Trends

Signs: a brief history of zodiac-inspired beauty

Almost as much as flowers, fruit, and butterflies, the signs of the zodiac are leading choices for modern cosmetics collections and beauty inspiration.  As a new sign season (Taurus) descends today, I thought it would be an appropriate time to provide a visual history of zodiac beauty and trace the ebb and flow of its popularity in the U.S.  As we'll see, the two main components of this particular category (zodiac-themed packaging and beauty tips/makeup looks based on one's sign) and the reasons behind their prevalence at certain times really haven't changed much in the past 100 years. 

The story arguably begins in the late 1600s in Europe, when British satire poet Samuel Butler suggested that women used beauty patches to indicate their sun sign.  As Aileen Ribeiro explains in Facing Beauty, "According to astrology, certain areas of the face were governed by the signs of the zodiac - Capricorn the chin, Aquarius the left eye, and so on - so that patches placed on the face could echo this respectable link, this time equating such sites with emotions related to love and sexual invitation; this game, perhaps not taken seriously by women at least, was played well into the eighteenth century."While I'd love to delve deeper to see if there were any other horoscope beauty mentions prior to then and between the 1700s to the 1900s, I've accepted that I need to fast forward to the modern beauty era.  The zodiac-based beauty advice that appears in nearly every online fashion publication nowadays has its roots in the 1920s, when an "authority on beauty"/astrology student declared that "the planets will guide one in using cosmetics" at the American Cosmetician's Society convention.

News article on zodiac beauty -Aug_17__1928_
(image from newspapers.com)

Zodiac beauty remained relatively obscure in the '30s and '40s.  Poudre d'Orsay's use of the zodiac for its face powder containers remains a mystery.  As far as I know it did not appear anywhere else in their line of powders and perfumes. Perhaps it's a reference to a detail on a historic building, much like the graphics on Cedib's Arc de Triomph powder, but that's just speculation.

Poudre d'Orsay, 1930s

The May 1, 1941 issue of Vogue featured a shop that sold an "all-purpose" cream with ingredients based not on one's skin needs but their zodiac sign.  This is possibly the first zodiac-specialized beauty product in the modern era.

Vogue, May 1941
(image from archive.vogue.com)

As compact sales grew exponentially in the '30s and '40s, zodiac-themed cases offered an alternative to monogramming in terms of customization.

Canadian-compacts-Dec_19__1936_
(image from newspapers.com)

The short-lived Ziegfeld Girls brand launched lucite zodiac compacts in 1946, which you can read more about here.

Ziegfeld Girls Scorpio zodiac compact, 1946

Why this Scorpio compact included a brochure for Capricorn I don't know, but it's interesting to see.

Ziegfeld Girls Capricorn zodiac brochure

Just two years later Elgin American got in on the zodiac compact game by introducing their "Zany Zodiac" line.  The illustrations and rhymes were devised by Stan MacNiel, a Scotsman and former British army captain.  He was quite the character and I encourage you to check out my post on him and the Elgin line.

Elgin American Virgo zodiac compact, ca. 1948

Advertising for both the Ziegfeld Girls and Elgin American compacts emphasize the individualization aspect of the zodiac.  Despite the millions of people that share the same sign, zodiac compacts were "all about you" and "individually styled."

Elgin American zodiac ad, March 1948

Ziegfeld-girls-ad-Mar_25__1946_
(images from newspapers.com)

As monogrammed compacts gradually became less popular by the mid-20th century, so too did those bearing individual signs.  A shift towards including all twelve symbols became more common.

Volupte Golden Gesture, ca. 1947-1950

Zodiac-themed compacts from the '50s though the early '70s tended to include all the sun signs.

Vintage zodiac compacts
Clockwise from top left: unmarked Scorpio compact (1950s), Max Factor (1971), Zenette (ca. 1950s), Wadsworth (ca. early 1950s), Kigu (ca. 1950s-70s), Stratton (1969), Le Rage (1950s)

The late 1960s, with its tumultuous social revolution and economic and political uncertainty, is when the astrology craze firmly took hold in American culture.  This in turn led to not only zodiac-themed collections but a slew of beauty horoscopes.

House of Danilov zodiac soap, Vogue November 1967
These pre-date Fresh's zodiac soaps by nearly 50 years!

House of Danilov zodiac soaps ad, Feb_7__1968(image from newspapers.com)

Tussy My Sign fragrance, ca. 1969
(image from ebay)

Sears Upbeat zodiac lipsticks ad, Aug_20__1969_

Flori Roberts debuted what might have been the first zodiac-inspired line for black women in 1973.

Flori Roberts zodiac line, 1973(images from newspapers.com)

Actress Arlene Dahl, who had been penning beauty horoscopes since 1963, published her "Beauty Scope" books in 1969.  I need to get my hands on a couple copies but in the meantime check out this blogger's review.

Arlene Dahl Beauty Scope book, 1969
(image from amazon)

Not to be outdone, modeling agency founder John Robert Powers and beauty columnist Jennifer Anderson followed suit.

Beauty horoscope by Jennifer-Anderson, Dec_31__1972_(image from newspapers.com)

Some beauty companies took a different, less labor-intensive route than producing and marketing zodiac-themed collections:  they began recommending products from their existing lineup for each sign.

Yardley Slicker Scope ad, 1969(image from capricornonevintage on flickr)

Estée Lauder beauty horoscope recommendations, January 1969

Estée Lauder beauty horoscope recommendations, January 1969(images from newspapers.com)

As the astrology fad waned in the mid-late '70s, due in part to scientist killjoys, so too did zodiac beauty.  Save for this 1978 Maybelline ad, I was hard pressed to find any other zodiac-themed makeup until the mid '80s.

Maybelline-zodiac

Zodiac beauty got a little boost during the greed-is-good era, when makeup artist Linda Mason published a book entitled Sun Sign Makeovers in 1985.  Like Dahl's series, the book offered specific beauty tips and makeup looks for each sign.  Just a couple years afterwards,  Mason released her own line of astrology-inspired makeup called Elements, some of which can still be purchased today (with different packaging).  There was a "moodkit" for each sign and specialized kits for eyes, cheeks and lips. By the way, in looking these up and learning more about Mason I discovered that her work is exactly one of the main things the Museum is intended for: the intersection of art and makeup.  If travel is ever remotely safe again I'm definitely going to check out her store/art gallery in Soho, it sounds dreamy!  It's literally called The Art of Beauty.

Linda Mason Sun Signs Makeover book
(image from lindamasonprofessional.com)

Linda Mason Elements(image from picuki.com)

Maybelline also tried to re-ignite the zodiac beauty flame in 1988 with individual eyeshadows. First lady Nancy Reagan regularly consulted an astrologer during her husband's tenure, a fact made public that same year, so perhaps this news snippet isn't too far off base.  (The shades are listed above in a separate clip for reference.)

Maybelline zodiac eyeshadows 1988
(image from newspapers.com)

The '90s and early 2000s experienced a resurgence of zodiac-themed beauty.  Nostalgia for '60s counterculture (in which the fascination with astrology played a big role) as well as the renewed interest in customized beauty products were the major drivers of the trend.  While Estée Lauder's compacts - another you can still buy today! - were geared more towards adults, many zodiac-themed products seemed to be intended for teens.

