I am forever grateful for those who approach me with makeup they no longer want or that they feel belongs in the Museum. While 2020 was another hellish year for me personally and the Museum, as well as basically the whole world, I believe a record number of donations were received. Here's a brief overview of what was graciously bestowed upon the Museum this year.
First up is a mint condition Max Factor gift set. A very nice woman in Canada donated it, noting that it was a birthday present from her father to her mother one year. According to newspaper ads it dates to about 1948. I love the suggested use for the box lids as "party trays"!
Next up is a slew of awesome ads and postcards from the '80s and '90s, donated by an Instagram buddy from Argentina. Such a sweet note too!
This next one is super interesting. Normally the Museum does not include hair products, but the donor is a fellow collector and very knowledgeable about Russian culture, having lived in Moscow for several years. This vintage hair dye was made in East Germany and exported to the USSR.
Next up are some lovely Elizabeth Arden objects. These were donated by a woman in California whose mother worked at the Elizabeth Arden counter at a department store. Here we have the Napoleonic compact which was introduced around 1953, Faint Blush, the famous Ardena patter, and some Color Veil (powder blush) refills.
Near as I can figure, the Faint Blush was a sort of foundation primer, but it seems like it could also be worn alone. I love the plastic pink rose packaging, as it's very much of its era (ca. 1963-1973).
I think the patter and the Faint Blush are my favorites from this bunch.
Then, another very kind Instagram friend and fellow collector sent a huge lot of vintage powder boxes and compacts. The Museum did not have any of these...some I hadn't even heard of and some I had only admired them from afar. I just about died when I opened the package! Clockwise from top left: a 1930s eyeshadow by a company called Quinlan, a 1920s Harriet Hubbard Ayer Luxuria face powder, a powder dispenser by Cameo (probably from around the '30s), a '20s Marcelle compact tin, an extremely rare Red Feather Rouge tin (ca. 1919), an unmarked lipstick and floral powder tin, a Princess Pat compact from about 1925, a Yardley English Lavender tin (ca. 1930s) and a Fleur de Glorie face powder compact (ca. 1923-1926). In the middle is an amazing pink plastic 1940s Mountain Heather face powder case, a line manufactured by Daggett and Ramsdell.
I love each and every piece, but my favorites are the eyeshadow compact, and an adorable Mondaine book compact (with the original box!) that was also included. Bookworm that I am, I want a whole "library" of these designs.
I'm sure you remember the kindness of makeup artist Amelia Durazzo-Cintron, who shared her memories of working for Kevyn Aucoin back in July. For some reason she felt the need to thank ME instead, and did so by donating a really cool Black Swan makeup kit. How nice is her note?!
Another Instagram friend and lipstick fanatic has been making lipstick swatch books. These are kind of a new trend and in my opinion, far easier than taking photos of your lipsticks. Once again a sweet note was enclosed.
This lipstick swatch book is particularly lovely for its sprinkling of cosmetics trivia and important dates. (It also reminds me that I never started working on my daily makeup history calendar, sigh.) If you want one of your own you can purchase it here.
And that wraps up MM donations in 2020! I'm so incredibly grateful for these kind souls generously helping to build the collection. And while physical objects are amazing, it's the notes and messages that come with them that mean the most. :) Also, if you have a makeup object you think is historically significant, an object from the Curator's wishlist, or anything else you'd like to give, please check out the Museum's support page. I'm always looking for old fashion/women's magazines too, along with ads and brochures and such...I can never have too much paper memorabilia!
Which one of these is your favorite? What's the best gift you've ever received?
I am so pleased to be posting a wonderful, albeit bittersweet story about the legendary Kevyn Aucoin today, as it commemorates the 21st anniversary of the date he filed for the trademark of his beauty line. A few months ago I received a very kind email from a makeup artist who actually had the opportunity to work with Kevyn and had an integral role in the launch of his brand. Amelia Durazzo-Cintron, an Emmy-nominated artist who currently works for PBS, generously agreed to allow me to share the impact Kevyn made on her career as well as her experience with helping to get his makeup line off the ground shortly before his untimely death. She also permitted me to use some her photos with the man himself and an incredibly special and Museum-worthy brush set that he bestowed upon her. Here is Amelia's story in her own words.
"I was obsessed with makeup for as long as I can remember. My mother was born in Italy. She went to school for fashion design. I was always in awe of the way she put herself together. I don’t even think she owns a pair of jeans. She’s always impeccably dressed. Her hair and makeup is always on point. When I was a little girl, I used to watch her put on this cream eye shadow that came in a tube like lipstick. Once, when she was almost down to the end, she gave it to me to use for when I played dress up...and the rest is history. I used to study her Italian Vogue. I think that is where I first may have seen Kevyn’s work. He had a 'style' or look that was hard to imitate but immediately recognizable. A lot of the makeup back then was pretty garish, blush that looked like stripes, colors that didn’t seem to go well together, nothing was blended. Then there was Kevyn. Everyone he touched looked absolutely radiant. Although he was amazing at editorial looks his ability to bring out the natural beauty in women was unsurpassed. It was around that time that he collaborated on a collection for Ultima 2 called the Nakeds. He literally changed the industry with that launch. I think I bought every palette. Then came the Making Faces book. There is no better makeup book than that! He appeared as a guest on the Oprah Winfrey show to promote the book. They showed these amazing transformations he had done on several women.
