Cosmetic art
September 5, 2017 1:40 PM   Subscribe

I love love love looking at all the pretty eyeshadows at Sephora. So many different colors, textures, glitter/no glitter, etc.! So it occurs to me: has anyone ever tried to make art using makeup instead of paints or pastels? Is there anything inherently unsuitable about makeup that would make this a no-go? For example: a "painting", on a regular canvas, but using the Naked palette instead of oils.
posted by orrnyereg to Media & Arts (10 answers total)
I've painted using a pot of loose green glitter eyeshadow I didn't want any more before - I added water to it to make a paste and it looked pretty but when it dried it flaked off the paper. I guess if you fixed it with something like when drawing with charcoal or pastels, it could work? Or if you mixed it with something other than water.
posted by theseldomseenkid at 2:06 PM on September 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Found this link in Buzzfeed. I think the artist is taking a photo of the art so no worries about setting or flaking.
posted by MadMadam at 2:10 PM on September 5, 2017

You could possibly mix eyeshadow with clear acrylic medium and make it more permanent on canvas.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:11 PM on September 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Pigments used for human consumption are much higher in quality than those used for conventional painting, so much more expensive to use. The binder mediums for cosmetics are also designed to be non-drying, meaning that they do not fully oxidize and form a tough, dry paint layer, as they are designed to flex with skin. This means that a painting constructed with cosmetics that would not dry and would remain open to smudges and ambient atmospheric conditions. Many pigments would become noticeably muddy in color with mixing since they are blends, many colors would not be lightfast and would fade quickly with conventional exposure to sunlight, smoke, water, et cetera.

Rachel Lachowitz has done some works with lipsticks and in pan pigments. I'm not much of a fan of her work.
posted by effluvia at 2:13 PM on September 5, 2017 [8 favorites]

Paint vastly more stable than makeup. Paint is designed to stay; makeup is designed to be removed.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:17 PM on September 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

I've used light/white concealer sticks in pastel art before, it looks okay. For the purposes of drawing my own face, the concealer sticks are a lot easier for establishing skin tone than other mixtures I've put together.

Never have I regretted playing around with some of the samples I used to get from Birchbox--especially the metallic eye crayons and lip liners. Also, brushes and sponges. I got a whole slew of knockoff Beautyblenders at some point, and those are super fun to smoosh around with acrylic paint.
posted by witchen at 2:23 PM on September 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

I made a small painting with nailpolish once, a copy of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds from Yellow Submarine. It was the cheapest nailpolish, but even so more expensive than regular paints. The effect was very handsome, as swirled and glittery as I hoped, but I have not seen the canvas (by which I mean page from a sketchpad) in years, and by now it may be falling to pieces. The paint contracted and wrinkled the edges as it dried.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:32 PM on September 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

I had a student who worked with various types of makeup in paintings/drawings because she liked the media conceptually. It had its problems, including cost, frequent lack of contrast/saturation, blendability, residue/oil seepage, archival issues, etc. I would not recommend it over other more standard art media unless the conceptual strength outweighs the many downsides. If you really want to use it, though, it is not impossible.
posted by vegartanipla at 7:10 PM on September 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

I haven't done it in a very long time, but I've used makeup as finger pastels, in creating face lookbooks. You might have some luck using a makeup setting spray to help it stick before using a regular pastel fixative.
To this day, I do better with my fingers than tools with most makeup. Who knew?
posted by ApathyGirl at 8:59 PM on September 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

There are many unsuitable things about makeup that would be drawbacks to using them as art materials - many have been covered here and I would also include high price for a tiny bit of actual material. It would also be very difficult, if impossible, to make long-lasting, archival quality pieces using makeup.

I've been exploring resin casting and jewelry lately, and it is once place I've seen a lot of makeup used. Eyeshadow to color resin. Nail polish to color resin.
posted by Squeak Attack at 9:42 AM on September 6, 2017

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