.  (I am notoriously bad at estimating size/volume).  Still, I may just buy one anyway because they're so pretty - I'm especially loving this lemon and silver one.  Anyway, if you're in the market for a clear makeup pouch I think either this Sephora set or Truffle are your best options. 

New makeup bag

Then I rounded up some ideas for compacts.  And here's where the old stuff comes in...I didn't want anything new, surprisingly.  I feel as though vintage compacts have so much more personality than most of today's (at least the standard, non-collectible ones).  So vintage hunting I went. I selected this Stratton compact from Etsy for my makeup bag. I think it has the perfect amount of wear - not so much that it looks like trash but just enough to know it's vintage.  I also like the scalloped edges and the combination of silver and gold.

How baller is this?

My current project is to determine whether I can somehow remove the old powder that's in there and replace it with Makeup Forever's High-Def pressed powder, but I highly doubt it'll fit.  Guess I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.  As for the blotting sheets, I thought it would be pretty funny to contrast the sophistication of the Stratton compact with something totally off the wall, like these Dinoplatz sheets

Too Cool for School Dinoplatz blotting sheets

Too Cool for School Dinoplatz blotting sheets

Truth be told, I haven't found any blotting sheet compacts that measure up to the Paul & Joe ones. Bobbi Brown makes a nice one, if a little boring.  And obviously Paul & Joe still makes adorable blotting sheets and Boscia has some pretty patterns (I'm partial to the peppermint sheets since they smell yummy!), but they're stored in a flimsy cardboard container that gets worn quickly.  Tatcha sheets are lovely but also in a cardboard container that's not much sturdier than the others. And none of these are actual compacts with mirrors. Even though I don't really need a mirror since I have one in the Stratton compact, I just got so used to having a mirrored blotting sheet compact that not having one seems strange.  So Dinoplatz it was.  I just hope the plastic doesn't get too dirty.  We shall see.

For the other compact, I decided my vanity was in desperate need of some bling.  I set out to find one of the gaudiest, shiniest, rhinestoniest (okay, that's not a word) vintage compacts I could find.  I settled on this Dorset one, which I found on Ebay.  It's heavier than you would expect. 

So gloriously tacky

My vanity is fairly minimal and modern so it looks pretty cool sitting there in the plain acrylic box with the rest of my basics (foundations, primers, etc.).  It's like the other makeup is having an elegant soirée, all dressed in tasteful, black or neutral shades and talking softly, and in walks someone's very eccentric aunt, dripping with multi-colored fake gems and outfitted in gold lamé from head to toe.  All heads turn as she holds court, loudly spouting some wild, unbelievable story in her own hilarious way.  Now that I think about it, maybe one of the reasons I was drawn to this compact is that I did have a fairly crazy aunt who, at one family get-together, wore blue Ked sneakers, a leopard print fur coat, stirrup pants, tons of costume jewelry and insanely heavy makeup...and let me tell you, that was normal compared to the stuff that came out of her mouth!  I remember her fondly though, so perhaps that's why I chose this one - it's her compact equivalent.

Anyway, I feel as though I have accomplished my mission of overhauling these basic items to be more fitting for a curator of a Makeup Museum. What do you think?


Collection storage reorganization and updated inventory

While I'm perpetually in a state of frustration over not getting enough done on the Makeup Museum, I did manage to complete one important task over the holidays:  re-organize the collection's storage.  My goal was to clear out the random stuff I had shoved in the storage space underneath our bed and move more things into there, but actually be strategic about it this time.  Here's what it looked like before.  AAAAHHHH!!

Collection under-bed storage - before

Collection under-bed storage - before

Since I prefer to arrange the collection alphabetically (for the most part) I decided that every brand beginning with the letters N through Z would go under the bed, along with all vintage items and ads.  For some weird reason I wanted to keep the Paul & Joe stuff in its drawer in my closet, which as you may remember, shared the space with Stila.

Collection storage drawer - before

One of the biggest chores to tackle in the reorganization effort was moving the Shu stuff, which used to be housed in these drawers in the hall closet. Fifty-one cleansing oils are pretty time-consuming to transfer since they're significantly bigger and heavier than small palettes and eye shadows.

Collection storage - before

Collection storage - before

Here's the after under-bed storage.  Much better!

Collection under-bed storage - after

And the Paul & Joe collection before and afters.  You poor thing, you're all messy and disheveled after I removed the Stila items!  Let's get you tidied up.

Collection storage drawer - before

There you go.  And there's still more room for you to spread out, which is good since I will be adding the spring 2016 collection momentarily.

Collection storage drawer - after

Finally, I updated the collection inventory, which took forever since not only did I have to add a plethora of items that had accumulated since the last time I updated it (I let it go way too long, oops) but also change the locations of everything I had moved.  You can check it out here.  Nearly 800 items and counting!

So while collection organization and inventorying aren't the most interesting or glamorous things about curating, it had to be done, since, frankly, they're what separates us collectors from the hoarders.  (Seriously, I'm a rabid American Pickers fan and I swear some of the people they visit on the show are full-on hoarders - you can't find anything in their so-called "collections".)