Estée Lauder zodiac compact ad, 1996
(image from ebay)

Vogue November 1997(image from archive.vogue.com)

Coco Loco zodiac lipsticks and nail polishes, 1997

Estée Lauder zodiac compacts
Left: Erté compact (2004); top: zodiac compact (2000); right: zodiac compact (1996)

Zodiac nail polishes by Tuff Scentence, Mademoiselle magazine July 1998

Has anyone ever heard of Scotty Ferrell?  I could not find a single other reference to him anywhere.

SScotty Ferrell zodiac lipsticks, Aug_30__2000_(image from newspapers.com)

Skinmarket Astrogloss, ca. 2001
(image from sickmalls.wordpress.com)

Demonstrating that beauty trends are cyclical, the zodiac fad waned again in the late aughts and early 2010s.  But around rumblings began in 2015 with Fresh's zodiac soaps and crescendoed to a roar by 2018.  Both Fresh and Bite borrowed a page from Flori Roberts and collaborated with noted astrologers for their collections - Susan Miller in the case of Fresh and Tara Greene for Bite.

Zodiac beauty items
Wet n Wild (summer 2018), Fresh Sugar lip balm (fall 2018), Colourpop x Kathleen Lights zodiac eyeshadow palette (summer 2018) and single eyeshadows (summer 2019), Missha cushion compact (ca. 2018), Bite Beauty Scorpio lipstick (fall 2018), The Creme Shop sheet mask (fall 2018)

But wait, there's more!  These are the ones not in the Museum's collection but still worth a mention.  The Milk Makeup zodiac stamps are a thoroughly modern twist on the beauty patches idea from several centuries ago, no?  When applied on the face I'd imagine they'd look like beauty marks, albeit ones with a highly specific design.

Zodiac beauty products

  1.   Julep zodiac nail polish, fall 2016
  2.   Milk Makeup Astrology tattoo stamps, fall 2018
  3.   Revolution Beauty My Sign eyeshadow palette, 2017
  4.   Demeter Fragrance Library Zodiac Collection, 2016-2017
  5.   BH Cosmetics Zodiac palette, fall 2017
  6.   NCLA zodiac nail polish, 2016

Besides beauty tips and products, the increased usage of social media meant that by 2018 Instagram makeup artists were sharing some very elaborate zodiac looks.

Zodiac makeup looks by Setareh Hosseini
(image from demilked.com)

Zodiac makeup by Kimberly Money
(image from mymodernmet.com)

Lest you think these not-so-wearable looks are solely the creation of 21st century influencers, here's a 1984 Australian beauty pageant where contestants were challenged to come up with the most over-the-top "fantasy" zodiac makeup.

Zodiac beauty pageant Aug_27__1984_(image from newspapers.com)

The packaging and design of all of these objects and looks are interesting in their own right, but why does zodiac makeup trend more at certain times?  And why is it experiencing what may be the peak of popularity during the past 2 years?  There are several reasons. First, zodiac-themed beauty tends to follow a wider cultural interest in astrology and New Age practices more generally (crystals, tarot cards, etc.).  Businesses are always eager to profit from the latest fad, and the beauty industry is no exception.  The "mystical and psychic services market" was worth $2.2 billion in 2019 according to this trend forecaster.  As Saffron of the Beauty Critic points out, astrology-themed makeup fits within the broader context of New Age/occult-inspired beauty and wellness products we're seeing now as a result.  And in the Age of Aquarius, companies introduced hundreds of zodiac-themed products. Linda Goodman's 1968 Sun Signs was the first book on astrology to become a New York Times bestseller; by 1971, astrology was a $200 million dollar a year business in the U.S.2 Even Dali got in on the action.

Stratton zodiac compact, 1969

The interest in astrology points to larger societal shifts and is driven primarily by younger generations just as it was some 50 years ago.3   Millennials and Generation Z are reporting higher rates of stress than older generations, and are increasingly turning to astrology and other New Age phenomena to cope.  As the Atlantic explained in 2018, "According to American Psychological Association survey data, since 2014, Millennials have been the most stressed generation, and also the generation most likely to say their stress has increased in the past year since 2010. Millennials and Gen Xers have been significantly more stressed than older generations since 2012. And Americans as a whole have seen increased stress because of the political tumult since the 2016 presidential election. The 2017 edition of the APA’s survey found that 63 percent of Americans said they were significantly stressed about their country’s future. Fifty-six percent of people said reading the news stresses them out, and Millennials and Gen Xers were significantly more likely than older people to say so. Lately that news often deals with political infighting, climate change, global crises, and the threat of nuclear war. If stress makes astrology look shinier, it’s not surprising that more seem to be drawn to it now."  Case in point: this "stress-busting" insert from a recent Sephora Play! box detailing what beauty products will help with relaxation based on one's sign.

Sephora Play! box zodiac insert

The decline of organized religion and the expansion of the Internet's capabilities are also factors in astrology's revival.3  In 1972 one journalist cited two key reasons for the surge in astrology's rise:  "fear in an uncertain time and the failure of orthodox religion to give meaning to problems."4  The same can be said for today's environment.  Jessica Roy, writing for the L.A. Times in 2019, details the shift away from traditional religion and the resulting turn towards astrology.  "Today, young people still seek the things that traditional organized religion may have provided for their parents or grandparents: religious beliefs, yes, but also a sense of community, guidance, purpose and meaning. But it can be hard for young people to find those things in their parents’ religions. So they’re looking elsewhere.  On top of that, a lot of younger people feel alienated by mainstream religion — by attitudes toward LGBTQ people and women, by years of headlines about scandals and coverups, or by the idea that anyone who isn’t part of that religion is inherently bad or wrong...Before the internet, people who held beliefs outside the mainstream — religious, political or otherwise — lacked a public way to connect with one another. With social media, divinatory practices like astrology, crystals and tarot have been able to take up space in a public conversation. It helps that they all look great on Instagram...Young people have grown up contending with a major recession, climate change and a more general awareness of seeing a political and economic system that many feel hasn’t benefited them, so it’s not surprising that they’re pushing back against those systems at the same time they’re exploring nontraditional religious beliefs and finding ways to integrate it all." 

Kigu zodiac compact

As for modern technology, the New Yorker further lays out how the Internet and social media allowed astrology to be more accessible and at a much faster pace than before.  "[Astrology] promises to get to answers more quickly. For centuries, drawing an astrological chart required some familiarity with astronomy and geometry. Today, a chart can be generated instantly, and for free, on the Internet. Astrology is ubiquitous on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and in downloadable workshops, classes, and Webinars. A new frontier has opened with mobile apps."  While the Internet has radically changed, well, everything, in 1970 some of the first computers were being used to generate horoscopes, with companies pouring millions into new technology just as they are now for the same reason - increased speed of delivery to meet demand.

