Cosmetically challenged

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My mom never wore makeup when I was growing up. And I don't mean, "nothing except for a bit of powder and lipstick". I mean none. Zip, zero, zilch. The closest thing we had to makeup in the house was ChapStick. I always imagined other girls got makeup tutorials from their moms, while I was floundering in Shopper's Drug Mart with my allowance in my pocket, unsure of where to begin.

The first time I tried eye shadow was at my friend's house. She had an entire drawer of makeup we were playing with. I loaded up the applicator with a nice violet hue and gave my eyes a huge swipe...underneath. I looked in the mirror. It didn't seem quite right. "What are you doing?" my friend screeched at me. "You look like you got punched." I just laughed like it was intentional, wiped it off, and vowed to figure out how to wear eyeshadow like a champion.

I read YM and Seventeen every month for tips. I pored over articles detailing how to apply eye makeup based on your eye shape: almond-shaped, close-set, wide-set, hooded. Then I looked in the mirror. I couldn't (and still can't) identify my eye shape. I just see my eyes, not one of the illustrations from the article.

I winged it. I covered up things that needed to be covered with concealer (the wrong shade). Mascara was pretty much a no-brainer. I steered clear of anything that required precision to apply and learned quickly that I'm not a dark lipstick kind of girl. In the early 2000s, I discovered bronzer, which, unfortunately, does not come with instructions. And so I paraded around, winter, summer, spring and fall, with my whole face the same uniform shade of brown, except for my eyelids, which were usually a shockingly pale and frosty pastel shade. Why why why why why? I amassed a huge makeup collection, every garish colour and hideous texture you could imagine. There was glitter, there was shimmer, there were metallics, and the bronzer, ALWAYS THE EFFING BRONZER.

A few years ago I threw out 90% of my makeup. No more coloured mascaras and teal eyeliner and muddy lipsticks and glittery glosses. My new, pared down collection looks really skimpy by comparison, but at least it's comprised of products that don't make me look like a demented clown.

I'm still more or less clueless when it comes to makeup. I still don't know what shape my eyes are. I can't do a smoky eye, or apply eyeliner without looking like I was drunk driving at the time. I haven't mastered the knack of wearing red lipstick. I don't know how to contour properly or apply foundation with a brush. False lashes? Forget about it. I don't love makeup. I think of it as a necessity. I don't enjoy putting it on - it's like wearing deodorant or brushing my teeth. I don't "play" with makeup. I've never been in a MAC store, and Sephora is scary and overwhelming for me. That said, there have been times when a certain product has made me feel just a smidge more confident or polished. I don't usually wear any lipstick, but when I do, I feel "done".

Am I embarrassed when an 11-year-old girl looks more put together than me? Maybe a little. Would I rather be spending more time than absolutely necessary in front of the mirror to look presentable? Absolutely not. I just shoot for somewhere in the middle of "troll" and "Barbie". It seems like a happy medium.

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12 comments

  1. I feel for you. My mom was the same way! I only did the horrible black eye-liner and mascara thing when I was in high school. After I graduated, I had lots of time on my hands and looked online. YouTube is awesome for the cosmetically-challenged! There are loads of helpful tutorials that will help you out - but it does take practice. I'm happy to say I'm much better because of all those tutorials! Wish it available when I was younger.

    Some I like on YT are pixiwo and gossmakeupartist (if you want more names, let me know).

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    1. thank you! I'll check them out

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  2. This is where we are 100% opposite ends of the spectrum. My momma used to get these enormous makeup palettes from Estee Lauder for Christmas each year...more makeup than any one person could ever possibly use. I was never allowed to use or play with it, but I always watched her put it on. When I was finally allowed to start wearing makeup, I seemed to have a knack for it. I now have a huge decorative box full of makeup and I have to limit my purchases. One of the girls at work always comes to me for tips and advice on her colours and application.

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    1. I bought a few of those giant palettes but ended up using one or two out of 48 colours :)

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  3. I had the same experience growing up... I saw this video last year and it changed my life. She has a few around that are super helpful. http://thehairpin.com/2011/04/tutorials-the-eyeshadow-trilogy/

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  4. Your post reminds me of myself!

    I can't say our moms were the same, but I definetely don't have that gift of putting makeup on either. I as well have paired down my makeup collection and it feels easier and more manageable. I went to Shoppers Drug Mart and got the professionals to help pick out my colours for my foundation, concealer and blush...so I feel confident that I am not wearing some crazy mask on my face! I also have a few basic / everyday eye shadows that I like using, again super easy to apply and where I only need one colour on my whole lid! And of course, I do like the feeling of having mascara on - that is my 'done' feeling. Then when I am really stepping it up I thrown on my lipgloss, not chapstick:) Watch out - hold me back, I know! I have noticed slowly over the years I am more and more comfortable wearing less and less makeup in public and although I don't want to look like I just stepped out of bed, I think this is ultimately a good thing.

    Thanks for sharing & have a great day!

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    1. I definitely need professional help - maybe I should stop sending the Shoppers cosmeticians away when they ask if there's anything I need!

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  5. My momma was the same way, except for the occasional swipe of lipstick for some events. And that was rare. Oddly enough, when I was old enough I would always get makeup palettes for Christmas and the like. I went through a phase in high school/university where I wouldn't go a day without putting on makeup... I am very aware looking back that I had the wrong shade - hello Whitey McPasty-Face.

    I've always been very enamoured, yet horribly awkward with makeup.

    My problem now, is that I am much too lazy/uncoordinated in the morning to put make up on these days. I'd like to establish a go-to routine.

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    1. Getting a routine down is a big time saver for sure. It doesn't take me very long to get out the door and I'm grateful for that!

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  6. I've been using L'Oreal BB Cream this summer. It is great! I find that it gives me enough coverage for my face and it is nice and light. I find that I need to put a little extra under my eyes or on another other "spots". Only downfall is that it has no sunscreen in it :( Get it at Walmart because it is cheaper. The $15 tube has lasted me since the spring!

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  7. I think as we get older and wiser, we realise that we don't need as much stuff on our face. I have tons and tons of palettes of MAC eyeshadows and blushes and a whole box of lipgloss - but it's hidden in my closet. My day to day makeup fits in one small makeup bag - I don't have the time or energy to put anything else on!

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