What's going on in beauty this week, from head to toe.
Princess Arthchild Gourielle-Helena Rubinstein, Salvador Dalí, 1943
Helena Rubenstein portraits: The lady sat for Dalí! (She commissioned him to design a compact for her collection as well.) Twenty portraits of her by various artists are on view at Sotheby's.
Mermaid beauty: Mermaid expert extraordinaire Carolyn Turgeon (author of the enchanting novel Mermaid) interviews makeup artist Rona Berg on mer-beauty. And now that your appetite for fishwomen is whetted, check out the second ad on BellaSugar's roundup of most bizarre beauty ads ever made.
A colorful history: Nice writeup of lipstick's history by Sam Correy. Cleopatra also engaged in mermaid beauty, it seems, adding fish scales for shine to her "lipstick" made of beeswax and crushed ants.
Oily skin win: I love a good beauty experiment! BellaSugar again, this time with an intrepid reporter trying the oil-cleaning method--that is, washing your face with oil.
Barbarella beauty: Die-cut false lashes, printed hair extensions, and nail stamps at this vaguely futuristic beauty show.
Blowout blowup: The Department of Labor has issued a hazard alert on Brazilian blowouts—you know, that hair treatment that dumps formaldehyde (which even some morticians won't use anymore) on your head. I'm pleased but baffled as to why this issue, of all issues, is what is making the government sit up and take notice of the complete lack of regulation in beauty treatments. Is it the scary f-word of formaldehyde? What about the lead, the parabens, the sulfates, the tar—not startling enough? Or is it, as indicated by the action being taken by the Department of Labor, not the Food & Drug Administration, because every time a woman gets formaldehyde poured on her head, there's a salon worker who's handling the stuff too?
...to Toe...Fancy footballer: Between Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, comedian Tommy Davidson, and Josh Freese from last week's roundup, the pedicure is shucking its cloak of femininity. All the more reason for A Certain News Network and other reactionaries to tone down their freakout over this 7-year-old boy's cotton-candy-colored Essie pedicure.
...and Everything In Between
Johnson & Jobbery: The maker of Neutrogena and Clean & Clear, Johnson & Johnson, was fined for paying kickbacks for contracts under a UN relief program in Iraq. We're talking drug corruption, not an acne scrub scandal, but still, yikes.
Criminal beauty: Between the teenager being fined $1 million for setting fire to hairspray at an Illinois Walmart, and a curious vandalism of a Florida anti-choice display involving boxes of unopened Mary Kay products, beauty products are playing accessory to crime this week.
Fair Pay Day: Virginia at Beauty Schooled examines the gender gap in beauty work, in honor of Fair Pay Day (April 12). It's particularly interesting in light of Inc.com's report on the fastest-growing industries for startups, which highlighted beauty salons and barber shops.
In the red: Also as a part of Fair Pay Day, Mrs. Bossa nicely runs down the symbolism of the color red in connection to women's labor--paid, unpaid, and paid-in-kind.
Sears & Your Bucks: Sears is ramping up its cosmetics department, in most cases creating a department where there was none. Why should you care? Because Sears is seriously struggling (when was the last time you went to one?), and we as women are a part of its revitalization plan. It's an illustration of our market power, and it's easy to forget that we really do have that market power when we think of the beauty industry as something that merely exploits women's insecurities. It does, to be sure--underarm beautification, anyone?--but let's not forget that the market is a two-way street, and that businesses rely on our dollars to do their work. (Another reminder: Spa-going ladies basically own Groupon.)
Plus-size yoga: The new, cleverly named Buddha Body Yoga studio caters to a heavy-set clientele. I'm all for an environment that allows all participants to honor their bodies...but isn't that what yoga is all about in the first place? Yay for Buddha Body, but boo on the "yoga lifestyle" that has created the need for it in the first place. We've lost the plot, folks, when yoga has become so much about cute Lululemon pants and adorable printed mats, and less about its focus as a mind-body practice that would naturally lend itself to a heavy person wishing to find peace, just like all yogis.
Frankenbarbie: College student creates life-size, correctly proportioned, utterly grotesque Barbie. (Thanks to sustainability blogger Fonda LaShay for the link, even if it'll give me nightmares.)
Beauty in one's Seoul: Japan has long been the Asian leader in the cosmetics market, but Korea is joining the game full-force. With the events in Japan leading to concerns about contamination of Japan-produced cosmetics (which the Japan Cosmetic Industry Association refutes), could Korea make giant leaps in the next year?
Six beauty procedures that qualify as torture: Interesting stuff at Cracked (face slimmers?), but there was a tone here that I found disturbing--there was zero examination or sympathy of why people might choose to do these torturous procedures. An Asian woman doesn't spend two hours a day gluing her eyelids to create a fold because she's vain or has nothing she'd rather be doing; she does it because of the class connotations (including increased job opportunities) it can confer upon her.
Cosmetic genital mutilation? Ghanaian human rights activist Nana Oye Lithur draws a connection between western cosmetic surgery on one's genitals and female genital mutilation. I don't equate the two—but FGM is an abstract reality for me, not a daily reality of my countrywomen, which isn't the case for Ms. Lithur.
The three graces of Hearst? Mediabistro points out WWD's somewhat sexist treatment of three powerful fashion EICs under one roof at Hearst, once the Elle acquisition goes through. How belittling is it to assume that there can only be one top dog at Hearst simply because there are three (very different) women's fashion mags? Nobody's doing a cutesy Condé Nast chart of Daniel Peres of Details versus GQ's Jim Nelson.