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Do you know your blusher from your highlight? What about your malachite from your tigers eye? Makeup and museums blend together in our new project!

Have you ever wondered what a makeup look inspired by an agate would be like? It can't be just us...

We asked one of the UK's most talented makeup artists to give it a try. Yong-chin Breslin is the winner of season four of the BBC's Glow Up series and her latest challenge saw her come face to face with a bunch of natural sciences specimens to find inspiration nestled in our cabinets and drawers.

Yong-chin saw beautiful birds, hundreds of amazing insects, and minerals and rocks that are out of this world (in some cases, literally!).

Picking a few specimens from each collection, Yong-chin designed a makeup look inspired by them, as only she can. The result? To quote Glow Up judge Val Garland: "Ding dong!"

We tagged along and filmed the whole thing, so keep scrolling to see how a talented artist brought some of our specimens to life via the power of makeup!

Minerals 💎

When it comes to her creative looks, Yong-chin has been inspired by minerals for a long time. Looking through our mineral and rock collection with Assistant Curator of Earth Systems, Emily Brown, was a real treat. Often hundreds of millions of years old, it was fun seeing Yong-chin's head explode repeatedly as Emily took her through the store wonder by wonder.

The day after her tour, Yong-chin came back in to our collections centre to get to work! Inspired by the colours and shapes in malachite, fluorite and opal specimens, Yong-chin designed a stunning alien look (a reference to our meteorite collections).

The best bit? Yong-chin applied this celestial creation to Emily! Sat surrounded by the rocks and minerals in her care, Emily underwent a three-hour transformation.

For great make-up tips and to see the look appear and develop, watch the video below!

The final minerals-inspired look

Insects 🦋

With literally millions of specimens to look at, Yong-chin could have spent weeks looking around our entomology collections (and still not seen it all). Luckily Assistant Curator Milo Phillips was on hand to offer some direction and insight as he showed her around the store. 

From shining, shimmering, splendid beetle wing cases to almost unbelievable butterflies, there was plenty for Yong-chin to marvel at. They chatted about how beautiful or otherworldly the specimens were, but also about how insects have been used as pigment in makeup for centuries, and how bees and wasps can recognise members of their own colony by their face markings.

Join Yong-chin on her tour in the video below and see the stunning look it inspired.

The final insects-inspired look

Birds 🦜

If you're looking for makeup look inspiration, you can do a lot worse than birds. They have everything: vibrant colours, amazing feather adaptations and beautiful patterns and colour combinations.

While usually seen soaring, tumbling, freewheeling through the sky, seeing our bird specimens was a little uncanny for Yong-chin. Nevertheless, she was fascinated by what Zena Timmons, Assistant Curator Vertebrate Biology, was able to show her.

From native capercaillie to small, colourful bee-eaters from tropical Africa, and from huge golden eagles to the impossible feathers in birds of paradise, this group put on a vivid display for Yong-chin.

Tag along on Yong-chin's tour of the bird collections in the video below and see her colourful make-up look inspired by our feathered friends.

The final birds-inspired look

Yong-chin Breslin

Yong-chin M Breslin is a London based professional makeup artist and winner of the BBC's fourth season of Glow Up. We're so pleased she was up for visiting our collection centre and looking for inspiration among our natural sciences specimens.

Hailing from Glasgow, her background and degree in fashion design has followed a natural progression into editorial and creative makeup.

Yong-chin has been exclusively featured in editorial magazines such as Pap, Hunter, Kaltblut, Dreamingless and Féroce.

Her goal is to push the restraints of commercial beauty and originate an ethical direction for cross-disciplinary brands.

Follow Yong-chin on Instagram.

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