This post is kind of a ‘part 2’ of my previous rant about aging and makeup, a flip side post, if you will, to all my complaining. Or possibly a status report.
But wait, isn’t this a writing, yoga, unschooling blog? Wtf? Well, yes, it is those things. But first and formost it is an ADVENTURE BLOG! And this week’s adventure is makeup.
Because yes, I have continued to step away from the natural, organic, face care you can get at Whole Foods (often greasy with dullish colors, I’m sorry Dr. Haushka, it’s true) and have bravely sallied forth into the wide world of mainstream skin care. And WOW. How things have changed since I last was buying drugstore makeup.
For example, when did primers become a Thing? Now you prime your lids, your face, your under-eyes…
And what’s this business with contouring? I thought only drag queens did that? Which is totally not a put down on drag queens who I have long felt were the masters of makeup, if anyone is. Indeed, when I was a short-order cook, I used to work with this gal, Stephanie, born a man, six feet tall, blond hair down her back, she would work the line in full-face glam, I’m talking false lashes, lip-liner, glitter, the works. She looked way better than I ever did in makeup. She could contour like she was freaking DaVinci. And now everyone is contouring! The times they have a-changed.
Plus there are so many new terrific textures. Mouses, lightweight liquids, creamy, non-drying, silky, non-caking, vanishing into your skin concoctions, so much nicer than the stuff they had twenty years ago when I gave all this up. Mostly gave up. I’ve been a sunscreen, eyeliner, lip balm gal for years. Min-i-mal. As if there was some moral high ground in having only three products on my face. Where did that idea even come from? I can’t remember.
And the colors out there now! They are to die for! It’s kind of like when I first started knitting and would step into the yarn store and start twitching and frothing at all the yummy yarn. Lay out the yarn and let me roll around naked on it! I’ve always had a thing for color.
Anyway, Sophie, 10, agreed to be my companion (or possibly a security teddy-bear for me to clutch, she’s so much braver than I am) on my maiden voyage to Sephora where we oooed and ahhhed at all the colors, packaging, and price-tags, oh la la. Madeline was the makeup artist who helped us. She had gorgeous, graphic winged eyeliner, and super red lips, plus a utility belt of makeup brushes, sponges, que-tips, and squirt bottles, like Batman only better. I bought a light-reflective concealer (boring, but apparently this light-reflective business is the new normal for under-the-eyes) and a red lipstick like Madeline’s (dare I?). Sophie picked out a little tub of gold dust, which she has worn alternately on her pretty little eyelids, and on her cheekbones, so lovely.
Confession, the concealer is a big fail, as far as I can tell, because no matter what I do (moisturize first, apply with brush, apply with fingers, use less, use more, etc) it looks like a crinkly, creasey, light-reflective mess that is certainly no better than the dark circles I started with. I think this may be an age thing. The lipstick is better, but I’m, uh, still hammering out the details. Such as how to keep a matte lipstick from drying out and adhering in clumps after an hour or two? This is a mystery. Which I will crack.
From the drugstore (and for a hellofvalot cheaper) I have picked up several little pots of shimmery cream eye-shadows (Mabelline Color Tattoo Cream Gel) and a blending brush (a dupe for the Mac 217) (see me use fancy jargon! watch me go!) and have been having better luck with them as they seem to be a bit more fool-proof. Which is good because despite twenty-five years of wearing makeup I feel like a complete NOVICE.
Plus, I had thought that hooded eyes and eyeshadow didn’t mix because what’s the point? If you have hooded eyes you can’t see any of the eyeshadow anyway, it’s all covered up with skin. But this not completely true: my eyelids are visible when I blink.
Thus the discovery of peekaboo eyeshadow! For hooded lids only! You do a normal, neutral eye, matte browns or taupes, or whatever, except on the lid. Where the lid is hidden by the hood, you smack some outrageous color, purple! lime green! solid gold! or maybe some crazy sparkle like the pixie-vamp you are. When you’re done, eyes open you look plain jane. But when you blink, BAM! Party on my eyelid!
