The Inner Makeup Monologue

When I was in college, it seemed like each one of my five roommates had enough makeup to completely cover the bathroom counter. I was the lone exception with only two items — and now I’ve expanded my collection so much, I can fit it all in one little handbag with room to spare.

I guess I’m a makeup minimalist. I never use more than I have to, and I never stray far from the neutral look.

This isn’t because I’m unadventurous. It’s just that bolder makeup doesn’t have quite the same effect on me that it does on others. Take the smoky eye, for instance. It makes most women who wear it look sultry and sexy, but it just makes me look hung over. I’m not really sure why.

Also, there’s the matter of pragmatism: The less product I use, the less there is to go wrong. And, well… I suppose I’m just lazy. I commit the mortal sin of applying foundation directly to my skin, sans primer. I don’t bother with all the toners and cleansers and lotions and whatnot. I’ve never used bronzer, and I haven’t the slightest idea how to contour my cheekbones. In some ways this makes me feel like a fraud; mostly it just makes me thankful that my beauty routine never takes me longer than seven minutes to complete.

They say you should sort through all your makeup regularly and toss anything you’ve had for more than six months. Hah! Do they know how much makeup costs? Well, I do. I’m a cheapskate and a disciple of “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” I’m still using concealer and eye shadow I bought in 2018. Does that make me a gross nasty person? Oh well. Sue me.

I mean, the stuff doesn’t grow on trees, people. Anyway, concealer is one of life’s greatest gifts, so when I find a good one, I’m loathe to part with it just because it’s reached someone else’s arbitrary expiry date.

Fun fact: I recently discovered that gluten intolerance can cause — of all things — cystic acne. Isn’t that lovely? Every time I eat bread or pasta, I have to wear the shame of my gluttony on my face for weeks (sometimes months) afterward. That’s why concealer is on my list of must-haves if I were stranded on a deserted island (along with food and potable water and the means to brew a proper cup of coffee).

This malady has one possible “up side”, however: If I’m still breaking out like a teenager in my thirties and forties, maybe everyone will think I’m younger than I really am. So, there’s that.

Speaking of unfair, why do women have to wear makeup to be considered attractive, but men don’t?

I know, I know. It’s a societal expectation that I conform to of my own free will. There’s plenty out there that I don’t conform to — high heels, for instance. I mean, I might if they made me look pretty. Alas, they don’t. And they’re uncomfortable, and they’re a hindrance to podiatric health, and they make me taller than all the men I know. Not to mention, they multiply my “clumsy factor” exponentially. I figure there’s no use suffering in pain and weakening my calf muscles if I’m just going to look like a giraffe on stilts for all my trouble.

Anyway, back to the makeup.

Eye shadow. I rather enjoy using this; it feels like art. But if it doesn’t come with that “paint by numbers” guide on it, showing you where on your eyelid to apply each color in the palette, I’m lost. I just apply some where I think it looks good and hope for the best. I’ve had mixed results with that, needless to say.

Then I might use an eyeliner pencil, mostly because the non-smeary application of liquid eyeliner remains an inscrutable mystery to me. And that whole thing about applying eyeliner to the waterline of your lower eyelid — eek, that freaks me out. My eyes see a pointy object coming at them and they staunchly refuse to cooperate. (Not that I blame them.) Ditto for eyelash curlers. Eyelash curlers look like a torture device.

Then I apply my maybe-older-than-six-months mascara, some powder to make me look not-sweaty (even though I probably am) and some blush to make me look rosy (because I’m probably not), and I’m done.

And to tell you the truth, I don’t think I look much different than I did when I started.

Somebody famous — I think it was Tina Fey — said that after a certain age, makeup stops being about enhancing your good looks and starts being purely about damage control. I feel this truth deep in my soul, and also deep in the wrinkle between my eyebrows. Please, I’ve only just recently figured out how to use makeup to bring out my natural good looks (or to try — in futility — to create them ex nihilo). Can’t I have, oh, at least a few more years before I have to worry about the damage control part?

Of course, by then I’m also going to have to do something about my gray hair. More specifically, I’m going to have to do something to be able to shell out the cash to do something about my gray hair. Because man, that crap is expensive. I anticipate that in my approaching golden years, when my financial planner asks me, “So how’s your retirement fund doing?” I’m going to have to say, I don’t have one. I only have a hair coloring fund. Whether to be homeless and penniless with pretty hair and makeup, or to be a frump sitting on a decent nest egg, is a choice I feel certain I’ll have to make at some further juncture.

I’m not too worried, though. I’m sure while I’m busy not doing certain things — like restocking my makeup twice a year — I’ll have plenty of time to come up with something!

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