Breaking News? Alicia Keys not wearing makeup.

I woke up the other day to hundreds of articles and trending topics on Alicia Keys. In case you hadn’t heard, she attended an awards show without wearing makeup. I thought to myself, this is great! This is exactly the message I am trying to spread, being comfortable as yourself, whatever that may be. Her beautiful, bare face was the result of a personal decision recently to go more natural and makeup free.

I continued reading and unfortunately, they were all negative. With every article I read about the musician attending the MTV Video Music Awards without putting on makeup, the more it convinced me that this really is a problem. It’s a problem when someone who has decided how she feels most comfortable, is then judged and scrutinized for it. Alicia Keys making the decision to go without wearing makeup should not turn everyone’s heads in disbelief. This is a supremely confident, beautiful and strong woman, who definitely doesn’t need makeup to define herself.

The biggest thing to take away from this is to #BeYourself and as Alicia Keys tweeted out after, “do you”! Don’t let the judgements and stereotypes get to you.  If you are comfortable wearing no makeup, or don’t want to step outside with it, it shouldn’t matter to others. We live in a world of constant judgement and the digital age we’re in doesn’t seem to be helping. Looking forward, I’m reassured by the relevancy of my research topic and future campaign. It is very exciting to know that Makeup affects so many people in so many different ways.



Words of Positivity

In all the research of judgements on makeup use and all the different opinions online, I thought I’d post the positive thoughts I got back from a main survey question.

The question was: How does wearing makeup make you feel?

Out of 116 responses they spoke of confidence, positivity, beauty, etc. Here are more of the encouraging feelings that makeup can bring out.

. put together . beautiful . fierce . braver . strong . prettier . real . happiness .

pretty . powerful . great . dauntless . proud . empowered . powerful . fierce . radiant

. perseverance . happy . beautiful . amazing . outgoing . stylish . powerful . better .

heightened . perfect . great . indescribable . fierce . boss . comfortable

. put together . ready . on fleek . happy . invinsible . untouchable . good  . radiant .

secure . creativity . more like myself . boss . beauty . satisfied . slay . beautiful

. strong . attractive . fierce . slaying . proud .  I feel like I could destroy people .

empowerment . amazing . free . slaying . happy . invincible . powerful . proud

. I feel more attractive . sexy. cleaner . confident . normal . sexy . boss . badass . fresh .

empowered . vibrant . sass . neutral . happy . pretty . content . sexy

. confident . unstoppable . amazing . confident . pretty . ready . complete . me .

One of the best things is to see someone say the simplest thing that also means so much. To state that makeup makes them feel “me” and to imply that they feel themselves most with makeup is actually what I want from this. I want whatever design outcome I make to enforce that however you feel most you.. is what’s right!


Survey Results Update

When I first started posting my survey I wasn’t expecting very many results. I am overwhelmed with how many I’ve managed to get so far and am still trying for more. As of right now I’ve received 120 responses and 50 responses of interest to be involved in the thought of a campaign.

I am aiming to have survey results from both genders, which has been my largest struggle as of yet. It’s very hard to figure out how to pull in responses from males who wear makeup, especially when talking about judgements on makeup use. I don’t want to offend anyone and don’t know anyone personally. I plan to inquire at makeup stores and places where there may be males working in the makeup industry as well.

Analyzing the survey results has been eye opening and very reassuring. Personally I have felt judged for wearing and not wearing makeup. Sometimes you can forget or doubt that others feel the same way. After going through the results it is very clear that many feel the same way, and a campaign of these sorts could be very useful.

The saddest thing about going through responses was how judgements has made people feel or allow it to change their decisions. In the contrary when asking, “What is the best word to describe the confidence you personally feel with makeup?” the responses poured with positivity. This reassured my plan of trying to focus on, and bring out the positives of makeup use. Each person should be able to make their own decisions on their makeup use for whatever makes them feel best.

I know that in a world of pressures and expectations from the media this is a much larger issue, but I hope to tackle a small part of it. If I can use design, to at least make one person feel more confident in being themselves, then I’ve succeeded.



Full Annotated Bibliography

Theoretical Discourse

Britton, Ann Marie. 2012. The Beauty Industry’s Influence on Women in Society. Honors Theses and Capstones. Paper 86.

