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February 2016

I'm going to Disney World!

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

Marc by Marc Jacobs Alice in Wonderland bag

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

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


Makeup as Muse: Jason Mecier's makeup portraits

These aren't exactly new, but they are way too cool not to share.  San Francisco-based, self-taught artist Jason Mecier creates celebrity portraits out of unconventional materials.  From Jerry Seinfeld rendered in cereal to Hugh Hefner made out of old Playboy magazines, Mecier seems to have something for everyone. Each portrait takes at least 50 hours, and much longer for larger, more detailed images. Mecier gathers materials from thrift stores and sometimes even from the celebrities themselves.  As for his background and using celebrities as his primary subject matter, Mecier explains, "Though I have no formal art training, I did have an excellent mentor in my grandmother, Anita Tollefson. When I was young, I remember being mesmerized by her paintings, weavings, mosaics, sculptures, collages, and stained glass work that filled my grandparents' house and yard. If Anita was working on an art project, she would set me up at a nearby table with a project of my own to work on. One of my earliest pieces, is a mosaic made from beans, noodles, rocks, and cut bamboo sticks glued on a piece of wood. My grandmother encouraged me to create masterpieces using materials readily available to me. She would rather paint on the back of her cigarette cartons than buy a canvas. I learned from her that I can make art out of anything I want to, and that there are no rules...As a kid I remember obsessively clipping and scrap-booking pictures from the TV Guide of my favorite shows. In high school I did pencil drawings of my favorite record covers like The Rolling Stones, Olivia Newton-John and Pat Benatar. Later I did a series of psychedelic collages using Charlie's Angels trading cards and picture of Florence Henderson from the Wesson Oil coupons and ads. Soon I was arranging beans and noodles into larger portraits of these icons. It just exploded from there!"

Don't worry about Mecier's food-based portraits getting bug infestations or mold - he uses an acrylic sealant for edible materials.

Jason Mecier, Jerry Seinfeld

There was actually a short documentary on the construction of this portrait of Amy Sedaris.

Jason Mecier, Amy Sedaris, 2011

Jason Mecier, Hugh Hefner

Apparently there was $1500 worth of weed on the canvas for Snoop Dogg's portrait.

Jason Mecier, Snoop Dogg, 2011

Jason Mecier, Lady Gaga, 2010

All of these are awesome, but obviously my favorites are the portraits from his makeup series. It's one thing to create a portrait out of makeup products, but it's quite another to form a mosaic by incorporating the outer packaging in addition to the makeup itself.

Jason Mecier, Missy Elliott, 2011

Jason Mecier, Mariah Carey, 2011

Jason Mecier, Rosario Dawson, 2011

Jason Mecier, Ashanti, 2011
(images from jasonmecier.com)

Mecier says that he "enjoy[s] trying to match the perfect items, colors, and themes with the essence of each unique subject."  To that end, might I suggest that he continue this series with some other modern iconic beauty looks?  I'd love to see Rihanna with her blue lipstick or Joan Smalls with violet lips.  He also takes commissions, so I'm seriously considering asking him to make me a portrait of Babo using various cookies.  ;)

What do you think of these?  And who would you like to see in makeup or other materials?

Sugarpill has the cure for the winter blahs

I don't know much about Sugarpill Cosmetics, but I spotted this lip gloss with positively adorable packaging and knew I had to feature it.  Unfortunately I wasn't fast enough to get my hands on it and it's my understanding there will be no more sold with this particular design (the lip product itself will still be available in regular packaging.)

It's pretty obvious what lured me in.  MERMAID!!!

Bei Badgirl for Sugarpill

Bei Badgirl for Sugarpill

And not just any mermaid; one created by kawaii (cute) artist Bei Badgirl.  Her website provides the following description: "BEI BADGIRL is an artist, designer and body positive advocate from Heaven. An expert in Cute (Kawaii かわいい), she draws inspiration from the Superflat movement, pop culture, and her own life experiences and obsessions. Her work reflects her playful attitude through 2.5D drawings and paintings of cute, sexy women, their pets, makeup, junk food and everything else they thrive on...Her hobbies include texting her besties, travelling, no chill memes, hoarding swimwear, and spending approximately zero time swimming. She currently resides between Tokyo and Sydney, and believes girls can do anything."  Given that profile I was very eager to see her work.  Her motto of "Just be cute and don't worry!" also piqued my curiosity.

