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Ruby Red Lashes and Plump, Curled Lips

Me: Hi. My name is Amy. I’m 42, and I have no idea how to apply make-up.

A sympathetic crowd of plain-faced peers: Hi Amy!

That is how I imagine my make-up ineptitude confession. Instead, girls with “smoky” lids stare at me quizzically, as if I just started reciting the Constitution in Tonganese.

I would describe my makeup style as “female softball player goes to prom.”  I put on lipstick – the same color and brand I’ve been using since high school. The one my mother tells me “makes my face.” I put on mascara, so that my eyes don’t completely blend into that face. I put on a little… whatchamacallit…  rouge? Is it rouge if it is compressed powder? Or is “rouge” just the liquid they used to rub into my seven year-old cheeks before I went to dance recital?  The stuff that made me look both blushing, and greasy, as if I had just run a marathon with only my cheeks?

I think what I use now is much more modern. I’ll call it “blush.”  But while we’re on the subject, should Cover Girl rose-colored compressed powder last for ten years?  How do they make any money? Mine must be that old, and is still half full.

My husband mentioned he thought it would be nice if my lips were a little shinier than the matte lipstick I’d been using. Since he is my fashion consultant, for the first time since I was twelve, I bought a wand lip gloss. Wand lip gloss was the last thing, other than the odd chicken wing, that I’d remembered making my lips shine.  I’d bought a similar wand while on vacation with a friend  in eighth grade. My friend was much more sophisticated than me. She wore Espirit, while I still shopped at something I think was called “The 7-8-9 Shop,” which, in retrospect, sounds like a terrible name for a store. Especially now, when what was a size seven then, is now a size four. Had that store made it out of the eighties, it would have had to change it’s name, or all the popular bulimic girls would have avoided it like the plague. And everyone knows, a fashion line just will not make it without the support of the popular bulimic girls.

When my friend bought that wand lip gloss, I thought it would behoove my dating life to do the same. At the time, “dating” meant nothing more than having someone to rock back and forth with to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Free Bird at a gym dance, like a couple of intertwined Frankensteins.  I didn’t think it would hurt to do that with shiny lips.

That evening, I stared into my friend’s mother’s portable lighted makeup mirror, and was so impressed with my shiny lips and swoopy, butane-traveling-curling-iron hair, that I took a picture of myself looking back at myself in the mirror. I still have the photo here, and I look at it anytime I have any inflated sense of ego:

You are a HUGE DORK, it says to me.

Good point, I say.

Wow. A picture of yourself in a mirror? Really? it says.

nuff said, I say.

I mean, I’ve seen some dorky stuff in my time, like that picture of you popping your collar next to your Camaro,  but, a picture of yourself in a mirror??!

Ok!!! I get it!!  For the love of all that is holy, LET IT GO!!!

If the picture wasn’t enough, I also have a very strong scent memory of that moment. That lip gloss smelled so much like strawberries it was like someone was holding my head down in jar of Smuckers.

The wand lip gloss I bought recently did NOT smell quite as much like strawberries as the one I had back in 1980. But the wand itself is killing me.  I keep accidentally trying to mascara my lips. But I have to do something. Now that I’m getting older, I’m starting to think maybe I can’t just jump out of bed and look like a fresh faced teen anymore, sans makeup.

My husband just read that last sentence over my shoulder and snort-laughed wine out of his nose, so I’m guessing I am correct in that assumption.

I mentioned my makeup issues offhandedly to my mother, and she ran out and bought me a makeup collection from Clinique that comes in a box with various eye shadows and liners. It has a slide out tray at the bottom with directions on it.  The other day, with its help, I did manage to do one good smoky eye. The other eye looked like I was Hilary Swank’s post ass-kicking stand-in double for Million Dollar Baby, but the other did look passable. I could have maybe played a Vietnamese hooker in Full Metal Jacket with the good eye. Maybe.

