What's On Your Face?

Written, photographed, and modeled by Muylin Loh

My skincare journey began at Lush. A brand that prides itself on their natural and freshly handmade products, backed with a solid green policy and admirable commitment to fight animal testing. It sounded like a great place to start. Though I wasn’t sure what to look for, I ended up choosing my cleanser and moisturizer based on the uniqueness of their names. After all, “Skin’s Shangri-La” could only be as luxurious as it sounds, right? Fast forward to one week later - my face was in the worst state it’s ever been, completely irritated and filled with small bumps.

Everyday - multiple times a day - I would hover over my mirror, getting increasingly upset by the condition of my skin. The products must’ve been too harsh on my skin, so I researched what exactly in the formula caused this irritation. Initially scanning through the list of ingredients didn’t lead me anywhere, so I found resources that could decode these crazy chemical names. EWG’s Skin Deep and cosdna are databases where you can search for products and they break down the ingredients, detailing the purposes and concerns of each. Each ingredient is rated from one to ten; the higher the score, the higher the hazard. Using EWG, I was startled to find that the moisturizer I used scored an average of 6 out of 10, with four ingredients rated 7 and higher. Fragrance had the highest score, with one of the concerns being irritation. Well, at least it’s starting to make sense.


On a scale of reactions, irritation was considered a mild concern; the more serious risks include allergies, organ system toxicity, endocrine disruption, reproductive toxicity - the list goes on. How is it possible that these ingredients have harmful effects on your health and yet nobody seems to be talking about it? This prompted me to be more cautious when searching for another moisturizer to switch to. Soon enough, it became clear that it wasn’t just Lush that packed these toxic ingredients into their product offering - in fact, most beauty companies do.

The ugly truth is that the US has not passed regulation on personal care products since 1938. Since then, over 80,000 chemicals have been introduced to the general market, but only 10 percent of these have been tested for human safety. To put this into perspective in the beauty industry, the European Union bans about 1,500 ingredients and the United States bans only 30. The FDA does not approve products before they hit the shelves and has minimal power in recalling products. Although this doesn’t necessarily mean that all products are harmful, it does have important implications for us, as consumers, to be mindful and read labels profusely. Even in small amounts, toxic ingredients can have a negative cumulative effect on our health. As mentioned earlier, fragrance often has a very high score in terms of toxicity because manufacturers are not required to list the ingredients that go into fragrance on product labels. This means that the word “fragrance” can hide possibly hundreds of toxic ingredients, including phthalates, known to help scents last longer but have unexpected risks. Deemed a trade secret, many beauty companies use "fragrance" to hide their formulations from their competitors.

With the unregulated nature of this industry, brands can use buzzwords like natural, pure, and organic that don’t have real enforceable definitions, even if the ingredient label on the back screams the exact opposite. Statements like “free of” or “benefits include” distract us from figuring out what’s actually included in the product. Lush is a notorious example of such a company as one of their biggest selling points are fresh ingredients made into natural products. When in fact, 83 Lush products contain parabens, a harsh preservative that is known to disrupt hormone function, because their main ingredient is water, which means that the product requires strong preservatives to prevent molding. Other ingredients include foaming agents, sulfates, synthetic fragrance, amongst many other fillers and preservatives that have not been tested for safety. If you ran their products through the EWG database, you’d be shocked to see what you find.

In hopes of saving my skin, I made frequent trips to Sephora, tried dozens of moisturizers and treatments, including ones that Youtubers claim are essentials, ultimately getting disappointed by the lack of results that were ever so promised. Finding something I could comfortably use without aggravating my skin was the real challenge. By midday, my face would either feel too tight, or too heavy, or just plain irritated. The bumps on my forehead were as persistent as ever.   Acne treatments were too harsh on my skin, thus worsening the problem. My skin wasn’t cooperating to anything and as I monitored progress closely every day, seeing little to no results was quite discouraging. That is until I finally made the switch to clean skincare.

Browsing on Sephora, I noticed there were some products with a green seal, labeled “Clean at Sephora”. Clean beauty was relatively new to me but the more I read about it, the more I was sold. It offered the perfect solution to the toxicity of conventional beauty products. Clean beauty prioritizes ingredient safety over source, which means it doesn’t contain ingredients like parabens, sulfates, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, mineral oils, or chemical sunscreens that are linked to harmful hormone disruption, cancer or skin irritation. Natural products generally have a shorter shelf life because they don’t include the fillers and preservatives that are commonly used in traditional beauty products solely to lengthen shelf life. Instead, they contain botanical ingredients that naturally break down after a while but are more nutritious for your skin. Additionally, there is a higher concentration of active ingredients in the formula so greater results can be achieved with less product. Similarly to cooking, a great dish doesn't include artificial flavors or fake, processed foods but rather pure and fresh ingredients. Simply put - better ingredients equal better results.


More consumers are demanding safer products, which means more beauty retailers are banning ingredients that are known to be harmful from their product offering. Brands like Ursa Major, Drunk Elephant and Herbivore are paving the way for clean skincare and setting the standards for safe products that deliver maximum results and compete with popular conventional products. Gradually, I made the switch to clean skincare, and with proper care and maintenance, trial and error, my face actually started clearing up. I experimented with AHAs and BHAs and different types of moisturizers and found that the moisturizer that worked best on my skin didn't have an ingredient label that seems to go on forever - in fact, it only had 12 powerful and potent ingredients. Free from toxins and other nasties that do not belong on your skin, I discovered that perhaps the phrase "the simpler the better" might actually be true after all.

My current skincare routine comprises of three steps. I wash my face with Indie Lee’s Brightening Cleanser, seal in moisture with Peet Rivko’s Daily Moisturizer and protect with EltaMD’s facial sunscreen.