The_Record_Sun__Aug_2__1970_(image from newspapers.com)

The second major factor in zodiac beauty's ubiquity is customization.  Consumers like to think they're getting a product made or intended just for them.  Customization in beauty is trending more heavily than ever before, from nearly every company offering engraving services to personal consultation apps.  And astrology is a fairly simple way to advertise a seemingly individualized product.  In an interview with WWD, Fresh's chief marketing officer highlighted the trend of "customization and personalization" in the industry.  She also noted that "the collaboration was particularly successful in China, which she attributed to Chinese Millennials and their obsession with the zodiac."  It's a great point about Chinese zodiac beauty products as there's been an equally explosive rise in lunar new year-themed beauty products in the past few years, many of them depicting the animal corresponding to the year.  (See also Shiseido's Chinese zodiac figurines.)5 I think the growing interest in C-beauty is also partially responsible.

Chinese New Year beauty 2020 (year of the rat)

The customized aspect of zodiac-themed beauty parallels the personalization options in astrology and other New Age trends. One doesn't have to become a certified astrologer to enjoy horoscopes; they can pick and choose whatever suits them. Roy again: "[Millennials] dabble, they find what they like, they take what works for them and leave the rest...spiritual practices appeal to the commitment-wary: You can get a little into crystals or astrology or tarot, or a lot into it. You can buy a few rose quartzes or light a few candles and if it’s meaningful for you, keep it; if not, it’s not like you went through a full religious conversion."

As noted earlier, another time that was popular for customization was the "golden age" of compacts in the '40 and '50s, where many were engraved as personalized gifts or event keepsakes.  Some were even designed with spaces specifically to add monograms.  Perhaps that explains why two major compact manufacturers decided to add to their repertoire with zodiac lines.

Ziegfeld Girls zodiac compacts, 1946

Finally, on a more basic level, the visual appeal of zodiac imagery is fairly irresistible.  There are as many different ways to depict zodiac signs as there are artists.  Whether it's the caricatures illustrated by Stan MacNiel for Elgin, the refined style of Poudre d'Orsay, or the minimalist approach taken by Demeter, even if customers aren't astrology fans the designs will draw them in.  In looking at the Museum's zodiac collection one would suspect I obsessively read horoscope predictions and plan my life around the alignments of stars and planets, but I'm actually not into astrology. I check out my horoscope from time to time just for fun, but the reality is that I collect zodiac makeup mostly because I enjoy looking at the artwork. The fact that it's prominent in makeup history and belongs in a museum is, admittedly, simply an added bonus. The otherworldly nature of the creatures and constellations combined with the twelve symbol structure satisfies both the imagination and the need for orderliness. Plus as a former art history major, it's fascinating to see different artists' takes on the zodiac.

What object here is your favorite?  Would you ever try a makeup look or product based on your sign?

 

1Aileen Ribeiro, Facing Beauty, Yale University Press, 2011, p. 132.

2Barbara Holsopple, "A Longing for Things to Be Put Right", Pittsburgh Press, April 4, 1971.

3It's out of print, but if you're interested I bet this book is great if you're looking specifically for a cultural history of astrology. Or at least, it was the only one I could find.

4Mary Turczyn, "What is the Occult?", Fond du Lac Commonwealth Reporter, March 22, 1972.  She adds, "In a poll taken in 1967, 57% said that religion was losing its influence on American life.  With religion no longer the bulwark of society, people seek answers in other areas and astrology has rallied as one of these."

5For the purposes of expediency and so as not to be all over the place I chose to focus on the modern, Western zodiac rather than exploring the Chinese zodiac in beauty products.  I do wonder how far back it goes...I'm envisioning powder containers hundreds of years old in the shape of dragons and other Chinese zodiac animals.  Must research!


Fall/holiday 2018 color trend

We're used to seeing red lips for the fall and holiday seasons - everything from deep crimson to bright, borderline-orange is fair game - but this year it seems the fiery hue has gained significant traction as an eye shadow trend.  Some makeup aficionados consider red eye shadow to be difficult to pull off, especially for pale pasty folks such as myself, as it can go from "cutting-edge runway" to "severe eye infection" very quickly.  However, if anyone can get me to try this seemingly difficult shade, it's Mother (a.k.a. the legendary Pat McGrath.)  I tested out the aptly named Blitz Flame shade from her Mothership V palette and found it was shockingly wearable.  While I suspect it's the prettiest and best quality out of the palettes below, there is no shortage of reds to try this year as seemingly every fall and holiday palette contains a red shade.  Honorable mentions include Charlotte Tilbury Palette of Pops, Viseart Libertine palette and Morphe Your True Selfie palette - I simply couldn't fit them all in one image!

Fall 2018 red

  1. Bobbi Brown Infra-Red palette
  2. Pat McGrath Labs Mothership V Bronze Seduction palette
  3. NARS Provacateur palette
  4. Violet Voss Berry Burst mini palette
  5. Karity Picante palette
  6. Maybelline Soda Pop palette
  7. Huda Beauty Obsessions palette in Ruby
  8. Zoeva Spice of Life palette
  9. Natasha Denona Cranberry palette
  10. Ace Beaute Blossom Passion palette

I can't say I was seeing any red eye shadow on the fall 2018 runways, so I'm not sure what the reason is for the trend. Perhaps it's the influence of the larger cherry/burgundy beauty craze (see Urban Decay's Naked Cherry collection, Maybelline's Burgundy Bar, and my post on burgundy makeup from last fall), or maybe given the success of other reddish-toned colors released previously - again, with Urban Decay leading the way with their Naked Heat palette this summer - it's an expansion on colors that were once viewed as odd choices for eye shadows.  It's similar to how nearly every brand now has non-traditional lip colors.  (Speaking of which, who else wants to see a Black Satin lipstick from Chanel?  I'm wearing the nail polish right now...)

Have you tried or will you be trying red shadow?  It's still not my favorite shade for eyes, but I must say that Pat McGrath, once again, has made a look that I previously thought was off-limits for me totally doable.


Spring 2018 color trend

Move over, Milennial Pink!  This season is all about Gen Z  yellow, which I'm having a bit of trouble describing.  It's not mustard but not pastel or neon either; the most appropriate term I can come up with is canary, and a bright one at that.  I must say, yellow is my favorite color so I've been waiting for its moment in the sun.  I just love the idea of having a little dose of sunshine on my face/hands!  It can be a tricky shade to pull off, especially for fair skin ("jaundiced" isn't a highly coveted look to my knowledge), but anyone can wear it in small, not-as-noticeable doses.  If you don't want to go the full-on eye shadow route, more manageable ways are nail polish, eyeliner and mascara. 

Spring 2018 color trend: yellow

  1.  Model at Anteprima's spring 2018 show
  2.  Chanel nail polish in Giallo Napoli
  3. Lunasol Macaron Eyes in EX 07
  4. OPI nail polish in Sun, Sea and Sand in My Pants
  5. Dior Diorshow On Stage Liners
  6. Maybelline Lemonade Craze eye shadow palette
  7. Lancome Ombre Hypnose Mini Chubby Stick
  8. Model at Pam Hogg's spring 2018 show

What do you think?  Will you be sporting this bright cheery shade?  I know I will, especially since I have so many polishes from the craze of spring 2011.


