Curator's corner

Curator's corner, January 2021

Curator's cornerLinks for one of the most miserable months of the year. Good riddance, January!

- Sephora unveiled an action plan to eliminate racial bias in their stores.  Let's hope they keep the public informed on their progress.  Ditto for L'oreal's new partnership with the NAACP and a ban on animal testing in the EU.  

- In accessibility news, here are some new makeup brushes designed for people with vision and motor impairments.

- You know I'm obsessed with vintage makeup ads and can spend hours dissecting the harmful messages they embodied, so I'm loving these reimagined ones featuring diverse models.

- Refinery29 had an interesting piece on the meaning of tacky makeup for fat women.

- The future is here: more developments are on the horizon for AI and AR in beauty.

- Not sure how I feel about my favorite magazine opening a store in NY.  Guess I'll have to check it out and see if/when the pandemic ever ends.

- Undereye circles, both exaggerated versions of natural circles and wildly colorful ones, are making the rounds on TikTok.   (BTW, the Museum has a Tiktok account but no clue what to post...I'm open to suggestions.) Not all are enthusiastic about the trend, however.

- You knew "regencycore" makeup only a matter of time thanks to Bridgerton

- Vogue has an ode to a '90s cosmetics staple. Can you believe I didn't own a Caboodles?  If I recall correctly it's because even when I was a teenager I hoarded collected makeup and I knew it wouldn't all fit.

- Inaugural beauty: the always fashionable former First Lady Michelle Obama wore Fenty and Pat McGrath makeup to President Biden's inauguration, and a makeup artist turned the Bernie meme into lip art.

- It was Christian Dior's birthday on January 21, so to celebrate I took a picture of nearly all the Museum's 5-Couleurs eyeshadow palettes.  Of course I managed to forget one.  Oh well. They still look pretty. :)

Dior 5-Couleurs collection, Makeup Museum

The random:

- In '90s nostalgia, Silence of the Lambs turned 30, and for some reason one hit wonders New Radicals performed, well, their one hit at the inauguration.

- Museums' new purposes apparently include serving as vaccination centers and sites for Bernie memes (yes, I had to mention the memes a second time.)  Still, I'd take those over "for-profit experiential art centers", which in my opinion are not actually museums.

- Who came up with this monstrosity?  I love candy and I love Kraft Mac 'n' Cheese, but the two together sound positively putrid

- At least this made me laugh. The resemblance is uncanny!

How was the first month of 2021 for you?


Curator's corner, December 2020

CC logoI was too tired and sad to do a 2020 version of Curator's Picks and Pans, so I'm skipping straight to Curator's Corner for December.

- Mother has become a Dame!  Huge congratulations are in order for Pat McGrath, who became the first makeup artist to receive damehood from the queen. I remember when she got the MBE in late 2013, so I was thrilled to see this. 

- I was also really pleased to see Allure's digital feature on accessible beauty.  Just wish it was in their print version.

- I was not, however, happy to see that the president of Japanese brand DHC is under fire for some racist remarks. The really sad part is that instead of making an attempt at any sort of apology he just shrugged it off, but I guess that's to be expected as he has a history of doing this.

- Interesting piece on beauty and makeup as instruments of political power over at Teen Vogue, the author of which will be releasing a whole book on the subject.  I only hope the fable about Elizabeth Arden handing out lipsticks to suffragettes doesn't make it in there, as no one has been able to produce solid proof.

- Wallpaper had an article about the new marketing and branding for Shiseido.  How nice that the company they hired gets access to their archives for "guidance" and "inspiration" but researchers like me are repeatedly shut out.

- While I'm being a cranky old lady, I must confess that new tech advances like digital makeup printing and Google's virtual makeup try-on service seem rather stupid.  There's also Moi lipstick, which I grudgingly admit sounds somewhat interesting in terms of being able to match basically any color in the world, and I understand the need for reducing makeup packaging waste...but it also reeks of a futuristic dystopia.  

- Sad news from happi.com (the irony): Benefit co-founder Jane Ford passed away. I imagine it was tough to go on without her co-founder and twin sister Jean, who died in January 2019.  Flori Roberts, founder of her eponymous line that catered to Black women as well as Dermablend, also passed away.  More to come on Roberts as I have mixed feelings about her.

