Thursday, March 26, 2015

Make-up and Me: A History in Five Acts

PROLOGUE. Seventh Grade. Pre-braces, pre-contacts, pre-puberty (hey, I was a late bloomer). I spy the most beautiful frosted baby blue eye shadow ever created in the history of the world. I haven't tried wearing makeup much, but this is the most beautiful color I have ever seen. It shimmers.

I buy it, gentle readers (given that this was almost forty years ago, it was probably about 79 cents). I coat my eyelid with it, from my eyelashes to my eyebrows. I blink lingeringly so that the people around me will be sure to see it and admire me, because who wouldn't want to see such a lovely shade of blue?

Finally after a couple of days, my mother, who up to that point somehow had managed to resist shooting down my dreams, tells me to knock it off. I subside back into make-up-less ignorance.

ACT I. Ninth Grade. I hit on the combination that will last me for the next ten years, give or take. Mascara (because with blond eyelashes you otherwise have no eyes), Cutex gel blush, and Cover Girl lip gloss. I can picture that lip gloss still--it came in a little plastic pot that matched the shade of the lip gloss, Frosted Watermelon (was everything frosted in the 70s?). You applied it with your pinky. Under no circumstances could you use a different finger. I try foundation, but have the same problem that I still have today: I can't stand having it on my skin. Almost as soon as I get it on, I find myself scrubbing it off. Even if I manage to wear it a couple of hours, I can still feel it on my skin. *shudder*

ACT II. College graduate. First job. I'm an adult now, right? I get a little fancier. I try some different things, go to a friend's makeup party (can't remember what brand she was selling), buy $20 worth of makeup at the drugstore every six months or so. I settle on eye pencil and gray eye shadow in addition to the mascara, lip liner with my lipstick. I graduate to real blush instead of the clear gel. Still no foundation.

The problem: then as now, I absolutely am not a morning person. The longer I'm at my new job, the harder it is to get up in the morning, and the more my make-up routine suffers. Finally I just go with mascara and forget everything else. Occasionally, I apply mascara as I am driving on I-40 to Research Triangle Park, NC. Not kidding.

ACT III. Stay-at-Home Mom. Yeah, good guess. Make-up? what make-up? I'm lucky if I get a shower.

(repeat ACT II and ACT III as needed when I switch between working and staying at home about a dozen times over the next 25 years.)

ACT IV. At age 48, I decide to go back to school to get a Master's degree. The first week, I'm standing in front of the mirror in a large public bathroom on campus. Standing next to me are three young women, gorgeous, 19, and ... gorgeous. How come nobody tells you how gorgeous you are when you're 19? You have collagen. You have even skin tone. If you got five or more hours of sleep the night before, there are no bags under your eyes. You have thick, shiny hair. I am depressed, because none of those things are true of me. Those bags under my eyes? They are permanent. Amount of sleep is irrelevant.

I capitulate. I must find something makeup-ish to wear on my skin. I go to Target (I know. Go ahead and laugh. The thought of going to a make-up counter at our one department store is about as appealing to me as sticking hot pokers in my ears.) I find Tru-Blend powder. Since it's cheap, relatively speaking, I buy two different shades and take them home to try them out. Neither of them works, but on the second trip I find a shade that doesn't look too unnatural, and --best of all-- I don't feel it on my skin, so I don't end up scrubbing it off within 20 minutes of putting it on. I am saved.

ACT V: About a year and a half ago, I gave in and finally went to the makeup counter at our department store. I had talked to a salesperson at a Sephora when we were on vacation somewhere, and she recommended Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra 24H foundation (who thinks of these names?) for people with sensitive skin (who knew? I didn't think I had sensitive anything). She was right about one thing--I could wear it without wanting to scrub it off--but it was clearly the wrong shade and it was too expensive to do my old trick of buying four different shades and taking them home to find the right one. So I had to go talk to someone who knew what they were doing. Hence, the dreaded trip to the department store makeup lady. But it worked. She got it right on the first try.

Having the makeup and actually wearing it are two different things, though. I couldn't figure out how to put it on without looking like I had on too much makeup. Finally, just in the last few months, I've come up with a method that seems to work. Both my moisturizer and that makeup (I'm not typing the name out again, dangit) come in pump bottles. I do two squirts of moisturizer and one squirt of foundation in the palm of my hand. Then rub my hands together to mix them up, and spread it on. It seems to work. I won't ever look like a 19-year-old again--hell, I don't even look like a 42-year-old--but it's a noticeable improvement. Sometimes, when I'm feeling really frisky, I even do mascara and foundation on the same day.


This has gone on long enough, but I didn't get to some of what I was going to say. So in spite of the fact that I am a person who wears as little makeup as I possibly can, apparently I'm going to have not one but two posts about makeup. Probably next week.


Anonymous said...

I wore blue too just like my big sister. Still am make-up challenged. Must be genetic. M.

Cheery-O said...

Thank you, thank you thank you. I"m struggling with what to do for makeup and good to hear someone else's experience. I HATE going to the makeup counter.

Debbie said...

I am a lazy, 55 year old bum who refuses to color the gray out of her hair and who gave up on makeup about two years ago. Good for you! And Cutex lip gloss definitely had to be put on with your pinky. I can still recall the feel of that stuff on my lips. Sticky!

BarbN said...

Maybe everyone who was in their formative years in the 70s went through the blue eye shadow stage! And fwiw, I love the way you do your makeup.

BarbN said...

You know, we should go together sometime when we're in the same locale. Strength in numbers, right?

BarbN said...

Laziness is a huge part of the problem for me. I just don't care that much. It's not until I catch sight of myself in a mirror somewhere that I even think about it. You, and Cheery-O, and MMM, are all examples to me of women in their 50s who look GREAT. Attractive and healthy and interesting.