How Women In Prison Use Sharpies & Jolly Ranchers To Make Makeup

Photo Courtesy Of Lisa Iaboni, The Marshall Project.
This piece was reported and written by Simone Weichselbaum for The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization covering criminal justice that has just launched. Subscribe to its newsletter, or like it on Facebook.
Advertisement
Female inmates have limited access to hair and beauty products; commissaries in federal facilities generally offer bronzer, lip gloss, and liquid concealer. Most state and county facilities provide less, primarily mascara and eyeliner. So, inmates regularly concoct their own makeup, or “fakeup,” using food, lotions, and other items provided by their facilities.
Jolly Ranchers, M&Ms, & Colored Pencils
For hair gel, soak a Jolly Rancher in a cup of hot water, add a dab of body lotion, and apply on one’s tresses. For eyeshadow, break open a colored pencil, crush into a powder, mix into a clump of baby powder, and dab on the eyelids. To make an eye pencil, sharpen a colored pencil on a concrete wall and apply the point delicately on the eyelids. For foundation, use as much coffee as needed to match one’s complexion, pour the amount into a dollop of regular face cream, stir, and enjoy. M&Ms serve multiple fakeup needs: Mix the sweet candy-coated shells with hot water to make a lip stain. Use the leftover nut — if using peanut M&Ms — to crush into a spoonful of face cream, creating a protein-packed facial mask.
The Insider’s Perspective
“Colored pencils dried out the eyelids. Girls' eyes would be red,” says former Las Colinas Detention Facility inmate Annie Burchard, who is now at the nonprofit Welcome Home Ministries. Her favorite fakeup trick? “Using a T-Mobile ad [in the newspaper]. It has the perfect pink. I would put baby powder on my hands and use it as a base. Then, you take the newspaper ad, and run it on your cheekbone. It’s like a sheer blush.”
Photo Courtesy Of Lisa Iaboni, The Marshall Project.
What Everyone Gets Wrong
Corrections officers don’t necessarily spend their days hunting down inmates’ makeup stashes. In fact, many guards tend to ignore unauthorized beauty practices. According to Danyell Williams, with the Pennsylvania Prison Society, no one stopped female inmates in Philadelphia’s Riverside Correctional Facility from dyeing their hair with fruit-punch powder. “You had to be careful. Because, all this stuff was contraband. You weren’t really supposed to do it,” says Williams, who spent seven years in the jailhouse running a parenting program. “But, the corrections officers let them.”
Advertisement
The Lipstick Dilemma
Inmates held in the adult detention center in Fairfax County, Va., aren’t allowed to receive lipstick-stained letters. If a staffer spots a kiss mark on a piece of mail, it is sent back to the sender. A smear of makeup can easily be laced with LSD, or traces of other narcotics, according to Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Andrea Ceisler. “In the past, they used it to disguise drugs,” she says.
Advertisement

More from Makeup

Even though the last day of summer isn't technically until September 22, we're already starting to feel the cozy embrace of fall. Our sweaters are ...
Anyone who has been to Sprinkles knows its cupcakes are so delicious that you wish you could taste them all the time. Now, you can — or at least you can ...
Attention royal family fans: There's a new Charlotte Tilbury lipstick in town and it's regal AF
When I was eight years old, I knew nothing about makeup. Did that stop me from collecting palette upon palette of colorful shadows and sparkly tubes of ...
“I love cleaning my makeup brushes,” said no one, ever. Okay fine, some people do get great satisfaction from washing their beauty tools, but we're not ...
Pat McGrath posted three photos from the Versace fashion show to Instagram that tease a new product she's working on. The first shows Gigi Hadid with ...
Every morning, before I steep my morning tea, I scroll through my Instagram feed taking note of all the standout swatches, 60-second videos, and ...
(Paid Content) Some beauty trends from decades past always manage to circle back — they’re just too good to keep locked away in a previous era! Now you can...
Contouring can, as we've shown before, look scary. But, enhancing your cheekbones or jawline doesn't have to be frightening — or require the skill of a ...
Here's the good news about brown eyes: They're easy to play up, since brown is a mix of the primary colors. This most-common of eye colors is a gorgeous ...
I don't consider myself a vain person, but when I think of my #goals, having Cate Blanchett levels of skin perfection is right there at the tippy-top. Well...
Base makeup is one of those notoriously hard beauty products to shop for. Like picking out jeans or bras, the process takes time, commitment, and patience...
Three months ago, if you offered me a liquid lipstick, I'd give it a hard pass. I've tried a few before, and saw little advantage to applying lipstick from...
If there’s one thing King Kylie has conquered, it’s the art of the Snapchat selfie. Oh, and she seems to know a thing or two about lipstick, too. We’ve ...