I'm still a bit wiped out from the spring exhibition and it's been ages since I've shared some inquiries that made their way in the ol' Makeup Museum Mailbag, so here's a quick review of some questions that have been sent my way.
First up is this lovely compact with a six-pointed star in blue rhinestones - perhaps a Star of David? - and matching lipstick, submitted from a reader in Australia. Her grandmother's brother had brought it back to her grandmother during the second World War. Without any logo or brand markings I can't pinpoint the company that made it, and after looking online and through all my collector's guides I can say I've never seen a vintage compact with this design. Obviously it was made in France, but I'm not quite as familiar with objects across the pond, as it were. It's a beautiful set and I wonder whether it has any wartime or Holocaust significance.
The second inquiry I have to share today was another head-scratcher. Someone had messaged me on Facebook (which I set up earlier this year but rarely use) asking about this little lady. It's a Revlon Couturine lipstick, but her identity remains a mystery.
As I've noted previously, allegedly the Couturines were supposed to be modeled after actresses and other purveyors of style. But this one doesn't seem to match any of the ones that have been identified. The only other actress whose name I've seen mentioned is Shirley MacLaine but it's not her either, according to this photo.
Finally, I received an inquiry from someone asking for proof that suffragettes wore lipstick as a symbol of emancipation. I swiftly directed this person Lucy Jane Santos's excellent article outlining how there really is no solid evidence that the ladies fighting for equality in the early 1900s regularly wore lipstick to rallies, or at least, to the big one in 1912. As she outlines in her article, it appears to be a persistent myth that most likely began circulating in the '90s both in Jessica Pallingston's book and Kate de Castelbajac's The Face of the Century: 100 Years of Makeup and Style (1995). Just for kicks and giggles I took a peek at newspaper archives (I'm finding they're just as fun and informative as magazines) and dug up a couple of interviews with British suffrage leader Emmeline Pankhurst and a profile of her daughter Sylvia. Their views on makeup are positively fascinating! As it turns out, Emmeline had no moral issue with cosmetics, she just didn't find a made-up face aesthetically pleasing: "Don’t think I am actually censoring the young girls nowadays…the very brief skirts and the overdone makeup are by no means an indication of loose morals. They are, in often rather a pitiful way, an indication of groping toward greater freedom and they are still more a groping towards beauty…the impulse to make one's self look as well as possible is a perfectly sound impulse. It has its root in self-respect. It is quite wrong to think that the use of short skirts and rouge are based on any violent desire to attract the opposite sex. The use of these aids [is] based on the legitimate desire to look one’s best. A woman dresses more for other women than for men. But the too-red lips and the extremely short skirt – I must confess that I dislike them. I dislike them because so few girls look well thus arrayed, and because older women, when thus arrayed, usually look rather ridiculous. But let me point out one fine fact behind all this makeup.It is not added with any idea of deception. The woman today who powders and paints does it frankly, often in public without one iota of hypocrisy. And this, I think, is a splendid gain.” (emphasis mine)
Her daughter, Sylvia, on the other hand, did not approve of makeup at all. "I still don't approve of lipstick and makeup. It's horribly ugly, destroys the value of the face. I've never used it, never shall." Her obituary also states that she thought makeup and lipstick were "tomfooleries".
I did also see this 1910 ad from Selfridge's. This is what I believe to be the only reference to suffragettes wearing lipstick. I'm wondering if this is part of how the myth was generated, since even with this ad there doesn't seem to be any concrete proof that suffragettes wore lipstick. Selfridge's advertised and sold it; whether it was widely worn by suffragettes is still up for debate in my very humble opinion.
Before I get to my review of Susan Stewart's Painted Faces, I must disclose that I received a copy for free from the author. In no way, shape or form did getting it for free influence my review, nor was it intended as a bribe for a positive one - I believe I was given a copy in exchange for me lending photos of some of the Museum's collection to be included in the book. Not only did Dr. Stewart provide an autograph, she also included me in the acknowledgements, which was incredibly kind.
Again though, I'd like to reiterate that this did not sway my opinion of the book at all. Now that that's out of the way, I can dive into the review.