The Beauty Industry’s Influence on Women in Society, talks about how makeup can drastically change ones self confidence. Ann Marie Britton delved into many different articles and research methods herself to see the different effects makeup was having on women. She references many article studies to validate her points and discuss the standards of beauty in todays society and how that is effecting confidence.

The research in this article also covers findings from a 45 question survey, it studies the cosmetic usage, behavior, and personal habits. Britton used social media to spread the survey to 137 different college students. Her study uses two different measuring techniques to model her survey after; Self-monitoring by Snyder and the Texas Social Behavior Inventory – Form A by Helmreich & Stapp.

This is useful information to find because it touches specifically on the amount these survey goers feel they ‘need’ the makeup. Regardless of the makeup type, they felt a lower self-esteem without it. The brand may make a difference in certain circumstances for what the quality or price is, but regardless of that, the mere fact of the makeup being on boosted confidence for them. This survey is limited to some degree by only taking survey results from women, but it is still valuable information to be able to compare.

The confidence that makeup brings these women was relayed in the study when asked how likely they were to be wearing makeup, in six different situations, the most popular answers were; ‘somewhat likely’, ‘likely’ and ‘very likely.’ Over 66 percent of the women began wearing makeup between the age of 12-15 years old. Whether the reasoning behind this was for confidence or not, generally speaking, the women started wearing makeup at a very young age.

In the new age of this digital era we live in women are seeing many things on makeup in the media. This could be the reasoning to why these women are lacking the self confidence in the first place but they are still finding some sense of confidence in wearing makeup. Britton discusses the relationship between makeup and self-esteem, which is a growing topic of discussion. This contributes to my own discoveries and discussions on this ever developing topic by touching on yet another area within makeup in our society.

Not only is this confidence about beauty but women are also perceiving themselves as healthier while wearing makeup. This can greatly raise everyday confidence by enhancing and brightening natural features. Public self confidence is definitely spoken of as being positively related to cosmetics in this article.


Leibu, D. (2014), The Beauty Bias: The Injustice of Appearance in Life and Law by Deborah L. Rhode New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. Int. J. Appl. Psychoanal. Studies, 11: 90–93. doi: 10.1002/aps.1389.

In The Beauty Bias, it touches on the same subject of how makeup is becoming too much of a standard. It goes off on the other angle to find out if not following these cultural norms is creating a form of discrimination towards them. The author touches on statistics taken from a very similar type of survey as the first article I talked about. Using photos of women with and without makeup to test the perceptions made on them. A key difference between this survey was that it was done with all different races, instead of just caucasian women.

Using a survey that was judged by a large number of men and women, using women of different races, and having three different categories for judgement; it left a wider range of responses. This allows me to see another study proving the same sort of statistics but exploring more sides to it. The research touches slightly more to the cultural type of norms that may be arising, but still doesn’t touch on the use of makeup between different genders.

Makeup is creating such a strong social importance within social and work standing. How could these judgements be taken away? They seem to be automatically made with makeup, when its something that almost seems unpreventable, how do you go about it?

Judgements are such a standard thing that we make with so the society of media and marketing we are in today. Like Deborah touches on in the book, why should people who don’t want to wear makeup be punished or scrutinized? Are we setting a cultural norm for makeup that is making it less of a choice and more of a burden? This contributes to the daunting process of figuring out just how high has the bar been set in today’s society with our expectations of makeup.


Malkan, Stacy. 2007. Not Just a Pretty Face : The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry. Gabriola Island, BC, CAN: New Society Publishers. ProQuest ebrary HD9970.5.C672 — M35 2007eb.

Not Just a Pretty Face, goes into an in depth exploration of the good and bad within makeup. While it focusses a large part on the negative side of the beauty industry is finished off with positive insight on the future on makeup, what is better for you, and the better companies to support. This is a personally written book from the first hand experience of Malkan being addicted to cosmetics in the past. She had chosen to change her ways and research into the different ingredients in the products she was using on her body.

Malkan had done extensive research for this book of 12 chapters. With an average of 16 citations per chapter and 192 in total, you can imagine the information compiled to put this book together with solid facts. She covered everything from; chemicals you could be exposed to, chemicals linked to diseases, toxic ingredients, beauty myths around the world, unmasked information, safe products, a green future, and the governments involvement.