What do you think of the reorganization effort?  Besides the fact that I might possibly have too much makeup.  ;)


Hello, 2016: Museum goals update


In lieu of Curator's Corner today I want to take some time to discuss all the things that are in my head but will most likely not accomplish in the coming year.  I know it doesn't seem like I have any goals due to my lack of follow-through, but I have so many ideas and projects I want to work on I thought I'd share them and revisit ones from years past.  The big ones throughout the years seem to be the following:

Overhaul the website.  I've been saying this literally for the past 3 years (check my 2013 goals post for proof), but it needs to happen.  This is not a typical beauty blog but it's also not a typical museum either, so examples of existing sites are of little help, and it's tough to figure out where to begin.  However, I wanted to make sure everyone is aware that I know the site badly needs a refresh, as I began it in 2008 and the design is stuck firmly in that time period.  Oof.

Books, books and more books.  I think the reason why I don't many any progress on any of the books that I want to write is because I have too many ideas and I can't prioritize.  There's the coffee table book that I've been talking about forever, the '90s beauty book (I at least have the chapters laid out for that), art and makeup book (inspired by this publication), fashion and beauty book (similar to the art and makeup one), and while's not makeup-related, I have a book full of essays on '90s pop culture brewing too.  So that's 5 total.  I don't know which one to try to tackle first, or how to do that while working full-time and maintaining this blog. 

So many exhibitions, so little time.  Five books is nothing compared to the amount of exhibitions I have rattling about in my head.  I have, let's see *consults spreadsheet* at least 15 special exhibitions I'd love to execute eventually.  Seriously?!  Like the books I want to write, I can't prioritize.  They all seem like timely themes so I have difficulty choosing just one to concentrate on.  And the bigger ones will, like my books, require an extraordinary amount of research and resources I don't have access to.

Create an online library.  I got the idea for this 2 years ago and haven't done anything.  Again, I just don't know where to start.

Improve my photography skills (or acquire some).  Every time I research how to take better pictures the same thing always happens - I get overwhelmed and end up not doing anything. 

Establish a brick and mortar space for the Museum or have a pop-up exhibition at an existing gallery. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!  I've come to the conclusion that as long as I'm working full-time this is never happening. 

That's more or less it for now.  I wish I could say I'm going to make some headway on at least one of these, but it's not realistic.  And I know all the typical advice says to break down big projects into smaller steps, but every time I do that I realize there are about 1,000 steps for the projects I want to do, leading to me getting completely frustrated and defeated.  I guess the point of this post is that even as I acknowledge I won't get any of these goals accomplished, I wanted to jot down these ideas online because they're taking up so much space in my brain.  As the Dude says, "A lotta strands to keep in my head, man...a lotta strands in the old duder's head." 

What are some things you've got knocking around in your noggin?  Do you think you'll see them through?

MM Curator's picks and pans for 2015

It's just a few hours before it's officially 2016 here on the East Coast, so with that in mind, here are the Curator's picks and pans in makeup packaging/design for 2015.  I'll start with the picks.

1. PaiPai!  This new-to-me brand captured my heart when I read that for each season's collection a different artist is chosen to create the packaging.  Additionally, the line pays tribute to Mexico's cultural heritage by featuring only Mexican artists, which I think is genius.

Pai Pai lipsticks

2.  For her first limited edition/artist collab, Charlotte Tilbury did an excellent job borrowing the work of famed Vogue photographer Norman Parkinson to appear on a carefully selected lineup of face products and bags. Nars, please take note - THIS is how you team up with a fashion photographer.

Charlotte Tilbury/Norman Parkinson

3.  I squealed out loud when I first laid eyes on Paul & Joe's precious Cap'n Kitty face powder. It's the most adorable cat they've done in a while, and Paul & Joe is no stranger to putting cute cats on their packaging.

Paul & Joe Cap'n Kitty

Lastly, I'm going to toot my own horn and give an honorable mention to my own (entirely fictional) Broad City collection.  :)

And now for the pans* - items that I think could have been a little (okay, a lot) better. 

1.  I am still scratching my head over Dior's Kingdom of Color spring 2015 collection.  Apparently it was inspired by Dior's "love of color" (really, who doesn't love color?) and the items were embossed with the Dior crest.  However, I have no idea why they went with the crest for this particular collection; it sounds like their marketing team decided to slap it on everything and dreamed up a faux majestic name that weakly attempts to tie into both the crest and Dior's "love of color".  Eh.  Compared with Dior's previous releases this could have been more inspired and less muddled.  I would have focused solely on the crest or the use of vivid color in Dior's collections instead of trying to make some vague connection between the two. 

Dior Kingdon of Colors palette
2.  It was a tie between Yaz Bukey for Shu and Philip Treacy for MAC.  Both collections had the same problem: great idea, not-so-great execution.  Shu and MAC had the luxury of collaborating with some very talented designers, but their visions just weren't reflected well in the finished product (at least in my opinion.)

Yazbukey for Shu Uemura - cleansing oils

MAC Phlip Treacy powder

3.  And another tie (I know I'm kind of cheating here but again, these items suffered from the same affliction in my eyes, making them one and same):  Craig & Karl for Sephora and Keith Haring for Clarisonic.  I admit that maybe these weren't so bad packaging-wise, but I find both Haring's and Craig & Karl's work to be extremely ugly.  There I said it. 

Craig & Karl for Sephora

Keith Haring x Clarisonic(images from sephora.com and nordstrom.com)

Do you agree with my picks and pans?  Take a look through the archives if you're so inclined and let me know yours.  Oh, and you can also see picks and pans for 2014, 2013, and 2011


*I would have included the Nars/Steven Klein garbage in my most disappointing items of the year, but 1. I don't want to revisit the collection as it still pisses me off so much; and 2. I initially thought the packaging was interesting before I found out what a tool Mr. Klein is.