The goal of Painted Faces is much the same as Lisa Eldridge's Face Paint in that it strives to provide a history of makeup from ancient times to the present day. However, a trained scholar/historian approaches this vast topic in a markedly different way than a makeup artist such as Eldridge. Neither perspective is better or worse than the other; ways to tell the story of makeup are nearly as varied as the people who wear it. Nor do I believe one has to have a set of particular credentials to write accurately and compellingly about makeup history, as I believe it comes down to a matter of preference for a certain writing style. As we saw with her first book, Painted Faces is more academic than Face Paint and relies on highlighting the economic and sociological aspects behind various beauty practices, whereas Eldridge adopts a more artistic tone, choosing instead to communicate makeup's history by focusing on application and styles as they evolved.
Stewart begins with an introduction (which also serves as the first chapter) summarizing the need to study makeup and beauty practices as it gives valuable insight into history that we may not have considered before. "Because of its wider significance, researching makeup, its uses, ingredients, its context and application, can provide clues not only to the nature and circumstance of the individual but can also help us to interpret the social, economic and political condition of society as a whole in any given period. That is to say, studying cosmetics can further our understanding of history...they are a window into the past and can encapsulate the hopes and ideas of the future. In short, makeup matters" (p. 8 and 10). Can I get an amen?! Stewart also carefully sets the parameters for the book, outlining the sources used and why she is primarily writing about cosmetics in the Western world.
Chapter 2 is essentially a condensed version of Stewart's previous tome on cosmetics in the ancient world, which doesn't need to be rehashed here (you can check out my review of that one to peruse the content). That's no small feat, considering how thorough it was. The next chapter covers the Middle Ages, which is interesting in and of itself since so little information about makeup and beauty exist from this era. As Stewart points out, the rise of Christianity meant people were no longer being interred with their possessions as they were in ancient Greece and Rome - these artifacts provided a wealth of knowledge about beauty practices then. Thus, any time after the spread of Christianity and before the modern age historians must rely primarily on texts, such as surviving beauty recipes and classic literature, rather than objects to infer any information about the use of makeup and other beauty items. The dominance of this religion also meant even more impossible beauty standards for women and more shame for daring to participate in beauty rituals. "According to medieval religious ideology, wearing makeup was not only the deceitful and immoral - it was a crime against God" (p. 60). The other interesting, albeit twisted way Christianity affected beauty is the relentless belief that unblemished skin = moral person. Something as innocuous as freckles were the mark of the devil, and most women went to great lengths to get rid of them or cover them so as not be accused of being a witch. I shudder thinking about those who were affected by acne.
Chapter 4, which discusses beauty in the late 15th and early 16th centuries (i.e., approximately the Renaissance) presents the continuation of certain beauty standards - pale, unblemished skin on both the face and hands, a high forehead, barely there blush and a hint of natural color on the lips- as well as judgement of those who wore cosmetics. As we saw previously, it's the old "look perfect but don't use makeup to achieve said perfection" deal - women who wore makeup were viewed as dishonest, vain sinners. But one's looks mattered greatly in the acquisition of a husband, so many women didn't have a choice. "Clearly a woman had to get her makeup just right not simply for maximum effect but to avoid getting it wrong and spoiling the illusion of youth and beauty entirely, a fault that could cost her dearly in terms of wealth, status and security" (p. 94).
However, there were some notable differences between the Renaissance and medieval periods. For starters, due to inventions such as the printing press, beauty recipes were able to be much more widely disseminated than they were previously. Increased trade meant more people could get their hands on ingredients for these recipes. Both of these developments led to women below the higher rungs of society (i.e. the middle class) to start wearing cosmetics. So widespread was cosmetics usage at this point, Stewart notes, that the question became what kind of makeup to wear instead of whether to wear it at all.
This chapter was probably the most similar to those on Renaissance beauty in Sarah Jane Downing's book, Beauty and Cosmetics: 1550-1950. Given the lack of information regarding cosmetics during this time period, both authors had to draw on the same sources to describe beauty habits. However, as with Eldridge, the approaches Downing and Stewart take are slightly different. Once again, Stewart opts for a straighter historical approach whereas Downing looks more to paintings and literature of the time, and doesn't take quite as deep a dive into the larger social and economic forces at work. There's also not much overlap between the descriptions of recipes and techniques, as you'll find different ones in each book. For example, one that was mentioned only in passing in Downing's book was using egg white to set makeup. I'm thinking of it as a early version of an illuminating setting spray (although obviously it was brushed on, not sprayed in a bottle) as it lent a slightly luminous, glazed sheen. Stewart points out that it also caused one's face to crack, thereby eliminating the wearer's ability to make any sort of facial expression. It seems certain beauty treatments, whether egg white or Botox, occasionally come with the side effect of suppressing women's expression of emotion. Coincidence? I think not.