- And because I'm lazy and various news outlets have covered them already, I'm linking to some articles on beauty in 2020 and what's in store for 2021. In 2020, the biggest trends I saw were the rise of TikTok, a slew of celebrity lines, an emphasis on skincare, experimental and "ugly" makeup, and video game/makeup and beauty crossovers, whether that meant a collaboration with a video game or beauty brands making an appearance in Animal Crossing and the like. Of course, the impact of Black Lives Matter and other calls for diversity and inclusion in the industry cannot be ignored; however, I refuse to see it as a passing trend that was unique to 2020.  Both companies and consumers need to keep up the momentum.

The random:

- I love grey and yellow together, as evidenced by my wedding colors and some beloved Museum staff members, so I'm very in favor of Pantone's picks for 2021.

- "A virtual experience of high quality is not just second prize to being there in person, it may offer fresh revelations." Great piece on why digital museum exhibitions should become standard accompaniments to real-life ones.

- If Reservation Dogs is half as funny as What We Do in the Shadows, it will be hilarious. 

- Memes were one of the few things that helped keep me somewhat sane in 2020.

Are you looking forward to the new year?  I have to admit I'm not feeling optimistic, not just about the pandemic nightmare but the Museum and my family.  It was more of a slow burn of trauma and grief in 2020 rather than the sudden, unexpected events that took place in 2019...and I'm not sure which was worse. I hope 2021 will be better but based on these past two years the outlook is bleak.  :( 


Curator's corner, November 2020

Curator's cornerThe November rewind. 

- Tooting my own horn, again...this time I was interviewed for a short video segment on makeup during the pandemic.  If you want to see what I sort of look like - I swear I'm not quite as hideous in real life - keep your eyes peeled around the 1:20 mark.  Alas, they only included a tiny snippet of what I was saying so it doesn't make much sense, but my answers were better in the full context.

- In makeup history, be sure to check out this lovely post (complete with sources!) on '50s beauty tips from Hollywood stars over at Mermaidens blog.  I also enjoyed this interview with Beauty Blender founder Rea Ann Silva.  (BTW, they have the cutest zodiac-themed sponges available now so clearly I need to add them to the Museum's zodiac collection.)

- Move over '90s, y2k has taken over as beauty nostalgia's new muse.  I plan on having a little bit of this era in the epilogue of my 90s book. ;)  

- Makeup sales are falling, yet beauty overall is still set to reach nearly $130 billion by 2030. I'm guessing the rising demand for "personal care" items is making up for the losses in color cosmetic sales.

- Target is one of those stores that I could spend all day in. If I ever feel safe enough to go into a store that's not a necessity (i.e. a supermarket) I suspect my Target runs will be even longer due to Ulta setting up shop.

The random:

- In '90s nostalgia, Toy Story turns 25 (a film I still haven't seen because I think it'll make me cry) and one author tries to explain the appeal of the "butt cut" for guys.

- On the art front, I've got two words for you: underwater Impressionism.  I'm also really enjoying this blog by a museum professional - she's given me so many things to think about!

- Finally, Thanksgiving was sad again this year, but at least the plushies kept us company.  They were very eager for the desserts I was making (candy cane brownies, pumpkin cupcakes with caramel filling and frosting, and coffee heath bar ice cream) so to get them out of my hair for a bit I allowed them to play with some of the Museum's objects.  Colourpop released the cutest Candy Land collection complete with a board game, and I finally got around to snagging Revlon's $64,000 Question game from the '50s.  So they had a nice little game night.

MM staff

No pics of the desserts I made because we ate them all too fast, but they were pretty good!

If you celebrated, how was your Thanksgiving?  Are you ready for the holidays?


Curator's Corner, October 2020

Curator's corner logoI was hoping to do a history of Day of the Dead makeup in addition to Curator's Corner, but as usual I wanted to tackle a very in-depth topic that I lacked the time to cover, so here are some links instead.