I believe this is the original painting for the image that appeared on the Sugarpill packaging. Do you not love the little bunny face peeking out on her tail?

Bei Badgirl mermaid painting, Ambush gallery

Naturally I had to take a look at some of Bei's other work in search of more mermaids.  And she did not disappoint!  So many sexy cute mermaids, many of which are painted on wood that Bei carves herself:  "I notice a lot of people aren’t aware most of my art is painted, huge, and cut out of wood by me. Even some of my friends don’t realise I do all the woodwork myself, but I happily invite those bitches over to witness it for themselves hahaha. Girls can do anything, duh."

Bei Badgirl, Merbitch, 2013

Bei Badgirl, Zero Cool Gallery

Looks like this one was an early adopter of the unicorn horn trend.

Bei Badgirl

Not only does this "merbitch" have a delicious cup of coffee, she's also applying lipstick with a seashell compact. Love it.

Bei Badgirl, Merbitch with Coffee, 2012

More on Bei's style, in her own words:  "I’m really fascinated by the concepts of indulgence and excess, sex and desire. I guess that’s why there’s a lot of oral fixation, sparkly things and food going on in my pieces. I also like that so much of what I’m essentially obsessed with isn’t real or tangible- the idea of falling in love with imaginary things."  This is especially evident in paintings like the one below.

Bei Badgirl, Merhoe with Kittenfish, 2011

I think this one is my favorite - an utterly charming and girly but also foul-mouthed mermaid, which is sort of how I like to see myself. ;)

Bei Badgirl, Text Me Back, 2011

And of course there are the assorted mer-critters.  I wish there were plushies of these, I think they would get along well with Museum staff.

Bei Badgirl, Merkitty

Bei Badgirl, Merbunny

He might just be a mer-kitten, but he's already got a little tattoo on his paw!

Bei Badgirl, Merbaby(images from beibadgirl.com)

The curvy voluptuousness of Bei's women shows that she is indeed a body-positive advocate, although it's somewhat a happy accident.  She explains in an interview, "My work totally is body positive, but kind of effortlessly.  I still get caught off guard sometimes when people point out how my work is body positive because the girls are all pretty thick and have tummies.  I never really thought twice about it - I was just drawing what made sense to me and what looked pretty...this is obvious, but I strongly believe in the fact that people are meant to be different.  If we were all meant to look the same, we would be.  It's nothing new, but it needs to be repeated as much as possible. 'Perfect' doesn't have a face, it doesn't look one way."  She also tells one young woman who wrote to her asking for advice, "I got tired of hating myself and wasting so much energy on feeling bad. It’s boring. I decided to trust myself. What I’ve found the most interesting about this is that when I decided to love myself and feel confident that’s really when other people began responding differently (positively) to me as well.  Do you find feeling insecure about the way you look to be counter-productive? When I began to put my energy into other things like my art etc that’s when my career really took off and so many amazing opportunities and people entered my life! It’s so much more rewarding than hating yourself and I feel so much happier just with all the things I have going on in my life, I don’t really have any energy left for negativity.  I feel very grateful for my body - I see it as something separate to my soul and myself - and it’s the only body I’ll ever have so I should be kind to it and love it. It’s seen me through my teens and all the bullshit I went through, all my highs and lows, every experience, and will be there for me until I die.  I always like to mention that we all have bad days, but just recognise them for what they are and be kind to yourself."  It sounds trite, but Bei really does put her money where her mouth is: not only does she embrace fuller-figured women in her work, she also regularly posts pictures of herself in swimsuits and short skirts, proudly displaying, in her words, a "juicy" physique.  Yasss!!