Supercoolhusband says, “Do you have your peekaboo rainbow sprinkles on today?” And I say, “Why yes, I do,” and I bat my eyes at him, so coquettish. I’m coquettish! Who would have thought.
Another discovery: the Brave New World of exfoliants, which are like chemical resurfacing agents, only they really work. Seriously, I am impressed. Last I checked, exfoliants were scrubs with grit in them that you used to scrape off the top layer of your face. Yuck. But no longer. Now they are leave-on treatments of AHA and BHA (Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acids like glycolic acid or salicylic acid, which all sounds very acid-y, doesn’t it? isn’t acid bad? turns out, no) designed to take off those dead skin cells and scrub out your pores while you go about your business. I’ve been trying samples of both (not at the same time!) from Paula’s Choice and I kid you not: my skin has not been so smooth, light, or pimple-free in twenty years. This stuff is amazing! I mean, the bags or the deep grooves are here to stay, I accept that, but seriously, brown spots, fine lines, just dull sagginess, it’s all GONE.
[cue hallelujah chorus]
One more discovery: DIY cleaning balms. Sophie hates the feeling washing with soap leaves (you know that sort of tacky, oil-less feeling? I associate it with “clean” but she just says it’s sticky). So, after learning about fancy “cleansing balms” where you massage and clean your face with assortments of oils and then sit under a hot, wet towel for a few minutes (divine), we decided to make our own.
We didn’t even have to do a supply run. I was reading ingredients on some of the fancy ones, organic shea butter, organic castor oil, organic jojoba oil, organic sweet almond oil, various essential oils like rose, orange, or lavender, virgin coconut oil…and I thought, shoot, I’ve got all this stuff. Let’s do this thing!
So we poured boiling water into some empty mint tins to clean them out and then melted together various combinations of the above mentioned ingredients and poured them into the tins. We love playing mad scientist in the kitchen (only usually it involves more chocolate). We ended up with one tin that smelled like orange sherbert (sweet orange and vanilla, fabulous as a lip balm), one that had rose and sandlewood (gorgeous, luxurious), and one with tea-tree oil (anti-bacterial, possibly anti-pimple and could be a deodorant?) The shea butter hardens up at room temp and you get this tin of luxe goop you can apply just about anywhere you want a bit of moisture and good smell.
And to wash your face with it, scoop out a bit, rub it all over your face, give yourself a nice massage, then lean back in the tub and drape a hot, wet cloth over your face and let it steam. When it cools down, use the cloth to wipe off the oils and boom, you’ve got soft, clean skin. It’s fantastic. (And okay, this is pretty hippy-ish. What can I say, I’m not abandoning my roots.)
I’m even learning how to do a badass smokey eye, get back. I love this tutorial by SkyDivaMegan, Rage Against the Machine, Black Smokey Eye in BROAD DAY. Stick it to the man with your black smokey eye, who says you can’t wear your makeup however you want, whenever you want? I love her, flouter of makeup rules: “What the hell. Who are you to tell me when I can wear what eye makeup? It’s eight o’clock on Saturday morning right now. I’m about to walk to dog, outside, in broad daylight, wearing the black smokey eye!” Haha! She the one who brought the whole peekaboo eyeshadow trick to my attention. Game changer!
(Mystery #2: how to get the stuff you put on the lower lid to not drift down over the day, making you look bruised and haggard? Is this primer thing again? Am I over-moisturizing or something? And whoa: people wear lower-lid shadow now! That used to be a no-no (“it’s aging!”) but now it’s a go-to look.)
All right, that’s my makeup revelations, from the all-natural-girl who is finally, at forty-three, learning something about the girly arts of makeup. It’s surprisingly fun (actually, why am I surprised?) And, I have to say, being a beginner with Sophie who is just starting to be interested in such things, is superfun, too. I remember being her age and watching my Dad’s girlfriend sit at her vanity and apply red lipstick with a little brush and being so intrigued by the feminine mystery of it all. Now I’m her!
Sort of. Okay, not really, my Dad would never in a million years date a hippy chick. Which I am. Only now with cream eyeshadow.