- Just gonna toot my own horn, again - I was interviewed for not one but two publications, both of which happened to be in German. I hope nothing was lost in translation!  Here's a link to an article on medieval makeup in the Swiss edition of Fokus magazine, and photos are below for the October 2020 issue of Madame magazine.  The journalist never made good on her promise to send a copy (as a matter of fact, never followed up at all) and it's not available online, so I had to enlist the help of a very kind Instagram follower in Germany to send it to me.

Madame Magazine featuring the Makeup Museum, October 2020

Madame Magazine featuring the Makeup Museum, October 2020

I got a whole big quote!

Madame Magazine featuring the Makeup Museum, October 2020

- Bobbi Brown in 1993, two years after starting her original brand: "I don't like women to look like they're wearing makeup."  Bobbi Brown on her new line, Jones Road: "I honestly think people look better with less makeup...[Jones Road] is the ultimate no-makeup makeup."  I mean, it's great she's sticking to her minimal aesthetic, I just find it funny that she's essentially starting the same line she did the first time around, despite her claims that it's completely different. (Also, everyone needs to stop with the "clean" jargon already!)

- Having said that, sustainable ingredients and beauty waste are real issues, as proved by some disappointing news on ecoglitter and sheet masks.

- We're all in the throes of Election Day anxiety (I guess Election Week at this point), so here's a timely article on how beauty brands were pushing voting more than ever.  

- Beauty Matter had an interesting piece on the rise of the anti-haul.  Believe it or not, there are some things I actively choose not to buy...would you like to see a Museum anti-haul?

- Why aren't more retailers doing this??

The random:

- In '90s nostalgia, here's a look back at 1994's Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.  Meanwhile, Oasis's What's the Story Morning Glory and Smashing Pumpkins' Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness turned 25 on October 2 and October 23, respectively.

- Always hate to see a museum close, but I'm so curious to know how much a gun disguised as a lipstick would sell for.  Also, check out the world's most haunted museums.

- I need to watch the mermaid episode of Hulu's Monsterland ASAP.

Finally, here are some of the Museum's staff in their Halloween finery.  And candy, of course!

Halloween plushies

How are you?  Did you have a nice Halloween despite the pandemic?


Curator's Corner, September 2020

Curator's corner logoLinks for September. 

- Any makeup history fan must check out Lisa Eldridge's video showcasing highlights from her amazing collection.

- Estée Lauder will be the first company to send beauty products into space, to the tune of $128,000.  To what end I'm not sure.

- Byrdie had a good summary and history of Black-owned beauty brands, while Allure discusses the deathknell for skin whitening products and why getting rid of them is only the start of the conversation surrounding colorism.  Elle also featured several Black influencers who sounded off on the areas the industry still needs to improve in terms of inclusion and diversity.

- Like these makeup artists, I predict lipstick will make a huge comeback once masks are no longer part of our daily lives.

- I don't know what's more ridiculous - press-on nails to match your phone's pop socket or the fact that someone started a beauty line in Joe Biden's honor. I guess if the latter helps get people to the polls, who am I to complain?

- September 29 was National Coffee Day! Here's most of the Museum's coffee-themed collection. (I couldn't find my Hard Candy caffeine lipstick.) I'm really enjoying Beauty Bakerie, it would be perfect for a revisited Sweet Tooth exhibition.

Makeup Museum coffee collection

The random:

- In '90s nostalgia, the Fresh Prince of Bel Air will have a 30-year reunion on HBO, and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar turned 25. You can also enjoy this new column on PJ Harvey.

- This new museum in Amsterdam looks pretty interesting.

- It might be impossible to keep your cute aggression in check upon seeing these Japanese dwarf flying squirrels. Unbelievably adorable.

How did you fare in September? 


Curator's Corner, August 2020

CC logoLinks for August, plus another special milestone.

- I'm just gonna go ahead and toot my own horn - I was honored to be interviewed for an article on gender-inclusive beauty over at Mission Magazine. Not the most insightful quote but at least I got a mention!

- You could say I'm supremely excited for this new Pat McGrath lipstick, along with Byredo's new makeup line.

- Let's hear it for Juvia's Place, who is providing $300,000 worth of grants for black-owned businesses.

- Some new beauty shows to binge: Jackie Aina's Social Beauty, a documentary featuring Black women fostering social change through beauty and Rosie Huntington Whiteley's About Face, which will explore the stories behind major brands.

