A dab here, a smear there

Are women who don’t wear makeup lazy?

Here I am with a giant sty hanging off my left eyelid. So frustrated with having to wear glasses for a month that I applied eyeliner to the good eye to offset my sty and bring some sort of balance to my face.

Bare-faced chic

Does makeup affect the way I feel about myself? It sure does. Usually I feel much lighter and less confined bare-faced but I find myself saying, “I’m ugly today.” Poor Chris has to deal with it even though he appears to see no difference. I think he’s blinded by love—my true makeup-less self gets cloaked by his love for the morning and evening versions of myself when as he likes to say, the real me comes out.

But the minute I put on a smidgen of eyeliner, just one thin line across my lids, my self-image gets resurrected and I feel normal again. Normal. As if the painted self was what I was meant to look like. And while I’m wearing it I can’t help but wish I didn’t need it. You don’t need it. But I don’t know that most of the time.

Mostly, I like the way it makes me feel. A bit more feminine, perhaps more mysterious. If anything, it reminds me that I at least know how to apply eyeliner and a dab of eye shadow. I couldn’t navigate my way around concealer, bronzer, tinter, eyelash curler or any of the other accoutrements designed to highlight features or hide some perceived imperfection. I do use a MAC spot cover up but on fewer occasions and only if I know photos will be snapped—it lightens areas which would reveal shadows in photographs (upper lip shadowed by my nose, or the corner pleats of my nose shadowed by what on some days would seem like big, flapping nostrils). Otherwise, it’s eyeliner, a bit of shadow and a light smear of Vaseline over my lips.

I will admit, there are days when not wearing makeup has something to do with laziness, but most of the time I feel bad for putting that stuff on my face. I think for a second how my skin feels when I apply these carefully mixed chemicals over it. I imagine it’s something like the feeling I get when I try to yawn and someone gets too close to me—a spur of asphyxiation. So I try to leave it alone, let it breathe hoping that one day when I’m 60 my skin will walk out into the world confidently, snapping back into itself at the slightest pinch.

I’m a strong believer that makeup ages the skin. Even the rosy reds that will make any lip pop like a ripe cherry can’t convince me of their prowess. The one time I did apply a red stain on my lips I couldn’t wait to get home and wash it off–I felt as if I was hiding behind them, like they were having the conversation while I stood by listening.

Between all of this, I know that I don’t have the skill to apply makeup the way some do. (Like the way my girl Gem artfully adds a little pep to any lucky gal who lets her have her way with their face.) I’ve had a few lucky moments with leopard print over my lids and a neat smokey eye but that about sums my portfolio.

I think makeup is lovely, I have no intention of ridding any of mine. But I can dream of  lavender and hibiscus petals gently pressed in a mortar and pestle to be applied to my lids or coconut oil, lightly rubbed onto my scalp, slowly evaporating in the sun. Or I could just go without anything at all and let my skin do what it needs to.

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