Watch my life unravel...



Top Canadian Blogs - Top Blogs

Local Directory for Ottawa, ON


Dispatch from the front lines of the war on aging

Highlight your assets, minimize your flawsI was wandering through Shopper’s Drug Mart a couple of weeks ago when a lovely young woman persuaded me to participate in Beauty Makeover Day. All I had to do was let them make me up with Smashbox products.

“Okay,” I said, “but can we go for a natural look, because I don’t really wear makeup.”

“Of course!” she lied enthusiastically.

So, next thing you know I’m perched on a stool and Brooke is extracting thousands of products from her bag of tricks.

“Your face is a canvas,” said Brooke, “and the first thing we want to do is prime the canvas so it can flawlessly accept the full range of glorious colours.”

She then coated my face with invisible $50 silicone gel stuff. If felt kind of interesting, like dry liquid.

“Then we put a little concealer on trouble spots, to soften any imperfections.”

Well okay, but my imperfections must have been fairly extensive because she put concealer everywhere.

She followed this with layers and layers of other stuff. I lost track. There was a $72 powder with 18 different minerals and revolutionary new Smart Technology. There was bronzing powder and blush and a white stick to open up my eyes and eyeliner and eye shadow and finishing powder and lip stick and lip gloss.

The whole time she was working on me, she chatted about the products, using words like replenishing and rejuvenating and nourishing and nurturing. I sat there thinking about Naomi Wolf’s book, The Beauty Myth, about how women are drawn to these adjectives and promises from makeup because that’s exactly what we need and are not getting from life. (Being a feminist is a full-time job; even when you’re doing girlie shit, you’re still a feminist. Maybe especially when you’re doing girlie shit.)

By the end of all this, I looked not so good. Not awful, not tarty, just overly made up. Like pop me in a casket and invite my friends to visit between seven and nine.

Brooke and the other beauticians gathered around and oohed and ahhhed and lied about how much better I looked and how natural I looked.

And of course the inevitable sales pitch followed. This kit, that brush, this extra little essential, etc. “You can’t afford not to buy them,” said Brooke.

On the other hand, it seemed to me like a lot of time and money to spend each morning just to look a little bit better than the real natural, which is free and easy.

And honestly? I’m not even sure I looked any better. Nobody said “Wow, you look fantastic!” after I left Shopper’s Drug Mart. My friends at work were lukewarm – they said I looked too made up. I was even told the makeup made me look older.

The thing is, I wouldn’t mind a fast, easy makeup routine if it made me look better. But on both occasions I’ve gone for one of these free makeup demos, I’ve been subjected to a lengthy, complicated and expensive set of procedures that doesn’t even look that good in the end.

Maybe I’ll just stick with my multipurpose tinted sunscreen/moisturizer.

16 comments to Dispatch from the front lines of the war on aging

  • I’ve never been big on make-up. Unless Dave an I are going out somewhere, I mostly don’t bother (plus I don’t have the extra cash to blow on it either). If I’m feeling particuarily ugly that day, I may throw some mascara on to turn up my eyes a bit.
    For me to even do minimal make-up (eyeliner, shadow and mascara) it takes at least 10 minutes… and in the morning before work, that’s an extra 10 minutes I’d prefer to sleep.
    I’m approaching 30, and as I look at my friends who have gone in for the whole foundation, layer upon layer thing… I’m glad I didn’t. Their skin doesn’t look that hot with or without the makeup now… or maybe it’s just that my skin got that extra 10 minutes of sleep.

  • I’m a “lazy” girl. My makeup regime consists of sunscreen/moisturizer (sometimes?) mascara (less often..) and pinky lip gloss. If I’m going out I’ll slap on some eye shadow of a pale brownish color too..

    Mind, I also only shave my legs every 8-10 weeks, and stopped coloring my hair last year (and had it all cropped to a pixie cut..) but my man-candy just says it means I’m visibly low maintenance 😉

  • The Beauty Myth is my bible. That book changed my life in a way that a makeover cannot.

  • deb

    Even I bypass the makeup thing 5 days out of 7 now…mascara, if I remember, is the only thing other than moisturizer. I think that at our age (and remember, you will be my age in 18 days) we look younger without makeup.