The body positivity and feminist aspects of her aesthetic is also desperately needed in kawaii culture.  A student majoring in Japanese Studies at Oxford, specializing in contemporary art by Japanese women, offered this thoughtful analysis in a message to Bei:  "I just wanted to say that is so inspiring that your work represents the best of kawaii culture, i.e subversive and empowering femininity, and absolutely none of the worst...your work is so significant in transforming the otherwise infantilising nature of ‘kawaii,’ on an international scale...[it] seems to represent to me a reclaiming of cuteness by and for women, with strong messages of sex & body positivity that seem to have had a significant influence on other 'kawaii’ artists, which is such a refreshing change from dominant images of cuteness in Japan." Since I am nowhere near an expert in contemporary Japanese art or kawaii, I'll take her word for it. But just looking at Bei's women, despite their skimpy attire and exaggerated femininity, I imagine they have more of a feminist edge than other kawaii images.  I feel as though there's a distinct "don't mess with me" attitude about them, especially around the eyes.  While some other kawaii girls sport heavy black eye makeup, the lids on Bei's figures are strangely pointed (not round) with an odd spike shape shooting out on either side and rimmed with equally spiky lashes.  It's as though their makeup is weaponized, giving them a slightly dangerous look as opposed to the wide-eyed, child-like, nearly helpless vibe of some other kawaii girls.  The fact that Bei also sometimes refers to her mermaids as "merbitch" and "merhoe" can arguably be cast as a feminist appropriation of these traditionally degrading terms for women.

What do you think?  Have you tried anything from Sugarpill?  I so wish I could have gotten my hands on this lip gloss!

Couture Monday: Chanel's pearly whites (and pinks)

This highlighter was a sweet little surprise from Chanel.  I'm not sure why they chose to release it now, as a pearl jewelry collection was introduced in 2014, but it's a delightful nod to Coco Chanel's popularization of long, dangling strands of faux pearls as well as their use in Chanel's contemporary fashion.

Chanel Perles et Fantasies highlighter

Chanel Perles et Fantasies highlighter

The embossing on the box was a nice detail.

Chanel Perles et Fantasies highlighter

While she was not the first to make use of costume jewelry in her collections, Coco Chanel introduced the notion of mixing them with one or two real pieces. "A woman should mix fake and real.  To ask a woman to wear real jewelry only is like asking her to cover herself with real flowers instead of flowery silk prints.  She'd look faded in a few hours. I love fakes because I find such jewelry provocative, and I find it disgraceful to walk around with millions around your neck just because you're rich. The point of jewelry isn't to make a woman look rich but to adorn her; not the same thing."  Coco's idea of piling on faux jewelry alongside real gems democratized the practice of wearing jewelry, as the combination of genuine and fake allowed women to perfectly accessorize their outfits at a more affordable price.  And her costume jewelry of choice? Long strands of oversized fake pearls, sometimes mixed with chains and beads.

Coco Chanel(images from mystylefest.com and marlm.com)

Coco Chanel, 1937
(image from milkywayjewels.com)

These strands have been an integral part of Chanel style for many years, but the couture house is constantly reinventing them and using pearls in new and innovative ways. Today I thought I'd highlight some my personal favorites from the past 10 years.

Pearls were used as hair accessories, either fairly simple (shown here at the fall 2006 couture show)...

Chanel fall 2006 couture hair

...or elaborate, as at the pre-fall 2009 show.

Chanel pre-fall 2009

Pearls can also be delicate belts, shoe decorations or even a small purse.

Chanel resort 2013, spring 2010 and pre-fall 2015

Another thing I've noticed is how Chanel plays with proportions of pearls.  Take, for example, the enormous pearls that adorned the necks and wrists of the models while also dotting the clothes themselves for the spring 2013 ready-to-wear collection, or as veritable boulders at the spring 2014 ready-to-wear show.

Chanel spring 2013 ready-to-wear

Chanel spring 2013 ready-to-wear

Chanel spring 2014 ready to wear

In sharp contrast to the relatively tidy, orderly application of pearls in the above collections, pre-fall 2012 was all about haphazardly heaping them on in multiple places - of course as necklaces and bracelets but also as belts and and sewn onto jackets.  Mixed with intricate embroidery, lamé, metalwork and gemstones, pearls lent an incredibly luxe yet sophisticated feel to the collection.  Indeed, Karl Lagerfeld wanted a collection reminiscent of traditional Indian royalty that also acknowledged India's modernity, and the use of Chanel's signature pearl strands combined with other jewels was essential in achieving this.

