What’s going on in beauty this week, from head to toe and everything in between.
The great unwashed: Golda Poretzsky (longtime readers will remember her from this interview) gives a thorough two-part guide to no-shampoo hair care at Persephone Magazine. She’s a stronger woman than I—I went nine months without washing, but after I was “stealth shampooed” (the same thing happened to Golda, at the same spa! It’s not just me!) I decided to go back to shampoo and am glad I did. I now wash my hair about once a week and it doesn’t get nearly as greasy as it did before I did the extended no-shampoo bit. So even though I’m happily washing again, I recommend giving the unfortunately named “no-‘poo” bit a try.
This little piggy had none: Illinois woman suing a nail salon after she received a pedicure there—and, allegedly, an infection that resulted in her toe being amputated.
…And Everything In Between:
Party like it’s 1989: Jon Bon Jovi will be the face of a new line of concert-inspired scents from Avon. Meanwhile, somewhere in the Americas, Electric Youth quietly mourns, its tale never fully told, its wounds never fully healed.
On the rupee: Personal-care behemoths Unilever and Procter & Gamble are ramping up their bids for attention—and hence their competition against one another—among consumers in the developing world.
Corporate cultural feminism: A senior marketing executive at Procter & Gamble on how to create a truly female-friendly workplace. It’s rare that I hear someone in the public eye address overarching gender differences without lapsing into lazy thinking, and in my book Roisin Donnelly succeeds here.
Bless you!: Municipal governments are increasingly implementing laws banning civic workers from wearing perfume—something I would have rolled my eyes at until I developed a sensitivity to fragrances several years ago. Delicacy and restraint, people! Delicacy and restraint.
Miss Holocaust Survivor: I can’t even say anything about this, except that it’s real, and yes, beauty is 10% of the judging criteria for the winner of this pageant whose contestants have survived one of the most horrific parts of the 20th century.
Ladies first: Last year, the Saudi ministry of labor decreed that only women would work retail posts in cosmetics stores. Saturday saw the first day of the law’s implementation; some stores have closed their cosmetics section instead of hiring women, presumably because of budgeting concerns, for as this piece notes that the law has been easier to swallow culturally than an earlier ruling pertaining to lingerie stores.
Gloss pit: Music festival season in the UK has begun, and along with it a slew of “festival beauty” stories—and Anna Chesters at the Guardian isn’t gonna take it anymore. Listen, I’m someone who almost always has at least one makeup item on her at all times, but even I know that if you’re spending three days in a mud pit, lipstick is hardly the first thing on your mind.
Borscht belt: What four months in Siberia taught an American student about cultural food guilt: “On one of my first days there, my host grandmother told me, ‘Eat up—the calories disappear in the cold.’ I laughed, thinking it was a joke, the way an American friend might say ‘The calories don’t count if you eat it off someone else’s plate,’ or ‘A cookie doesn’t count if you eat a piece of celery afterwards.’ As it turned out, she was serious—and correct.”
Neither a borrower…: It’s not just the number of beauty products—sorry, “grooming” products—geared toward men that’s increasing; apparently men are buying products aimed toward women in bigger number than ever before. And why shouldn’t they? For the most part it’s the same damn stuff. (On the flipside, my favorite men’s product is a stytpic stick, which comes in handy when I nick my ankles and knees shaving, which, since I’m usually rushing, is way too often.)
Also noteworthy for “Feminist Germaine Greer” being an actual coverline of People magazine, 1979.
Deep in the heart of Texas: Super-excited for Sarah Hepola’s new column in Dallas-based D magazine, The Smart Blonde; I’ve been wanting to hear more from her on beauty ever since reading this spot-on piece at Salon about people’s reactions to her weight loss. “I think Dallas women have a more intense relationship with their appearance than possibly any other place in the country. And I wanted to tackle that from a journalistic perspective, but also a personal one, because these hit at the core of our being. How we feel about waxing, weight gain, skin care products, our thighs—it’s really a reflection of how we feel about ourselves.” The first installment, on the legendary big hair of Dallas, is here. (Thanks to Sarah Nicole Prickett for the tipoff!)
