Pre-spring blog break

some ecardHello!  Again, while I don't think anyone is positively dying to know my whereabouts, the compulsive side of me felt the need to officially announce that I'm taking a little break from the blog.  As you know, I'm feeling less than positive about it lately, and I also desperately need time to work on makeup-related things that I can't get to while writing and taking photos.  Namely, I plan on doing a lot of decluttering, re-organizing and inventory updating.  It would also be nice to, you know, enjoy a couple weekends that aren't entirely spent blogging - I'd like to maybe read a book (one that's not for review here), color, bake, spend time with family, etc.  

I'll be back in a few weeks, hopefully feeling refreshed.  In the meantime, please be sure to keep up with me on Instagram and Twitter, and check out the archives if you want something to read.  :)




Museum/blog update: 2018

Somecard(This will be a long and whiny post.  Feel free to skip it.)

I've been wanting to write this post for a while and I figured what better day than New Year's, a.k.a. the most depressing day of the year.  The Museum plan for 2018 is that there is no plan.  The only thing I intend to do is continue posting up until the Museum's 10-year anniversary in August, when hopefully I will have come to a decision as to whether to keep going or end this sad endeavor.  Both 2017 and 2016 have been a nonstop cycle of Museum-related stress, frustration and rejection.  I haven't shared any of these failures because there have been so many and because I don't want to come across as negative, but I can't hold it in any longer.  I took all the opportunities that were offered to me and undertook my own efforts to try to improve the Museum in terms of research, visibility and organization as well as trying to make it a physical space or at least get an exhibition, all of which ended with the proverbial door getting slammed in my face. 

Social Media
As much as I enjoyed blogging and Instagram, recently they've been killing me.  Whether I'm losing sleep over people unfollowing me, or the fact that I've been on Instagram a year and a half and still haven't reached a measly 1,000 followers, or that it takes me 1-2 hours at a minimum to set up and take a photo I consider decent enough to post, it's been less than fun lately.  A few weeks back in December all I wanted to do was run a 5 mile race and hit up the Charm City Craft Mafia's annual holiday show.  Instead that Saturday was spent taking hundreds of photos for both the blog and Instagram.  I never seem to have time for any of my other hobbies anymore.  This is especially troubling when I see people with, to be blunt, downright shitty photos having thousands of followers.  Ditto for poorly written blogs - I see how many readers they have in Feedly compared to mine (I currently have a whopping 58 readers, down from 59 in early 2017) - and it seems people who can't even spell properly have hundreds of readers.  I might pretend that the blog and Instagram are more for me than anyone else, but if I'm being honest, I'm sick of talking to myself.  It's disheartening to put so much time and effort into both when I get basically nothing in return.  I feel like I'm standing on a table in the middle of a crowded room shouting through a bullhorn and no one hears a damn thing.

I have tried my best to really step up the research on vintage items and make my posts on contemporary items more scholarly and academic.  What I discovered is that: 1. Baltimore's public libraries suck; 2. the library at the university where I work doesn't have anything I need; 3.  Hopkins' library is good for art history but they want $200 a year for access and they don't have the magazine archives I'm after; 4.  The New York Public Library has both Vogue and WWD archives and does allow out-of-state residents to get a library card, but you have to go up there in person to get it and then renew it every 3 months (again, in person).  Despite these obstacles I was all excited until I realized that both of these much-needed resources are only accessible from a branch, i.e., even though I hauled my ass up there to get a card, I can't access those from here.  And both of those require an exorbitant amount of money to subscribe.

So much for this.

Along those lines, I can't upgrade to a proper museum website or publish any of the tons of books I've had rattling around in my head for years, because I am not independently wealthy.  A coffee table book wouldn't require much heavy-duty research, but as it's mostly eye candy I'd need to hire a professional photographer.  Same with digitizing the Museum's collection.  I'd need a pro to take photos and for a professional redesign of the website, it would cost thousands.  Yes, I've actually priced it out - I live with a designer who does this for a living, for god's sake.  As for my own exhibitions, I have so many ideas that go beyond the very basic themes I normally cover.  Forest creatures and rainbows are nice, but not complex like some others I'd love to do if I had access to better resources. 

Other Exhibitions and Museums (or, so many fails I had to number them)
1. In March 2016 the director of a major university library contacted me and asked about starting a real cosmetics museum together.  She'd handle the business end and I'd do all the curating, and I could do it remotely so I wouldn't have to up and move to the small town she was proposing it would be.  She had a lovely old warehouse space picked out and everything, we made tons of plans and I really thought my dream would be a reality.  After several months of emailing and phone calls she proposed visiting me in Baltimore so I could, in her words, "make sure she wasn't an axe murderer" (and obviously she needed to size me up too).  In June 2016 we had a very nice dinner during which we continued discussing plans.  I thought it went well, and then...nothing.  Radio silence for 3 months, at which point I followed up and asked if everything was okay.  She explained that her old house hadn't sold and she needed that cash to buy the space where we were going to put the museum, but that if anything changed she'd let me know.  This was in September 2016.  I have not heard hide nor hair from her since.  So yeah, being - what's the term the kids use these days?  Ghosted? - by this person was truly upsetting, especially since it seemed to have occurred immediately following our in-person meeting.  To this day I still wonder what about me in person was so off-putting that she abandoned the project.