Fall 2017 color trend

I've been having much trouble with clearly identifying color trends the past few years.  Previously there was always one shade that I kept seeing over and over again each season, but now the focus seems to be more stylistic rather than color-related, i.e., different styles of a makeup item such as eyeliner.  Having said that, I did notice there was a good amount of plum floating about in the beauty world.  As with previous color trends, this year's version presents a new twist on an old favorite.  It's not the usual vibrant purple plum, but rather a slightly warm, smoky, dusky hue - sort of a mix between mauve and burgundy with a tiny hint of taupe.  It's a bit more subdued than a true plum, which in my opinion elevates it to an incredibly chic and sophisticated update on the beloved fall hue.  It's also notable in its use on eyes and/or cheeks when a vampy plum lip usually reigns supreme this time of year.

Fall 2017 color trend

  1.  Maybelline Burgundy Bar palette
  2. RMK FFFuture Cheeks in Rose Stone
  3. Dior fall 2017 ad
  4. NARS blush in Blissful
  5. Mary Kay Eye Color Palette in Rosé Nudes
  6. Pola Muselle Rare Touch Eye Mousse
  7. La Perla fall 2017 runway makeup
  8. Rituel de Fille Ash and Ember Eye Soot in Exuviae
  9. Colured Raine Berry Cute palette
  10. Clinique Sweet As Honey palette

I have to admit I was little intimidated by this shade at first.  I'm no stranger to plum, but I tend to wear it mostly on lips and nails.  If I do go the eyeshadow route I stick to cooler hues since anything too warm/red will make me look bruised, and plain mauve and taupe by themselves generally wash me out.  I was surprised to see that the slight earthy undertones make it very wearable.

What do you think?  Will you be trying this out this shade for fall?  Oh, almost forgot to mention - if you need a highlighter to go with your sultry plum eyeshadow and blush, check out Becca Smoky Quartz, as it complements it perfectly.  :)

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Meltdown: Ice cream inspired beauty

The last unofficial day of summer (a.k.a. Labor Day in the U.S.) is always hard for someone like me who dreads the dark, cold days of winter ahead.  To help alleviate some of that end-of-summer sadness I thought I'd round up some delicious ice cream-inspired beauty products. 

I'm not sure whether it was the influence of the new Museum of Ice Cream or this photography exhibition devoted to the sweet treat, but ice cream seemed to be having a moment this summer.  This in turn trickled over into the beauty world:  not only were there a plethora of ice cream themed beauty products and ads, some intrepid artists decked out their faces in sweet, melty ice cream makeup. Obviously this isn't "natural" makeup, but you have to admit these looks are pretty creative.

Ice cream inspired beauty

  1. Cake Beauty popsicle sponges
  2. Channing Carlisle (@makeupbychanningjudith)
  3. @dupeblack
  4. Pai Pai ad
  5. Etude House Dear Darling Water gel tints (I ordered these literally a month ago from yesstyle.com specifically for this post and they still haven't arrived!  Grrr!)
  6. @beetotheo

There were a few other fairly new ice cream inspired things that were just too cute not to buy for the Museum. 

Trifle Cosmetics Praline Palette

Winky Lux lip gloss and Bath and Body Works hand cream

And so the newer items wouldn't get lonely, I scooped up (sorry, couldn't resist) the Stila ice cream collection from their 20th anniversary, along with some vintage Avon lip glosses.

I didn't think much of these at the time they were released, but in hindsight I've realized they're worth having in the Museum.

Stila ice cream trios

Stila ice cream blushes

Stila sweet shoppe lip glaze trio

These Avon lip glosses date back to the early 70s, I believe.

Avon ice cream lip glosses

Avon ice cream lip glosses

I better get going and put this stuff away before Museum staff discovers it...if you've been following me on Instagram you know they got into my LUSH shower jellies thinking they were jams.  They'd definitely mistake these for the real deal!

 


MM Spring 2017 exhibition

Makeup Museum spring 2017 exhibition

Welcome to the Makeup Museum's spring 2017 exhibition!  As you may know, for the past few months I've been hopelessly under the spell of anything holographic/iridescent/prismatic, and I think this morphed into an obsession with all the colors of the rainbow.  (Or it could be Desus and Mero's nightly rainbow feature seeping into my subconscious.) Duochrome makeup is obviously different than rainbow makeup - I see the former as having color-shifting principles, while the latter is vibrant yet static - but I'd argue that they're all on the same...spectrum. (Sorry, couldn't resist).  What I mean is that merely colorful makeup is different than holographic, but they share similar qualities.  Generally speaking, I was inspired by the broader notion of color play and the endless possibilities a variety of colors can provide.  I've always loved vividly colorful makeup because as we'll see, over the years it's become synonymous with fun and self-expression, which is basically my makeup credo.  From 6-hued rainbow highlighters and a set of primary colors to create unique shades to more subtle gradient palettes and sheer lipsticks, makeup that encompasses the whole spectrum allows for a great amount of experimentation.  Even color correctors offer the opportunity to play.  I wanted this exhibition to express the joy and creativity that a wide range of colors can bring, especially when viewed as a collective whole such as a rainbow.

Makeup Museum spring 2017 exhibition

While I could have probably could have done an entire rainbow-themed exhibition, there were some new, non-rainbowy releases that were simply too good not to include, plus I thought they added a nice balance to all the color.   Also, did you notice the labels?  I got the idea to make them a gradient rather than all one shade, but my husband, super smarty pants that he is, chose the exact colors and how to arrange them.  I think this is the first exhibition where I had to determine where everything was going prior to printing the labels.  Usually I just print them out and figure out placement of the objects later since I can always move the labels around, but this time I had decide on placement first since moving things would mess up the gradation effect.

Makeup Museum spring 2017 exhibition

Makeup Museum spring 2017 exhibition

Let's take a closer peek, shall we?

Top shelves, left to right.

I spotted this 1970 Yardley set on ebay and knew it would be perfect.

Yardley Mixis Finger Mix

The box isn't in the best shape but aren't the graphics so cool?!

Yardley Mixis Finger Mix Eye Shadows

I love that the insert encourages you to have fun and experiment.  It's a stark contrast to actual ad for the product, which, underneath its seemingly feminist veneer, is horrifically ageist.

Yardley Mixis Finger Mix Eye Shadows

I tried cleaning up the tubes but I scrubbed too hard on the yellow one, which resulted in a few cracks.  I forget these things are over 40 years old and that plastic doesn't necessarily remain durable for that amount of time.

Yardley Mixis Finger Mix Eye Shadows

The similarity between the eye makeup for Dior's spring 2017 collection campaign and an ad from 1973 is striking.

Dior spring 2017 makeup

Makeup Museum exhibition labels

Dior spring 2017 makeup

Dior vintage ad and 2017 palette

1973 Dior ad

1973 Dior ad

Dior spring 2017 makeup

My heart skipped a beat when I saw that Addiction would be featuring the work of Swedish artist Hilma af Klint on their compacts this spring.  Af Klint's work really spoke to me and I'm so happy Addiction helped spread the word about her.

Addiction makeup spring 2017

Addiction makeup spring 2017

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Second row, left to right.

These lipsticks are so delectable!

Kailijumei flower lipsticks

I know it's just a fake flower with highlighter dusted on top, but it still makes me swoon.