Strength in numbers: Caitlin at Fit and Feminist shares some encouraging news about Olympic weightlifter Sarah Robles, whose financial sacrifices for her sport aren’t being made up for in endorsements, probably because she’s a lady weightlifter who has the bulk one would expect from one of the strongest people in the world. (P.S.: Robles blogs here, in case you’re interested in following her.) (P.P.S.: This has nothing to do with beauty, but I also loved Caitlin’s piece on female athletes and grunting. I occasionally and unintentionally grunt at the gym, and sure enough I find myself embarrassed because it’s a “sex sound,” but this piece made me reconsider my own embarrassment.)
Independence daze: I swear I don’t normally post things just to make fun of them, but c’mon: This press release for a permanent cosmetics company begins, “Americans enjoy freedoms other parts of the world envy. And they just finished celebrating them in 4th of July festivities across the country. But with American women, freedom definitely has its limits. They’re locked into the hassle of making makeup a big part of their busy lifestyle.” Voila, the way to independence: permanent makeup! Way to stretch it, people! I’m actually impressed.
Bare necessity: I was digging this roundup of totally unnecessary beauty products (in the words of my beauty editor friend Ali, “Toners are bullshit”), but the flipside of this is that there are beauty products that are…necessary? And sure, most people could use a moisturizer in the winter, but it just sort of makes you wonder what’s “necessary.” Certainly there are products I use every day and would have to be exorbitantly priced for me to stop using—but that’s because those are the products that work for me, or that make me feel nice when I use them. Just because the (way overpriced, but it really does feel nice) Hourglass primer makes me feel all silky-alabaster doesn’t mean it’s necessity, you know?
Aw, crap: Shitty beauty products.
Commodify me, baby: Terrific first piece of a four-part series on objectification. I have a hard time putting objectification into words—like obscenity, I thought of it as something you just know when you see it—but luckily the minds at Ms. magazine have no such trouble. (Speaking of Ms., I’m honored to report that my domestic violence essay that originally ran at Feministe is updated and in the current issue.)
Most jarring makeup tutorial ever: As this clever PSA points out, 500,000 accidents (a year?) are caused by drivers applying makeup behind the wheel. People! Don’t do this! Subway makeup application is far preferable, and I promise not to give you the stinkeye!
Right to left: Margaret Gorman (first Miss America winner); Neptune (patron god of Atlantis).
Crowning glory: Fascinating collection of historical tidbits from early Miss America pageants, courtesy the Vintage Powder Room. (The KKK apparently once held a pageant for “Miss 100 Percent America.” Yikes!)
Double take: Welcome to the latest addition to the New Inquiry blogging crew—novelist, photographer, and art historian Teju Cole, whose blog, Double Take, focuses on “vision, visuality, and visual culture.” Eager to see where Mr. Cole takes us—and eager to find new ways that visual studies interact with beauty.
‘Cause I’m a blonde: It’s neither wise nor ethical to sell fakes of cosmetics, particularly when they’re loaded with toxic substances like lead. So I’m not excusing the actions of Leanne Wertheim, who operated an eBay business selling these products. But listen: There are a lot of fakes out there, sold everywhere from street fairs to shady shops to untold numbers of other eBay stores. So why focus on this woman? And why is her hair color in the headline of the story? And gee, could those two questions be connected?
Big money: Remember when Oprah started giving away all those cars to her audience? One woman sold hers and used the proceeds to start Big Girl Cosmetics, a mineral makeup line geared specifically toward women of color.
Package makes perfect: Literature Couture, the mind responsible for literary makeovers like this one (shoutout to titian-haired sleuths everywhere!), interviews the curator of the Makeup Museum, whose summer exhibit focuses on the otherworldly. (Which, now that Science has proved that mermaids don’t exist, just seems all the more urgent.)
The trouble with “I’m not like other girls”: “It’s taking a form of contempt for women—even a hatred for women—and internalizing it by saying, Yes, those girls are awful, but I’m special, I’m not like that, instead of stepping back and saying, This is a lie.” (via Rachel Hills)
Psych-out: Kjerstin Gruys on the flipside of the evo-psych arguments about why men supposedly prefer younger, prettier women.