Friday, July 29, 2011

Beauty Blogosphere 7.29.11

What's going on in beauty this week, from head to toe and everything in between.

Neodymium magnetic blow-dryer (via)

From Head... 
Hair magnet: Styling products using magnetic fibers to create a fuller, thicker appearance are being developed in Israel. This is sort of brilliant, and a possible plot point in espionage films, when the femme fatale with a luscious mane walks by the supercomputer and erases all covert files.

...To Toe...
Ice cream pedicure:
Okay, so they don't soak your tootsies in melted ice cream, but the fact that there is such a thing as a pedicure inspired by ice cream flavors pretty much proves the study we talked about yesterday. You know, the one about cosmetic use being primarily driven by emotion?

...To Everything In Between:
Thieves!: 41% of British men surveyed borrow their wife's or girlfriend's beauty products, with moisturizer leading the pack of stolen goods, followed by razors. 12% of women argued with said British men about this habit.

Eirebrush ban: The Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland has banned two L'Oréal ads for retouching them beyond what the product advertised would be able to achieve. You know, as much as I don't like airbrushing, this claim actually seems sort of hollow to me--am I oversimplifying here? Am I optimistic or cynical for thinking that while these ads are manipulative, the mere act of using Julia Roberts to advertise a product means that we as consumers sort of understand that the ad doesn't represent what the product is capable of?

Mea culpa or greenwashing?: Proctor & Gamble has vowed to go green: using 100% renewable or recycled materials for all products and packaging, creating zero consumer waste in landfills, and designing products that maximize the conservation of resources. Sounds good, but is it just a more elaborate form of greenwashing?

But do they use coupons?: Sixty-four percent of women surveyed earning $100k-$149k a year would continue buying a store-brand beauty product if they were pleased with the results, as opposed to only 50% of women making $50k-$74k. My question is, who wouldn't continue buying a store-brand beauty product if they were pleased with the results? Of course, I'm so rich I replaced all my teeth with rubies, so.

Did the beauty myth kill Amy Winehouse?: I think addiction is far more complicated than what Andy Martin posits here in the Times, but he makes some excellent points: "[H]er devastating — and finally lethal — self-critique tended to home in on her body."

U.S., U.K., and body image: American women report more body confidence than British women, but also want (and get) more plastic surgery, reports Allure. "We love our boobs and we love our butts, but we still want plastic surgery? What do you think is going on?" Allure asks. Well, since you asked! Maybe hyperfocusing on the body, even in a positive sense, leads to the sense that we have and should have total control over our shape? Or that hyping up our body's good points ("I love my butt!" say 30% of American women) just leads to a greater gulf between our ideal selves and our reality? Maybe we shouldn't be focusing so much on "loving" our bodies (for love can invite hate, as anyone who has ever shouted at a lover who would never shout at a friend can attest) and instead focus on caring for them?

Of corsets complicated: On the heels of Decoding Dress's post about shapewear comes a WWD piece (subscribers only, but the gist is that shapewear is now more acceptable, and the market is doing well). "It’s affordable and there isn’t the stigma of cosmetic surgery and the paranoia. It’s like, ‘I put on my lipstick, my perfume and my shaper, and I can take it off whenever I want.'" says stylist Phillip Bloch. Makes sense to me. Of course, so does the concluding quote by psychologist Jennifer Baumgartner: “When people have extra weight on, they don’t like the feeling of their flesh jiggling and shapewear often eliminates that,” she said. “Shapewear can offer a sense of security, but it’s a crutch and a quick fix. It can actually become addicting.”

Hair-care regulation in Ghana: The Ghana Hairdressers and Beauticians Association is lobbying for state licensing. This could have trickle-down effects in the States; unlicensed (and unqualified) hairstylists can flood the African/African-American hair-care market and spread misinformation that can lead to traction alopecia.

Not in favor of unsafe cosmetics, mind you: And in regulation news closer to home, not all small beauty companies are reacting to the proposed Safe Cosmetics Act with joy.

Is it really the makeup that needs to be how-to'd here?