Chanel pre-fall 2012

Chanel pre-fall 2012
I saved my 2 favorites for last: the fall 2010 couture collection and the stunning spring 2012 ready-to-wear show.

Chanel fall 2010 couture

I really only care for pearls when they're edgy and/or disheveled, so obviously I'd kill to have the bracelet below.

Chanel fall 2010 couture

You might remember how inspired I was by the ethereal, under-the-sea vibe of these pieces, not to mention the mermaid-esque beauty look.

Chanel spring 2012 ready-to-wear

Chanel spring 2012 ready-to-wear

Chanel spring 2012 ready-to-wear(images from vogue.com)

Overall, I liked this palette as it's a simple representation of a rather groundbreaking and recognizable aspect of Chanel's aesthetic.  Would I have liked to see a little more detail in the pearls?  Perhaps, but sometimes with depictions of couture house icons, a more straightforward design is best.

What do you think?  And are you a pearl wearer?  As I said above, I don't like a neat little line of pearls - I need to have them messily mixed with spikes, studs, etc. to toughen them up.

Curator's Corner, 2/14/2016

CC logoLinks for the week.

- Some very exciting news!  If you've been reading my blog for a while you know what a huge fan I am of beauty writer Autumn Whitefield-Madrano and her fabulous blog The Beheld.  Well, guess what?! Her first book is now available for pre-orderFace Value: The Hidden Ways Beauty Shapes Women's Lives sounds truly awesome.  Be sure to check out her new website too. 

- The Glamourologist explains how an ancient Egyptian cosmetic spoon worked.

- In bizarre beauty this week: glitter tears, unicorn horn braids, undercut "tattoos", neck contouring and hand makeup. Truth be told, I think that last one seems one step away from Señor Wences.

- I don't collect perfume bottles, but these Guerlain ones are amazing (and retail for $11,000 each!)

- This Canadian thief went berserk on beauty products. Obviously he was planning on reselling them...or was he?

- Genius.

The random:

- On the local front, Baltimore may be the "most eccentric" city in the U.S. (I must point out, however, that the item about the "Ouija 7-11" is complete and utter garbage...there are so many things wrong with that write-up.  Just trust me.)

- Loved this profile of merfolk in the UK.

- Never trust a big butt and a smile: in '90s nostalgia, Justin Timberlake does a great cover of the 1990 hit "Poison."  Also, classic '90s radio show Loveline gets revisited and TV show Saved By the Bell is getting its own restaurant.

- Only a few more days!!

What was catching your eye this week, beauty-related or otherwise?

Quick post: vintage Valentine's Day compacts

As I've said before, I think Valentine's Day is kinda dumb so the husband and I don't celebrate it, but I do love any sort of holiday-themed makeup. Vintage compacts are especially fun to browse for V-day, as there's no shortage of lovey-dovey designs.

If I had to guess, I think Elgin's heart-shaped compacts were originally created for Valentine's Day (and eventually marketed for Mother's Day and Christmas), since the earliest ad I've seen for them was from February 1947.  I'm greatly amused by the fact that this one appeared in Esquire magazine.  Clueless men, here's what to get your girl for Valentine's Day!

1947 Elgin ad(image from elgintime.blogspot.com)

I always love it when I can find the item that I spotted in a vintage ad.  

Vintage Elgin "Hearts Afire" compact(image from etsy.com)

Here's another ad from February 1948.  While it seems to be targeting women, it does mention the compacts as Valentine's Day gifts.

1948 Elgin ad(image from pinterest.com)

Vintage Elgin "Gay Nineties" compact

Vintage Elgin "Gay Nineties" compact(images from ebay.com)

Some other Elgin compacts that would have been appropriate for Valentine's Day:

Vintage Elgin arrow compact(image from rubylane.com)

Vintage Elgin heart-shaped compact
(image from worthpoint.com)

Vintage Elgin heart-shaped compact(image from etsy.com)

It looks like some of them had space for engraving so you could customize them.

Vintage Elgin engraved compact

This one is my favorite. Like I said, I'm not really into Valentine's Day crap, but this is precious.  It really hits all the love notes - Cupid, flying hearts, and "I love you" in several languages. At least, I think that's Cupid...he doesn't have wings, which is a little odd.

