DoomtreeDessa, News

As you may have surmised from the new images on the site, I’m involved in a rather unconventional release this fall. To my knowledge I am the very first member of the Doomtree collective with a metynomic shade of lipstick. (After learning that word, metynomic, I have waited years for the occasion to use it. And now, in the midst of my big moment, I admit to feeling a bit let down. That word’s just… not that tight. If I had it to do over again, I’d say simply, “the lipstick is called “Dessa” and I’m very flattered somebody named something after me.” However, there is no going back. Blogs, like the human spirit, must bodly forge ahead.)

Some months ago, Bo Hakala (who you may know as the director of such cult classics as Doomtree’s “Beacon” music video), connected me with a chemist named Karoline. Karoline owns an indie cosmetic company called The Elixery here in Minneapolis. The outfit is all around bad-ass, with an emphasis on good science, cruetly-free practices, and meticulously sourced ingredients. Karoline herself formulates The Elixery’s colors, working in a little lab full of magic powders, which I got to visit.

Karoline said that the Elixery was interested in naming a shade of lipstick after me. I’d get to pick the shade and I could select a charity to receive a share of the proceeds. I said ‘yes’ right before I was pretty sure she was done talking.

Karoline brought in a third member of the team: makeup artist Crist Ballas. Crist’s professional resume is nuts. He’s built a name for his beautiful work, but also for incredible transformations: aging actors with prosthetics and fashioning latex monsters for Hollywood films. Here’s a picture of Crist, whistling while he prepared to show me how one of his creations could be manipulated by an operator on set. 

Crist, Karoline and I met at a coffeeshop, and at the lab, to start talking color. I got to learn some industry terms (like ‘pay-off,’ the amount color deposited by each swipe of a lipstick) and some science (like how light interference pigments reflect some colors but absorb others; in lipstick they can create a 2-toned effect, like the candy paint jobs on lowriders). 

I happen to be a big fan of classic, matt reds. So Crist worked to build a color from raw pigment that wouldn’t lean either blue or orange. (For readers who are not purchasers of lipstick, very often you’ll buy a shade, bring it home, and find that’s it’s a much different color on your face than it is on the tube. This isn’t true for most other cosmetics, like eyeliner or blush. But in lipstick all sorts of hues become visible during wear that aren’t evident when you’re looking at the product in its tube. Not being a homeowner, lipstick is the item I most associate with Buyer’s Remorse.)

After we picked a color, Karoline showed me how she hand-pours each stick using a layered mold, 1920’s technology. 

She let me suit up and a pour a batch too, one of my favorite parts of this project. 

After the molten lipstick cooled, we laid the mold on its side and opened it up, revealing rows of perfectly formed lipsticks, each with a little beveled edge. 

After landing on the perfect shade, we scheduled a photoshoot to capture an image for the campaign. You’ll see more of the finished images soon, but here’s a snapshot of the whole team. 

And a shot of me wearing some of the first batch of the color. 

I decided that my earnings (20% of the profits) would go to a charity called CARE, an organization I’ve admired for a long time. I’ll be posting more about CARE as we get closer to the launch, but here’s the short story: The project I’m supporting is called the Power Within, which finances girls’ education around the world. Research indicates that girls who are literate and educated marry later, have fewer kids, have them later. Girls’ education changes not only the lives of the girls themselves, but can create changes that reverberate throughout whole communities. For information and videos, you can visit CARE’s site here