- AOC shares all the details of her beauty routine, including her favorite red lipstick.

- Allure consults its crystal ball for their latest issue, predicting the future of beauty products and evolving beauty standards.

- Move over, Cheeto nail polish. Everything Bagel is where it's at. (I will most likely end up buying this.)

The random:

- In '90s nostalgia, Animaniacs is being re-booted and some enterprising person is marketing a Friends-themed advent calendar.  Also, in reunions no one asked for, Smash Mouth returned to further the spread of COVID with a concert in South Dakota.

- Loving this new museum of BLM protest art, plus it's proof that a museum does not need a physical space to be meaningful and educational.  Meanwhile, the International Mermaid Museum just opened.

Finally, in addition to the Museum's anniversary, August is the month for me and the husband's anniversary. Since we got hitched on our exact 10-year dating anniversary, we're celebrating a total of 20 years together this year. Woot! If you've been following the Museum since 2010 you know we had a lovely wedding day and a wonderful honeymoon. Here's some wedding miscellany to celebrate, including our stationery that the husband designed, my shoes, jewelry, and of course makeup. I know I need to get rid of the Estée Lauder Double Wear foundation and probably the Bobbi Brown lipstick I wore, but I can't part with them. (Hey, at least I got rid of the mascara and the Stila Kitten eyeshadow pan is a replacement).  I also included a couple of Museum wedding-related pieces, like Stila's June Bride palettes and a cute little Elgin compact from the '40s, which unfortunately suffered some chipping.

Wedding anniversary makeup

How are you?  Are you looking forward to fall?


Curator's Corner, July 2020

Curator's cornerThe July rewind. 

- I think every single business should follow Target's lead and clearly indicate the black-owned brands they carry.  In other diversity news, indigenous-owned brands are finally getting some attention.

- "Creatives all over the world have been using lockdown as an opportunity to push their boundaries, psychologists say this could be a new form of self-care": How the pandemic is encouraging more experimentation with makeup than ever before.

- Trend news:  matching your eye makeup to your mask is the hot new thing, while the TikTok teens are bringing back tooth polish, which you might recall had a moment in fall 2018. Also, I have no idea how I missed the airbrushed butterfly makeup trend back in March when I was prepping for the Soaring Beauty exhibition! 

- R.I.P., Clarisonic.  I need to look for a replacement ASAP.

- How about some biscuits and gravy with your KFC lipstick?  It'll also go well with the nail polish they released a few years ago.  Unfortunately only 400 are being made and you have to sign up for their "Colonel Club" so I have no chance of procuring it for the Museum, but food-themed makeup is something I never tire of.

The random:

- In '90s nostalgia, Clueless celebrated its 25th anniversary, which for some reason I thought was much earlier in the spring, while the A.V. Club pines for Crystal Pepsi - don't we all?  Jim Carrey, insufferable though he is (with the exception of Dumb and Dumber), shared the unsettling origin story behind Fire Marshall Bill, one of the characters he created for In Living Color.  Side note: in the name of "background research" for my '90s makeup book that I will never actually get around to writing, I'm rewatching this show along with Kids in the Hall and The State.  Comedy in the '90s was...something else. 

- Artsy had a good article on how graffiti artists are at the forefront of raising awareness for the BLM movement.

- You know I've long-considered what I'd do if a huge beauty brand offered to sponsor the Museum or an exhibition, so this was an interesting case study to see the results of one such partnership between a business giant (Ikea) and a tiny, nonprofit museum founded by private collectors (the Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines.)  However, one of my pet peeves was confirmed in that Ikea insisted on putting their name in the exhibition title.  Blech.  I understand companies need to advertise their sponsorship but to put it in the title just seems so crass and distracting from the museum's mission.

- Kudos to Ryan Reynolds for helping return a very special plushie to their human. #imnotcryingyourecrying

How are you doing?  I'm struggling a bit...between Museum woes and going the longest time in my life without seeing my parents, it's been tough.  But I'm still employed and the husband and plushies still support me so those are two good things.