Vintage Elgin love compact

Vintage Elgin love compact
(images from etsy.com)

If I had been more organized I would have gotten one for the Museum in time for V-day.  Fortunately there are lots of this particularly design floating around so I can still get it.

What do you think of these?  And do you celebrate Valentine's Day? (I won't judge if you do!)

More Chinese New Year collectibles from Shu Uemura

Just when I thought there were no new cleansing oils in sight from Shu, they surprised us with these two to celebrate the Chinese New Year.  If I had known these were coming I would have held off on my group portrait, but c'est la vie.  Anyway, like the Qiang embroidery patterns from 2015's cleansing oils, this year Shu honored another traditional Chinese art: kites.  The company collaborated with expert kite maker Zhang Xiaodong to create two custom patterns for the oils.

Shu Uemura Chinese New Year cleansing oils, 2016

The first is a traditional "swallow" shaped kite that in this case represents rebirth.  Magpies are symbols of happiness and good luck in Chinese culture, while the goldfish signify an abundance of wealth.  I actually think the boxes for both of the oils are prettier than the bottles themselves, as they have more detail and color.

Shu Uemura Chinese New Year cleansing oil 2016

Shu Uemura Chinese New Year cleansing oil 2016

Shu Uemura Chinese New Year cleansing oil, 2016

Shu Uemura Chinese New Year cleansing oil 2016

Here is the kite made by Zhang Xiaodong. 

Zhang Xiaodong kite for Shu Uemura
(image from goodchinabrand.com)

The theme of the other cleansing oil is metamorphosis, symbolized by the butterfly.  Additionally, Cranes signify longevity, while camellias represent long-lasting devotion in marriage.

Shu Uemura Chinese New Year cleansing oil 2016

Shu Uemura Chinese New Year cleansing oil 2016

Shu Uemura Chinese New Year cleansing oil 2016

Shu Uemura Chinese New Year cleansing oil 2016

Shu Uemura Chinese New Year cleansing oil 2016

Here's the original kite.

Zhang Xiaodong kite for Shu Uemura
(image from goodchinabrand.com)

Zhang Xiaodong is one of China's leading kite artists.  He is one of a handful of aging craftsmen in China struggling to save the dying art of kite-making.  Between budget cuts for cultural heritage programs that fund kite-making and a younger generation disinterested in the practice, kite artists are challenged in keeping the tradition alive.  Zhang does his part by spending his spare time teaching children and teenagers in Weifang, the world's "kite capital", how to make kites.  Unfortunately I couldn't find any information (in English, anyway) about what inspired him to create the designs he did for the Shu collab, just some pictures showing him at work.  But both of the oils' themes - rebirth and metamorphosis - stem from the central idea of a renaissance of sorts, so I'm interpreting the designs as an expression of the artist's hope of breathing new life into an art form that's fading away. 

Traditional kites are made by hand-painting pieces of silk and attaching them to bamboo frames, which you can see a bit of below. 

Zhang Xiaodong for Shu Uemura(image from shuuemura.com.cn)

From I was able to piece together here, Shu also collaborated with 19 year-old Chinese singer Dou Jing Tong  (a.k.a. Leah Dou) to help bridge the gap between youth culture and the historic art of kite-making.  Dou was interviewed in this video and some background information on Zhang was provided.  (Alas, it's all in Chinese.)  Additionally, Dou released her second single as part of the Shu campaign, the video for which features the kites made by Zhang.


I thought using his kites in the video for a young pop star's song and also animating the designs was an interesting approach to mixing the old and the new.  Some people might see it as nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to expose a younger generation to traditional Chinese kites with the hopes of gaining some appreciation for them, but the I think the marketing people tried their best.  I think if maybe young people didn't know that the designs were done by an old-school craftsman, they might think it's neat.  Or perhaps the long-standing history of kites and their non-mass-produced, handmade nature are the very things to spark interest among Chinese hipster youth, equivalent to things like taxidermy or any food promoted as "artisanal" here in the States.

Anyway, I applaud Shu for trying to bring attention to yet another cultural institution that's slipping away, and I liked the bright colors and patterns on these oils.  I just wish Shu would make this information readily available on their U.S. website.  If they're going to sell the oils here then they need to provide the backstory too.  I'm sure a lot of American buyers would be curious.