"Ancient Chinese secret" not so ancient: Chinese cosmetics brands are reinventing their images to compete with global brands for Chinese touting natural ingredients and traditional Chinese ways. I know, I know, we all thought the Chinese women applied their makeup by correctly channeling their chi. But this is an interesting look into how traditional production can be fetishized even within the country of origin.

Body-image sovereignty mad libs!: Allyson at Decoding Dress takes on questions of bodily ownership when you want to lose weight but don't want to feel like you're falling prey to the beauty myth in doing so, prompted by Virginia's earlier take on the matter in response to a reader question. (Also, if you liked my post on "dressing your figure," check out her post on the myth of horizontal stripes.)

"I woke up as a man today": Holly Pervocracy on gender performance ("Butt-ass naked and half-asleep, in a completely "default" state for a human being, I was about as masculine as a person can get"), and her gracious clarification when she realized she might've gotten it wrong. (She usually doesn't. Get it wrong, that is; she's a lucid writer on gender, though there are many places where I disagree with her.) "I, personally, feel like femininity is something that requires me to make effort and make changes, and masculinity is just how I am when I wake up. I, personally, am not everyone." 

On seeing, and being seen: Oliver Seth Wharton on a run-in with his neighbor that would have been unremarkable, were it not that it marked the first time he'd seen her without her chador. He questions his own complex reaction in light of seeing her outside of her usual proscribed role: "The smile disconcerted me more than her presence. It felt both like a gesture of neighborly kindness and a confession. Well, you caught me. This is what I look like. ... Maybe we just can’t bear the raw power of seeing each other."

"You are capable of much more than being looked at": Congrats to Beauty Redefined--their media-literacy and body-image billboards have hit northern Utah, and they are fantastic. Take a peek!

Musings of a recovering woman: Rachel Hills on her eating disorder history, and the ways it plays (and doesn't play) into being a feminist. "Having an eating disorder didn’t make me a feminist. I was a feminist a good few years before I started starving myself and throwing up meals. But I do suspect that the emotions and general sense of confusion that led to me doing those things might be the same emotions and confusion that led to my fascination with gender issues."


  1. I've been really thinking about the airbrushing banning too, and I understand the legal reasoning given: that the products' advertisements show a result that the product cannot actually achieve. It'd be the same for, say, a vacuum cleaner that didn't actually have any suction.
    However, I'm conflicted on how this situation has picked up some kind "body positive" spin & I've seen a lot of people praise the ad-pulling as if the original ads were giving us such a high unrealistic standard that now, we can all breathe easy and be happy with ourselves.
    But we're still not Julia Roberts (just Julia Roberts is, and good for her), and now we go back to our very realistic make up. That's what bugs me: make-up itself is a lie. It's our own original airbrush- smooth out those lines, that uneveness, lengthen the lashes. Look that much better than you actually look.

  2. WhoFilets, thank you for expressing that so perfectly: Makeup is indeed our own original airbrush. I know that as a feminist I "should" feel pleased to see legal action being taken for unrealistic claims that exploit the beauty standard...but I guess I just don't feel like it really makes much difference. This was a problem well before airbrushing; I think it's the proliferation of images, not the airbrushing of them, that is really the problem here.

  3. Hello. I just now found your blog so I hope you don't mind if I comment.

    My question is, who wouldn't continue buying a store-brand beauty product if they were pleased with the results?

    For me, of equal importance to results are the ingredients and ethics of manufacturing - something which in my experience is quite low on the agenda for store brands.

  4. Roseblight, welcome and pleased to meet you! I always welcome comments, particularly ones that raise good points I hadn't considered, like this one. I find that oftentimes ingredients are the same for store brands (perhaps it's different in Australia--and it's probably different for color cosmetics, which I don't buy a lot of) as for the brand names--but I hadn't taken into consideration the ethics surrounding low-cost manufacturing. Part of that cost comes from a slashed marketing and branding budget, but part of it probably also comes from labor and environmental considerations. Excellent point, and one I'll consider in my future purchases (and that I should be more conscientious of in my writing too!).