Image by @circusshark.

These bizarre beauty looks are miniature masterpieces

From eyeballs to butterflies, there's nothing Circus Shark won't glue to her face.

by Sara Radin
18 November 2019, 6:01pm

Image by @circusshark.

It was two years ago that Molly Lambert found herself suffering from debilitating panic attacks, and realized that gluing stuff like miniature toy butterflies and massive pearl beads could help stabilize her mood. Now, two years and over 40 thousand followers later, her Instagram account @circusshark, where she shares the alternative beauty looks, is really catching people’s attention.

“I always thought, you know, the only point of makeup was putting it on to go to work,” she tells i-D. “I didn't know that you could use it for so many different things other than that.”

In a time when the beauty influencer world is incredibly oversaturated, Molly tries to do things a little differently. In addition to using knickknacks she finds at hobby stores and thrift shops, the creative makes a point to only put together looks when she’s feeling inspired. Plus, living in rural Maine, the 24-year-old admits she has often felt isolated, but that sharing these creations has helped her feel happier and connected her to a community. “What I enjoy the most out of this page is the people that I connect with."

i-D spoke with the influencer about her earliest beauty memories, her process for creating intricate beauty looks, and navigating the online beauty space.

What's your earliest beauty memory? When did you start experimenting with makeup?
I grew up in a super conservative house, so I don't even think my mom wore makeup and I wasn't exposed to that kind of stuff to be able to really get into it. I was a huge tomboy when I was little. But it was definitely my scene kid days when I was 13. I wore super dark eyeliner and white face powder that made me look absolutely crazy. I think that was the first time I started wearing makeup, but I didn't really get into it at all until two years ago.

What inspired you to get into it?
It had a lot to do with my anxiety. I had been having really bad panic attacks. They would last for hours and wouldn't go away and I needed to figure out something to do to help make them stop. So I went into Ulta one day with my friend because she needed to pick something up. And I saw this really colorful eyeshadow palette and I impulsively bought it. I realized that sitting down and doing makeup helped get rid of my panic attacks because I was focusing on something else other than how I was feeling. It became a really good coping mechanism. From there, I started finding new artists online and realized that makeup could be a lot more than just putting something on yourself to look pretty, that you could do it for other things. You could transform yourself into someone else.

How did people in the beauty space influence you to use makeup in a different way
Instagram really changed my view on makeup because it was dark and whimsical and pretty and gross all at the same time. It was so different than what I thought makeup was. Because I always thought, you know, the only point of makeup was putting it on to go to work. I didn't know that you could use it for so many different things other than that.

But I had seen this really beautiful like red eye shadow look that someone had done and I was like, I want to wear my makeup like that. And I was super nervous that everyone would think that it was really weird. But everyone thought I was weird anyway. It didn't really change anyone's opinion of me.

When did you launch this account? What does the name Circus Shark mean to you?
I started the account in 2017 and at first it was just to share with my friends who were super into makeup too. I had no goal of ever growing my page. It was just supposed to be something really small. Then one day I posted a creepier look, and SugarPill Cosmetics re-posted it. And I got a lot of followers and I felt this spark in me to try to make it something more than what I had originally intended for it to be.

My username ever since I was in high school was grungy shark. Then I switched it to holy shark and then I started just wanted to stick with the same theme with my makeup account. Sharks are my favorite animal. I am obsessed with sharks and I love the creepiness of the circus. I've always sort of felt a circus freak just because I have a lot of tattoos. I'm very different looking and I wanted to tie those two things together so it was more meaningful.

What were some of the earliest looks that you created and how did it feel to use makeup in this way?
When I first started posting the looks it was just the makeup I was wearing out. It wasn't actually created for Instagram. The first look on my page is one I created in my room at night when I was having a really bad panic attack. But I realized how relaxing and fun it was to just create something darker and weirder. I thought people were going to bully me. But then my idea of that completely changed once I had tried it.

I put all of my attention into that to make it super precise looking. And then a lot of people liked it, which made me feel nice because like I don't have many friends in real life. I moved around a lot growing. I moved to Maine my senior year and then I started working right after and I worked with a bunch of old people. My only whole life is basically online. Posting that picture helped me connect with a lot of other cool people that were into what I was into. And that's what I enjoy the most out of this page is the people that I connect with.

What informs your different makeup creations?
It's very impulsive. I never really plan a look until I sit down and do it. I have a huge bag, just full of little things. There's no organization. I'm very organized with my makeup, but when it comes to the stuff that goes on my face, it’s just all in this big bag. So I dig through it and see what I feel into, but I also have always bought little things from thrift stores and antique stores.

Sometimes I do plan things. I'm inspired by art and nature. I love art from the renaissance. I loved arts and crafts when I was little. It was one of my favorite things. I would always get in trouble for hot gluing things together. So I've just always loved gluing things. When I was little, I made this whole dollhouse out of popsicle sticks. And so I was like, well, I can incorporate that with the look. And then when I got positive feedback from people saying that it was cool and they had never seen anything like it before, I took that response and I ran with it and I continued to make that, I don't know, I wouldn't call it my thing, I mean other people do it, but I focused more on doing that instead of makeup because I feel like the makeup community is very oversaturated right now and I wanted to put a different twist on it.

Would you say the account has helped give your life more meaning through the power of creativity and self-expression?
Definitely. When I started this page and I started getting good feedback from people, I felt really proud of myself and happy with what I was doing. It's made me feel like I can be okay at something.I don't have to be the best, I don't have to be amazing. But finding something that I enjoy doing that I feel I'm okay at has made me feel better because I wasn't doing anything with my life besides just going to work and coming home.

Now, I only sit down when I want to create, I don't force myself to do anything. I never really try to take more than an hour on a look. Usually looks I've been doing lately take a half hour because it's just me gluing stuff on my face. leave it on just like as quickly as taking the picture. I don't have a fancy camera setup or anything. I just used my phone and then I use the lamp with the shade taken off of it. And I put a little bit of gloss over my phone camera lens to make the picture appear blurry.

What do you hope people take away from your account?
I know how it is to just scroll through the explore page or Instagram and just see the same look. I want people to feel happy when they see my work. I don’t want to share something that is just going to be forgotten six seconds later. I really enjoy when people tell me that they thought about a look that I created later on and then they'll go back to look at it. A lot of the comments I get are people are saying they feel happy and they look forward to seeing more.