What do you think?



Couture Monday: Monkeying around with Armani

Happy Chinese New Year!  This Armani palette will help you celebrate in shimmery style. YSL and MAC both occasionally release items in honor of the holiday (and both are this year), so I guess Armani is following suit.  

The red lacquer case depicts the Chinese symbols for fortune and luck.

Armani Chinese New Year palette

Armani Chinese New Year palette

Inside, the powder is inscribed with a silhouette of a monkey.  I thought this was well-done.  While more detail might have been interesting, keeping the design limited to a simple outline is probably the best way to go so that it doesn't veer into cartoon territory.

Armani Chinese New Year palette

Those born in a year of the monkey are said to be curious, sociable, mischievous and clever.  In fact, China may see a significant increase in births this year since the traits associated with this sign are so desirable.

Armani Chinese New Year palette

Armani Chinese New Year palette

I guess Couture Monday is a misnomer in this case, as I couldn't find any relationship to Armani's fashion - no special Year of the Monkey capsule collection or anything like that.  So in lieu of fashion, today I will bring you some of my favorite monkeys in art.  There's even a whole Tumblr devoted to the topic!  Some Chinese and Japanese examples.

Yi Yuanji, Monkeys and Cats, 11th century(image from wikipedia.org)

Gibbons at Play, 1427
(image from wikipedia.org)

Monkeys on a Limb by Mori Sosen, 18th century

Gibbon Reaching for the Moon's Reflection, Ohara Koson, 1926
(images from wikipedia.org)

And here are some monkeys in Western art:

A Monkey Smoking and Drinking with an Owl by Ferdinand Van Kessel, 17th century
(image from venetianred.net)

Georges Seurat, A Sunday Afternoon on La Grande Jatte, 1884

Tropical Forest with Monkeys by Henri Rousseau, 1910(image from nga.gov)

The Monkey by Franz Marc, 1912
(image from wikiart.org)

Self Portrait with Monkeys by Frida Kahlo, 1943(image from anothermag.com)

Some other monkey business includes these home goods, a collection of lovely cards by Japanese designers, this exhibition at the Met, and you simply must check out these monkey orchids.

What do you think of the Armani palette?  And do you like monkeys either in general or as a decorative motif?

Curator's Corner, 2/7/2016

CC logoCatching up on some links.

- Here's a fascinating, although too brief, article on ancient Roman beauty habits.  I want to buy the author's book now!  Also enjoyed this post at Collecting Vintage Compacts.

- Speaking of vintage compacts, see the original Estée Lauder gift-with-purchase compact.

- I should probably update my faux freckles post to include the new rainbow freckles trend and its offshoot, glitter freckles.  I also wonder how long it'll take for the black light makeup fad to turn into glow-in-the-dark freckles.

- Hair trends include checkerboard hair and the delectable cinnamon swirl hair.  Also, this stylist recreates art masterpieces using hair as a canvas

- The average woman spends 22 and a half minutes getting ready every day. I take about the same amount of time...if you add an hour. :P

- In stupid beauty inventions, we have a completely inefficient automatic lipstick machine and a rather unnecessary wearable nail polish holder. (Just put the bottle on a counter or the floor - I really don't know what the point of a special holder is.)

- Anti-grooming has made its debut as the men's equivalent of the no-makeup look.

- This is one '90s beauty technique I don't remember.

- The future of beauty marketing? No, not plasticsMakeover apps are the way to go. Case in point: Sephora's new lipstick try-on app.

- It's about time MAC came out with their own rewards program.

The random:

- I had always meant to write an essay on Riot Grrrl fashion/style as a followup to my thesis, but AnOther beat me to it. 

- Murdering plushies just for a few seconds of entertainment is so cruel. :(  Also cruel is the fact that no one likes my name anymore (although this wasn't exactly news to me, sigh).

- The season 3 Broad City trailer is way funnier than my smackdowns.  Also funny (for Simpsons fans, anyway) is this truly magical website.

How have you been?

Everybody's eating makeup: A brief history of food-scented cosmetics

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.