If you’re currently breaking out and can’t figure out why, run your products through EWG and see if it might be certain ingredients that are causing irritation. If you can use just about anything without breaking out, consider yourself lucky (and me very jealous). However, it’s still important to be mindful about the fact that a lot of the time, these effects take place beneath the surface. Think about it this way - if you wouldn’t eat toxic chemicals, why put it on your body? 60 percent of everything you apply on your skin makes its way into your bloodstream. As consumers, we owe it to ourselves to be more aware and make decisions based on facts and figures.

Although you may be reluctant to throw your products away and make the big change (as I was), I recommend you start small. The next time your cleanser or moisturizer runs out, look for a clean alternative. Switch out your products slowly and fill in any gaps as you go. I personally started out with my main area of concern and worked my way around to replacing my traditional skincare products with natural alternatives. It is a long process, but understanding clean beauty and ingredients is a continual process that’s become a hobby for me. I hope your research will take you along the same path.

Unpopular Opinion: Kylie Jenner's Success should have been celebrated

By Sara Chen

“There is no free lunch,” is a saying uttered by countless business students, teachers and textbooks. In all fairness, this is true. In order to survive in the twenty-first century, financial freedom is crucial. For a majority of the workforce, there will never be a free lunch. A cautionary saying against careless lack of work ethic is warranted. However, it is important to acknowledge the differing levels of barriers to success, and differences in where people stand in the line to get that “lunch.” While the saying is meant to advise young business professionals to stay motivated, there is a multitude of complexities behind the real life application of the idea of working for “lunch.”

When criticism is thrown at United States culture, an easy target is the Kardashian family. Often it is convenient to demean a group of women who seem as if their rise to fame was not spurred by any discernible talent. However, there are many wealthy families in the United States who could not achieve the same climb to power as the Kardashians. It’s ignorant to dismiss all the intelligence behind turning a wealthy family into a decade-long profitable mogul. According to Forbes, when Kim Kardashian started KKW Beauty she collected a revenue of $45.5 million and sold 300,000 units within two hours. Kim Kardashian West additionally worked to help release Alice Marie Johnson, an African American woman who was the victim of systemically racist incarceration, sentenced for a nonviolent drug trafficking offense to 21 years. Forbes also reports that she is worth $350 million dollars through branding, in spite of navigating the landmines of social media and constantly having to fend off attacks on her and her family. Khloe Kardashian worked to co-found Good American, a company which allows fashionable options for women of all body types. Kourtney and Khloe also earn between $10 and $15 million each through social media endorsements. Kendall ranked 3rd on Forbes magazine’s list of highest paid models, with a $10 million annual  income. At an unprecedentedly young age, Kylie Jenner shocked the business world with her makeup line. Her influence is seemingly limitless, as she was able to write one negative tweet that caused Snapchat’s stock to plummet 6 percent. Kylie’s makeup line grossed $420 million in its first 18 months and was predicted to earn $1 billion by 2022, but has surpassed this prediction by 3 years.

Clearly, the Kardashian empire is impressive; however it is also fair to acknowledge the privileged background which allowed a strong foundation for growth and success. With Caitlyn Jenner’s reputation as a former olympian and Rob Kardashian reaping the benefits of being a upper class member of Los Angeles society, the family secured sound fiscal groundwork for future revenues. In the analysis of the career of Kylie Jenner, it is clear that her family background acted as a catalyst in her growth. Kylie Jenner may not have had a free lunch, but was much closer to obtaining said lunch than the average American. Keeping her privileged background in mind, it is still important to acknowledge her massive success in comparison to other rich celebrities who have done nothing but use their fame as excuses to cut lines in reprehensible behaviours, such as paying for college acceptance.

At age 17 Kylie Jenner co-authored a book with her sister, then at 18 released a collaboration with Topshop and expanded the Kendall + Kylie collection at Neiman Marcus and PacSun. Also around this time, Jenner invested $250,000 to produce the first 15,000 lip kits. The first lip kits were to be sold on November 20th of that year and sold out in less than one minute. Kylie Jenner owns 100 percent of Kylie Cosmetics and has created more than 500 jobs. Kylie Cosmetics does not differ much from many other startups that need an initial operating cost of $250,000. Where many Americans would not have able to invest such a high amount of their own income into such business ventures without assistance, this measly start up cost would have been an easy accomplish for any person in the top 1 percent.

However, it is still beyond fair to acknowledge her immense success. Her November 2016 holiday collection reached $19 million in sales within 24 hours of it going on sale. In her initial year working, she made revenues of $305 million and expanded to sell 50 different types of products. Kylie Jenner started her business just like any other, through the typical entrepreneurial process.

Entrepreneurship at its core is acknowledging an unmet need in the market. What is a problem that is currently not being solved? Kylie explained in a Forbes interview that when she was younger she was insecure about her lips and realized that there were no lip liners which matched the exact color of lipsticks. Companies did not produce both lip liners and lipsticks together, which often resulted in mismatched shades. After acknowledging this hole in the market she decided her solution was a cosmetic line which produced lipsticks and lip liners together. The outside perspective of her glamour and wealth from Kylie Cosmetics tends to gloss over the true operational aspects of actually creating a new business. She continued to explain that starting a company on her own and having a large audience meant automatically from the beginning there was not a lot of room for mistakes, especially at such a young age. She did admit that her goal was not mass stardom, but instead having autonomy in a project that was her own as opposed to part of the Kardashian brand. In a Forbes interview, Jenner explained “I didn’t expect anything. I did not foresee the future… but the recognition feels really good. That’s a nice pat on the back.”