2. I emailed Makeup in New York about whether they'd have an exhibition of vintage beauty items, something I've been going to see the past few years.  I was told that they would not be having one at their 2017 show, so I gathered my courage and boldly offered to help organize/curate one in the future.  This was the response I received. 


Am I being too sensitive or was that stone cold?  Why wouldn't you at least entertain the notion of someone with nearly a decade of makeup exhibition experience helping to curate one at an expo?  I realize the exhibitions I organize are just in my home, but give me a gallery space and I'd hit it out of the park.  I'm one of a handful of people on the entire planet who has actively, thoughtfully considered beauty exhibitions and would know what people want to see and how to go about organizing it.  You would think they'd be interested in having my help, but no. 

3.  At least I received a response from them.  Esteé Lauder continues to ignore my requests for information about their archives...but they are more than happy to have "social media influencers" have access to them

Ignoring me for over a year.

4. Finally, there's this exhibition.  Normally I'm thrilled to see other makeup exhibitions, but this one has broken me since it's one I genuinely could have helped with.  I was asked to lend some objects for it, but that's where my involvement ends, and for that I am crushed.  I just can't figure out why, again, someone with nearly a decade of experience planning and executing exhibitions devoted to makeup is brushed off (yes, I offered to assist in any other way besides object-lending capacity and was rejected.  They were very polite about it, at least.)  I know no one is going to hand me an opportunity to guest curate on a silver platter and that people need to take ownership of their exhibitions - I'd never ask to co-curate because I understand it's THEIR exhibition - but it would have been nice to be asked to do a little consultation on what they were planning.  Again, I'm one of the few people on earth who has spent years thinking about how to curate makeup exhibitions.  I'm certainly not saying the grad students organizing this are incapable of curating a great makeup exhibition, as some of them work for well-known galleries so I'm sure it'll be good and I'm definitely going to go see it.  I'm just saying that my insight might have been as helpful as gallery experience.  The other thing that's upsetting is that an exhibition in a real gallery space is something I've worked so hard to achieve for years, and along comes this one, which was organized in a matter of months.  I bet they had no trouble getting cosmetics companies to reply to them about borrowing objects from their archives or accessing other historical resources.

To sum up, I'm just really tired.  Tired of spending every spare minute and drop of energy on something no one's interested in, tired of being told no, tired of not being taken seriously. Most of all I'm tired of the "you're responsible for your own destiny/happiness" bullshit because it's simply not true.  People don't seem to understand there's a fair amount of luck and connections involved in making dreams a reality.  I have been doing everything humanly possible to improve the blog and make the Museum real and have been stonewalled every step of the way, while others (some of whom I think are less deserving) are met with nothing but success due to dumb luck or because of who they know.  It's just history repeating itself; I was shut out of the museum world and academia at a young age, and I had originally conceived of the Museum/blog as outlets to help me deal with my shattered career dreams.  If museums and universities didn't want me then I'd forge my own path and make my own opportunities.  Instead it's the same old thing.

Thank you for reading and apologies for being bitter and entitled, but that's just where I am right now and had to get it off my chest.  I am grateful for the few of you that continue to support the Museum and I hope 2018 has good things in store for you.

Quick post: Halloween beauty roundup

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

Halloween 2017 makeup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Curator's picks and pans for 2016

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

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

Konstantin Kakanias for NARS

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

Givenchy Le Rouge Kyoto edition

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

Dolce & Gabbana Sicilian Bronzer

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

Now for the pans. 

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

Mara Hoffman for Sephora
(images from sephora.com)

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

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

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


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

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

I'm on Instagram

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

Photos of things you will see @makeup_museum:

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

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


Blog note: farewell to Couture Monday

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

I'm going to Disney World!

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

Marc by Marc Jacobs Alice in Wonderland bag

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

Darling Clementine woodland card set

Darling Clementine mushroom print

Darling Clementine tin

Darling Clementine bowl

Darling Clementine laundry bag(images from darlingclementine.no)

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


New year, new basics (that are actually old)

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


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

Old makeup bag

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

Old mirror

Old mirror

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

Aw hell no

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


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

New makeup bag

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

How baller is this?

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

Too Cool for School Dinoplatz blotting sheets

Too Cool for School Dinoplatz blotting sheets

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

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

So gloriously tacky

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

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


Collection storage reorganization and updated inventory

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

Collection under-bed storage - before

Collection under-bed storage - before

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

Collection storage drawer - before

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

Collection storage - before

Collection storage - before

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

Collection under-bed storage - after

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

Collection storage drawer - before

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

Collection storage drawer - after

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

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

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