I have to be careful. I don’t want to have cheeks like stop signs. I don’t want to throw my head back in laughter only to have everyone stare at the sharp line where my smoother, tanner “face” ends and my neck begins. I don’t want use lip liner and end up looking like I’m trying to steal Joel Grey’s part in Chicago.  I’m hoping, maybe with some practice, I can use a little extra makeup here and there to grow old gracefully, and not end up looking like Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

I hope I can.

I am terribly afraid of clowns.

Amy Vansant

Amy Vansant

Author Amy Vansant enjoys long walks on the beach, anything to do with her Labradoodle Gordon and frantically getting nothing useful done.
Amy Vansant

29 Responses

  1. Abby

    I do mascara, sometimes eyeliner, chapstick and the same powder/foundation thing I’ve had for years. I have lipstick, but like you said, it’s the same one I’ve had since middle school. (I’m always drinking from a water bottle, so it’s just not practical.)

    Part of it is that I have no idea how to actually “apply” the stuff without looking like a transvestite hooker, but part of it is that I don’t see the point. It takes a lot of time and money to look “natural.” Good lord! I wandered into Sephora the other day and they had $22 lip gloss and $25 mascara. I’m pretty sure that if my $2 eye liner has lasted since high school and I haven’t been arrested for indecent facial exposure yet, it’s doing the job. That money could be spent on something important–like wine or KidFreeLiving.com T-shirts.

    In other words, I’m more likely to recite the Constitution in Tonganese than learn to apply fake eyelashes. Maybe that’s why I’m single. Anyway, good luck with your cosmetic journey!
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  2. BasiaVB

    The 80’s & 90’s were a rough time to grow up and for me it meant idolizing Kelly Bundy and using her as my styling mentor. This being said, I still have bleached blonde hair and bright, pouty lips at all times. But I have manged to take it easy on the hair spray and tamed the frizz a bit. I have chosen to abuse my hair with a curling iron and thankfully have patient people around me that stood by silently while I learned to use it. This took about 10 months. In the meanwhile, I rocked some rather interesting curls which I attempted to play off as ‘beachy curls’ a.k.a. very messy, looks like you went swimming on a windy day curls. Would have worked since I live near a beach but unfortunately, it was generally winter while I was learning. At any rate, a good mascara, a little ‘bare escentuals’ brand powder and a flattering blush will do on any day. L’oreal makes a lip gloss in a tube that you just squeeze out and apply that is amazing. Best Wishes!!!!!!!!

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    • Amy Vansant

      I have that Bare Essentials stuff now too… definitely makes me look less Kabuki than liquid, though I still only use it maybe once a year… it should probably last until I die.

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  3. Aimee

    “That lip gloss smelled so much like strawberries it was like someone was holding my head down in jar of Smuckers.” I about laugh-snorted breakfast out my nose. Thanks for that.

    I also don’t go for the clown paint. I’m 38. I think that part of my looking younger than my years is that I haven’t slathered that junk on my face daily like every other female I know. I have to be at work at 9, I get up at 8:15 and still manage to be presentable. I’ve been blessed, I have dark Italian coloring, so makeup is pretty much optional.

    I just never cared about hair and makeup. I’ve never played the typical female role well. I’ve been accused of being a lesbian just because I don’t wear makeup, do my hair, wear fancy clothes, or want kids. People are always shocked to find out that I’m not. In fact I don’t have many friends that are girls because I don’t do any of that stuff. I don’t have anything to relate to them. I have mostly guy friends…. and that doesn’t bother me 🙂

    Here, all this time, girls think that makeup attracts guys and most guys I know HATE lipstick. You want to attract guys? Talk about cars. Drive a hot rod. As for perfume, guys are more attracted to food smells than flower smells and more than anything are attracted to YOUR smell. Kinda like dogs like the smell of another dog’s …..

    ANYWAY. As usual, thanks so much for the laugh. We really need to get you syndicated. You should be paid and paid well for this humor.