Kylie Jenner is the youngest billionaire in the world. A 21 year old woman is the youngest billionaire in the world, and instead of giving her the sole praise for her business endeavors her success is now intertwined with a controversy. Regardless of whether people agree with what her family stands for or who she is as a person, the harsh reality is that the business world has always been run like this. Familial connections and pre-existing wealth and influence have been the constant factors in why many male executives in the business world have gotten their positions. However, women have always been excluded from the business world with many subtle barriers. There is no such thing as a free lunch, but imagine being a woman in business and having to hear “you’re only here because you’re a girl” or “smile more” and a million other comments as you’re trying to do the same work as everyone else to get the same success as every other guy. Every woman in business or a male dominated field understands this struggle precisely, and clearly Forbes did not. What happens when you’re a woman in business is you are constantly put in uncompromising positions. Kylie Jenner’s success was tied to the caveat that someone else labeled her self-made. So now she is put in a position where if she denies that she is self made, she is additionally denying the fact that she is the youngest billionaire entrepreneur. This is a battle exclusive to women. The author of the controversial Forbes has only written about celebrities and entertainment. While Kylie Jenner is a celebrity, she has achieved a feat that no 21 year old man could. Forbes should have at least done Kylie the courtesy of getting a business writer to cover her story!

It is easy to pretend that we have reached equality, because we have progressed from twenty or thirty years ago. That being said, it is important to acknowledge that it is easy to criticize new changes which align with our personal beliefs, but we have to take a step back to look at the overall image. A majority of society has accepted that women should be treated in business the same as their male counterparts, however the actual change in behavior has been slow.

While scrolling through Instagram, many didn’t question this picture with six businesswomen labeled by their weight; however, you would never see six wealthy business men in a post which labels them by their weight or appearance. Similarly to how if the youngest billionaire was a man from an influential family, the controversy of labeling him self made would never become this big. In our world, women on average earn 82 cents to every dollar a man earns, only about 5 percent of Fortune 500 companies have CEOs who are women, and only two of those CEOs are women of color.

The controversy’s effect on Kylie’s credibility as a businesswoman would never destroy a man in the same position. Forbes should not have delegated a “media and entertainment” author to cover the fact that the youngest billionaire in the world is a woman. Any woman in business would have seen this story and felt the immediate sympathy for Kylie Jenner for being placed in a position where she must in defend her own integrity and ownership of her success. Jenner was much closer in line to getting her “lunch” than the average American going in to business like myself,but compared to men in similar privileged positions, she worked much harder to become the youngest billionaire in the world, and that should have been the story.

Glambot: Budget-Friendly Sustainability, or Just Kinda Icky?

by Aditi Peyush

This is the age of sustainability, with students flocking local thrift stores for unique pieces, toting reusable canvas bags, and carrying around metal straws. Our generation is trying its hardest to conserve the planet as we know it. So how should we feel about buying used makeup?

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Glambot is an online store that contains a wide variety of discontinued and rare makeup-a beauty guru’s dream-however, it is pre-owned makeup. Glambot maintains its brand by adding that the founder, Karen Horiuchi, is a fellow makeup aficionado. By perusing the website, customers get a good idea of the brands that Glambot resells, from higher end brands like Burberry, Dior, and Givenchy, to more widely used brands like Tarte, ITCosmetics, and ColourPop. Though, one concern with buying makeup products online is that it can take away the all too-known scenario of walking into a shiny Sephora with wide-eyes and leaving with a hand full of swatches and products.

On the Glambot Cares tab, you can see how the products are sanitized and shipped to ensure no damage occurs in transit. The website is a great option for someone wanting to experiment with a specific color or a new brand, however, the idea of using a product that has already been worn is a bit concerning. When asked her opinion on the concept, Jaime Gonora (CCIS ’21) said “personally it depends on the product. I wouldn’t buy like a loose powder or item with a wand because they’re hard to sanitize but a bottle of face wash or something I would.” Which alternatively brings up a concern that the FDA doesn't require cosmetics companies to include the expiration date for their products, so in theory, consumers don’t know how old the product is. With our skin being the body’s largest organ, it’s fair to be uneasy about the products being slathered onto it. Though most of us may be guilty of not throwing away our mascara after three months, many dermatologists say that containers are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, and most preservatives in makeup don’t last long enough to withstand those effects. If you wouldn’t drink contaminated water, you probably shouldn’t be using expired makeup, it can cause styes, irritation, swelling, and in extreme cases-temporary blindness.

Image courtesy of Glambot

Image courtesy of Glambot

Another Northeastern student, Farzin Sadeq, a close friend (COS ’21) commented “I would not buy products that are directly applied to the eyes, face, or body like concealer or mascara. Even if they are sanitized there’s still a risk of bacteria sticking to the wand itself, and those products shouldn't be shared regardless.” Considering so many things that can make young skin break out, it’s good to err on the side of cautious. However, for makeup collectors, this website could be a good way to accrue certain timeless collections, like Mac Makeup’s Selena collection that was released in 2016, or the Lorde collection released in 2014.

So while it’s fun to explore new makeup options and save the planet while doing so, always prioritize your skincare above all, and let us know if you try Glambot.

Is Your Kush Mascara Problematic?