  • I’ve never worn makeup and everytime I say that to someone, they always say, Oh, but you don’t need it. I do. I want to tell this this is because they have been overdoing their makeup since they were 13 and have ruined their skin. Somehow, I don’t think that would make me too popular, so I just shut up.

    The picture reminds me of Patsy on Ab Fab. At least Patsy was supposed to be a spoof.

  • deb

    I re-looked at that picture and I am pretty sure that it is supposed to be a spoof too.

  • Bonnie

    I had one of those make-up applications done one time and I felt like a freak. I couldn’t wait to get home and wash my face. When I’m at a mall I never see anyone I know but of course that day I ran into 3 friends and felt obligated to apologize for looking like I did. Unless I’m going somewhere real special my makeup consists of moisturizer, a little blush and eyeliner. When it’s somewhere special I add foundation and mascara.

  • Tom Sawyer

    Well, I do not normally use lipstick, mascara, or eyeliner, but I shave a couple times a week with a disposable razor that lasts for months that I bought as a 6-pack at Dollarama. As for the “after” photo, it is difficult to say: the only “before” photo I have seen of you was part of a group shot and everyone was holding a guitar. Do not even get me going on that missed opportunity! Arrrrrgh!

  • Payton

    Those sales pitches suck because they pile way too much stuff on you. I love make-up and wear it every day (and have since I was a teen…but my skin is fine because I’ve always worn sunscreen too) but it’s silly to put primer, foundation, concealer, blush and bronzer on someone who never wears it. It won’t look right and it won’t feel right to that person. I’m sorry you had such a poor experience with a makeover. Make-up, if you choose to play with it, should be fun!

  • Valerie, that’s an excellent point about the extra 10 minutes of sleep each morning.

    Soire – ‘visibly low-maintenance’ – ha ha ha ha ha! That might be one of those back-handed compliments.

    WC – it’s been years since I read it, but you’re right, the Beauty Myth was a life-altering read.

    Deb, is that true that makeup makes us look older? it wasn’t just a fluke in my case?

    Melinda – I don’t understand why teenagers and women in their 20s wear makeup – their skin is luminous and radiant and it seems like a shame to cover it up with anything.

    Deb – I hope it’s a spoof!

    Bonnie – that’s hilarious about running into all those people afterwards. Kathryn and I got our free makeup done at the Rideau Centre years ago and the first thing we did was find a washroom and scrub as much off as we could.

    Tom – that’s NOT me in the makeup picture! By the way, I think I use the same kind of razor as you do. I noticed at Shopper’s Drug Mart that razor blades are getting so expensive they keep them in an alarm-rigged display case.

  • Payton – that’s what I thought! Besides, even if I’d loved the results, there’s no way I’d be able to remember how to do it all and in what order. A better strategy would have been to suck me into the whole makeup thing with three easy products.

  • XUP

    Poor Brooke — if your face really HAD been a canvass, it would have sagged under the weight of all that paint. Real good, healthy, natural looks come from inside anyway. What and how much you eat & drink, how much you rest/relax, how much fresh air and exercize you get — it all shows in your face.

  • I notice that about makeup making me look older and I’m only 39 – now if I could just remember to moisturize every day!

  • grace

    Geez Zoom, If you are on the front lines where does that put me? Waving from a distance, g

  • deb

    It is true about makeup making older women look older. Girls wear it to look older…it works. Young girls (under 30) can get away with extravagant makeup looks but after 30 too much makes us look older. Foundation gets stuck in the crevices of our face. Sparkly eye shadows draw attention to the crows feet or laugh lines. Mascara is good because it darkens and thickens our lashes which I notice have all but disappeared over the years. Lipstick is good too because I seem to have lost all pigment in my lips and they are the same colour as my skin.

  • I like the way I look with makeup, granted not with a pound of it, as I inherited horrible oily, breakout-prone skin from both sides of my family, which seems only to calm down only after menopause, and even then it doesn’t entirely clear up apparently!

    If I were to wear it too often, it would definitely make my skin even worse, but luckily I’m FAR too lazy to be bothered doing anything makeup at all, with rare exceptions.

    I don’t even need moisturizer, in fact moisturizer is about the opposite of what I need, sadly, there are no over-the counter products that help my skin, nor many prescription products either!