Cosmetics and I go way back.
When I was a child, my mother had a collection of bright cream eyeshadows that came in stick form, like lipstick. They clipped onto a display rack that had the effect of a jewel-toned eyeshadow tree. I think we can agree that such a thing is designed to be irresistible to four-year-olds. And it was.
My mother didn’t wear much makeup–cream blush and lipstick, maybe a little foundation–but I knew that eyeshadow went above your eyes. And what’s above your eyes? Why, your eyebrows.
Therefore, when I would dress up as a “Christmas tree” in my greenest nightgown with all of my play jewelry pinned to me or hanging around my neck, I would be sure to apply eyeshadow. So I was a Christmas tree with gummy purple and blue eyebrows.
Years later, I asked my mother, “Why didn’t you ever tell me that’s not how you wear eyeshadow?” And she answered, “I figured that, your way, you weren’t getting it in your eyes.”
That, my friends, is parenting genius.
I was allowed to start wearing makeup–well, concealer–in the sixth grade, and that was the same year when my mother let me buy a carefully vetted lipstick. It was some shade by Clinique that was very sheer. But it wasn’t until high school that I really started wearing makeup.
It was the 1980s. We wore all the makeup.
Since then, I’ve gone back and forth on what types of products I use, although I long ago gave up on eye makeup for pretty much any occasion (watery eyes are not the effect I’m going for, generally). Foundation? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Powder? Sure, except absolutely not. Powder blush or cream? I’ve tried both.
When Mr. Sandwich and I got married, I did my own makeup. That’s right, I did. Because I’ve had it done professionally, and it has always been a disaster. You should have seen me in the aforementioned 1980s, when I went to my junior prom. Although you won’t. Just trust me. I was wearing All The Makeup. And my hair from that night is a post of its own.
But when I got married, I knew two things: (1) I needed to wear more makeup than usual, because of the photography, and (2) I wanted to look like myself. And, looking back on those photos, I did just fine.
After Mr. Sandwich and I got married, I stopped wearing makeup. It’s not that I couldn’t be bothered, it’s that I didn’t have to be. Mr. Sandwich has made it perfectly clear that he likes people’s faces as they are, and that includes mine. When I do wear makeup, I know I’ve gotten it right when he says, “I can’t tell you’re wearing any.”
At some point, I stopped wearing it even to work. Most of the women who outranked me wore little or none, and at some point I was pregnant and lacked the energy to put in contact lenses. Makeup? Get real.
Lately, I’ve started again. Not every day–I haven’t worn any this week–but on a fairly regular basis I wear beauty balm (wasn’t that called “tinted moisturizer” a few years ago?) and cheek stain. But I have a lot of trouble with lipstick.
I’m not crazy about the nude lip craze that swept the nation a few years ago, no matter how often I saw it on What Not To wear. But since I got out of the habit, I find that a great many colors look too . . . obvious. Too intense.
And that’s without addressing the question of shade. So I want something that has color, but not too much color, and that’s a pinky-peach, but not too pink, and not too peach, and not too chalky, and not too shimmery, and and and.
I’ve tried lip gloss (too glossy!) and long-lasting lipsticks (too drying!). I’ve tried a variety of drugstore brands. And I was just steeling myself to head to the department store when, at the end of a trip to Costco, I spotted a three-pack of Clinique lipsticks. A three-pack. For something like $22. That’s cheaper than three lipsticks from the drugstore. And while I wasn’t able to try them on, I was pretty sure I recognized one of the names.
And you know what? Two of them are pretty good on their own, and the third works well as a layer to change up the other two.
This is good. Because I don’t care what retro fashion is next. I am not wearing that brown lipstick from the 1990s again. I’ve learned at least that much.