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    • Abby

      “I just never cared about hair and makeup. I’ve never played the typical female role well. I’ve been accused of being a lesbian just because I don’t wear makeup, do my hair, wear fancy clothes, or want kids. People are always shocked to find out that I’m not. In fact I don’t have many friends that are girls because I don’t do any of that stuff. I don’t have anything to relate to them. I have mostly guy friends…. and that doesn’t bother me.”

      Aimee…let’s be friends. Seriously. (By the way, being friends with me does not require phone calls or any physical interaction. I’m low-maintenance.)
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    • Amy Vansant

      Hey, if you have a lead on syndication, I’m available! I’m a total boy-girl myself (clearly). I think my girl-boy husband wishes I was a LITTLE more girly, but I’ve mostly beat that out of him at this point.. at least you rock the natural tan. I’m like a the negative of a picture of you!

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  4. Basia

    Will you marry me?

    This is exactly how I feel about makeup. I have really terrible skin, so I’ve always used foundation, but the other stuff like mascara and lipstick and eye shadow have always been a mystery to me. I always said Justin Beiber knows more about makeup than I do! I’ve also been making an “effort” recently to look more “put together” (if we’re speaking Married With Children references, then I probably look more like Bud than Peg without anything on!) and I’ve gotten used to the mascara, but everything else has been a struggle. The first time I went to Sephora and asked the perky clown-faced lady to help me find a blush and show me how to apply it, she kept putting different ones on my skin ON TOP OF the previous ones and by the end of the experience, I looked like a sun-burned hooker. (I was meeting a friend right after, who told me the second she saw me that she noticed my blush from across the parking lot!!!) And don’t even get me started on eye makeup! I have no idea how anybody is able to apply eyeliner in a straight line, without it coming out like a giant squiggle across the entire lid, as opposed to just the bottom. And eye shadow? Really? I can’t even stay inside the lines in a coloring book – how am I supposed to color my lids (with all these crazy shading effects)? The only way I’ll ever get a smokey eye is if I put my face up to the BBQ.
    Basia recently posted..Dear boyfriend: A PMS apology letter

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    • Amy Vansant

      I’ll have to ask Mike about the marriage proposal… he’s cranky this morning so I might be available…
      Every girl I know looks pretty good in eyeliner. I don’t know how they do it. I look like someone gave my face to their toddler to draw on while they ran some errands.

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  5. sayali

    Lol. Great post. You look adorable in that picture.
    Word of advice though – You shouldn’t use such old cosmetics. By now, the lipstick is as good as a petridish in a micro-biology laboratory.

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  6. The Sweetest

    5 7 9- I remember that store! We also had something called “On Stage” that sold equally teenybopper clothes. As fro the makeup, I am a makeup hater. But I am aware that there are times when it is required. I have a Laura Mercier lipstick that is really just chapstick with color to it. it’s awesome. A very subtle shimmer and tint, but not sticky like lip gloss. For the cheeks, I use a Stila cheek color that is sort of like rough- it’s a compact, but it’s a creme, not a blush, I love it I just dab it with a makeup sponge and pat it on (no swiping) a little at a time until i have enough to look alive. For the bags I use a Laura Mercier under eye cover creme that comes in a tiny pot. A little goes a long way.
    The Sweetest recently posted..Summer of Sole

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  7. Lafemmeroar

    When I was 14, my mom was an Avon lady. The Avon catalog was my bible. They had a line called “ColorWorks” and while I wanted reds and blues my mom got me pinks and beige. Disappointed … but I packed on the color. My face was so thick with product that I could have planted potatoes in that field of make-up.

    As I got older I got lazier and lazier. Now I do powder by Mac, but for color I’ve been going au natural. I pinch my cheeks and bite my lips for a little color. It doesn’t last so I re-bite and re-pinch as needed.