By Natalie Hill

Will this weed mascara make my eyes get high? No, it will not make your eyes — or any other part of you — get high. In fact, it doesn’t contain any of the psychoactive component tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), just cannabidiol (CBD) oil, which is derived from cannabis but will not produce a “high.” “Kush Mascara” by Milk Makeup hit stores April 20, 2018 — the day of the unofficial holiday dedicated to celebrating marijuana. Based in New York, Milk has successfully attracted their target market of edgy millennial cool-girls “who do their makeup quick.” It comes as no surprise that they jumped at the opportunity to release the first-ever weed-infused makeup product. While other CBD-infused beauty products, ranging from lotions and facial serums to soaps and hair products, have existed for years, Kush Mascara is the first CBD makeup product to appear in Sephora, Urban Outfitters, and of course, on the biggest beauty influencers’ Youtube channels — including the likes of Claudia Sulewski, Samantha Ravndahl, and of course, Jeffree Star.

Maureen Dougherty for Glamour Magazine

Maureen Dougherty for Glamour Magazine

Before it was even released, Milk’s Kush Mascara was all over the Internet. Bloggers, Instagrammers, and the rest of us all wondered about the benefits of CBD in our makeup; popular Youtube makeup star Jeffree Star released a video review on the day it dropped (which has since amassed over 2.2 million views). According to Milk, “Kush Mascara’s dynamic formula will give your lashes major volume with heart-shaped fibers, while simultaneously conditioning them with cannabis oil. It’s one hit for hiiigh volume.” Jeffree seemed to like the product, and in turn, Milk recently decided to expand the Kush line with Kush Lip Balm, Lip Glaze, clear and tinted Brow Gels, and a merchandize lineup including makeup bags, stickers, and pens. Milk has also been carrying “Roll & Blot Hemp Papers,” which are oil-blotting sheets that double as rolling papers, since 2016.

The growing presence of marijuana in the beauty industry reflects a cultural shift in attitudes toward pot. As more states legalize cannabis for recreational use, a new economy has erupted — both around weed itself and around new products like THC-infused drinks and edible CBD oil to add to your milkshake. Investors have noticed, too; startups and cannabis corporations alike are growing at rapid rates. Constellation Brands, the parent company of Corona beer, recently invested $4 billion to a Canadian marijuana firm, making it the largest investment by a major U.S. corporation in the cannabis market to date. Altria, which produces Marlboro cigarettes, has followed lead, pouring $1.8 billion into pot producers. According to Arcview Market Research, a cannabis-focused investment firm, consumers are expected to spend $57 billion worldwide on legal cannabis by 2027, and those numbers are growing exponentially. As attitudes about pot change, so does the nature of the market for it. The very streets that used to host informal, illegal transactions are now lined with shiny, glass-windowed dispensaries and espresso bars selling $7 CBD cappuccinos.

Domingo Rodriguez on Instagram (@domingorodriguez)

Domingo Rodriguez on Instagram (@domingorodriguez)

The people that buy and sell weed have changed, too. Nixon-era “War on Drugs” policies have left a disproportionate number of black and Latinx people incarcerated for minor, non-violent drug offenses. More Americans are arrested for cannabis possession than for all violent crimes combined - in 2017, that was 1,632,921 arrests, 85% of which were for possession only. Over 200,000 students have been denied financial aid on the basis of these charges. What happens to those who were charged with possession in places where it has since been legalized? The United States is one of just 22 countries in the world that doesn’t guarantee “retroactive ameliorative relief” - i.e., reduced or eliminated sentences. Any pardons (or criminal record wipes) have to be considered individually on an appeals case. Ironically, in many states where the substance is now legal, those with past cannabis convictions are unable to legally acquire a license to open a business. Instead, the door is left wide open for wealthy white people to hurriedly start monopolies on the plant. Powerful businessmen are gearing up to launch companies and profit off of marijuana, but at whose expense?

Our society is at a critical juncture. We must decide how to navigate legalizing weed and emerging markets in an equitable way. Is it the responsibility of companies, like Milk Makeup, to advocate for sentencing reform as they reap the benefits of legalization? As a consumer — of the drug itself or of CBD beauty products — it is critical to stay informed so as to not contribute to a system of injustice. Does this mean you can’t see if CBD oil in your mascara really helps your eyelashes pop? Not necessarily, but as with every consumer choice, where you put your dollar counts.

The True Story of the Goth Girlfriend

By Olivia Mastrosimone
Photography by Jill Kligler
Modeled by Olivia Mastrosimone and Avery Kelly

This article has been adapted for the web from our Flux Issue.

If you’ve been on the Internet during the last year, you’ve probably noticed people starting to look more and more like that one goth girl that was the laughing stock of every early 2000s teen movie. Kylie Jenner’s newest makeup line was described as “goth mom chic,” and if either Hadid sister wears something black, there’s a Daily Mail story on Snapchat the next day about how the models are turning to the dark side. Maybe the most prevalent example right now is the duly named, and somewhat unsettling, “goth gf” meme that arrived when Tesla CEO Elon Musk brought pop artist Grimes to the Met Gala. As we enter the last few months of 2018, the term seems unavoidable. So, what does goth really mean, and why is it still important?


The word “goth” didn’t always just mean Instagram models wearing black lipstick and e-boys on Twitter begging to date them. Goth subculture originated in the seedy runoff of post-punk Great Britain. As punk gradually “sold out” and faded into the mainstream, goth began growing as a musical style and a culture. The end of the 70s brought the birth of goth fashion and beauty, which is where we start seeing the dark eyeshadow, thick eyeliner and red lips that we still associate with gothic beauty today.

London during the 1980s was a breeding ground for all things subversive. Siouxsie Sioux, of Siouxsie and the Banshees, was a gothic pioneer in many respects. No stranger to the underground, Sioux, along with future Banshees member Steven Severin, was a member of the Bromley Contingent, an infamous group of Sex Pistols fans that followed the iconic punk group all over the UK. While she began her career as a groupie, she evolved into a post-punk powerhouse and a style icon, garnering a large musical and stylistic following and eventually mainstream success. Her angular makeup, wild hair and inflammatory fashion provided the template for goth’s safety-pin Victorian style, and the band ’s unconventional sound and dark discord inspired new wave and goth bands for generations.