"I became obsessed. I had to meet this guy. At that time, I had just started my career in the medical field. I wasn’t particularly happy but it was decent pay and good hours. Kevyn Aucoin changed my entire career path. I was always interested in makeup but I didn’t quite know how I would parlay that into a career. I decided to quit my job to work at Nordstrom as a part time beauty associate. I figured it was a good of a place as any to start a career in makeup artistry. My ex husband was not amused. But I knew I had to go with my gut. A few months later, Kevyn launched his second book Face Forward. The timeline is a little fuzzy but I believe it was also at this time that he started a soft launch of Kevyn Aucoin Beauty at none other than the beauty mecca at the time, Henri Bendel’s. The counter was placed front and center in the atrium, which was their prime real estate. His product line initially consisted of his mascara, lash curler and brush set.
"They also launched a new website. It had this amazing beauty chat room where fans, aspiring makeup artists, etc. could 'meet up' and discuss product faves, dupes, and anything Kevyn related. Every once in a while, Kevyn himself would pop in to interact with his fans. We would go nuts! We were actually chatting with Kevyn himself! I also met up with other fans from the beauty community (some of which I am still friends with). One day, Kevyn posted about a meet and greet at Bendel’s to coincide with the launch of his product line. [My friend] and I called one another and immediately made arrangements to meet up. As I recall there may have been a day’s notice. I remember having to change my schedule at work so that I could attend. There was no way I missing it! If the event was due to start at, let’s say 5PM, we arrived at 3. They hadn’t even started setting up yet. We were number one and two in line. You’ve probably heard of Troy Surratt of Surratt beauty. Well, Troy was Kevyn’s assistant at the time. He smiled at us as we watched him merchandise the products very carefully placed in a case at the front of the line. Everyone would have to pass through and have a look on their way to meet Kevyn. We fell into conversation (seeing as we were two hours early and staring at him) and he couldn’t have been kinder.
"Meanwhile as we were waiting for Kevyn to arrive, some celebs were being escorted into a separate entrance for what I assume to be a launch party. Mary Tyler Moore walked right past me and said hello. Her smile lit up the entire room. Then Gwyneth Paltrow...she literally had just won the Oscar for Shakespeare in Love. She brushed past me on her way into a roped off area, she came in looking pissed off and like she had smelled something bad. Her demeanor completely changed when she caught a glimpse of Kevyn and I saw them hug. I guess he had that effect on everyone.
"When Kevyn arrived he came right to the front of the line and said hello. He thanked us for coming and told us he had heard we waited for him for two hours. He seemed shocked by this. I would have waited two days! I’m telling you that the guy had an indescribable energy. I’ve met many celebs throughout my career but no one impressed me as much as Kevyn. He was warm and genuine and was so incredibly humble. I had brought a copy of his book for him to sign. While I had his attention, I told him it was my dream to work for him someday. I gave him a brief synopsis of my career path and how he had inspired me to become a makeup artist. Tears welled up in his eyes. He was truly touched. He told me that his plan was for him to launch at other department stores. I believe he may have mentioned Bergdorf Goodman or Barney's as possible contenders. He would need motivated, knowledgeable and talented artists to work for his line. At that time, I was working for Prescriptives, a line owned by Estée Lauder. He said he loved Prescriptives artists because they were well trained in color theory. At the time, they were one of the most popular makeup brands. They were [one of] the first cosmetics line to offer custom blending for foundation and always offered exact foundation shade matching. I was elated hearing that Kevyn gave the brand his seal of approval! He then grabbed a piece of paper and handed me his personal email and told me to keep in touch. I nearly passed out. I was so ecstatic!! We began an email friendship that lasted until the week before he died. I wasn’t going to let this opportunity slip me by. I offered to help out in any way I could. At that time, Kevyn’s company consisted of just a handful of employees. Kevyn had sunk much of his life savings into the launch of his brand. A lot was riding on the success of the line. They couldn’t afford to hire additional staff so everyone he had on board at the time was a either a close friend or family member. Eric Sakas was the CEO and also Kevyn’s ex-boyfriend and best friend of many years. It was also at this time that the beauty board on his website took off. Just as YouTube is to the beauty influencer, the beauty board was for Kevyn Aucoin Beauty. It was an important marketing tool which they used to update fans about product launches and share tips and tricks from Kevyn himself, and other fun stuff like personal photos (as he was also an amazing photographer) and his must haves for his kit, etc. The beauty board took on a life of its own.
