Celebrity markup artist Erin Parsons may be known for her work with stars like Gigi and Bella Hadid and Adriana Lima, but the real stars of her Instagram feed are the pieces in her vintage makeup collection. The Maybelline Global Makeup Artist often shares with fans her rare finds, like false lashes owned by Hollywood starlets and a Salvador Dali makeup collection. Here, she tells NewBeauty how she started accumulating her treasures and if and how beauty from the past influences her work today.
NewBeauty: How and when did you start collecting vintage makeup?
EP: I’ve always wanted to collect, but it’s a very expensive hobby to have! It was only recently, just about two years ago, when I saw Mae West’s makeup come up for auction and I realized I can own these pieces from incredible movie stars that I love, and it spiraled out of control after that.
NB: Which pieces are your most prized possessions?
EP: My Marilyn Monroe false lashes, Mae West’s makeup and false lashes, Elizabeth Taylor’s eyeshadow, Loretta Young’s makeup case and Doris Day’s wigs. Some of my favorite pieces are art deco pieces. I have cute compacts from the ’20s and ’30s. I have a box of French mouches from the 1800s. They’re super rare to find and they’re little patches you put on your face to make beauty marks.
NB: In what ways does your collection influence your work?
EP: It doesn’t really influence the way I work, but collecting the references and understanding what makeup looked like in the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s does help me. Now that I own these colors, I can see what maybe a blush or lipstick color might have actually looked like and have a better understanding of the true colors that were used at the time.
NB: How do you typically go about finding something you end up collecting? Do you go looking for them or do they find you?
EP: I follow all the online auctions, I follow sellers on Ruby Lane Vintage, eBay, Esty. I keep a lot of saved searches. I look at over 40 emails a day to see if anything I’m looking for is in auction. It’s an obsession.
NB: How does examining vintage or retro makeup treasures make you look differently at modern makeup or beauty tools?
EP: I see such a difference in packaging now. Everything was made of some sort of metal and you would have things that would open in a way. You’d have a blush, lipstick, powder and everything in one compact. Now everything looks the same. The packaging is the biggest difference to me. Formulas are hard to tell because you can’t use them since they’re old, but some of the tools that we used in the 1900s are the same as today. For example the eyelash curler.
NB: Is there something out there that you haven’t gotten your hands on yet that you really hope to find?
EP: Yes, but I can’t say it here because someone might search for it!
NB: Have you ever considered doing a larger project with your collection or have you been contacted by any museums or anything like that?
EP: I haven’t been contacted by any museums, but I am working on something now and it might be up next year!
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