Archive for March, 2009


I have recently become interested in (aka obsessed with) makeup, as in cosmetics. I have arrived at the realization that it takes tons of expensive cosmetics, brushes and tools, and loads of time to achieve a perfect, “natural look” that makes it appear as if you are not wearing any makeup at all.

According to one “how to” website, you need the following items to achieve a natural look with your makeup: blush, brush, concealer, eye shadow, eye liner, face powder, foundation, lip gloss, lipstick, lip liner, makeup brushes, and mascara.

This is no small undertaking, folks.

After 18 years of mostly failed experimentation with makeup, I have finally realized that there is an art form to it. I was finally convinced of this fact after perusing books on how to apply makeup.

I am fascinated by psychology, especially as it relates to culture, so I began to read research that addressed the question, “What is beauty?” I suppose if I’m painfully honest, I will admit that I wanted to learn secrets that would help me to appear more attractive. While surfing Amazon, some of the “So you’d like to. . .” lists caught my eye. Some of them not only addressed beauty in a sociological sense, but I discovered many how-to books on the application of cosmetics. I also discovered that in any given chain bookstore, there are dozens of books on how to apply makeup. You’d think I would have gotten the hint sooner that this is no easy enterprise. But when I saw the volume of literature, the light bulb finally clicked on.

I am overwhelmed by the number of brands, colors, and types of makeup in the supermarket alone, where you go to purchase food, not beauty products. I have to carefully avoid this aisle so as to avoid brain overload. There is simply too much to choose from: light, dark, shimmer, matte, pressed powder, loose powder, liquid, cream, pencil, volumizing, lengthening, etc. ad nauseum. Incidentally, I feel the same way about the shampoo aisle. One major problem in our society is the availability of too many choices, but that is a commentary for another day.

Have you ever entered Sephora or a similar makeup boutique? It’s as if you’ve stepped into an alternate universe, a rip in the fabric of reality where heaven and hell coexist. There are so many pretty sparkly things. Yet there are so, so many pretty, sparkly things.

Quality of makeup does matter. You get what you pay for, which makes me feel some passive-aggressive anger, as I am a bargain shopper and wish I could tell you that the drugstore stuff is just as good.

I have looked at my face so many times in the mirror that I can not possibly begin to be objective about how I look, makeup or sans makeup.

I suspect this is true of most women. Do you see women and wonder how in the world they convinced themselves that they looked presentable (too much blush, too much eye shadow, unnatural foundation)? Am I one of those women?

This woman achieved a natural look with plenty of makeup: foundation, concealer, peach eye shadow on her lid and a darker color in the crease, mascara, highlighter on her brows, lip liner, and some nude colored lipstick. She skipped the blush to make the look appear “natural.” See how easy it is to make it look like you’re wearing nothing on your face?