Lancome spring 2017 rose highlighter

Lancome spring 2017 rose highlighter

Still haven't figured out a name for this little lady.

LM Ladurée 5th anniversary powder box

Makeup Museum exhibition label

If you remember that popular video that was making the rounds a little while ago, it showed a Charles of the Ritz powder bar.

Charles of the Ritz custom face powder

Charles of the Ritz custom face powder

1963 Charles of the Ritz ad

If I ever display this again I'll update the label.  Turns out Charles of the Ritz tried to bring back the service in August of 1988, but I don't think it stuck around long.  Perhaps they couldn't compete with the likes of Prescriptives, who was by that point leading the way in custom blending?  (Sidenote:  I'm tickled at how the article is written by Linda Wells, who was just 2 years shy of launching what would become the world's best-known beauty magazine, and how it also cites Bobbi Brown and refers to her as simply a "makeup artist."  Little did they know that Bobbi's own line would be taking the makeup world by storm in another 3 years.)

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Third row, left to right.

I'm not sure why Guerlain used a rainbow for this spring's campaign and not for their summer 2015 Rainbow Pearls, but they look good together.

Guerlain Meteorites

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Paul & Joe:

Paul & Joe spring 2017 makeup

Paul & Joe spring 2017 makeup

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Shiseido 7 Color Powders Centennial set (well, part of it):

Shiseido rainbow powders

Shiseido rainbow powders

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Burberry Silk and Bloom palette:

Burberry spring 2017 blush

Burberry spring 2017 blush

Burberry spring 2017 blush

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Bottom row, left to right.

Rainbow highlighters...I just received word that the original was re-stocked so I will have to purchase it.  :)

Rainbow highlighters

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Loubichrome nail polishes:

Loubichrome nail polish trio

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Interestingly, when I working on the label I came across a Vogue interview with Julie Verhoeven that was published after I had posted about these makeup sets.  She clarified that Jacobs had specifically requested to revisit the imagery on the 2002 Louis Vuitton collection, so it wasn't a random decision to go with that style.  As for the frog motif, which I am completely smitten with, it was most likely a nod to Jacobs' fondness for the animal (another recent interview with Verhoeven tipped me off.)

Marc Jacobs spring 2017 makeup set

Makeup Museum exhibition label

Ah!  I was so excited when this set popped up on ebay I could hardly contain myself.  This is probably the best representation of late '60s/early '70s beauty.  It doesn't have the insert but overall it's in great condition.  I don't know whether this particular set is specifically the pastel version mentioned in the ad (which is a printout of an original from 1973 - forgot to put that on the label, oops) or the regular non-pastel crayons, but I was overjoyed to finally get one into the Museum's collection.

Mary Quant crayon set

Mary Quant crayon set

Mary Quant crayon set

Mary Quant crayon set

Makeup Museum exhibition label

In doing a little background research for this exhibition I came across some interesting things.  I couldn't possibly pull together a comprehensive history of colorful/rainbow-inspired makeup, but here's a quick look back on some of the highlights.  While color correcting powders existed early on in the modern beauty industry, it seems as though the more colorful side of makeup wasn't popularized until the early '60s.  Ads for collections featuring a robust range of vibrant shades included words like "fun", "play" and "experiment", thereby associating color variety with happiness and creativity.

1960 Cutex ad(image from flickr.com)

This was the earliest ad I could find that mentions a "rainbow" of shades.

1961 Max Factor ad(image from hair-and-makeup-artist.com)

This 1967 ad not only depicts a spectrum of color, it encourages the wearer to create different looks by adding varying amounts of water to the pigments.  I'm assuming you could adjust the opacity this way.

1967 Max Factor ad
(image from pinterest.com)

While I love the Yardley Mixis set and the classic Mary Quant crayons, I think this brand is my favorite representation of late '60s beauty, at least in terms of advertising (you can see more here).  It's so crazy and psychedelic...looking at this makes me want to dance around in a field with flowers in my hair, LOL.  Sadly I was unable to track down any original makeup or ads from this line, which I believe was exclusive to Woolworth's in the UK.

1968 Baby Doll Cosmetics ad
(image from sweetjanespopboutique.com)

The demand for color didn't end with the '60s, as evidenced by these early '70s Yardley and Dior ads.

Yardley rainbow eyes ad, ca. 1970

1972 Dior ad

1973 Dior ad
(images from ebay.com)

Once again, a variety of colors is linked to self-expression and fun.

1975 Maybelline ad(image from flickr.com)

Dior kept the color game strong in the '80s.  (There was a 1981 Elizabeth Arden collection entitled Rainbows, but it didn't really offer much of a shade range).

1986 Dior ad(image from sighswhispers.blogspot.com) 

More recently, rainbow-inspired beauty has had its moments.  The models at Peter Som's spring 2013 runway show sported pastel rainbow eye shadow, while later that year, Sephora's holiday collection brush set featured iridescent rainbow handles.  For summer 2015 MAC released a collection with basically the same finish on the packaging, and come November, Smashbox's collaboration with artist Yago Hortal offered an eye-popping array of shades.  I'd argue that 2016 was the tipping point for the rainbow beauty craze, with fashion designers leading the way.  These runway looks helped set the stage for the likes of ColourPop's rainbow collection and Urban Decay's Full Spectrum palette, both released last year, along with MAC's Liptensity collection, which brought a whole new dimension to color perception.  While it wasn't a rainbow-themed collection per se, Liptensity's "tetrachromatic" formulation ushered in a new way of thinking about and playing with makeup pigments in much the same way rainbow makeup did.

Makeup at Alexis Mabille and Manish Arora, spring 2016
(images from makeupforlife.net and fashionising.com)

Fendi spring 2016(image from harpersbazaar.com)

Betsey Johnson spring 2016(images from wwd.com and seventeen.com)

It doesn't look like rainbow makeup is going anywhere soon, as evidenced by the stunning looks Pat McGrath created for Maison Margiela's fall 2017 show, along with products like MAC's Colour Rocker lipsticks and Kat Von D's Pastel Goth palette.  Even Sephora's typography got a rainbow makeover.  (While the gradient rainbow style was used more to convey holographic makeup/highlighters, it represents exactly what I meant earlier - rainbow makeup and holographic makeup may be distant cousins, but they definitely belong to the same family).

Maison Margiela fall 2017(images from instagram.com)

Sephora rainbow(image from sephora.com)

Then there are these magazine features from the March 2017 issues.  (Yes, I still tear out magazine pages.  Yes, I'm aware there's Pinterest and that we live in a digital world.)

Nylon magazine, March 2017

Nylon magazine, March 2017

Marie Claire magazine, March 2017

That was long!  Phew, I'm tired.  Actually I'm not, since looking at a bunch of different colors together energizes me.  As a matter of fact, I tend to get a little overstimulated, which is why I do most of my makeup shopping online - in-store browsing at all those colors displayed on the counters is very bad for my wallet. 

