Beauty Secrets From a Philly Prison (Really!)

Who knew M&Ms, Jolly Ranchers and coffee could make such great makeup?


Female inmates create “fakeup.” | Orange Is The New Black.

An interesting story popped up over on Refinery29 the other day. It was a piece that originally appeared on The Marshall Project, a newly launched nonprofit news site that focuses on the American criminal justice system, and it detailed the crazily resourceful ways female inmates create makeup products (or “fakeup”) behind bars.

According to The Marshall Project, federal jails offer products like liquid eyeliner, bronzer and lip gloss (who knew prisons were like mini Sephoras?), but most state and county prisons only dole out things like mascara and eyeliner. So women get crafty, melting down Jolly Ranchers to use as hair gel, crushing up colored pencils for eye shadow and even mixing coffee and face cream for foundation.

Philly inmates apparently use fruit punch powder to dye their hair—and corrections officers look the other way:

“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 running a parenting program in the facility. ‘But the corrections officers let them.’”

The smartest beauty hack, though, came from a former inmate in a San Diego prison:

“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.”

For even more ingenious beauty hacks (including an M&M face mask), read the story here. And, hey, if you ever find yourself in a beauty pickle without a Sephora or Ulta in sight, know that you can go to a newsstand, pick up a paper, some M&Ms and a cup of coffee and be just fine.