This is very relevant to what I have been looking into because it uniquely presents both sides of the matter. Even though there is a large focus on the negative in the makeup industry the information gathered on the future of healthy cosmetics is so valuable. It shows that there is hope in the makeup industry when it comes to the users safety.

The research that Malkan has done gives me so much to consider and look into for this side of the makeup industry. The limitations this book has is that from when it was written there have been some advances with cosmetic companies. This creates a good base and overall information on the things to look out for and avoid in makeup. But an open mind should be kept with new companies and everything should be checked before assuming anything is good or bad.

With such detailed information this presented by this book it shows the real dangers that can come on becoming to dependent on makeup. Makeup can do wonders for certain things and can be a huge confidence builder for some people, but can turn bad for others. How do people learn to keep a happy balance, or make sure they are using makeup for themselves that won’t harm them. There are so many different products and ingredients to keep track of, so what is the best way for makeup to move forward successfully?


Nash, Rebecca, George Fieldman, Trevor Hussey, Jean Luc Lévêque, and Patricia Pineau. 2006. “Cosmetics: They Influence More than Caucasian Female Facial Attractiveness.” Journal of Applied Social Psychology 36 (2): 493–504. doi:10.1111/j.0021-9029.2006.00016.x.

Cosmetics: They Influence More than Caucasian Female Facial Attractiveness, talks about one of the many situations that has become a social norm of society today. The aim of the article is to investigate if women are being judged on the makeup they are or are not wearing, in a way that changes their perceived social and work standing. It touches on one of many of the social norms in todays society and how the choice of wearing makeup, for certain situations, may be fading away for women. They do this by surveying both sexes, with photos of the same women with and without makeup on their faces.

This is very pertinent to the research being done, because it shows real investigation into the perceptions made about women wearing makeup, especially in the work field. Makeup has become such a standard that If you show up to a school or work environment not wearing your usual amount, you could be thought of as being sick or ill. When going to an interview, who is more likely to get the job, a women wearing makeup or one without? This shouldn’t be a deciding factor, but often it plays a surprisingly large role in our judgement. The research sticks very strongly to makeup perceptions being for Caucasian women only. In my further studies I will be looking for information on any and all genders and races.

After concluding this article it shows there is a strong judgement factor in the workforce regarding women and their makeup. The choice of wearing makeup is teetering on a very thin line and sadly seems to be tipping to the side of loosing that choice. This is very useful to the research, to see if there is evidence supporting the other side of the arguments, or better still, involving different genders and race as well.

This article is very interesting to read because of the different topics they used in their survey. Not only did they check the initial judgements made, it delved into specific topics, such as where people viewed them in their professional standing. So when did makeup become such a standard that it was almost a necessity? When I was growing up, makeup was mainly used for dress up or fun. That’s not to say that I don’t wear, or have a strong love for the creative side of makeup today. I find it to be a topic that is so global and public in the media, but isn’t being touched upon in one of the biggest forms it could be publicized in.


Contemporary Practitioner Examples

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Fig. 1: Ana Teresa Barboza, Maquillaje, 2008, cross stitch on metal structure, 2 pieces of 17 cm x 25 cm,

Barboza, Ana Teresa. Maquillaje. 2008. Cross stitch on metal structure. 2 pieces of 17 cm x 25 cm.

I found this piece on Ana Teresa Barboza’s personal website. She lives and works in her native city of Peru and mainly works with embroidery as an artistic medium. She focuses on the human body and uses metaphors in her work to evoke feelings and strike meaning in the viewers.

This specific piece of hers that I find interesting is called Maquillaje or Makeup in english. It is two depictions of women applying makeup in a mirror. What sets this apart from regular pieces is that it is embroidered in fine detail in the actual place the mirror glass would go. I feel this touches on a big piece of how much work and effort may actually go into the application of makeup. In the photo that shows the back of the two mirrors, you see endless pieces of yarn crossing over and going every which way. This explains in a sense the time and effort that was put into the meticulous embroidery of the pieces, which mirrors  what is often put into the application of makeup.

This piece does not delve into any issues or the cultural norms behind the use of makeup in todays society. It does however, touch on an important piece of the puzzle in my research topic. I think the images contribute and are trying to shed light into how much work may be expected of a lot of women, especially in today’s working society. If it is expected of women, or more beneficial for their advancement in the workplace to be wearing a full face of makeup, do people truly understand how much goes into it?