Maybe the most influential goth makeup look that came out of the early scene is Siouxsie’s iconic eye. Her jet-black, geometric brows and graphic eyeshadow are a staple of gothic makeup, and definitely not for the faint of heart (or eyeliner). It represents everything goth makeup is: exaggerated and confrontational. In the mid-1980s, when the Banshees and fellow darkly inclined acts like Joy Division and Bauhaus were sporting their teased fringes and ghoulish makeup, mainstream society was neon-clad and freshly permed. The early men and women of the goth scene not only turned heads but also challenged the very idea of beauty with their appearance. This attitude is at the core of goth’s culture and style: we don’t want to fit in, and we’re not even going to try.

As the subculture’s formative bands and figures exploded into the mainstream or fizzled into obscurity, goth’s reaches expanded and its identity became increasingly fragmented. The 1990s and 2000s saw the rise of countless groups that, if not identifying as goth explicitly, were decidedly goth in their attitude and attire. Bands like Nine Inch Nails and Ministry would set the scene for the angst-ridden and goth-inspired acts of the 90s. In our modern context, these bands’ early styles of all-black outfits and moody eye makeup isn’t all that provocative—but just remember that in 1992, when Ministry was dying their hair and releasing their controversial but decisive single “Jesus Built My Hotrod,” the Zubaz-wearing masses were listening to “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton, number six on Billboard’s Top 100 chart that year. As the 90s progressed, goth grew in popularity and continued to subvert culture with its musical style, fashion and beauty.


Goth’s time in the mainstream peaked with the pop-punk and emo music of the early 2000s and the subsequent birth of “mall goth” culture—A.K.A., the golden age of thin, drawn on eyebrows, kohl eyeliner, and black lipstick. Popular artists like Avril Lavigne and Evanescence cultivated a following of teenage fans, known in the community as “baby bats” who gathered at their local mall’s Hot Topic in their best pre-gothdom attire. This is not to say that these young “mall goths” weren’t as authentic or cool as the goths of the 80s and 90s. If anything, their fashion was just as iconic and makeup just as eccentric as that of the earlier figures. Whether it was 15-year-old punks in middle-America with swooping side bangs wearing black, chain-laden cargo pants and a Slipknot t-shirt, or the 20-somethings of London with their teased mullets and fishnet sleeves, it’s bizarre, it’s confusing, and it’s definitely goth.


Mainstream goth beauty today seems to has lost some this endearing aggressiveness. Like the best subcultures, it eventually crept its way into popular culture over the years and, while a vibrant underground goth culture remains today, the public’s idea of goth has become skewed. After the pop-punk and emo explosion of the early 2000s, goth’s unique aesthetic and attitude were swallowed up by designers and makeup artists and spat out as $50 Kat Von D eyeshadow palettes and bad memes. Yes, DailyMail is reporting that Kendall Jenner wearing blue eyeshadow and baby buns is goth, and there are people all over the internet saying they want to date Sam Manson from Danny Phantom, but that doesn’t mean the culture is a lost cause. The flawed “goth gf” trend can learn something from its predecessors of the 80s, 90s and 2000s. Reintroducing some of the delightful strangeness of goth’s past styles into a modern beauty context will help break down some of the walls put up around the goth identity. Making statements with your makeup and appearance is empowering and unimpeachably goth. If we’ve learned anything from Siouxsie Sioux or Avril Lavigne, a goth girlfriend isn’t someone that fits into a mold, but someone who breaks it.

The Colorism Ingrained in Me

By Naiem Yusuf
Photography by Aditi Lohe
Modeled by Stefanie Im, Elisa Kodama, Mahema Singh and Seema Korumilli

This article has been adapted for the web from our Flux Issue.

Growing up in Southeast Asia, I never truly knew what beauty was. All my life, I have been bombarded by ads of brown-skinned women whitening their faces to conform to European beauty standards. And I feel like no one has paid it any mind.


Skin bleaching, or skin lightening, happens all over the world—it is an epidemic deeply rooted in colorism. The sole purpose of skin lightening is to appear fairer in order to fit the socially constructed standard of beauty. It is a practice that is prevalent in South and Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and Africa, although there isn’t much media coverage or global scrutiny about it.

We all understand the concept of skin lightening, the act of using any kind of substance or treatment to physically lighten one’s skin tone. Yet, we don’t understand what drives its practice in Asia and how it differs from skin lightening in the West, although their origins are intertwined and connected.

Historically, light skin has brought up the same connotations. During the Victorian era, the age of powders and paint, European women followed in the footsteps of the Romans by painting their faces with lead. Lead paint provided temporary benefits of looking white, but prolonged use caused skin discoloration, hair loss and rotted teeth. In the 19th century, American women were willing to consume arsenic complexion wafers, a practice Queen Elizabeth was known to partake in. These wafers were literally toxic, but they got rid of freckles, pimples, and other facial impurities in the process. These women would essentially poison themselves out of a commitment to communicating purity and superiority in a time where the concept of race was being solidified.


In East Asia, white skin was seen as something that could only be attained by wealth. In the past, wealthier women could afford to stay indoors, avoiding more manual work and any way of getting a tan. In Southeast Asia, this gets a little more complicated. Our complex was built on the standards of the East, but really only solidified after we were colonized. We were made to feel inferior to the white skin that invaded us and forced to embody their beauty standards and ideas. Southeast Asians didn’t aspire to be white for superficial or cosmetic reasons, we aspired to attain the privilege that comes with being white.