Chapters 5 and 6 are tidily sequential, discussing beauty during the the 17th and 18th centuries, respectively. As in the Renaissance, both eras witnessed significant growth in the number of women who wore makeup due to technological advances and increased trade. Growing literacy rates drove demand for the new medium of ladies' magazines. Pharmacies selling raw materials to make beauty treatments had started to crop up in the 17th century and their numbers increased dramatically by the beginning of the 18th century. Not only that, pharmacies and chemists started offering their own pre-made formulas, and these goods became commercially exported to other countries. The widespread sale of these products came with several undesirable effects: counterfeit cosmetics and downright false claims about the product's efficacy.
The 1700s also saw the rise of excessive, decidedly unnatural makeup being worn by members of the aristocracy in both France and England, followed by a post-French Revolution return to more subtle makeup in the early 1800s. This brings us to Chapter 7, which outlines the myriad changes leading to what would become the modern beauty industry, including department stores, industrialization and the new commercial market of the U.S. As for beauty standards, a natural look was still strongly preferred by both men and women, with the emphasis in terms of products on skincare rather than color cosmetics. Here's a literal lightbulb moment: despite my research on Shiseido's color-correcting powders, in which I learned some were meant to counterbalance the effects of harsh lighting, I had completely overlooked the influence of artificial light on the skyrocketing production of face powders. "Suffice it to say that in the early years of the twentieth century, the use of artificial light in homes of the wealthy as well as in public places such as theatres and concert halls would become more widespread, in the latter years of the nineteenth century there was already an understanding that to make the best impression, makeup needed adjusting to suit the light, whether it be natural or artificial" (p.198).
Chapter 8 leads us into the 20th century. While there are more detailed accounts of makeup during this time, Stewart does an excellent job describing the major cultural and technological influences that shaped modern beauty trends and the industry as a whole. I was very impressed with how she was able to narrow down the key points about 20th century beauty without regurgitating or simply summarizing other people's work. Some of the information presented is familiar, of course, but the manner in which it's arranged and categorized sets it apart. It just goes to show that everyone's individual background equals an infinite number of ways to tell the story of makeup.
I'm partial to this chapter since the items I took photos of for the book are all from the 20th century. :)
Here are some powder boxes on the dust jacket.
While I was deliriously happy to see some of the Museum's items in a real published book and get credited for them, I was also pleased to see photos of other pieces as well. Their inclusion in addition to illustrations was a bit of an upgrade to Stewart's previous book. This is a minor issue to be sure, as I believe solid writing more than makes up for a lack of photos, but they are a nice touch if available.
The last chapter serves as an addendum in which Stewart reflects on how the past, present and future of beauty are linked, noting that while some things have stayed the same - the use of ancient ingredients in modern formulas, the connection between health and beauty - 21st century attitudes towards cosmetics represent a significant change from earlier times.
Overall, this is a more scholarly history of makeup than we've seen before, but by no means dry and boring. Stewart's gift for wading through hundreds of historical documents and neatly consolidating the major social, economic and cultural forces that shaped makeup's history, all while sharing fascinating snippets such as ancient beauty recipes and anecdotes from people who lived during the various eras she covered, makes for a thoroughly engaging read.
I was originally going to write a meatier post about the history of tanning that included sunless tanning, but there's actually been plenty of research already. Rather than essentially re-writing what's already out there I decided to go the more visual route and show ads for products promising to give you that sun-kissed glow for both face and body. I will include some history and links throughout, but mostly this is a way for me to share my never-ending obsession with vintage beauty ads. :)
Prior to the early 1920s, having tawny, sun-drenched skin simply wasn't desirable - at least for women. Fair complexions were associated with the leisure class, while tan skin indicated a lower social status (i.e. people who had to work outdoors). While the beauty industry was in its infancy, there were still plenty of products, such as this Tan No More powder, that promoted the pale skin ideal.