Update, 4/3/2020: I realized I never addressed rainbow makeup as it pertains to the LGBTQIA+ community. In addition to rainbow makeup's role as a way for people to explore more colorful cosmetic options, it also functions as an important extension of the rainbow symbolism created by and for the community over 40 years ago. One questionable trend, however, has been the rise of companies slapping rainbow packaging on some of their regular line items in order to "celebrate" (co-opt?) Pride month.  By and large, it’s a positive development as the products raise visibility for LGBTQIA+ rights and most of them donate the sale proceeds from these items to various charities. They also call attention to makeup’s significance for the LGBTQIA+ movement, both past and present. On the other hand, sometimes it feels like a shameless cash grab with the main focus being the product instead of meaningful action or change. If you’re on the market for new makeup and want to feel good knowing that your purchase helps a marginalized population, go for it – no one should be embarrassed to buy them. I personally cannot get enough of rainbow packaging and purchased several items just for the colorful designs on the boxes. But the motivations of some of these companies are questionable, i.e. are they really committed to the cause or just once a year when they put rainbows on their packaging and call it a day? One thing is for certain though: although the Museum is committed to LGBTQIA+ rights year round, I look forward to the rainbow looks Pride month brings (and obviously I think people should feel free to wear rainbow makeup year round as well.) Pride looks exemplify the raison d’etre of rainbow makeup by demonstrating the joy playing with color can bring and the freedom to wear it.

NYC Pride parade makeup, 2018

NYC Pride parade makeup, 2018

NYC Pride parade makeup, 2018
(images from allure.com)

I hope you enjoyed the exhibition and that you'll play with color this season, either by wearing shades so bright they hurt your eyes or simply giving color correctors a go (and everything in between).  Just have fun!


Spring 2017 color trend

Holographic.  Iridescent.  Duo-chrome.  Prismatic.  Whatever you want to call it, this spring's color trend isn't a color at all, but as with fall 2015 , a particular finish.  I have to admit I haven't seen it at the high-fashion level, i.e. none of the spring 2017 fashion shows or magazines featured it.  However, after sifting through a lot of runway coverage and the spring issues of all 8 of the magazines I subscribe to, I still wasn't seeing any one color in particular standing out.  Despite talk of peach being all the rage and millennial pink taking center stage, neither of those seemed to be clear winners.  Thus, I went with what I know best and restricted my color trend choice to products aimed at the masses rather than those found on the runways.  As I predicted in January, the holographic makeup trend is still on fire this spring.  When you take into account how many of these color-shifting goodies were released last year (most of which I purchased in my never-ending quest to pretend I'm a mermaid), the sheer number of products continuing to be offered this spring is astonishing.

Spring 2017 trend: holographic

  1. Too-Faced  Love Light Prismatic Highlighter in Ray of Light
  2. Stila Magnificent Metals Glitter and Glow Liquid Eye Shadow in Sea Siren (I'm loving this!!)
  3. Laura Mercier Lightstruck Prismatic Glow Palette
  4. Kevyn Aucoin Cyber Sky
  5. Tarte Spellbound Glow Rainbow Highlighter
  6. Cover FX Custom Enhancer Drops in Halo (loving these!)
  7. Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Prismatic Amethyst (this one is awesome too)
  8. NARS Duo Eyeshadow in Thessalonique (um, yeah, I bought this as well and it's sooo pretty)
  9. Urban Decay Vice Special Effects Topcoat in 3rd Degree
  10. Bite Beauty Prismatic Pearl Gloss in Oyster
  11. Pat McGrath Labs Eye Gloss in Cyber (from the upcoming Dark Star 006 kit - can't wait!)

It got me thinking about why these shades are having a moment now.  After all, iridescent makeup isn't new, not to mention that we haven't even been seeing much prismatic magic in the way of fashion - usually fashion trends spill over into the beauty world - so I'm curious to know why it exploded in the past year or so.  Heck, holographic even spread to interior design and accessories.  Fortunately, Racked had a great article that explores the history of what the author calls "unicorn" makeup (although I'd argue that mermaid makeup is basically interchangeable when describing the trend) and why we can't get enough of it right now.  I'm incline to agree with her conclusions, which state that the current craze is partially a backlash against the no-makeup makeup look that was THE reigning trend a couple of years ago, and that it's also a response to the turbulent political climate.  Color-shifting, dreamy makeup that reminds us of mythical beings we loved as children (and in my case, still obsessed with) is very comforting when the world seems to have gone to hell in a handbasket.  The author of another excellent piece examining the iridescent frenzy within the sphere of interior design concurs:  while some of the reasons it took off in home goods and furniture are different than for makeup (new technology making prismatic finishes possible, etc.), she writes, "As economic optimism coincides with a tumultuous cultural and political landscape, its no wonder the art and design world is embracing the dreamlike and surreal.  At this point, we may as well coat the world in an iridescent glaze, if only to enjoy the illusion."  Just to put in my two cents, I'd add that the holographic trend's popularity is owed simply to its sheer prettiness and versatility - after playing with many of these items, I can say the effect of prismatic makeup can be subtly ethereal, or you can layer a bunch of product to go full-on rainbow.

What do you think?  Are you game for holographic makeup or is it not your thing?


What's in store for 2017

Part of my duties as a Makeup Museum curator is keeping track of the seemingly hundreds of trends that pop up throughout a given year.  I do sort of track them via Curator's Corner and prefer to do an end-of-year roundup, but I just didn't have it in me for 2016.  Instead, I'm going to play psychic and attempt to predict what's ahead for 2017, or at least what I want to see this year.  I'm hopeful that parody videos are the death knell for contouring, but unfortunately I think my other least favorite trends that were all the rage in 2016 - liquid lipstick and "athleisure" makeup - will be continued throughout 2017.  Because I'm immensely sick of those already, I'm only going to explore the continuing trends I'm actually looking forward to.  ;)

1.  We haven't seen the last of weird lip colors. 

A ton of odd lip colors arrived in 2016, most of which I purchased (and got brave enough to wear in public!)  I don't want to spend too much time reporting on the unconventional lip color trend since I've already covered it and plan to provide an update to my original post in the next few months, but I will say that strange colors are still going strong.  I just hope they're not only in liquid lipstick form, as we're seeing from Kat Von D and Urban Decay.

Urban Decay liquid lipstick
(image from @urbandecay)

2.  2016 = year of the cushion compact; 2017 = year of the primer.

It seemed like every makeup company released a cushion product of some kind last year.  This year primers are the must-get-to-market item.  Primers have been coming and going for years, but 2017 seems to be a whole new era of this humble necessity.  Urban Decay and NARS are both revamping their primer lineup, while Becca and Dior are both releasing new primers as part of their spring collections.  Smashbox is also coming out with new eye primers.

NARS primers
(image from chicprofile.com)

3. Glitter and rainbows will stick around.

Glitter seemingly covered everything in 2016, from jeans and sneakers to grout. (Um, I think I need to re-grout my bathroom, stat.)  But where it really shined was the beauty sphere, where we saw it on eyeshair, and, thanks to the genius of Pat McGrath's Lust 004 kits, the lips.  It even covered the whole face, which you could apply with glittery makeup brushes.  Guessing from Stila's spring 2017 liquid glitter shadows and Jerrod Blandino of Too-Faced dropping hints about a glitter liner, I don't think this trend is going anywhere soon.