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Fig. 2: Kevin Bathman of Idea Works, Mascara, Lipstick and Compact, 2008, The Animal Liberation cosmetics campaign, Three photo print campaign,

Bathman, Kevin of Idea Works. Mascara, Lipstick and Compact. 2008. The Animal Liberation cosmetics campaign. Three photo print campaign.

While examining the negative sides of makeup, one frequently sees to comments on animal testing. This ad campaign shines a harsh light on the terrible side of animal testing with cosmetics. This is a print campaign designed by Kevin Bathman when he was the art director for Idea Works. It doesn’t have much to the visuals in the campaign which is why it speaks such volumes. The simplicity to the design draws attention to the meaning behind it and attracts the viewer to enquire more. It states in the bottom corner of each image, “Every year 6 million animals are killed from cosmetic testing.” That’s a shocking number that most people would not be able to imagine.

The purpose to these ads is to not only draw attention, but to hopefully make people curious enough to check into the products they’re using. Informing the viewer of these problems isn’t telling them not to use makeup or that makeup as a whole is bad. It continues to say, “Please boycott animal-tested products.” The goal with this campaign is for them to educate people on the fact that this is still an important issue. There are definitely alternatives and companies that are not doing testing on animals and if everyone turned to using those products the others would be forced to stop.

These are such strong images because of the imagery and style of work. Being able to combine one makeup item with one cruel item, opens up a very big discussion while saying very little. This shows a very different side to the research into makeup that I am doing. Is makeup acting as a positive or negative? There are so many different products, uses for it, reasons for it, etc. Good or bad there is a lot to research and consider, this highlights something that is a major problem within the makeup industry. Why are companies still allowed to test on animals or better still, how do they get away with performing such harmful procedures?

Finding controversial campaigns on makeup opens up all the sides to makeup and how it can be very negative at the same time. It is also interesting to see that there is more public type ad campaigns on this side of makeup, rather than the positive confidence boosting side of makeup. But even with how popular this seems to be in online or print advertisements it doesn’t seem to be as recognized as it should be.

The limitations to this campaign are just that, they stay to a very narrow and specific side of this topic. Many of the topics investigated within makeup today have been like this and I am still trying to find the perfect merge between them all. These images contribute the opposing side to my research. It is a different negative to explore within this topic and something that should be more known globally by makeup users. I will use this campaign in figuring out what way this should impact my overall discovery path.


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Fig. 3: Ludwig Ciupka of Tuxedo Agency, Camo Confessions and Beyond the Surface, 2014-2016, Dermablend Professional Ad campaigns, Online video and photo advertising series.

Ciupka, Ludwig of Tuxedo Agency. Camo Confessions and Beyond the Surface. 2014-2016. Dermablend Professional Ad campaigns. Online video and photo advertising series.

Ludwig Ciupka has been winning awards for his recent ad campaigns for Dermablend Professional. Dermablend is an American based company that makes high coverage makeup to help with different skin conditions. The makeup focusses on covering everything from; acne, hyper pigmentation, scars, lupus, dark spots, post surgical bruising, vitiligo, rosacea, uneven skin tones and more.

These ad campaigns use slogans like “Blend In to Stand Out” for Camo Confessions and “Discover Your Confidence” for Beyond the Surface. The purpose of these are to show people with skin conditions or who don’t feel confident that they have an option. These products help people to ‘blend in’ so that they can feel more like themselves, in order to obtain that confidence they may be lacking. This is such a strong way to show what the company is doing for people with their makeup product.

Beyond the Surface

Beyond the Surface header campaign photo. Before and After.

Going in a direction that uses real people, with real problems shows how the use of makeup in their lives helps their true personalities shine. Without coverage cosmetics it can be hard for these people to ever feel like themselves. The people used in these campaigns are regular people, of all different races and ages. Born with skin conditions or personal reasons why these cosmetics make them feel closer to being themselves. The main ad for the ‘Go Beyond the Surface’ campaign, highlight such a great range of different people. These ads are successful in speaking to the public because the are touching so many different people with such relatable material.

