I don’t come from makeup-wearing stock. In fact, I could probably count the number of times Mom wore makeup during my childhood on two hands. And, despite more than a decade of trying to jump on the beauty bandwagon, I’m right there with her now, barefaced except for special occasions.When I was younger, I didn’t admire my mom’s product-less beauty. I lived for the few nights when she and my dad went out, and Mom put on her makeup. It’s not that I thought she looked bad without it; I just loved the fancy containers. There’s one occasion in particular I distinctly remember. My parents were going to a charity fundraiser dinner, and she brought out her blue eyeshadow, stick of “rouge” (as we called blush back then), and eyeliner that needed to be dampened and applied with a brush. It all seemed so glamorous, and since my mom removed her glasses for the evening, pairing her fabulous ‘80s makeup with contacts, she no longer resembled my mother. Why didn’t she look like this all the time? I wondered.
Even though I’d been getting dolled up for ballet performances since the age of 6, I didn’t feel the draw of makeup myself until seventh grade, when the girls in my class began applying copious amounts of sparkly lip gloss. My big thing was colored mascara, though beyond this attempt to be different, I remained a Medicated Chapstick kind of girl until the end of high school.
It wasn’t until the summer before I left for college that I learned the basics of makeup application. I’ve always looked young for my age, and since I was so nervous about fitting in when I went off to college, my mom, who didn’t know enough herself, took me to a beauty salon that carried Aveda products. A cute makeup artist taught me about tinted moisturizer, blending shades of eyeshadow, and how to apply eyeliner.
The routine I learned was simple enough that I continued with it for years, and wearing a little brown eyeshadow here and a little blush there really boosted my confidence. I only stopped after my best friend, a guy, told me one day that he hadn’t realized I wore makeup. While I’d never been one to wear a dark, smoky eye or anything really bold, I did put something on my face every day and I felt insulted at first. Then I went a week without following usual regimen to see if anyone noticed. No one did, and I liked having those extra few minutes in the morning to watch “Good Morning America” so much that I continued putting nothing on my face in the morning.
And now I finally understand, I think, why my mom saved her eyeshadow, eyeliner, and rouge for notable events rather than going “glam” every day. I basically look the same with or without the stuff, so why waste valuable time applying products that make me appear the same way? Of course this doesn’t mean I don’t bring out my arsenal of powders and pencils when there’s a wedding to attend. Saving the getting-ready ritual for those types of occasions makes the event itself feel that much more special — even if no one notices I spent extra time painting my face.