The 1940s saw an increase in the number of bronzers and tanning body makeup, the latter influenced partially by the shortage of nylon stockings during World War II - women resorted to painting their legs with makeup or staining them with a tea-based concoction to create the illusion of stockings. Always looking to sell more products, companies soon began offering tinted body makeup to mimic a natural tan.
In the late 1950s Man Tan sunless tanning lotion - or what we call self-tanner more commonly these days - debuted, featuring a new way of getting tan without the sun. Instead of traditional tinted makeup that merely covered the skin, Man Tan used an ingredient known as dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which works on the amino acids on the skin's surface to gradually darken its color. It sounds like a harmful, scary process that relies on synthetic chemicals, but DHA is actually derived from sugar cane and is still used in most self-tanners today.*
In addition to bronzers, around this time companies were also launching color campaigns specifically for tanned skin. These shades aren't so different from the ones we see in today's summer makeup collections - warm, beige and bronze tones abound. Both Max Factor's Breezy Peach and 3 Little Bares (get it?!) were seemingly created to complement a tawny complexion, while Clairol's powder duos and Corn Silk's Tan Fans line offered bronzer and blush together to artificially prolong and enhance a natural tan.
Meanwhile, Dorothy Gray had tan-flattering lip colors covered. This was not new territory for them, as this 1936 ad referenced a new "smart lipstick to accent sun-tan". In any case, the 1965 ad is also notable for the yellow lipstick all the way on right, which was meant to brighten another lip color when layered underneath...over 50 years before Estée Edit's Lip Flip and YSL's Undercoat.
The tanning craze wasn't going anywhere soon, as various self-tanning and bronzer formulas for body and face continued to be produced from the '70s onward. As skin cancer rates rose, there was also an uptick in the number of ads that emphasized protection from the sun over the convenience angle (i.e., the ability to get a tan in just a few hours and no matter the climate) - self-tanners started to be marketed more heavily as a healthy alternative to a real tan.
When it launched around 2004, I thought Stila's Sun Gel was such an innovative product. Little did I know Almay had done it roughly 30 years prior.
I searched all the '90s magazines in the Museum's archives, but realized almost all of them were March, September or October issues, so I couldn't unearth any fake tan ads for most of the decade. I did have better luck with finding ads online and in the Museum's archives for the 2000's, however. It makes sense as I had started collecting by then, not to mention that the early-mid aughts were the Gisele Bundchen/Paris Hilton era so fake tanning was at its peak. I just remembered that I neglected to check my old Sephora catalogs...I'll have to see if I can locate any photos of Scott Barnes' Body Bling, another hugely popular product in the 2000's.
As the decade came to a close, there was some discussion as to whether tanned skin, real or fake, was passé. But the continuing growth of the self-tanning market (as well as the influence of the bronzed Jersey Shore cast) showed that the infatuation with tanning wasn't slowing down. The Paris Hilton era segued seamlessly into the Kardashian age, which also contributed to the popularity of the bronzed look. Companies are still trying to keep up with the demand for bronzers and self-tanners. For the past 5 years or so, Estée Lauder, Lancome, Clarins, Guerlain and Givenchy have released new bronzing compacts at the start of the summer, and just this past year Hourglass and Becca released a range of new bronzing powders. Meanwhile, established products like Benefit's Hoola bronzer and St. Tropez's self-tanning line are being tweaked and expanded.
In terms of advertising bronzers and self-tanners, I think cosmetics companies do a damn good job. The products themselves certainly look tempting, but one also can't deny the sex appeal of the glowy, bronzey look of the models (not to mention that a tan makes everyone look like they lost 10 lbs). Who doesn't want to resemble a sunkissed goddess lounging about in a tropical paradise? It's largely this reason, I think, that the tan aesthetic persists. As usual, Autumn Whitefield-Madrano offers an insightful exploration of why tawny skin continues to be in vogue so rather than me rambling further I highly encourage you to read it in full. As for me, well, I've largely given up on self-tanning. It was messy, came out uneven no matter how much I exfoliated and how carefully I applied it, and still didn't look quite like the real deal. I do, however, still use bronzer once in a while (mostly as blush, but occasionally in the summer I'll dust it all over my face) and have been tinkering with temporary wash-off body bronzers. I don't consider bronzer a staple by any means - most days I fully embrace my pasty self - but the fact that I own 6 of them is proof of the long-standing allure of the tan and how effectively the products required to achieve it are marketed.