Today, whiteness has become a symbol of beauty. Its practice and reach has grown to be even more insidious where products are marketed to lighten skin in ways that only seem benign and innocent. Commercialization plays to our need to be flawless by promoting whitening products’ effectiveness against acne, scarring and large pores. In many advertisements, the “after” picture presents a model not only with lighter skin, but with healthier, flawless looking skin. This not only further associates lighter skin with beauty, but it also equates dark skin with blemished, unhealthy and unwanted complexions.

We’ve evolved from poison to FDA-approved chemicals such as niacinamide, kojic acid and melanin inhibitors. While these do lighten skin, they have adverse effects like mild burning, itchiness and redness as it causes skin to thin and grow more sensitive to UV rays.


I grew up believing that it was wrong for me to be dark, and that I had to have lighter skin to be of value to society. I spent most of my teenage years using various whitening soaps and lotions in hopes of getting lighter. I grew accustomed to cleansing my face twice daily with Kojie San’s Kojic Acid soap and Eskinol’s Papaya Smooth White toner, prepping my skin with Cosrx’s Galactomyces 95 Whitening Power Essence Review and moisturizing with the 3CE White Milk Cream. To my disappointment, none of this worked the way it was marketed to, the way I’d hoped it would, and I was left with the unhealthiest skin I’ve ever had. Instead of getting lighter, I’d just aggravated my acne and confused my already sensitive complexion. I was flaky and ashy and I looked sick. It’s safe to say I was devastated, but more importantly, I wondered: was I not meant for beauty?

For a long while, I didn’t understand the complexities that came with being a person of color without a genuine connection to my own culture. I lacked the opportunities to interact with a group of people with diverse values and perspectives and was stuck with romanticized ideologies perpetuated by local media that sought to belittle me.

I don’t hate myself for being brown anymore. I’ve accepted it as part of my being, something I’ve learned to love and something I’ve fought the uphill battle of trying to escape from. Unlearning beauty ideas that have been part of your country’s history is extremely difficult, but I no longer feel defeated when I look at myself in the mirror.

Rest in Peace: Urban Decay has Retired Its Best-Selling Eyeshadow Palette

By Taylor Colton

Photos courtesy of Urban Decay


Makeup lovers, grab your tissues. Waterproof mascara will be required. On August 23, 2018, Urban Decay announced it will be discontinuing its iconic Naked palette.

As a young teen in 2010, I purchased Naked, the one palette that ruled them all, as my first eyeshadow palette. Naked was the ultimate neutral palette, with its perfectly curated array of go-to shades; it was a staple in almost every collection. My love for and knowledge of simple eye looks started with and grew from this palette. The OG included unique lid and crease shades that revolutionized neutral eyeshadow forever. The 12 shadows were a blend of finishes, from matte to shimmer; the combinations were endless. Tutorials on creating perfect looks using the Urban Decay palette flooded YouTube and were discussed on every large influencer’s channel. I had the palette, my friends had the palette, our parents had the palette; it was everywhere.

Since learning about Urban Decay’s decision to discontinuation the palette, I’ve been wondering: why would a brand remove its most iconic palette from its collection and the market? Urban Decay has sold 20 million original Naked palettes, accounting for $1 billion in sales. Urban Decay founding partner Wende Zomnir explains that saying goodbye to the palette is “extremely bittersweet”, but feels it was a big moment in their history. “It’s a little painful to leave your past behind, but it’s also essential to always evolve,” he said in a statement provided to Insider. Fans will be waiting with bated breath to see what the brand launches to replace the OG icon.


Though the death was sudden, the company has given customers a silver lining to losing the irreplaceable palette. On their website, Urban Decay has cut the price of the palette in half, from $54 to $27.

The death of the palette has been commemorated across the internet and by Urban Decay itself. The company released a video in which Nicole Richie, Kandee Johnson, Christen Dominique, and other big beauty influencers paid their respects at a funeral for the palette. Other influencers have taken to social media to express their sadness over the palette’s discontinuation.


Just like the beauty community, I feel as though this is the end of an era. Although I don’t use the product as much as I used to, I still need time to mourn the revolutionary palette that changed the beauty industry.

To the Naked Palette: you may be gone, but you will never be forgotten.

Glowing on the Go: How to Stay on Top of Skincare while Traveling

By Jessica Varner


Travel brings out the worst in everyone’s skin. Airports are teeming with germs and bacteria, and airplane air leaves our skin dehydrated and more susceptible to breakouts. Keeping up with skincare is difficult in general — finding a routine that works, sticking with it, adjusting as our skin changes and so on. I’m sure you know how it goes. To find out what really works I watched Youtube videos and read up on blogs, searching for inspiration. After picking up some face masks, travel-size face wash, and assembling my necessary skincare products I felt ready for my trip to Dallas, Texas, and hoped that my skin was too.

Since I had an early flight, I starting preparing the night before. Using a collagen peel-off face mask that suited my current skin condition (which was a little dry but somehow STILL breaking out), I felt like I had a decent base. The next morning, I washed my face using a Neutrogena daily scrub — nothing too harsh that would open my pores and invite the airport germs in — and was on my way to the airport. A few blogs and youtubers had suggested doing a face mask on the plane to keep fresh, but I opted to wait until I got to my hotel because masking on the go sounded like a sticky situation.

When I got off the plane, my skin was feeling more oily and, as everyone feels after a flight, dirty. It was time to put my skincare plan to the test.