"His office manager Sarah was having a tough time dealing with the product launch, behind the scenes stuff, etc. and having to moderate the beauty boards wasn't high on her list of priorities. We had gotten to know one another as Kevyn had her send me some mascaras to try. I also let her know of my interest in working for the company and sent her my resume for when they were ready to begin the hiring process. I wanted to be one of the first people to work as a makeup artist for Kevyn Aucoin Beauty! She was so kind. She promised to keep me in the loop...and she did, sending me freebies or as we say in the industry 'gratis' to try and sometimes giving me a sneak peek of things they were working on. She wasn’t a makeup artist so she appreciated the feedback. Back to the boards...they went from having a few hundred members to tens of thousands. Every once in a while, you would get your typical internet trolls trying to start shit and taunting some of the 'regulars'...trying to get them to engage. This one particular day one of them posted the most awful statement about Kevyn being a junkie and that we were 'worshipping a f*ggot drug addict'. I was horrified! I immediately called Sarah in a panic. She took the post down and thanked me profusely for helping them avert a potentially disastrous situation. Unbeknownst to me at the time, (it was only years later that I found out the truth) Kevyn had people in the industry trying to ruin his reputation. You may have watched his documentary. If you did then you’d know that he was dealing with an addiction issue related to the pain meds he took for his condition called acromegaly. As much as I love this industry, people can be very jealous and vicious. I suspect that there were rumblings at the time about Kevyn and his issues. Someone decided to go public, most likely to try to deter any potential investors. This only added to his stress and to that of his friends and family members.
"That’s when Sarah asked me if I would be interested in becoming an administrator for the website. They would give me the ability to initiate posts to get engagement and to delete and or block any offensive posts or individuals. She explained that they couldn’t afford to pay me, but that could pay me in gratis. I jumped at the chance!!!!! A few days later, I received a package in the mail, a huge box filled with mascara’s, lip glosses and lipsticks that had just launched, both of his books...and the holy grail.. my prized possession...A full set of Kevyn’s brushes complete with a custom mahogany box with an insert that fit all of the brushes inside. They only made a limited number. If memory serves me correctly, the set sold for $1000!
"I cried…Kevyn was so appreciative for the help I was providing to him and Sarah. He emailed me and said that he would continue to supply me with anything I needed. All I had to do was ask. I remember thinking how lucky I was. Friends of mine in the industry were floored. They were so excited for me. A makeup artist friend of mine said 'you realize that your life is going to change'…and it did. But not the way I had hoped. Not long after I began my work with Kevyn (possibly less than two months later), I received a message from Sarah on my answering machine. Her tone seemed somber...not like her usual bubbly self. I immediately thought that perhaps they had another troll situation. I called her back as soon as I got the message. It was far worse than I'd imagined. Kevyn had passed away that morning. She didn’t want me to hear it on the news or read about it online as she was sure the news would eventually and inevitably end up on the message boards. I couldn’t even breathe from sobbing. I felt like my dreams were completely shattered. I was so despondent that I didn’t go to work for several days…and as predicted the beauty board was buzzing with incorrect information and downright cruel rumors from people who had no idea what they were talking about. Kevyn’s sister had to shut it down by telling people to please respect the privacy of the Aucoin family. I was deleting posts left and right. It got so out of hand that a particular troll threatened several of the members at which time I had to step in and block him. He proceeded to send me emails threatening to 'cut my throat'. It all seemed like a bad dream.
Keith Aucoin speaking at his brother Kevyn's memorial service, May 15, 2002
"Then came the aftermath.. I don’t know a lot of what was going on but I do know that the investors they did have on board to help to expand the product line, head for the hills after Kevyn’s death. His entire estate was tied up in the line. Eric Sakas who I mentioned earlier was Kevyn’s former partner and closest friend. He made it his mission to ensure that Kevyn’s line would launch and align with Kevyn’s original vision. They were slated to launch Kevyn’s signature product which remains a cult classic to this day. The Sensual Skin Enhancer. It was already being sold at Bendels and now, they needed to put it up on the website. Eric and Sarah being the business minds of the company, neither of them knew how to properly describe the extensive shade range so that online customers would be able to determine which shade would match their skin tone. I was asked to help out. I sat there with Eric swatching prototypes (with Kevyn’s own handwriting on the boxes) coming up with proper descriptions of the shades ie warm, med, neutral, cool, etc. It took several hours, They were dealing with so much. I could see the stress and the sadness in their eyes. I just wanted to do whatever I could to help. After having been involved for two years after Kevyn’s death, the line was ultimately sold. Sarah had left the previous year. The message board was shut down due to lack of engagement (it was Kevyn’s presence there that encouraged people to hop on and interact). Things were moving fast in e-commerce and they had to update the site to give it a more streamlined look…they no longer had the need for a website administrator. Shortly after Kevyn’s death, his family decided to have a private memorial service. I was so touched when I had received in the mail a photograph of Kevyn that was handed out to the family and closest friends who attended the memorial service. His mother and father both took the time to write me a note thanking me for the work I did for his website, I was moved to tears.