What do you think? Which of these ads are your favorite? And are you down with the tanned look or no?
While color correcting seems like a new trend, my experience as a self-taught makeup historian tells me that it probably existed decades ago. However, I had no idea that color correcting was in effect as early as 1917, when Japanese company Shiseido introduced their "rainbow" face powders. In honor of the 100-year anniversary of this cutting-edge beauty development, Shiseido released the 7 Color Powders Centennial Revival Edition (that's a mouthful!), which is essentially a re-creation of the original powders using contemporary color correcting technology and ingredients. The powders come in a gorgeous keepsake box adorned with concentric metallic rainbow lines. I am very fortunate to have such a kind and generous husband who procured this set for me for Christmas. :)
Does anyone know what this means?
I always get positively giddy over a numbered edition. In the eyes of a collector, numbering makes the item seem really special...even if there are 9,000 of them produced!
The box design is nearly identical to the original. Shiseido was ahead of its time back then not just for product innovation but also for packaging. Chapter 3 of an excellent dissertation entitled "Imperial Designs:" Fashion, Cosmetics, and Cultural Identity in Japan, 1931-1943" by Rebecca Nickerson sheds light on the design process. In 1915 Shiseido's founder, Fukuhara Arinobu, unofficially passed ownership of the company to his son, Fukuhara Shinzo, who had been traveling domestically and abroad to study art and photography for a number of years prior. The younger Fukuhara used his passion for art and aesthetics to form an official cosmetics division for the company and in 1916, he appointed a design team consisting mostly of artist friends he had met during his travels to create sophisticated, appealing packaging for all of Shiseido's products. The creation of such a group, focused on cohesive design and marketing, was cutting-edge for the time. Their artistic skill proved quite effective: "The design team came up with unique packaging for the face powder. Each of the seven colors was in its own original eight-sided, white satin box, and the lids were embossed with two concentric gold lines and Shiseido's camellia logo. Above the logo were the words 'poudre de riz', the French term for face powder, and below it in Roman letters, 'Shiseido, Tokyo'. The package design was simple yet sophisticated and conveyed a sense of the foreign, which was exactly what Fukuhara wanted consumers to associate with the Shiseido brand. This was Shiseido's second attempt to introduce Western face powders to Japanese consumers. While most women could not afford or had little interest in Western face powders in 1906, by 1917 consumption was on the rise and greater numbers of women were eager to embrace this new trend in beauty culture. The flood of modern Western culture, Hollywood films, and a general enthusiasm for 'Americanism' also increased demand for modern fashion and cosmetics. Shiseido was one of a number of companies to introduce similar face powders around this time, and the 'Rainbow Face Powder' succeeded in making Shiseido a visible player in the cosmetics market." (p. 103).
I was so hesitant to try to peel off one of the seals to open the box, but I managed to do so without ripping it.
For comparison's sake, here are photos of the original powders and you can see more pictures of them from the Shiseido Museum here. I think the only differences are that the new revival ones are covered in a fabric material whereas the old boxes seem to be made from cardboard (I don't think it was satin), and the camellia logo is at the top of the powder covering in the revival versions - the originals don't seem to have the logo on the inside. I'm guessing the old ones didn't have the color-coded seals on the boxes either.