Stila Magnificent Metals spring 2017
(image from musingsofamuse.com)

Rainbows also colored our world in 2016, (so many rainbow highlighters!) along with their iridescent and holographic cousins.  So far the trend seems to be continuing with Shiseido's new rainbow face powders (which are actually 100 years old - more about that in an upcoming post), NYX's duo-chrome highlighters and yet another rainbow highlighter.

Shiseido 7 Color Powders Revival Centennial Edition
(image from shiseido.com)

4. Along those lines, mermaids are the new unicorns.

While mermaid blankets, news of the Splash remake and several companies' mermaid-inspired eye shadows all somewhat bolstered support for these magical creatures in 2016, the year primarily belonged to unicorns.  Not one but two companies introduced lip colors named Unicorn Tears, while unicorn brushes and the not-so-appealingly-named Unicorn Snot glitter gel also helped carry the trend (along with the holographic/iridescent/glitter trend), not to mention unicorn horns and eyeliner.  There was even a unicorn cafe (it's not clear whether they served unicorn hot chocolate.) But I'm predicting - okay, I just REALLY want it to happen - that mermaid beauty will take center stage in 2017.  If these brushes are any indication, mermaids will finally have their day in the beauty sun.  Ironically, the company responsible for these is named Unicorn Lashes - obviously the same one that released the aforementioned unicorn brushes.

Mermaid brushes
(image from popsugar.com)

There's also the rainbow highlighter I mentioned above, which for once is named Mermaid and not Unicorn something-or-other.  :)

Lottie London Mermaid highlighter(image from @mylottielondon)

What do you think of these?  Any other predictions?

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Mutual attraction: magnets and beauty

Here's a brief report on an item that's been attracting (sorry, couldn't resist) the attention of cosmetic companies:  the humble magnet. Magnets are already used in fairly basic ways for cosmetics - many brands offer customizable palettes and you can easily DIY your own storage board.  And who could forget the great magnetic nail polish craze of 2011-2012, a fad Lancôme pioneered a few years prior? But in the past year or so beauty is going next level with the use of magnets in makeup and skincare. 

In 2015 SK-II introduced their Magnetic Eye Wand, which, when used in conjunction with their Stempower Eye Cream, "induces a micro-electromagnetic field that further enhances the absorption of ingredients into the skin."  It's a similar concept to Clarisonic's Opal eye brush, except it uses magnetic force instead of a special brush to increase absorption.  I have no idea whether it's actually more effective than just using one's finger to apply, but it's certainly novel.  SK-II might really be onto something, as a slew of facial masks continued the harnessing of magnetic technology this year.  These masks all work the same in that they contain iron particles that can only be removed with a magnet.  They look like a lot of fun, and there is at least some scientific validity to their efficacy: "The process of applying the magnet over the mask creates a low-grade electromagnetic current, which may help rejuvenate the skin while the mask is removed," notes Dr. Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York.

Magnets also made their way to makeup in 2016.  Pur Minerals introduced their Fully Charged mascara, which contains an "evolutionary positively charged matrix that attracts to each individual lash to strengthen, thicken, lengthen and separate for unparalleled performance."  A few months later, a company called One Two Cosmetics devised the first magnetic false lashes - no fussing with glue! And more recently, MAC dreamed up a magnetized loose eye shadow that not only retains its shape in its container, thereby making it impossible to spill, but also cling to your lids like a cream shadow.  Finally, Armani has their newly released Lip Magnet liquid lipsticks, which, while they don't actually contain magnetized particles, the fact that Armani chose to include "magnet" in the product name is telling.

Magnetic beauty

  1. One Two magnetic false lashes
  2. Milky Dress Black Luster Mask
  3. Seacret M4 Magnetic Mud Mask
  4. Armani Lip Magnet liquid lipstick
  5. Dr. Brandt Magnetight Age Defier Mask
  6. MAC Spellbinder Eyeshadow
  7. Pur Cosmetics Fully Charged Mascara
  8. Lancer Younger Revealing Mask

What do you think?  Have you tried any of these?  I own one of MAC's Spellbinder shadows but have yet to try it on my lids (I did dip my finger into the pot and to my amazement it really did stay the same shape!)


Trending: "active beauty"

I was browsing Sephora online, as I do nearly every day, and spotted a brand called Sweat Cosmetics.  Their tagline is "developed by athletes for active women," and apparently the brand is the brainchild of 5 Olympic athletes.  However, my gut reaction upon seeing this at Sephora was, we're supposed to wear makeup while we work out?  Naming a cosmetics brand Sweat seems to imply that we're expected to look good even while exercising.  While the brand's description insists that "Sweat empowers women and embraces beauty" I can't help but be mildly annoyed.  I couldn't quite put my finger on why and decided to do a little more investigating.  Turns out, makeup designed to be worn during exercise has been trending pretty strongly in the past 5 years or so.  Long-wear, waterproof and sweat-proof makeup are nothing new, of course, but I am intrigued by the recent uptick in brands that produce makeup specifically for working out.  And by intrigued I mean I'm not sure whether this is a step forward or backward for women. 

A few months prior to Sweat's launch, in early 2016 beautybox subscription service Birchbox announced an in-house beauty line called Arrow Cosmetics.  According to this article, Arrow consists of "makeup, skincare and body products that are lightweight, long-wearing and refreshing - designed to enhance natural beauty during (and after) physical activity."  In 2015, British brand Eyeko released their "sport" eye products, a waterproof mascara and eyeliner, and the same year Bobbi Brown introduced her #LONGWEARLIFEPROOF campaign, in which 4 professional female athletes - an Olympic skiier, an Olympic snowboarder, a world record holding base jumper and a professional surfer - used GoPro cameras to record their workouts while wearing the brand's long-wear eye products to demonstrate they could withstand the most extreme activity.  Bobbi Brown's executive director of global communications Alexis Rodiguez told Advertising Age, "[The] idea is if these athletes can use these products and push their limits, it's essentially life-proof for all women."

Going slightly further back, in spring 2013 Tarte collaborated with famed synchronized swimming group Aqualillies to create a truly waterproof makeup line featuring a dizzying array of products that would hold up through hours of swimming.  Later that year Katherine Cosmetics was launched. Founded by Katherine "Annie" Finch, the brand offers a collection called K-sport, a "lifestyle solution-driven collection of compact beauty products designed for active, women-on-the-go, living real life." (Interestingly, from time to time the brand highlights a professional athlete to be their "K-sport girl".  Currently it's a golfer...I'd be curious to see how these K-sport products perform for, say, a marathoner.)  Even as far back as 2005 the notion of makeup made just for exercising in existed with the founding of Rae Cosmetics, a line of mineral cosmetics "specifically created for women with active lifestyles...created to take the heat, like the women who wear it".

Active beauty

  1. Sweat Cosmetics Translucent Mineral Powder
  2. Katherine Cosmetics K-Sport Wow Stick
  3. Eyeko Sport Waterproof Mascara
  4. Tarte Aqualillies Amazonian Clay Waterproof Eye and Cheek Palette
  5. Rae Cosmetics Face and Body Bronzer
  6. Arrow Cosmetics Cooling Cheek Tint

While not directly falling under the category of active beauty, there has also been a small increase in athletic-themed makeup.  Sonia Kashuk's Knockout face powder from this past spring was embossed with a boxing glove, while Kiko introduced their Beauty Games collection this summer in honor of the summer 2016 Olympics.  And MAC's upcoming It's a Strike collection features a bowling ball-emblazoned highlighter.  Even though these are, at their core, beauty-centered items, I find it interesting that their design is more sports-inspired than we've seen previously.

