Monday, January 29, 2007

Kiss and Makeup

I did something extra-ordinary last week. Perhaps it’s not extra-ordinary for most women of my age, but for me, purchasing makeup is very out of the norm. In fact, I can safely say that I’ve actually bought real makeup (face creams don’t count) about 2 times. And I usually only have bought it when the company of choice has a “bonus”. For those of you not in the know, that’s when company’s offer trial sizes of things that people don’t usually want in the big or little sizes. People that is, excluding me, because to me, anything is something and if it has color and some sort of application mechanism –i.e. a tube, a spongy q-tip… - then I’m game. And I’ll wear that little free gift eye-shadow for the next 10 years.

I’m still working on my eyeshadow duo that I BOUGHT, about 10 years ago. Seriously, I know girlie magazines would tell me I’m THIS close to getting some sort of nasty eye disease, but I’m just too lazy and make-up averse to care. It’s not that I don’t like primping, or the way I look when I actually have a well-done dose of color enhancements on my face (like, on my wedding day), I just don’t care enough to really invest in it, AND, truth be told, I’m intimidated by the whole process.

See, much of my aversion to make-up stems from my distaste of shopping in general. My retail shopping regimen typically includes Target, REI, maybe DSW for shoes, but beyond that, I’m just plumb intimidated. Like the other day when I sauntered into Perimeter Mall (hardly one of Atlanta’s most uppity shopping spots). Be that as it may, I strolled through the glitz in my dowdy work clothes, end-of-day oily face and hair and way out of fashion glasses.

I did some positive self-talk and snuck into Sephora, a rather hip emporium for all things beauty. I felt immediately out of place, but trudged on through rows of pretty colors from brands that I know only vaguely by name. Like Urban Decay which seemed very hip and edgy with cool looking eye-shadow “books” that had a multitude of oddly-named shades to fit my rock star/allergen-avoidance persona. I stood perplexed, lining the top of my hand with metallic blue, soft green and gun-metal gray streaks of eye liner and shadow from various brands and eras. But my senses were too overloaded, and my mind just couldn’t get around what kind of margins these people must make on a teaspoon of compacted, colored powder. And I figured you just can’t worry about those things if you want to look pretty. Then I snuck back out, past the dark-haired lady in the black smock with racoonish eyes. What must she be thinking, I thought to myself. She must dream in beautiful, metallic hues.

When in times of great doubt and consternation, as I obviously was, one goes with what one knows. I got some of my first makeup from Clinique, probably mom got it for me because of its hypoallergenic qualities or something. So, from then on, I've always defaulted to Clinique with their neat-o slide charts to figure out your skin type and their yellow Dramatically Different moisturizer. I'm not convinced it's THAT dramatically different from something I'd get at CVS, but, it makes me feel better than those other ones. Then there's the squeaky clean white coats, maybe that's what lures me. The clean, crisp medicinal quality that says, "No monkey business, just giving you what you need to be a woman in today's culture. Not embellishment, just survival tools."

As I perused the eyeshadow and eyeliner colors I met the (yet again) overly black-lined eyes of the makeup sales associate. One look at her visage, like that of countless other makeup counter sales associates, made me again second-guess the whole beauty scene...why do so many of the "pros" seem to have unhealthy skin and bad makeup? (my own beauty-biz friends excluded) If only the average makeup sales girl could look more non-cakey natural and less Robert Smith in a lab coat with strong perfume. Nevertheless, my Clinique clerk was friendly enough. And I was desperate.

She kindly put big swipes of pressed powder on my porous cheeks to test colors as I said things like "low maintenance" and "doesn't look like I'm wearing makeup." While she didn't personally ascribe to the subtle method, she seemed to understand my plight. Once settled on a flesh-tone foundation powder, we headed toward the eye makeup. I then remembered how completely confusing current styles are. Just as I've been getting comfy with browns and bohemian earth tones, 80's blues and frosty greens are back with a vengeance, gracing the lids of skinny girls with long hair and thick pleated red leather waist belts. I'm not convinced it'll last, but I do have fond memories of my sister making me over with those very same colors when I was 8. I let the lab consultant follow my nostalgic gaze toward the frosty rainbow. However, she cautioned me that electric-youth blue would not suit me as much as a warmer green. Though it was safer than my original edgy intent, I believed the expert. Admittedly, with my earthy green eyeshadow duo in hand, I couldn't shake the voice of mom in my head explaining the she and I had the same Color Me Beautiful season meaning that blues work, but greens makes us look jaundiced. For most of my shopping life I've never bought green things because I fear looking jaundiced. But I got over the fear for a fleeting moment and bought the green shadow. Again, desperate times call for desperate measures.

I wore my purchases a few nights ago: the matte neutral powder is spot-on and from my vantage point the eyeshadow doesn't make me look like a sickly baby or like I've gotten into a bar fight. for another 6 years.

Anything you're unreasonably intimidated about shopping for?