"I didn’t give up pursuing my dream to become a makeup artist. I was hired as a trainer for the NYC Sephora market for Christian Dior. Kevyn was my motivation every step of the way. But the retail world was rapidly changing. The 2008 crash hit hard and my position with Dior, my dream job, was one of the first eliminated. I was back to square one, working freelance gigs on and off for several years, uninspired and unmotivated. Then a dear friend of mine called me one day asking if I would be interested in freelancing for a local TV station. He was the executive producer for a PBS News show. We had met at Nordstrom several years earlier when I was managing the Stila counter and he was going to school and working in loss prevention. I was intrigued but nervous, as I knew nothing about TV makeup. I had done makeup at Bryant Park, stage makeup for performances, magazine shoots, but never TV. I was scared shitless that first day I stepped into the studio. To add to my anxiety, the anchor of the news program I’d be working for was a well respected journalist with a career that spanned 40 years. She had been a network TV anchor, she was a guest (as herself) on the Murphy Brown show with Candace Bergen, she had been on the cover of People magazine..she was kind of a big deal. I did her makeup for the first time..my hands were shaking. All along I thought of Kevyn. As silly as it sounds I felt his presence that day. It calmed my nerves and I just did what I would normally do with anyone else. She loved it. I was so elated, relieved, and grateful for the opportunity. What started out as me covering for the studio’s full time artist, ended up with me landing a staff gig. Five years later...I'm still loving my job. This current situation has been especially hard on me. [But Kevyn] inspires me to continue honing my skills as an artist. I'm so proud to say that I was nominated for an Emmy in the NY market last year, I didn't win but seriously...I could not have imagined it as a possibility! I owe everything to Kevyn."
Thank you, Amelia, for taking the time to tell this amazing history! I am so honored that you chose the Makeup Museum to share it publicly. I also must thank Amelia for her generous (unrelated) donation to the Museum, which I'll be covering later - so many people want to help build the Museum's collection so I'm planning a rather large post on recent donations. Stay tuned...and in the meantime, if you want more on Kevyn, there are two documentariesavailable and a new book from Alcone showcasing his illustrations and face charts.
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?
To be honest, I really have no idea. All I know is that when I searched for vintage Shiseido on Ebay, I came up with a spate of white porcelain animal figurines. Some other things: 1. they represent the animals from the Chinese zodiac; 2. there were a few different designs of each animal; 3. I went into a frenzy trying to collect all of them (unsuccessfully), and; 4. they were produced, or at least sourced, by a company named the Connor Group for Shiseido. What I'm struggling with is why they were made and for whom they were intended. I'm also not certain about the exact dates of the various versions, since some of the sellers listed them as being from the '70s, others from the '80s, and still more were made in the '90s, according to accompanying paperwork.
I'll go in the order of the zodiac, starting with the rat. Cute, no? Given the shiny finish (more on that soon) I'm assuming it's from 1972 or 1984, but it's impossible to say.
Next is the ox, from either 1973 or 1985.
Here's a different version of the ox, which I think might be from the '90s. I was able to save this image from the Ebay listing but unfortunately someone snatched up the figurine itself a while ago.
Tigers! This one came with a fold-out that made things even more confusing.
The style of the figurine is consistent with ones that are from the '90s, which we'll see later in this post, but the paper it came with clearly indicates it's from 1974. Plus, there's no mention of Shiseido anywhere, not in the letter or even on the figurine - the other ones with the shiny finish have "Shiseido Japan" printed on them. The seller also included the original shipping box it came in to the U.S. from Japan, but there were no clues there either.
The horse is also tricky. This one could be from 1978, given that this Ebay seller has another style. (I have one of them on the way to me). I got so desperate for answers I actually asked the seller if they had any other information. No answer yet.
This goat (or ram) is from 1991, according to the foldout it came with. But it's in a similar style to the tiger that's allegedly from 1974, and also has the same non-shiny finish and no Shiseido name printed on it. See why I'm frustrated?!
Poor little guy has a tiny chip on his nose.
Another version of the goat/ram, which was also sold before I could get my hands on it...no clue as to when it's from.
The monkey is also perplexing. This one is apparently from 1992.
And here's a different version, from the same Etsy seller who had the rabbit for sale, so maybe this one is from 1980?
And finally, a little piggy, ostensibly from 1995.