Curator's Corner, May/June 2020

Curator's cornerI skipped the May roundup for obvious reasons, so I'm doing a mega roundup now.  While things are slowly starting to look "normal" at the Museum, rest assured I'm diligently working on diversifying, well, everything - from the topics I write about and object acquisition to the artists/brands I use for Color Connections.  I always wanted to present a different perspective on makeup and its history, so one phrase that really resonated with me recently is "change the narrative".  I hope to unveil some kind of plan or at least the Museum's current stance in September so I'll be working away on that behind the scenes.

- Some progress on the BLM front:  the Black in Fashion council was formed, both businesses and nonprofit organizations in the industry are participating in Pull Up for Change and the 15% pledge, while also making funding opportunities available for BIPOC entrepreneurs, and Walmart, CVS and Walgreen's will finally stop locking up Black beauty products (although they shouldn't have been doing that in the first place.)  This is all a great start, but only time will tell whether companies will change at the institutional level.  This is definitely something that I was blind to. I always included links about the general lack of representation in the beauty industry, but it never occurred to me to explore WHY this was happening.  After reading and reflecting, it dawned on me that the lack of makeup suitable for the skin tones of BIPOC is just a symptom of a much larger problem. For a company to offer shades to accommodate everyone, there needs to be diversity at the executive level - who do you think is making the decisions about what products to offer and the models that appear in their advertising?  Even if a company has a diversity strategy in place, if it doesn't include hiring BIPOC and other marginalized people for leadership positions, nothing will change.  Anyway, I've made a tiny bit of progress in understanding the big picture...for a while I couldn't the see the forest for the trees, so to speak.  And I'm not giving myself a pat on the back for coming to that realization, I just wanted to point it out because it will be affecting how I run the Museum. 

- Speaking of inclusiveness, new brand 19/99 seeks to "narrow the generational beauty gap" by providing products that work for any age.  I haven't purchased anything yet but I do like seeing the over-40 crowd being well-represented at their website.

 - Let's not forget about Pride!  While I dislike the rainbow-washing some companies participate in, a new study shows that the majority (64%) actually donate the proceeds from their Pride-themed products to LGTBQIA+ charities.  You can also check out some great Pride looks here, and below I have MAC Loves Pride lipsticks illustrated by Justin Teodoro - you might remember him from his collab with Barney's on a Kevyn Aucoin set.

MAC Loves Pride 2020 lipsticks

- So happy for Christine of the legendary blog Temptalia, who landed an interview with Allure magazine.  Congrats!

- The men's cosmetics industry is picking up speed with a new line at CVS and a skincare brand specifically formulated for Black and brown guys, while new (presumably women's) lines are being launched by Kanye West and Idris Elba.

- Vogue, like many of us, is questioning whether the pandemic's effects on our beauty routines will be permanent.

- I guess quarantine is making us all hungry, judging by E.L.F.'s collab with Chipotle and Sinful Colors' Sweet and Salty scented nail polish collection.

- A moment of levity.

The random:

- Some significant personal anniversaries:  twenty years ago this May I graduated from college (summa cum laude, thank you very much) and the husband and I went on our first date.  Also, my favorite band released what would become my all-time favorite album.  I will never forget hearing it for the first time as long as I live - it was like being hit by a bolt of lightning.

- In '90s music nostalgia, Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill turned 25 and shoegaze legends Hum released their first album in 22 years (and it's good.)  Meanwhile, Kurt Cobain's guitar - the one he played on the famous 1993 MTV Unplugged performance - sold for $6 million at auction.

- I can't take care of plants, even those that require a minimum of care, but these mermaid-tail succulents are singing their siren song to me.

- Plushies continue to help out during the pandemic.

So...times are still challenging.  How are you holding up? 


Curator's Corner, April 2020

CC logo
Late as usual but here's the April rewind.

- I was so very honored to be interviewed by a makeup artist in Spain for her podcast!  I'm too lazy to post the original English version of the email interview, but she included it in Spanish at her website. (Side note: I'm ashamed that Spanish was my minor in college but now I don't remember anything except random words.)

- Cruelty-Free Kitty explains the difference between cruelty-free and vegan beauty, something I've been confused about for years. 