At the hotel, I washed my face with the daily scrub again, and immediately put on a detoxifying face mask. Feeling clean once again, I put on my usual amount of makeup and carried on with my day. After an active day walking around in the ninety degree heat of Dallas and attending a Taylor Swift concert, I was ready to take off my makeup and hoped my skin was going to survive the change in climate. At this point I knew I needed something stronger than my daily scrub, so I dug out the travel-size exfoliant I had purchased the day before. Having never used this product before I was a little nervous. The bottle claims it “deeply exfoliates and removes impurities for glowing skin,” and sure enough, it really did. I felt refreshed and my skin quite possibly looked better than when I left Boston.

For the rest of my trip I used my daily scrub, moisturizer, and exfoliator when I felt each was necessary. In my daily routine I use my daily scrub, moisturizer, retinol, and a glow serum but only brought the essentials for my trip. I generally use exfoliator when my skin feels extra oily, and I use a sheet mask depending on how my skin is feeling as masks can vary in which areas they help. When I felt a little extra dried out from the Dallas heat I used one of the hydrating sheet masks I brought. Before my flight home, I went easy on my skin. The end result: my skin was not noticeably better than when I left, but it was definitely not worse.

My biggest tip for travel skincare is to be aware of everything. If you are prepared with the essentials, and actively think about what is affecting your skin throughout your trip you can stay ahead of potential breakouts. Bringing travel-sized products and sheet masks made packing easy as my products did not take up too much precious luggage space, nor was I worried about having to throw away expensive skincare products while going through security. I brought with me: Neutrogena Healthy Skin Boosters Daily Scrub (with white tea and vitamin e), Glossier Rich Priming Moisturizer, St. Ives Fresh Skin Apricot Scrub, and a few sheet masks from Sephora and Target that focused on moisturizing, detoxifying pores, and reducing redness. If you’re worried about remembering to think about your skin while traveling, set a reminder in your phone, or try to keep to the timing of your regular routine.

I’m definitely not a skincare expert (I’m actually pretty new to the whole face masks and serum thing) and I was able to keep up with my skin and not feel super gross while traveling across the country. It’s totally possible to keep your skin glowing wherever in the world you are!

Shades of Color in the Beauty Industry

By Melissa Wells
Photographed by Christina Philippides

This article has been adapted for the web from our Outsider Issue.


America has a long history of catering to a very specific type of person—white, just as the beauty industry is guilty of catering to a very specific shade—fair. Since conception, colorism has been a deep-seated issue that continues to plague the beauty industry. In 2018, people of color are speaking out against colorism and racism within this industry with voices that can now be heard.

Prior to the launch of the highly anticipated Tarte Shape Tape Foundation, PopSugar and Tarte Cosmetics posted photos of the fifteen shades from both hydrating and matte foundations that were set to release. The shades were swatched on a person of color (who, ironically, didn’t even have a shade that matched her skin tone): eleven fair-to-light, two medium-to-tan, and two fairly deep. A social media storm ensued.

According to PopSugar’s “exclusive” with a Tarte representative, Tarte planned on dropping ten more foundation shades... seasonally. As stated in the story, it “...makes sense because your complexion tends to be paler in the Winter and darker in the Summer months.” They might as well have admitted to the colorism that drove this launch—and frankly their company, as reflected through their whitewashed social media and advertising.

The consensus from the beauty community was that Tarte’s statement regarding a later release date for the full range of colors implied weighted importance for light-skinned customers, making darker skin tones wait. But people of color aren’t going to wait for Tarte to come up with a more thoughtful excuse for its neglectful shade range. In her article criticizing Tarte’s defense, Revelist writer Marquaysa Battle wrote, “The brand has already shown which customers it cares about—and it’s not those of us with dark skin.”

From Jackie Aina and Shayla Mitchell to Nyma Tang and Alissa Ashley, black beauty Youtubers, vloggers and influencers alike spoke out about the broader issue that this release brought to the forefront. The common buzzword: afterthought. The uproar fueled by this launch revealed what the beauty industry fails to comprehend: the powerful impact that inclusivity has on society as a whole. In her article, “Un-Palette-Able: Colorism in the Makeup Industry”, Arianna Lewis wrote, “It sickens me that society views dark women of color in a way that suggests that not only are they not beautiful, but they are not even worth acknowledging.”

Shayla Mitchell, known as MakeupShayla on her social media platforms, was one of many popular Black American beauty gurus who posted a scathing critique of the limited shade range. Addressing Tarte directly, five words she stressed would become a trending Twitter hashtag: #MySkinIsNotSeasonal.


Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty line did not “usher in a new era of inclusivity” like W Magazine would like you to believe. Instead, it allowed this generation to recognize lack of inclusivity as not only prevalent, but highlighted brands that continue to disregard communities of color in their target audience. This deliberate choice to neglect other shades is about race. An industry that “doesn’t see color” enables a system of oppression in denying those colors exist. As Nigerian-American beauty Youtuber Jackie Aina emphasized in her video, “I Don’t See Color - A Makeup Tutorial”, “I am someone who’s sick and tired of seeing people who look like me get stepped on constantly. And I’m not just talking about black women, I’m talking about Latin women, I’m talking about Asian women, I’m talking about Native women… for literally anyone who is told, ‘I don’t see you.’”

The makeup industry’s failure to validate people of color is unacceptable. Beauty encompasses men and women of all different ethnicities and undertones. The beauty community isn’t fifty shades of vanilla, but a gradient from paper pale to dark as night. It is this outrage—of people of all colors—that holds the power to bring about change.

In 2018, the industry suffers from not catering to everyone. James Charles, a beauty Internet personality, touched on this in his own review. “Women of color equate for 80% of all money going into the beauty industry. But for some reason, they are still overlooked. The lack of inclusion is a lose-lose situation...” Using their privilege, the white audience that are targeted by companies like Tarte can help send a message by refusing to buy their products until their shade range is inclusive. The beauty industry benefits from acknowledging that money can be made from communities not made up of the limited fifteen shades Tarte’s Shape Tape Foundation reflects.