Anyway, why were these so groundbreaking? Well, besides the design, colored face powder didn't really exist back then. I've mentioned this excellent paper from art historian (ahem) Gennifer Weisenfeld before, but here's another excerpt explaining why these were a breakthrough: "Tinted face powders were exceedingly rare in prewar Japan and Shiseido pioneered them early on with a series of colors under the brand name Poudre de Riz. The female entertainers (geisha) who worked in nearby Shinbashi and who were loyal Shiseido customers particularly liked the green and purple powder colors because they were thought to flatter the complexion under electric lighting." Not only did these powders have color correcting ability in less than ideal lighting conditions, Shiseido maintains they were a way for women to "match their face powder shade to their attire." This was in keeping with the shift towards more Western styles and a desire for more natural looking makeup. "Gradually, as Japanese cosmetic practices changed over time and moved toward a greater naturalism, the traditional thick white cosmetic foundation (o-shiroi) ceased to be used for daily wear." Finally, the rainbow powders, quite simply, were among the first steps in customized makeup that encompassed a much wider range of colors than were available previously. This in turn allowed Shiseido to reach a significantly greater portion of the cosmetics market, since the colors could be mixed to suit one's skin tone. Says Jessica Guerra, author of "Consumerism, Commodification and Beauty: Shiseido and the Rise of Japanese Beauty Culture" (another fantastic scholarly piece!), "Through different combinations of the seven provided colors, consumers could create their own shades and color palettes. Understandably, this would mean increased international appeal and marketability as racially diverse consumers could purchase Seven Colors Face Powder and create their own personalized shades based on preference." (p. 29). Indeed, even today Shiseido touts the customization ability of the revival powders, noting that they also give one "the freedom to experiment and create the most beautiful finish for your skin."
Shiseido hadn't completely abandoned the idea of reviving their rainbow powders until now. I couldn't read this whole article because it's behind a paywall (thanks, jerks), but apparently in late 2001 the company released a rainbow powder available only to their Camellia Club members: "Shiseido has resurrected a face powder-Rainbow Face Powder-that debuted in 1917 but in a way geared to the woman of the 21st century. The debut product featured seven colors-white, yellow, flesh, rose, peony, green, and purple-instead of the typical white to offer women the shade that best enhanced their facial features and to create an appearance more suited to the increasingly popular Western-style fashions. Renamed La Poudre Ruisselant, the face powder is sold in specially designed container with lids shaped like a camellia blossom-the symbol of Shiseido." I tried my darndest to find a photo of this "specially designed container" but only turned up a picture of the refill.
While I couldn't find a photo, I do think it's interesting to note that Shiseido tried revamping their rainbow powders previously. Maybe in 2001 the makeup world at large wasn't yet receptive to color correcting and that's why Shiseido offered the Ruisselante powder to only a handful of consumers. But as color correcting has been all the rage for the past couple of years, now is a great time to re-introduce these to the public, not to mention the fact that it syncs perfectly with the 100th anniversary of the products' debut. I love how they updated the packaging too - very similar to the original but just enough details to make it modern and special enough to commemorate the anniversary. I'm still drooling over the shiny rainbow on the box, and the numbering...well, that's like collector's catnip.
What do you think of this set? Do you color correct at all? I do but with liquid or cream concealer rather than powder. :)
At a recent trip to the dermatologist, I asked if there was any treatment that could lighten the freckles I have dotting my face. Many of my formerly cute, small freckles are quickly becoming larger, unattractive splotches (a.k.a. "age spots") so I thought it would be better to nip them in the bud. (Of course, I could just buy a bejeweled elephant brooch to distract from them.) The experience jarred my memory of Lancôme releasing a "freckle pencil" many years ago that would allow one to paint one's face with as many specks as they wished. With that, I thought I'd look into the history of freckles from a beauty standpoint, starting in the 20th century, with an emphasis on the rise of creating faux freckles with makeup. I found that, much like Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, they've been going in and out of style (but they're guaranteed to raise a smile).
From the late 19th through the early 20th century, freckles were seen as unsightly blemishes that needed to be banished from the complexion, as demonstrated by this Pond's Vanishing Cream ad from1910.
Stillman's continued selling their freckle cream throughout the 20th century and, oddly enough, the company exists today (although they mostly sell an alternative lightening cream to the Middle Eastern market). Here's an ad from 1956 and a picture of their contemporary freckle cream.
I can't explain exactly how or why a shift occurred in the perception of freckles, but somewhere in the mid to late 20th century they became acceptable and even desirable (see this article for possible reasons). Perhaps the rise of the tan's popularity was a factor - as early as the 1950s, tans correlated to health and a life of leisure, and a byproduct of spending quality time in the sun is the production of freckles. By the '90s, freckles were also linked to a more youthful appearance, an association that continues over 20 years later.
