A Short History of Makeup

I pulled this out of the drafts folder. I wrote it last Fall.

When I was in high school I went through a Makeup Phase. I desperately wanted to wear makeup. My parents were as desperate that I should not. So, ever the dutiful daughter, I respected their wishes. Ha ha ha, no, I wore it in secret, of course. I had a big, plastic, grocery store bag full of makeup hidden under my bed. Periodically my mother would take it away and hide it in her room. I would sneak in there and take it back, one lip gloss at a time. My big obsession was concealer because a) I had dark circles under my eyes (or so I thought) and b) it doesn’t count as makeup because if you do it right, no one sees it! Camo for your face.

In my ’20s when I was staying up late and often too drunk to remember to wash my face, I stopped with the makeup. Besides, nothing is more beautiful than a drunk 20-something. Do I need to further adorn such amazing beauty? I do not, and I need the money for beer. Bonus: if you never wear makeup and then wear some on your wedding day, people will think you just walked out of Vogue Magazine. Keep those standards low, people.

These days, I paint my toenails and put on lip balm and I’m on my way. For special occasions, I buy a new mascara. My special occasions are rare enough that if I used the same mascara it would give me eyelash botulism or whatever you get when you use an old mascara. “They” (ladymags, internet doctors, etc.) advise buying new mascara every three months.

I do have an especial weakness for lip gloss, but I also forget to apply it. I just carry it around in my purse and every once in a while, when I switch to a different purse, I find FIVE MORE LIP GLOSSES that I forgot about. Also, they are all burgundy. Why do I need to buy multiple, redundant copies of burgundy lip glosses? Someone analyze this for me? Thanks.

Lately, when I look in the mirror I am kind of horrified by my reflection. As in, I haven’t slept enough for five years. I am 37 years old. I frequently do not consume enough water. And of course I have that weird itchy skin thing that only comes around sometimes and only in some places —

— anyway, I look in the mirror and I am kind of horrified. Even pictures of me from a few years ago, when Trombone was a baby, are preferable. They are even dewy, some of them. Maybe our old camera was lower resolution? Maybe that’s why all the cool kids are going back to Polaroid?

Today (by which I mean last September, which is when I started this post,) Fresco and I were at Superstore while Trombone was at school. As we strolled through the store, killing time, getting groceries, I spotted those little compacts of pressed powder. Pressed powder is like concealer; it doesn’t really count as makeup. In theory, it should blot the shine and smooth out the blotches in your skin. That is just what I need, I thought. Just a little…blotting and smoothing.

I stared at the choices: Ultra pale. Fair. Medium. Beige. Dark. Bronzer.

I decided I wasn’t Beige. The Medium looked like pale Beige. The Dark and Bronzer were dark and bronze Beige, respectively. So I chose Fair. There were no testers. You just have to look at the little compact and go, yeah, that looks like my skin. I asked Fresco, but he was no help at all since he was testing those toothbrushes that spin.

Brilliant jackass that I am, I decided to apply my new, Fair pressed powder to my blotchy, reddish/whitish skin in the parking lot of Superstore ten minutes before we had to be back at the school to get Trombone. In my imagination, the Fair powder covered my skin with kisses and made it all smooth and one Fair, non-shiny, totally natural colour.

I tore open the packaging and pulled out the little powder puffy thing and blot! blot! smear!ed it all over my face and then looked at myself in the mirror with an expectant smile. Oh! So it turns out I have kind of an olive tone to my skin — shouldn’t I know this by now? — and this powder had kind of a pinky tone to it. My face looked, well, it looked like a baby’s ass. In a bad way. In a way that clashed with my neck, which now looked jaundiced by comparison.

Well, I thought. Maybe in the time it takes us to drive back to preschool, my skin’s oils will PUSH through the powder barrier and SOAK the powder with —

— yeah I don’t know what I thought. I hoped it would settle into my skin and look less powdery and fake. It didn’t. By the time I was back at the school I looked more like a clown than a baby’s ass, which I am sure you will agree is not much of an improvement.

I scrubbed my face with a baby wipe. That helped, uh, let’s see, not at all.

When I applied one of my burgundy lip glosses, thinking it might distract from my pink, powdery face, I appeared to turn into a full-on female impersonator, so I gave up. I pulled up the hood on my sweatshirt, threw on some sunglasses and kept my head down.

My mother was right. I don’t need makeup. And if you’re that terrified of your reflection, better to just run with it.

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