Tarte released an apology via Instagram story following the controversy. It was important for them to say “for those who feel alienated in our community, we want to personally apologize.” The carefully worded apology hit all the right notes but didn’t address the entire problem. Moreover, it was played on a platform designed to disappear after 24 hours, as if their stance against the colorism and exclusionary practices in makeup that they engage in was just as temporary. Beauty brands must work on communicating sincerity, displaying inclusivity all around and just getting inclusion right the first time. Apologies promise resolution, but actions speak louder than words.

It was Shonda Rhimes who said, “You can waste your lives drawing lines or you can live your life crossing them.” The beauty industry has crossed the gender line and tentatively started to cross the line of color. Why? Because everyone, no matter their color or gender, should be able to enjoy beauty. People of color are just as entitled to try beauty products as the limited few who fit into a beauty brand like Tarte’s shade range. It is because it’s not just about makeup, it’s that people of color are underrepresented in many other brands, companies and industries. It is because this is much more than a complexion issue, it is a heart issue, and now is the time for the world to stop seeing people as less important merely for having darker skin. The black beauty community matters. Black beauty matters.

If the reaction to Tarte’s Shape Tape Foundation has demonstrated anything, it is that people of color have had enough in 2018. In the words of beauty Youtuber Alissa Ashley, “we’re going to hold you accountable.”

I Love My Hair

By Sade Adewunmi
Photographed by Hanna Cormier

This article has been adapted for the web from our Outsider Issue.


When I walk into a room, my hair catches everyone’s attention. The vibrant hue and unfamiliar texture bring all eyes on me, as many wonder who I am and how I got my hair to do something this extraordinary. Before I even open my mouth, my hair speaks for me. My hair tells you that I am bold and brazen. My hair exclaims that I am the adventurous type, the creative kind and a bit different than everyone else. My hair is my statement piece, and it is the perfect reflection of who I am.

Red symbolizes both power and seduction. The way in which power can seduce, and how seduction can lead to power, is harmonious— my ruby red hair best allows me to harness that energy every day. As I step into the world as an African American woman, my red locs best represent who I want to project. Dying my hair was the change I needed; when asked if I will ever go back to my natural hair color, I always answer, “No.” I could never imagine returning to such a boring look. I feel freer with this color; compared to my typical brown hair, this color marks a change in how I see myself. Rather than working to fit into someone else’s lines, I embrace the carefree girl that I aim to be. The color of my hair speaks to my personality and my essence.


When I was younger, my father’s girlfriend of the time put extensions in my hair, and when my mother saw me she was furious. She didn’t want me to grow up believing that I needed to change my hair to be, and feel, beautiful. She never wanted me to straighten, press or put fake hair in my own; she wanted me to embrace the beauty of my natural hair without needing things that didn’t belong to my heritage. In eighth grade, I decided to permanently stick with my locs, and ever since, my hair has been introduced to new hairstyles that I could not do with my naturally curly hair. My locs have given me the confidence that I exude today; my hair has influenced so much of my personal style, and although my hair can be seen as outlandish, I have grown to stop caring what people think and how they may view me. This confidence has been infused within my everyday life, and if my hair has taught me nothing else, it is that I must do what I wish with my life, and throw away the preconceived notions that people may have about me.

I constantly deal with my locs being misidentified as dreads, and there is definitely a difference between these two styles. Although dreads and locs start in the same way as twists, locs require maintenance and care to keep the hair healthy and neat; whereas dreads require no management. There is a clean and distinct difference in the management of these two styles. In the seven years I have had my locs, I have stopped trying to correct and educate people on the difference, as it has become too exhausting, and I feel as if people would never truly grasp the difference. My mother, on the other hand, always corrects people when they call her locs dreads.


Growing up, I only ever saw two other African American women with locs: my mother and my sister. I did not see other African American women with hair like mine, or even similar in rarity, until I came to the East Coast. But even on the East Coast, my hair is still seen as unconventional and untraditional. Nevertheless, my locs allow me to express my heritage and background without words or statements. My locs are a familial statement piece, connecting us to one another as well as to our African American heritage.

I become uneasy when people compliment my hair, wondering if they even know the name of what they are commenting on, or if they only like my hair because they have never seen anything like it before. I do like the attention, but sometimes I feel like an exhibition piece: something for people to point at, stare at and grab at in a way that can make me, and my hair, feel like an object. And yes, my hair may attract an eclectic variety of people, but I can never know whether people are drawn to my hair because of true wonderment, or as a new fascination for them that will soon fade.


I could not think of changing my hair to fit any desired mold. There are people that have judged me simply based off of my hair, and there have been people that have told me I should take my locs out—but I have always held the same motto: I will not change my hair to fit anyone’s mold. It is in the moment we stop focusing on what others will accept or deem appropriate that we can truly start embracing ourselves and loving our appearance. The color of my hair affects me from the clothes I choose to wear to how I style my outfits. Since the red hue is the most eye-catching part, I try to style my wardrobe in a way that won’t draw attention away from my hair color, but rather accentuate it. I have learned which hairstyles look best with certain outfits, and I have even begun experimenting with accessories in my hair to enhance my already-bold look.

My hair, unlike clothes, is always speaking for me. My red locs are aspirational because they project the person I desire to become, as well as remind me to never settle for ordinary. I exclaim to the world that I will not hinder and confine myself to a stereotypical mold; I will defy these conventional standards and rebuke the notion that I must look like everyone else to be beautiful.

I will continue to project the bold and powerful woman that I am today. I love standing out. I love my hair.