Flavored lipstick 1939(image from blog.modernmechanix.com)

Roughly a decade later Harriet Hubbard Ayer released a clove-flavored lipstick. 

Harriet Hubbard Ayer ad,

It was followed by this mint-rose scented lipstick in 1951.

Harriet Hubbard Ayer ad, 1951
(images from ebay.com)

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.)

1964 Cutex ad(image from buzzfeed.com)

Soon after, in 1971, Yardley jumped on the fruit-scented lipstick bandwagon. I also remembered this one from the fruit ad post.

Yardley ad, 1971

And in 1972, the company expanded the Lip Licks line to include dessert-inspired flavors (you might remember this ad from the Sweet Tooth exhibition.)

Yardley ad, 1972(image from flickr.com)

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).

Bonne Bell ad, 1979(image from oldadvertising.blogspot.com)

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.)

Vintage Avon Hershey's Kiss balm

Vintage Avon cookie gloss

Vintage Avon lip pomade
(images from etsy.com)

Thanks in large part to the enormously popular Lip Smackers line, other companies proceeded to try to get a piece of the teenage demographic by cranking out flavored lip products through the '80s. 

Maybelline ad, 1980
(image from liketotally80s.com)

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. 

Food-scented makeup, '90s and early aughts

  1. Bourjois Bronzing Powder, 2006
  2. Benefit Georgia blush, 2004*
  3. MAC Lip Glass Tastis, 2004*
  4. 100% Pure Fruit-Pigmented Mascara, ca. 2007
  5. Urban Decay XXX Slick in Cocoa, 2004*
  6. Becca Beach Tint, ca. 2006
  7. Benefit SugarBomb blush, 2009
  8. Stila Lip Glaze, ca. 1999
  9. Jane Iredale Chocoholicks lip palette, ca. 2009
  10. Too-Faced Soleil Matte Bronzer, 2009

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.

Foody-scented makeup highlights, 2012-2014

  1. DuWop Haute Chocolate Lip Venom, 2014
  2. Too-Faced Chocolate Bar palette, spring 2014
  3. Love Switch Pink Brown mascara, 2012
  4. Holika Holika Dessert Time Lip Balms, 2012
  5. Etude House Chocolate Eyes, spring 2013 (it should look familiar, as it was a key exhibition piece)
  6. Makeup Revolution Death by Chocolate palette, 2014
  7. Skin Food Choco Eyebrow Powder Cake, 2013
  8. Rimmel Chocolate Sweet Eyes, 2014

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.

Scented nail products

  1. 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.)
  2. 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.
  3. Ciaté Mint Choc Pot, 2015 (I think the Choc Pots are the reincarnation of Ciaté's previous foray into scented polish removers, which sucked - I wonder if the Choc Pots are any better).
  4. L.A. Colors Melon nail polish remover pads, ca. 2011
  5. Model's Own Sweet Shop Fizzy Cola Bottles, 2014 (the Sweet Shop collection is a follow up to Model's Own popular Fruit Pastel collection released the previous year)
  6. Sally Girl Vanilla scented polish, holiday 2014
  7. Revlon Parfumerie scented polish, 2013
  8. Color Club Pumpkin Spice Latte polish, ca. 2011 (this company has also released holiday-themed scented polishes)

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.

Foody makeup 2015-2016

  1. Etude House Give Me Chocolate collection, spring 2015
  2. Lunasol Selection de Chocolat eyes, fall 2015
  3. Too-Faced Peach palette, spring/summer 2016
  4. Too-Faced Chocolate Bon Bons palette, winter/spring 2016
  5. Etude House Berry Delicious Cream Blush, spring 2016
  6. RMK Vintage Sweets collection lip glosses (flavors included Maple Syrup and Butterscotch), spring 2015
  7. Too-Faced Peanut Butter and Jelly palette, spring 2016
  8. Physician's Formula Butter Bronzer, spring 2016
  9. Too-Faced Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bar palette, spring 2015
  10. Lunasol Melty Chocolat lip glosses, fall 2015
  11. Too-Faced Melted Chocolate liquid lipsticks, spring 2016
  12. Etude House Gingerbread Cookie Contour Maker, holiday 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 news articles, 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.

*Limited edition/discontinued