Sonia Kashuk Knock Out Beauty Skin Glow
(image from musingsofamuse.com)

Kiko Beauty Games collection promo

Kiko Beauty Games bronzer(images from kikocosmetics.com)

MAC It's a Strike Pearlmatte Face Powder(image from chicprofile.com)

Finally, there was also a fairly unique collaboration between Reebok and Face Stockholm.  While the output was sneakers and not beauty products, it's still interesting to see a cosmetics line partnering with an athletic-wear company.

Face Stockholm x Reebok(image from reebok.com)

So what's causing this seemingly newfangled intersection of makeup and physical activity?  One of the factors may be the athleisure trend in fashion.  Beauty and fashion are always closely intertwined, so active beauty may be the cosmetic equivalent of the laid-back yet still tailored clothing one can wear while doing yoga, running errands, or even social occasions.  Notes Katia Beauchamp, co-founder and CEO of Birchbox, about the new Arrow line, "We were inspired by the trend of athleisure in fashion, and felt that the same elements could apply to beauty—high-performance products that help you look your best, without looking like you are trying too hard. It's that effortless, ready-for-anything beauty that so many of us are often looking for...of course we loved that we could pioneer this concept in the beauty category and we worked hard to quickly bring the idea to market. The goal with ARROW is to provide subtle color and practical skincare and body products that make women feel fresh and confident wherever their busy days take them."  And Sweat Cosmetics has partnered with the grand poobah of athleisure, Lululemon, for special promotional events.  Indeed, as more women try to juggle fitness routines in ever-busier schedules, makeup that can transition seamlessly from one situation to another is becoming a staple.  As InStyle points out about the athleisure trend, "The need for everyday comfort, too, plays a role, especially for anyone trying to work fitness into an already overtaxed schedule. Who wants to haul an extra outfit to work?"  Along those lines, most women can't be bothered to switch out their makeup one or more times a day, and active beauty fulfills the demand for makeup expressly made for exercise.  According to a 2012 survey in the UK, 7 out of 10 women apply makeup before going to the gym, while Cosmo and the New York Times have both published guides on the best makeup for physical activity.  While I still say there are plenty of existing products out there that would stand up to hearty workouts, Sweat CEO Courtney Jones Louks insists, "We know first-hand that there have not been products created specifically for women who like to break a sweat.  We wanted to change that."

The second factor may be the increased attention paid to professional women athletes and their personal style.  The focus on elite female athletes is a double-edged sword, however:  while it's great that sports media is spending more air time reporting on women athletes, the other side of the coin is the never-ending commentary on, of course, the women's looks - something male athletes don't have to contend with.  In 2014 NBC skiing analyst Steve Porino received a considerable amount of backlash for his mention of female downhill skiers' makeup during the Sochi Olympics.  The responses were swift and furious; after all, would he have commented on, say, a male skier's hair gel?  And what does makeup have to do with athletic performance?  The two are not mutually exclusive.  Plus, one must keep in mind that while women athletes are getting slightly more media coverage, it's still very little compared to men's, and to make the most of it many feel pressured to wear cosmetics.  Claire Cohen explains in an article for the Telegraph, "The first thing to say, is there can be little doubt that sportswomen are, by and large, wearing more make-up – and are generally more concerned with their appearance – than ever before...with multi-million pound sponsorship deals on the table and high resolution photography uploaded to the internet before the medals have been awarded, it’s little wonder. These women know they have a couple of weeks to become household names, secure media exposure – not to mention funding for their next round of training. After all, less than five percent of air time is dedicated to women in sport – and there isn’t a single woman in the Forbes list of top 50 highest-earning athletes."  What's more, women athletes are penalized for wearing makeup; it's a lose-lose situation.  Wear makeup or else risk being passed over for those ever-important endorsement deals, but if you do wear makeup you're clearly not committed to your sport, or, even worse, your sport isn't a "real" sport.  A sample of Twitter comments regarding makeup-wearing athletes at the 2014 Sochi Olympics include the following:  "Sorry. But if you want us to take women’s basketball seriously, please lose the heavy makeup while playing. It’s sport. Not fashion." "If women can wear earrings and makeup while playing, I question the legitimacy of the sport... #curling #Olympics2014." And this little gem: "Sorry, if the women are wearing makeup it is not a sport."  The firestorm surrounding women athletes wearing makeup surfaced again in 2015 during the women's World Cup.  For the 2016 Olympics thus far, there's been a more positive view, at least among the competitors themselves who note that they wear makeup mostly for the reason many of us do: self-expression.  So perhaps the active beauty trend is simply another response to the sexism faced by elite women athletes, as it may be perceived as a deliberate attempt to declare, once and for all, that wearing makeup while exerting oneself physically is not only totally acceptable but can even be celebrated.  As this article on the aforementioned Bobbi Brown campaign notes, "[In] giving the athletes an opportunity and platform to share their stories, the campaign also aims to celebrate the idea that female athletes do indeed care about beauty and the role that makeup plays in further boosting their confidence."

I wholeheartedly agree that wearing makeup while exercising can improve confidence and should not be a source of shame. I myself applied tinted moisturizer, tinted lip balm and curled my lashes before a marathon, not because I wanted to look acceptable in photos - I knew it would be sweated off within 15 minutes of crossing the start line - but because I was incredibly nervous and the ritual of makeup application calms me down.  However, I am slightly wary of these newer brands that promote makeup specifically for exercise.  I don't wear a stitch of makeup to hit the gym, and when I got wind of the likes of Sweat, et.al., I thought, wait, is wearing makeup to the gym something I SHOULD be doing?  It's like I almost feel pressured or expected now to wear makeup to the one place I never do. Cosmetics have been created just for this occasion, so presumably there are tons of women now wearing it for their workouts.  Will I look even more disheveled and out of place at the gym now?  Is my entire being somehow wrong for skipping makeup at the gym?  These were the thoughts running through my head when I first laid eyes on Sweat.  Obviously I came to my senses and realized I absolutely don't have to wear makeup while working out - these brands are just providing options for those that do.  But the fact they made me question myself in the first place gave me pause.  (For the record, I don't care if I remain the only person on the planet who is bare-faced while working out - the amount I sweat, coupled with the fact that my face turns a shade of red no amount of foundation or concealer could ever cover, renders makeup completely pointless.)  On the other hand, perhaps these are simply filling a new need for the 21st-century woman, and also demonstrate that one can still embrace their femininity while pushing their physical limits.  As U.S. Olympic runner Shannon Rowbury says, “You can be a strong, athletic, courageous woman and you can wear lipstick...I like being able to be all those things or try to help inspire young women to be all those things. It doesn’t have to be one or the other." 

What do you think of "active beauty"?  Do you wear makeup to work out? 

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