    Love your pic … so cute.
    Lafemmeroar recently posted..Sex and the Freudian Slip

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    • Amy Vansant

      What’s the time limit on the “pinch”? I’m trying to bring back old timey words, you’re bringing back old timey customs!

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  8. Mona

    LOVE THIS! Shout out to your excellent 80’s bangs. My pride and joy were my bangs back then. they could stand 10 inches high and be rock steady in a wind storm *sniff* not gonna lie, I kinda miss them.

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    • Amy Vansant

      I can’t take credit for that. If you’re born in Jersey you have bangs that stand 10″ high at birth.

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  9. Catherine

    I sometimes have to dig deep to find a good thing about being unemployed but this one was easy- no make-up! I haven’t worn any in 6 months and could not be happier. My husband is probably feeling a bit punk’d since I’ve been employed since we met so he assumed that was my ‘natural’ look but screw him, he’s stuck with it.

    I was the opposite in highschool and even had the exact mirror in your photo (and I’m not too proud to admit it). I pretty much looked like Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver- makeup-wise that is (Catholic mother means I wore turtlenecks in July). Now I’m just too lazy.
    Catherine recently posted..What I Love This Week- Summertime Food

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    • Amy Vansant

      It IS july and I went to your blog and your photo is you in a turtleneck. That was pretty funny. 🙂

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      • Catherine

        OMG. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. You’re right. Damn my mother!

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  10. Sandra

    I shamefully admit that I’m dying to take a picture of myself in the mirror now!

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    • Amy Vansant

      I had to go get a photo taken recently so I took like 50 photos with the reverse iphone camera practicing… no shame there…

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  11. Melissa Hicks

    We are opposite in our make-up ineptitudes. I am scared of lipstick. It doesn’t matter if I buy it at the dollar store or pay $12, it only comes in two colors: whore, and the color my lips are already. I try not to look like a prostitute (mostly) and I feel wasteful wearing lip-shade lipstick.

    I love eyeliner, eyeshadow, and mascara though. Since I have glasses I think I need to use all three to make my eyeballs really shine. Sometimes I run out of eyeliner but it’s ok because I always have sharpies. Make sure your hand is really steady though because they aren’t kidding when they say “permanent.”

    I DO NOT use eyeliner on the bottom. This is dangerous and makes me cry.

    I know that there is other makeup, but I clearly don’t know how to use it. I get a slutty clown result, followed by a red and blotchy face from scrubbing result. I feel your pain…but not on my lips.
    Melissa Hicks recently posted..A Fiction: Independence

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    • Amy Vansant

      Sorry, I was going to reply to this but I’m still laughing at “two colors: whore, and the color my lips are already” and “I think I need to use all three to make my eyeballs really shine” and “They aren’t kidding when they say permanent” and … oh whatever – that was a funny fucking comment.

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  12. Mandi

    Hi. My name is Mandi. I’m 31 and still don’t know how to apply make-up either. I think when most normal girls spent hours of their junior high and high school lives practicing applying and reapplying make-up (and thus, the straight eye-liner-line) I was doing really nerdy stuff like reading classic novels and National Geographic magazine. This explains my social deficits as well. My mom keeps suggesting it will come easier as I get older, that soon I will wake up and actually want to spend time every day artfully coating my face…I guess I’m still not old enough yet. But after reading this blog and subsequent posts, 41 may not be old enough either. Thanks for the laughs this morning, my fresh-faced friends 🙂
    ps–I *loved* 5-7-9!!!

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  13. Amy Vansant

    I actually read the encyclopedia one summer for “something to do” so I totally understand the 7 levels of hell… I mean, dorkdom…

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  14. Diana

    Hi Amy, You aren’t alone in your geekiness. I must also confess that I’ve also taken a photo of myself after a particularly impressive makeup session when I was younger. Too bad I can longer find that photo. Thanks for keeping us humble.
    Diana recently posted..Learning Reiki

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