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True Tales of Terror! Makeup Mess-Ups and Beauty Horror Stories


It happened in the bathtub. I was soaking, luxuriating in the extra-hot water, when I suddenly remembered I had a brand-new bottle of bath oil. It had been a prize at a bridal shower, and was in a big, fancy glass bottle with a stopper. It smelled great. I stood up, got out of the tub, and dripped all over the floor as I rooted through my cupboard, looking for the oil. There it was! I grabbed it, climbed back in the bath, and...the bottle slipped out of my hands. I tried to catch it, but it fell, bashing against the side of my porcelain tub. It shattered everywhere.

Here’s the thing about being naked in a white tub full of oil and broken glass: you can’t really see the glass, and it’s hard to get a grip on anything to help yourself out. As I frantically scrambled to get a handhold, I kept slipping and landing on more broken glass. The water began to turn a menacing pink color. I started to panic—I was cutting myself everywhere! I couldn’t get out! I was going to bleed to death, alone and naked in my bathtub.

Good news, everyone. It occurred to me to grab the washcloth I’d left hanging on the faucet to use as a grip on the side of the tub, and I slowly, painfully pulled myself out, cutting myself badly again in the process, but successfully not dying.

Since I knew I couldn’t be the only one with a beauty horror story like this, I asked Beautylish staffers to share their tales of terror. Try not to cover your eyes!

Blind spot

“I’d just returned to my parents' house for the summer after my junior year in college, and I unloaded all my toiletries onto one shelf in the bathroom. That night, I was exhausted and rushing through my bedtime routine. After taking out my contacts, I reached into the cabinet and grabbed what I would have SWORN ON MY LIFE was my eye makeup remover—but was in fact nail polish remover. I doused a cotton ball and began wiping off my mascara and eyeliner. Sweet mother of mayhem, it took me five full seconds to understand what was happening. By then, my right eyeball was marinating in nail polish remover. It felt exactly how you think it would. Surprising, I didn’t land in the hospital. I flushed my eyeball under running water for what was probably a full five minutes (high school chemistry lab safety lesson!), and I was fine. Looking back, I maybe should’ve contacted poison control or something. But lesson learned: organize your beauty products immediately after unpacking.”–Jorie Larsen, contributing writer

Bad hair day

“One Saturday when I decided to dye my own hair with a box from the drugstore, I put on the product and let it sit for the required 30 minutes, which meant I had that much time to finish chores, like the dishes. (I’ve always been a hardcore multi-tasker.) Well, one of the items in the sink was a pizza cutter, and in my haste to get all my chores done while the dye was setting, the cutter slipped and made a nice gash in my thumb. I was bleeding profusely and should have gone to the ER to get stitches, but I was more worried about my hair—so I let the wound be, tourniqueting my hand with a dish towel. To this day, my hair looks great, but I have a nice big scar to remind me to slow down!” –Selena Fragassi, contributing writer

Human cannonball

“I was about to do a performance for the Rockefellers—the real Rockefellers! For whatever reason I decided that my buzz cut needed a touch-up the day of the show. Performance rule #1: never get your hair cut on the day of a show. I ended up shaving a hole in the middle of my head, so I had to take everything off down to the skin. At the time, I was also bleaching my eyebrows, so it looked like I had no hair at all. My husband, who is an airbrush artist, came to the rescue and painted my head. I looked like a human cannonball, but at least it was better than unintentional baldness! I put on my fanciest clothes (to help offset the severe head look), went to the gig and had a great time.” –Bec Stupak, creative director

Blue streak

“At just three years old, I already had a healthy fascination (soon to be obsession) with makeup, but a less-than-stellar understanding of correct application. So my mom’s blue eye shadow was (regularly!) worn in a gorgeous blue stripe across my eyelid, over the bridge of my nose, and onto the other eyelid. It was very editorial. I was ahead of my time.” –Sarah Campbell, contributing writer

The over-archer

“When I was in high school I wanted to pluck my eyebrows but the pain was always too much for me. One day I took my razor and tried to shave the little hairs around them. As luck would have it, I shaved off half a brow. I tried penciling it in but since I’d never done that before, I ended up with one half regular brow, one half thick brown line that was so painfully tragic. Luckily, shifting my side bangs to the other side (sort of) saved me for the month or so it took to fully grow back the brow.” –Jamie Gaul, contributing writer

Crossing the line

“When I was about 14, I discovered black eye liner. I’d bought a NYX pencil liner for a buck at a little boutique and was so excited to dramatize my eyes. I rushed to the nearest mirror and outlined them, top and bottom. Mind you, this was summer time. I spent the rest of the day wandering with friends, shopping, browsing, you know, kid stuff. I thought I looked super cool with my new intense look—so cool that everyone was checkin' me out. Little did I know all the oil and sweat had spread the pigment so much that I looked like Ozzy Osbourne (or a cuddly human panda). I probably thought that I was fierce, but confidence only goes so far.” –Terry Lee, editorial designer

Do you have a scary story to share? Tell it below.

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