It seems that Chanel was the first company to market a product designed to create faux freckles. Released in 1995, Le Crayon Rousseur was "part of Chanel's effort to gain a high-fashion profile," according to Chanel's then market development manager Timothy Walcot, who added that "the `little girl' look is quite in. This is intended as a bit of fun." The instructions that came with the pencil recommended that it be used to "emphasize a light tan" as well.
Indeed, freckles quickly became a symbol of a carefree summer spent lounging under the sun's rays, as this Lancôme ad from 1995 can attest.
Lancôme followed in Chanel's footsteps 8 years later by releasing a Freckle Crayon as part of their summer 2003 collection. The mind behind the pencil, then artistic director Ross Burton, declared that "freckles are a symbol of freedom". Instead of trying to hide their spots with several inches of caked-on foundation, women were encouraged to "free" themselves from makeup and embrace their natural skin. And, of course, they were again associated with a summer vacation: "The natural, sun-kissed look is set to be big for spring/summer,'' stated a Lancome beauty counter rep. The company wasn't necessarily trailblazing - freckles had been "in" at least since 2001, when celebrities like Lucy Liu and top models Maggie Rizer and Devon Aoki proudly displayed their spots.
Antonio Berardi (the makeup was done by Gucci Westman, who also allegedly painted on fake freckles for both Rag & Bone's spring 2012 and 2013 shows - however, the models' complexions looked totally clear in the pictures I found.)
Meanwhile, Westman referred to several '90s types for her work at various spring 2013 shows. For Antonio Berardi, she says, "The Antonio Berardi girl is sporty, very clean and fresh...a girl reminiscent of a 90s Helmut Lang girl...we used Brown ColorStay Eyeliner to add freckles which gave the girls a youthful look." For Rag and Bone, she was inspired by "the iconic supermodels of the 90’s and the great structure of their brows." She adds, "I kept the makeup very pure, adding just a touch of natural flush to the lips by mixing two lip products together, and I used a brow pencil to create subtle freckles and a dramatic brow to top the whole look off.” Finally, for Lisa Perry, Westman went further back in time to the '60s: - "I focused on the eyes and went for something retro...I kept the skin simple and natural and created subtle freckles on the nose with a nude pencil."
Despite the popularity of freckles on the runway, there has been some ambivalence in the beauty community as to whether it translates to the real world. While in May 2013 Refinery29 was touting freckles' seemingly miraculous anti-aging properties, just a year and a half prior they were asking their readers whether they'd embrace the trend. The Gloss asked whether it was even appropriate to try to poach something that occurs naturally in many peoples' skin. Says the author, "This trend reminds me of my redheaded high school friend who despised bottle redheads, or my glasses-wearing friend’s rancor towards people who wore prescription-less glasses." As of spring 2013, The Gloss is definitively in the no-fake-freckle camp.
Additionally, the fact that makeup companies have not recently seized the opportunity to cash in and re-introduce freckle pencils might point to a dislike of, or perhaps disinterest in, the fake freckle trend. The lack of freckle pencils on the market could also be in part the result of Tilbury's and Westman's divulgence of the exact products they use to create a speckled effect, which already exist - it would be difficult to convince people to buy a new, specialized product when they can already buy something that would give the same look. Similarly, there's a wealth of tutorials on how to draw fake freckles using a variety of products, from eyebrow pencils to self-tanner painted on with a tiny brush.
My final thoughts: Personally, I'm indifferent to natural freckles. Some people have them, some don't, and I don't think people are more or less attractive because of them. I never really noticed mine, even, until Lancôme came out with that pencil! Now that they're getting bigger and starting to take over my face due to ever-advancing age, I'm more aware of them, but overall they're just another part of one's face. My indifference to real freckles means that I do find it strange that people would want to fake them, as I don't see them as a beauty trend one way or the other. They just...exist. Still, the makeup junkie in me can understand fake freckles - theoretically, it's not really much different than partaking in other makeup application. Why does anyone wear blue eyeshadow or paint their nails?
What do you think of both naturally-occuring freckles and the drawn-on ones seen on the runways? And what do you think caused the shift in the past 100 years from their perception as ugly blemishes to indicators of youth? Have you ever or would you paint on some fake specks?