- The coronavirus round-up:  stories on our shifting relationships with makeup, skincare panic buying, and the imminent decline in the beauty market.  If you're still feeling bad and useless, know that you can still help beauty professionals and execs at Ulta and Estée Lauder took paycuts in an effort to keep as many employees as possible.

- Dazed discusses the latest steps towards inclusiveness in the beauty industry.

- Kevyn Aucoin's '90s bestseller is making quite the comeback...but really, '90s beauty never goes out of style.

- For some reason I'm just now discovering this 2002 journal article on the history of Cutex advertising.

- Happy (?) 420: despite my skepticism regarding CBD beauty products, it's interesting to see how this sector has exploded in the past couple of years along with weed-themed cosmetics.  Some of the latter don't even contain any cannabis and I find myself amused by the names and packaging. But the reason I don't buy them for the Museum is because so many of the companies selling them seem to be completely unaware of the marijuana industry's racism problem. If you're going to sell CBD products be socially aware about them, like Undefined Beauty Co.

- I'd like to hear more from Brad Pitt's makeup artist.

- Well of course people started doing Tiger King-inspired makeup.  You can also show your support for that train wreck with these nail decals.

The random:

- Admittedly I haven't listened to it yet, but Fiona Apple's latest album is getting rave reviews so I'm looking forward to it. I remember her very first album from my college days and I'm so glad she's still here and making great music. 

- "You ain't got no job, you ain't got shit to do!" In other '90s nostalgia, Friday turned 25.  DAAAAAMMMMNNN!

- Museums in Europe are expected to re-open next month! In the meantime, organizations are continuing to educate and entertain visitors online, from sharing their creepiest items to challenging visitors to recreate artworks at home.

- You know I love makeup and mermaids, but pineapples are another obsession of mine.  Therefore I need this plant ASAP even though I'm not capable of taking care of a cactus.

How are you?  Tell me how you're faring in these very strange times.  And if you need an escape, remember to check out the spring exhibition!


Curator's Corner, March 2020

CC logoNot sure why, but the month of March really knows how to serve up the misery.  Last year my father had a severe stroke from which he is not recovered and left him incredibly vulnerable to this year's global health crisis. Let's hope the coming months are better.

- Every industry is being impacted by the coronavirus, but the beauty sector is getting hit particularly hard.  If you're feeling useless like I am, here are some ways to help

- Maybe don't shop at Sephora until they rehire or at least apologize for laying off their employees after assuring them they would keep their jobs and benefits.  I always held out hope that Sephora would one day sponsor the Museum somehow, but if a company that recently had record-breaking profits fires employees who need income at an especially critical time, obviously they're not exactly charitable enough to support a museum. 

- It's not all bad behavior though: Ulta is still retaining all employees until at least mid-April (hopefully longer if needed), and a slew of beauty brands are giving back

- The biopic on Madam C.J. Walker is finally here!  I also need to check out Little Fires Everywhere, since it's set in the '90s and I want to see if the looks are accurate. 

The random:

- "We should fully prepare for the reality that digital experiences, content, and channels will become even more vital for museums":  Museums are another industry getting decimated by the virus's impact.  Nearly 1/3 will not re-open when the quarantine is over, thousands of people are losing jobs, and there is very little government aid available. While I feel awful about these losses, at the same time I must admit feeling a little annoyed and even a tiny bit of schauenfraude at the mad dash every museum is making for the internet. The Makeup Museum never had the privilege of a physical space, and the tools and skills needed for online exhibitions and digitizing collections are rather costly. I find it irritating that it took a pandemic for both museum professionals and visitors to really see the value in virtual museums and exhibitions. And admittedly I'm gloating a bit at the fact that museums are fully experiencing what I've been struggling with - putting collections and exhibitions online with very limited resources - for over a decade. But maybe now people will finally understand that online-only museums are just as valid and important as physical spaces, and maybe more free or low-cost tools will be available to help museums build their digital presence. 

- Have you baked any bread recently?  I'm sticking to desserts, but I find it interesting that bread is trending.

- How plushies are helping during the pandemic. 

- Here's some proof that memes help us cope.

How are you all holding up?  Are you wearing more or less makeup or the same?  I discovered that I hate working from home, but at least I still have a job...and I'm actually enjoying being bare-faced most of the time.