Sadly, I don't think I'll ever solve the mystery behind these figurines. I emailed both Shiseido and the Connor Group for more insight and was quite disappointed at not hearing a word from Shiseido. You would think a company that is so committed to preserving their history would be interested in hearing from someone who is equally passionate about it and get back to me. I don't think it's a matter of them not having any information either - again, since they have a whole museum and are clearly dedicated to recording all aspects of the company, I just know someone there knows something about these figurines! I bet all the paperwork related to them is sitting in a basement in Shiseido's headquarters, but no one can be bothered to do a little digging. I did get a reply from the Connor Group but they had no idea what these were and asked for more information. So I sent pictures of both the figurines and letter that came with the tiger and never heard back. Sigh. My best guess is that these were either gifts to employees or gifts for Camellia Club members - in researching the rainbow powders, I learned that the latter group had access to exclusiveShiseidoitems (um, how awesome are these Erté dishes?!) However, most of the Camellia Club gifts are labeledas such, whereas there is no such notation on the figurines or the papers they came with. Shiseido also seems to collaborate with companies for other non-makeup items, like this anniversary plate produced by Noritake, so maybe the figurines were just some random item they had for sale. Still, it drives me crazy that I don't have a definitive answer.
At least the plushies are enjoying playing with their new friends!
Do you have any idea as to why Shiseido made these figurines? And which one was your favorite?
A few years back I explored makeup that visually resembled sweets. But what about makeup that actually smells like desserts and other foods? Sure, bath and body products and skincare items with foodie aromas have been popular for years, but I found it interesting that color products, i.e. items worn on the face that usually aren't scented at all or with the typical floral/herbal scents, are being made to smell like chocolate and other edible delights. So let's take a look at when this phenomenon started and where it's headed.
The earliest evidence of flavored/scented makeup that I could find is from the late '1930s. I'm not sure whether these lipsticks were eventually released for sale or even what brand they were, but here are some happy ladies testing them in the May 1939 issue of Popular Science.
Slightly less sophisticated but extraordinarily popular among the teenage crowd, fruit-scented lip products really took off in the early '60s. Cutex claims to be the first company to offer fruit-flavored lipsticks in this 1964 ad. (You might remember this from my fruity ad round-up.)
The foody-scented lip balm craze reached new heights in 1973, when a company named Bonne Bell introduced their Lip Smackers flavored balm. Starting with just 3 flavors, (strawberry, green apple and lemon), the company debuted their Dr. Pepper-scented balm in 1975, and soon Lip Smackers became a staple for tweens and teens everywhere. By 2012 the company offered 400 flavors worldwide. (Bonne Bell was purchased by Markwins in 2015, a company that still produces Lip Smackers today sans the Bonne Bell name).
Avon wanted in on the action, as evidenced by these dessert-flavored balms that were released throughout the '70s and '80s. (I'm not sure exactly who these were being marketed to - I imagine it was mostly kids, but maybe some teenagers and adults bought them too.)
By the early aughts, products like Philosophy's Lip Shines and On 10's vintage-inspired lip balm tins came in more upscale, less teenybopper-esque packaging and at a higher price point to appeal to a more grown-up crowd, but retained a few of the same scents as the inexpensive likes of Bonne Bell. In 2004 Tinte Cosmetics revived popular flavored balms that were known as "Lip Lickers" and produced by a Minnesota-based company from 1977 through 2002. In an effort to appeal to older women's nostalgic side, Tinte retained both the original sliding tin packaging and graphics. The food-scented balm market started to achieve full saturation around this time, especially when a company named Lotta Luv began partnering with big food and beverage companies like Hershey's, Pepsi, and Dairy Queen, along with a variety of other well-known snack, candy, cereal, and chewing gum brands. Novelty companies offering their own crazy food flavored balms soon sprung up afterwards. By 2012 one could find balms flavored in foods ranging from Cheetos and beer to pickles and corn dogs.
My hypothesis is that since foodie lip balms had officially jumped the shark with all these wacky flavors, coupled with the fact that makeup companies were only including lip balms among their scented cosmetic offerings, makeup brands had to get more creative when it came to adding fragrance to their products. No longer were clear lip balms enough - it was time to branch out into face and eye products, along with lip products that actually contained color. Chocolate and other desserts were still the reining favorites. But items like Stila Lip Glazes and Becca Beach Tints, both of which offered a variety of fruity scents, as well as Benefit's peach-scented Georgia blush, also proved popular. Some items unintentionally offered a subtle food aroma as a natural byproduct of the ingredients used, such as Bourjois's and Too-Faced's cocoa-powder based bronzers and 100% Pure's fruit-pigmented makeup line.
By 2012, foodie-smelling products were becoming less novel and more expected, but this familiarity among consumers didn't seem to diminish their popularity; even chocolate-scented makeup bags made an appearance. Additionally, as Asian brands became more visible and available to the Western world, sales of their chocolate-scented products took off as well.