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This area of research is so useful to my topic because it shows a very real and personal side to makeup. The makeup used everyday by these people lets them be who they want to be. Trying to research into makeup and the different sides of the aspects of the makeup world can be hard. These pieces show how important makeup can be to someones everyday life and how it can better them. No matter what age, occupation, gender, or reason for wearing the makeup they all share one thing in common, they are confident with who they are wearing the makeup.

This research still leaves me at a place where I’m left not knowing if this makeup is truly helping their confidence or if it could hinder someones confidence at the same time. If the makeup is providing a sense of confidence, does that mean that when they have to take it off they feel uncomfortable? If the makeup is acting as a blanket of confidence while it is on does that mean if could be also make them feel not themselves without it?

This reflects significantly on my research to show how important a role makeup can play for people, and the different things it can present with confidence. Investigating into whether or not there is a choice within certain roles and wearing makeup opens a very one sided area. Exploring how makeup is helping people and how it can change how they feel, is definitely a more positive way to conduct research into it. Each person who has done a video for Dermablend in these campaigns show their own story and their own unique reason for using the product. You would never know that they are dealing with these issues because of the makeup. This is changing the views that other people perceive of them and gives them a new found confidence.



Trying To Look Good Limits My Life

Fig. 4: Stefan Sagmeister, Trying To Look Good Limits My Life, 2008, ‘Things I have learned in my life so far’ book series, 15 different covers and 256 pages.


Fig. 4: Stefan Sagmeister, Trying To Look Good Limits My Life, 2008, ‘Things I have learned in my life so far’ book series, 15 different covers and 256 pages.

Sagmeister, Stefan. Trying To Look Good Limits My Life. 2008. ‘Things I have learned in my life so far’ book series. 15 different covers and 256 pages.

Stefan Sagmeister is a well known graphic designer and typographer. He formed a collaboration with Jessica Walsh to start their New York City design firm, Sagmeister & Walsh. In 2008 Stefan worked on an art series which included pieces titled, ‘Trying To Look Good Limits My Life.’ These pieces use strong and unique typography to create evoking thought behind the statement.

Throughout the work that Sagmeister & Walsh is creating they work with bold typography that stands out in the designs. The statements they are portraying for the customers come across strong and grab your attention. In this specific piece that Sagmeister worked on, using real world typography, speaks to the cause I am researching. By proclaiming such a broad and heavy quote he is making a very bold statement. When viewing the work that he has gone out and created, I wonder if the amount of time, effort, money, concentration, etc, that is put into “looking good” .. is beneficial or limiting our lives.

Building and working with real world type speaks to the amount of effort that goes into things in our lives, that may not actually require that much work. It can be taken so many different ways and perceived by someone else completely differently, but I feel a relationship to the topic I am touching on. A leather belt had also been created and produced for sale with the same statement written on it. Putting the quote onto a wearable object creates that objectification of becoming a part of our look. Whether it be fashion, hair, style, or makeup, there are many things that have become quite the effort in our daily routines, that may have had less pressure behind them before.

Even though this may not touch on the direct topic of makeup or the roles it may be taking within cultural and gender norms, it can be closely related to my topic of research. So much of the work released to us as viewers does not have a meaning disclosed with it. Everyone finds their own meanings and connections to pieces of work and I think the meaning pushed through this design can stand for a part of my investigation.



Initial Ideas

Initial ideas for my graphic design outcome and rough sketches:

Here are some very basic rough sketches for the different concepts that I have been considering. They reiterate what I said in my last post on stop motion video, a puzzle board  that is interchangeable, hand done lettering, etc. The stop motion video would include what “faces” people feel most comfortable, or themselves in. This is the front runner of my ideas as of right now and seems to be able to adapt into a social campaign as well.



Reflective Questions

1. Is my research topic the same, modified or is it taking a completely new direction?

My questions has been modified and the new research question is: How can makeup be used by both genders to promote confidence?

2. If it’s changed – why has it changed?

My research question has changed to correlate more to the direction of my possible design solution. This will follow more into the side of the confidence people possess. Whether that be with makeup or without.

3. Is my annotated bibliography still relevant? Do I need to source new or improved journal articles?

My annotated bibliography is still related to my new research question. I have journal articles that cover many different sides to makeup and they do still touch on the confidence and different aspects of makeup use.

