Online makeup tutorials, once a cute and helpful guide for cosmetic exploration, are reaching the point of absurd saturation. There are only so many ways to style a face, and more importantly, only so many people qualified to dole out cosmetology tips. But overabundance is also an opportunity, at least in the eyes of Caroline Solomon, better known as her online moniker @lowcheekbones. The young artist created an Instagram account satirizing the more absurd elements of makeup tutorials, from their often impractical hyper-specificity to the shallow plasticity of those creating the videos.
In a video from this past December, Solomon shared with her nearly 20,000 followers her everyday foundation routine. Starting off exaggerated but relatively normal, she lays a base layer of makeup on her face, before plunging a turkey baster into a bottle of olive oil, lathering it on a sponge, and smearing it all over her face. In a more recent video, Solomon is seen in "U-Haul Truck" makeup, equipped with miniature wheels attached to her cheeks. She completes the look with a beret made from Tiffany's china and a miniature wardrobe strapped on her head.
The satirical madness continues throughout Solomon's feed, with tutorials on how to turn your face into a Stan Smith Adidas shoe, a pair of Crocs, a bottle of Purell hand sanitizer, and dozens of other ironically branded parodies. In some of her more recent videos, the artist seems to branch out of solely doing makeup parodies, mocking corporate branding culture with an "outfit of the day" equipped with physically attachable Instagram tags, a guide to a "New York Spa Day" (which involves sticking your head in a smoking manhole tube), and enacting the role of a snooty socialite attending an important "press preview" at a local McDonalds.
Anything that is inherently absurd but widely accepted serves as raw material for Solomon, who mocks our modern world without an ounce of cynicism. For someone who has produced nearly a video-a-day for an entire year, it is somewhat surprising that Solomon had no prior artistic practice or background. After graduating with a Psychology degree from Harvard in 2012, she found herself working as a beauty assistant at Glamour, which ultimately led her to where she is today.
"The impulse to satirize makeup hacks and tutorials definitely started at Glamour, as a response to how seriously everyone takes makeup," Solomon tells Creators. "I was feeling uninspired by the beauty content I was producing (there are only so many ways to spin a 'no makeup makeup look'), and at the same time, there were so many ridiculous aspects of beauty that no one was shedding light on. When I started making these videos, I very quickly became hooked and wanted to create something that was like the weird counterpoint to a women's magazine."
With a hint of sarcasm, Solomon expresses a level of admiration for serious makeup vloggers: "They are such underrated comedians! They exaggerate every expression with their 'smizing,' miming, and duck faces that seem to last an eternity," she exclaims. "There are so many useless beauty hacks floating around Instagram that are such easy fodder for parody videos. Like here's my 'going to the park' makeup look! My 'going to the movies and eating popcorn' makeup look! My 'hungover at the beach' look! And so on. There's a lot of beauty hacks for nonexistent problems, essentially."
Check out Caroline Solomon's video performance work on her Instagram account, @lowcheekbones.