Face products weren't the only ones getting the food scent treatment, however. While scented nail polishes were previously the sole domain of children, nail companies soon seized on the demand among adults for these products. From Color Club's Pumpkin Spice Latte scented polish to Butter London's berry-scented polish remover, fingernails were now able to join in on the foodie fun. Whether it was partially Dior's rose-scented polishes from their spring 2012 collection or the influence of Rosalyn Rosenfeld's (played by Jennifer Lawrence) vivid description of a nail polish top coat's odor in the 2013 film American Hustle, scented nail products rose to prominence in the past 5 years. And the most popular ones smell not "like flowers, but with garbage"; rather, foodie polishes prove to be the best sellers.
Butter London polish remover trio, 2012 (I REALLY miss those Butter London polish removers - they were the best!! They smelled great and worked even better. They had another limited edition set that contained a pina colada-scented remover called Beach Bum, which I loved.)
Ad for Mattese Happy Hour cocktail-scented polishes - if you can't make it out, the scents were Apple Martini, Shirley Temple, Hypnotic, Tequila Sunrise, Cosmopolitan, and Purple Passion.
Companies continue the foodie fad today. Too-Faced is leading the way with a whopping 5 new food-scented products in their spring/summer 2016 lineup. Japanese brands Lunasol and RMK both offered sweet-scented items in 2015, while Etude House built on their previous dessert-y releases with their Give Me Chocolate spring 2015 collection, a gingerbread cookie scented bronzer in their holiday 2015 collection, and strawberry-scented cream blushes and nail polishes for their spring 2016 collection. Finally, this spring Physician's Formula gets tropical with a coconut-scented bronzer.
Etude House Give Me Chocolate collection, spring 2015
So, my questions are why companies are continuing to produce food-scented makeup, why we're buying it, and the significance of these items. There's the obvious need among makeup brands to offer novel products, plus the desire to capitalize on the success of foodie bath and body lines. Food-scented makeup is a natural expansion of the dessert-scented beauty product craze. There's also the tactic of engaging the sense of smell as well as sight (shiny makeup in pretty colors) and touch (texture is key when creating an attractive makeup product - people love dipping their fingers in testers). Appealing to 3 senses instead of two might make consumers more likely to buy the product. Why simply wear a buttery-soft, chocolate-colored eye shadow when your lids could also smell like it?
More generally, I suppose the same basic reasoning behind the allure of dessert-smelling bath and body items applies to cosmetics. I touched briefly on why women may want to smell like chocolate, cake or other food previously in this post and in the Sweet Tooth exhibition, and there have been plenty of newsarticles, but the most articulate and comprehensive exploration of the topic comes from Autumn of The Beheld. Her points regarding dessert-inspired beauty products, such as the negative implications of marketing of sweet-smelling products to grown women and the remarkable appeal they continue to maintain, carry over to food-scented makeup. She writes, "Foodie beauty products are designed to serve as a panacea for women today: Yes’m, in the world we’ve created you have fewer management opportunities, the state can hold court in your uterus, there’s no law granting paid maternal leave in the most powerful nation on the planet, and you’re eight times more likely to be killed by your spouse than you would be if you were a man, but don’t worry, ladies, there’s chocolate body wash!...[foodie products] do smell good, after all; that’s the whole point. And they trigger something that on its face seems harmless: Part of their appeal lies in how they transport us back to an age when all we needed to be soothed was a cupcake. At the same time, they don’t actually transport us to being that age; they transport us to a simulacrum of it." Indeed, nostalgia can be a tricky thing to navigate in this context. As with kids-themed cosmetics from brands that primarily sell to adult women, the notion of foodie makeup could be seen as an infantilizing pacifier meant to placate and distract women from serious societal issues.
Another aspect to consider is the advertising for these products. Today's foodie makeup isn't advertised the same way as their predecessors, who suggest these products are a good way to snag a guy. "Could you ask for a newer, cooler way to collect men?" asks the Cutex ad. "Kiss him in his favorite flavor," says Yardley. (Side note: the notion of making a guy think of his grandmother while kissing is really bizarre to me, and I'm not the only one.) "Promise Roger your strawberry kisses," implores Maybelline. Heck, the product is even named Kissing Potion!
While the insinuation of catching a man isn't present in the vast majority of contemporary makeup ads, the idea is still vaguely floating around when it comes to food-scented items. A reviewer for Too-Faced Chocolate Soleil bronzer titles her review, "Even my boyfriend loves the smell." And the model for Switch's Pink Brown mascara remarks, "You can feel the chocolate scent from my lushes! [sic] And I love it when the scent flows as your face getting close to your boyfriend, like when kissing." (The translation wasn't great but you get the gist.) The notion of luring a guy with a scrumptious dessert scent certainly isn't unique to makeup, but it's slightly different. Unlike bath and body products or perfumes, one has to be up close to get a whiff of a flavored balm or cocoa bronzer.