4. Have my influential creative practitioners changed? Why? Or why not (justify why they have remained the same)?

No my creative practitioners have not changed. I feel as though they are still relevant to my topic and research question. Moving forward I have been looking at extra resources though and may add additional sources that add relevant information.

5. What are my initial ideas for a graphic design outcome? did you mind map them? 

I have rough sketches and ideas that will follow this post soon. They go over some very different concepts. I’ve looked into doing a visual ad campaign that could also run into a social campaign. My initial ideas as of right now include stop motion photography for the actual visuals. I have also considered a puzzle type of look or hand done lettering with the use of makeup.

6. Have I drawn loose sketches to represent these initial ideas?

I have some very rough concepts of the above ideas that will follow in a separate post.

7. What is the intended message and how will it be attached to my graphic design outcome?

The general intended message is confidence and other attributes that makeup can bring the user. I want to experiment and research more into what makes each person feel their best. What makeup or version of themselves makes them feel the most confident? Everyone feels differently with themselves and being in their own skin that this could be opened up to a large social campaign.

8. Who will receive this message? Who is the intended target audience?

My audience for this design outcome is left open to any makeup user. I want to include both genders and all age groups if they are wanting to participate in such a campaign.

9. What effect am I trying to achieve through graphic design? What do I want people to do?

I want to give a completely positive effect to anyone included, watching, and participating in this possible campaign. The main goal is to understand the positivity that makeup can bring people, no matter how much they use. Each person should be happy with themselves and where the face that makes them feel most like themselves.

10. Have I researched other people’s related design work and campaigns? How is mine different to other designers who have tackled the same topic? 

I have done some research into other campaigns and I find all makeup campaigns really stick to one topic. A lot of the campaigns right now are either very negative on makeup aspects or very positive. There are campaigns touching on being natural and not wearing makeup, or wearing makeup and why its right for them. The goal with this campaign is to bring a positive generalization on the fact that fresh face or full face of makeup should be ok. The right option is what makes the user feel best and most confident, which is different for everyone.

11. Have I researched the style, aesthetic and format that these ideas might take?

I have not looked very deep into the specific style and design elements that may take place in this campaign. I definitely want to go with a consistent look and feel through the whole campaign but will be doing more research on the overall style.

12. Can these ideas be achieved? Are they feasible in the time frame?

I think these ideas are definitely possible and even if it is a tight schedule can be achieved in this time frame.

13. Is my blog up to date with all of the above information?

It is now. 🙂


A New Question

Yet again I have changed my research question, hopefully for the last time. For this half of action research and creating a design solution I have decided to move back towards my first ideas. These ideas were focussing on the confidence that makeup can bring to all different people. Regardless of the different reasons that everyone uses make up, one key connector is that it can give you a confidence that you just didn’t have without it.

Makeup can be used for everyday wear, for theatre, a night out, medical reasons, sports like synchronized swimming, etc. There are so many different purposes and everyone seems to have their own reason. I want to see how makeup makes all different people feel, the confidence it brings them, the negatives of their makeup use or if they experience a negative reaction while wearing makeup.

This could lead to many different outcomes such as; printed resources, social campaigns, video campaigns, puzzles, mixed visuals, etc.

There are lots of different aspects of makeup and moving forward I will be adjusting my research question to match more the direction of my possible design solution.


Action Research 2 – A New Start

This semester I will be diving back into the information and research I found last semester. In a quick brainstorm from a bootcamp worksheet, these are some of the first topics to come to mind for my current question.

What is your research topic/question?

How can design help uncover what’s really behind the makeup we’re putting on and what it is concealing?

What is the goal? What do you hope to achieve  with your graphic design?

Bring more awareness and clarity to the use of makeup. Confidence it brings and reasons for use.

Thinking about the surveys, etc you conducted – What did the data tell you? What points were raised as a result?

Makeup can be taken in both positive and negative ways. Users are still lacking in knowledge of the products. Why is there such a large negative viewing on personal reasons for wearing makeup?

Visual brain dumping:

Makeup ingredients > dangers, is it safe?, what’s inside, awareness, safe products?, public.

Identity > new you, confidence, personal reasons, feelings, be yourself!, how you feel.

Concealment > less is more, how you feel, what it does for you, cover up.

Campaigns > social, posters, video, audio, awareness, visuals, viral, snapchat filters, trends.