But this fact is also why one could argue that people who wear these items are only doing it for themselves, and that we may be reading too much into these: perhaps they really are just food-scented makeup and nothing more. Like Autumn, ultimately I don't see anything wrong with enjoying makeup that smells like fruit or chocolate or any other food. She notes, "[Sometimes] a candy cigar is just a candy cigar...I don’t want to imply that any of us should stop using lemon cookie body souffle or toss out our Lip Smackers—joy can be hard enough to come by plenty of days, and if it comes in a yummy-smelling jar, well, that’s reliable enough for me not to turn my nose up at, eh?" Speaking from personal experience, I loved Benefit's Georgia - something about having my cheeks smell faintly like peach was incredibly fun - but I can tell you I didn't consider, not for a second, my then boyfriend's (now husband) reaction to how my face smelled. At the moment I'm tempted by Too-Faced's Peanut Butter and Jelly palette because not only is the smiley pb & j face ridiculously cute, the palette is scented with peanuts. That is a fragrance I haven't seen in eye shadow before; the sheer novelty of it brings a smile to my face. I'm not even a palette person, but the idea of inhaling a light peanut aroma while applying eye shadow is the aspect that makes me want to buy it. I imagine that for most women, it's not about getting close to a significant other, it's about the multi-sensory pleasure you experience when applying these products. I'd say that given how subtle and ephemeral the scents in foodie makeup are, they're actually intended to be enjoyed at a personal, individual level rather than something to be shared. As one reviewer for Revlon's Parfumerie nail polish notes, "It's funny because you forget about it, and then I guess I don't realize how many times a day I touch my face, because I keep getting a whiff of it, and each time I'm totally surprised!” Overall, no matter what makeup companies have in mind when creating these products, I think it's okay to perceive them simply as brief, fleeting pick-me-ups rather than as ways to entrapping a man or treating grown woman like children. Of course it's a subject worth questioning and we must continue to be mindful of how makeup is marketed, but no one should feel bad for liking chocolate-scented mascara or nail polish that smells like cookies.
What do you think? Are you down with food-scented makeup? This very unscientific 2008 poll says that people are fairly evenly divided on the subject, so I'm curious to hear your thoughts.
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?
No posts for this week and no Curator's Corner today, but I'm pleased to announce that Ada Calhoun, one of the authors behind the awesome 90swoman.com blog, asked me to write a piece on 90s womanhood!! I was so honored. Naturally my thoughts went to makeup and 90s beauty trends. And also naturally, I was extremely long-winded so the piece was edited ever so slightly so as not to bore readers. However, I have no issue with boring my own readers (all 2 of them, ha), so here it is in its entirety. Enjoy! And do check out 90swoman.com, even if you're not of that generation - it's truly a fascinating look at the era. :) Thanks again, Ada!
Uma Thurman rocking Chanel Vamp nail polish in 1994's Pulp Fiction. (image from movieretriever.com)
Matte brown lipstick. Heroin chic. White eye shadow. The grunge look. These were the major beauty trends of the 90s. And they’ve been earning the attention of the fashion and beauty world in the past year or so. In January 2010 Selfridges staged an in-store exhibition devoted to the 90s, complete with a vintage M.A.C. Cosmetics face chart showcasing their (at the time) wildly popular brown lip liner named, appropriately enough, Twig. Fashion and beauty bloggers have also been covering the revival of the decade’s trends. “Messy plaids, patchwork and the overall look of 90’s grunge is back for Fall 2010, and we aren’t just talking about the fashion. The beauty industry is taking its cue from the Courtney Love days of dark, red lipstick paired with overdone, smoky eye make-up…A disheveled plaid tee layered under a floral dress and dirty boots are the perfect balance with a dramatic ‘I don’t care’ make-up look,” wrote Jessica Ciarla at The Fashion Spot. Last summer beauty blog Lovelyish provided a nostalgic look at 90s makeup trends. This year, fashion blog Refinery29 reports that the “sleeper hit” of summer 2011 is 90s grunge lip color: “Even though summer is currently awash in happy, vivid corals and pinks, there's another lip trend we've been tracking, too: A modern version of grunge-inspired lips. Mixing deep magenta-red with a little shimmer, they're like the love child of a '90s era Drew Barrymore and Married with Children's Kelly Bundy… pair your tribute-to-the-nineties lip with extra dark brows and matte skin. So angst-y!” Finally, retailer Urban Outfitters named Cher from 1995’s Clueless their latest beauty icon.
Fashion trends, and by extension, beauty trends, are cyclical – usually about 20 years after the initial phenomenon began, it becomes in vogue once again and is slightly updated. So it’s not surprising that the 90s are making a comeback now.
But the point I want to make isn’t that the 90s are back fashion and makeup-wise. Rather, I want to take a look at the transformation the beauty industry underwent in the 90s as a direct response to the new notions women had about makeup. In 1995, the L.A. Times quoted a beauty newsletter editor as saying, "The creativity the department stores had 10 years ago doesn't exist today…the top five brands control 75% of the makeup business." Something had to give to meet the beauty needs of the 90s woman, and it did.
Between the influence of “lipstick feminism”*, Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth, Riot Grrrl (and “girl power”, its co-opted, commercialized, mainstream offshoot made popular by the Spice Girls), and the smeared red lipstick of grunge poster child Courtney Love, more and more 90s women began wearing makeup not with the simplistic goal of looking pretty, but rather as a means of self-expression and empowerment. They also didn’t want to feel as though they were being brainwashed by cosmetic companies telling them that they wouldn’t be beautiful without makeup – wearing it had to be their decision alone, and they would wear it (or not) on their own terms. This outlook represented a huge shift in thinking about cosmetics, and beauty and business gurus pounced on it.
In 1994 makeup artist Jeannine Lobell created a makeup line called Stila. The name coming from the Italian word “stilare”, which means “to pen”, Lobell believed every woman’s makeup should be as unique as her signature. The cardboard containers (this environmentally-friendly packaging was a breakthrough at the time) also displayed quotes from famous women that could be seen as empowering: Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s “The best protection any woman can have is courage,” and "Failure is impossible" by Susan B. Anthony are just a few of the quotes that made an appearance on Stila’s eye shadows. These marketing strategies encouraged the idea that women could let their individuality shine through their makeup, and that it could even make them feel powerful.
1995 and 1996 saw the introduction of “alternative” makeup lines Hard Candy and Urban Decay, respectively. Both got their start by introducing non-traditional nail polish colors that the founders first mixed themselves – Sky, a pastel blue, in the case of Hard Candy, and a purple color from Urban Decay. And both were revolutionizing the beauty industry and filling in the gaps left by mainstream cosmetic companies by offering non-traditional hues. From the Urban Decay website: “Heaven forbid you wanted purple or green nails, because you’d either have to whip out a marker, or risk life and limb with that back alley drugstore junk…The first magazine ad [for Urban Decay] queried ‘Does Pink Make You Puke?,’ fueling the revolution as cosmetics industry executives scrambled to keep up.”
A 1998 New York Times profile of Hard Candy founder Dineh Mohajer, states that she was a leader in providing the modern teenage girl with the daring makeup she wanted to use to express herself. “Ms. Mohajer's timing couldn't have been better: young women were ready for hard-edged, ‘ugly’ colors, which were a departure from the powdery, harmless pinks that once accompanied every American girl's journey to womanhood. Suddenly, blue lips, blue hair and blue fingernails became a statement about independence -- even if independence might make you look as if you were suffering from frostbite.” Still, in the article Mohajer insists that ''I didn't make that first batch of blue nail polish so I could stand up to men or be outrageous…or so I could make some sort of stand for women.” She continues: “[what] it's really about is self-esteem, women being able to do whatever they want and look stylish and attractive and cute at the same time.” Mohajer, who was all of 22 when she founded Hard Candy, clearly represented the new way in which women were viewing makeup.
The decade culminated in the 1999 release of celebrity makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin’s iconic book Making Faces. The book offered details of makeovers performed on “real” women, and provided step-by-step instructions to create a myriad of looks. Women could essentially try on personalities like “The Diva” or “The Siren” through makeup. Aucoin writes in the introduction, “…it is my hope that you will find yourself, or rather, your selves inside.” His book was illustrative of the sweeping change that took hold in both the general population’s notion of cosmetics and the beauty industry.
Where does all of this leave us now? I’m of the opinion that if you asked teenagers and women today, most would say they don’t wear makeup for anyone but themselves. Personally I wear it because it makes me happy and because I think it’s fun to play with color, not because I feel as though I have put on my “face” before going out in public. While I can’t know for sure what other women think, I have a feeling most of my generation and younger generations share this perspective. That is one of the indisputable legacies of the 90s.
So, girls and women of today, bear in mind that your perception of cosmetics is in some way descended from ground-breaking beauty philosophies that were set in motion some 20 years ago. The notions that makeup can be a creative outlet and a way to express your individuality were forged back then. And if you’re a true 90s woman, relish the current comeback of makeup trends from your decade…everything except the matte brown lipstick.
*The debate between lipstick feminists and second-wave feminists is far too broad to discuss in this post. I’m leaving out the argument as to whether women should or shouldn’t be participating in beauty rituals; I’m only mentioning lipstick feminism as one of the many reasons for the change in women’s perception of wearing makeup in the 90s.