Makeup or Breakup?

My story begins as a beginning actor. Maybe it started before then. My mother was not a believer of makeup and felt that makeup was a mask and she never said it in an admiring light, it always sounded like “fake” or “misleading” and something that good girls simply didn’t do.

My first crush on makeup was at first on perfume. One of my first memories was of my mother’s Chanel black container spray bottles which she kept and treasured for many years, lined on her bureau or in front of a mirror where she worked her magic by plucking her eyebrows or just smelling fantastic.

Chanel Number 5, Number 19…I don’t know how many numbers she had but she had quite a number of bottles, and I remember her saying there were different numbers. Her jewelry box which held all kinds of sparkly colorful treasures — it didn’t occur to me that some of it was costume, I thought it was all beautiful and glamorous. I wondered if this was what it meant to be a girl, a woman, all these mysterious things, heeled shoes, perfume, clothing…it was all very mysterious, another world.

In grade school I wanted a grape smelling flavored lip gloss. With a roller ball, it was encased in glass. The ball was cooling and rolled easily, slicking on that delicious smelling sweet tasting (like grape!) gloop across my lips. I thought I looked grown up and glamourous.

It was the first and only time I actually begged for a piece of makeup. I reasoned it wasn’t colorful (it was pretty clear no matter how much I slicked on) and I reasoned it would keep my lips from chapping. “There’s ChapStick!” mom retorted.

But then…I didn’t ask for much. She finally gave in, but not before warning me of the dangers of makeup — that it was a mask, that it hid what a person truly was, and in many ways, she was right. But is makeup evil? Does it “hide” evil? Not in the supernatural sense.

High school found me in a rebellious everything black mode, black combat boots, black tights, black floating long skirts and black tshirts and tops. The only color indulgence? Red lipstick. It had to be blue red, fire engine red, dark cherry red. My mother hated it. “It’s like you’re wearing blood your lips! NO color anywhere, why don’t you wear something cheerful? Why black all the time?” Or flannel. I had a flannel lumberjack shirt that I loved to death. Wore with black opaque tights/fishnets, black socks and black combat boots. My mother would mutter I wasn’t dressing very girly, well, that only made me happy. And the lipstick I bought with my own money because at this time I was working. My clothes, shoes and lipstick were from my hard earned retail job money, so I would spend it my way as I wanted. It was as rebellious as it got.

Years later, when I ventured into doing background work, I found myself in a makeup artist’s chair, where I was being given a quick lesson on concealers, primers, eyeshadow, and yipes, eyelash curlers. GOD I HATE eyelash curlers! I just don’t like anything in my eye or coming at my eye. Curlers seemed so UNNATURAL, and reminded me of those contraptions you see at the GYN office. Gave me the creeps.

Still. I would show up for work on time, change of outfits clean and ready, but fresh faced, not a drop of makeup, with clean unadorned hair, ready to be made up into makeup magic time. I had a really fun time with the costume changes, the hair dos they would create on me (the over the top beehive for a Roman wedding scene is one of my particularly fond memories) and most especially the makeup. I would ask the artists what I should use for my skin tone, from color correcting to oil versus water makeup foundation, to eyeshadow and what was my skin tone for concealers and the like. Most were obliging and very kind to give me any little tips I could find useful.

One told me right off DO NOT use Pantene for the hair. I remember thinking but Pantene gets pushed all the time, and so many celebrities endorse it! So one day I said what I was thinking, and the hair stylists explained that the product used to “tame” the hair actually coats and weighs the hair too much and is useless to style especially for fine hair. “I don’t know what it is,” admitted more than one frustrated hair stylist, “but I hate it! You can’t style with it! It won’t hold! I wish you girls would STOP using it!”

So I stopped using it. I would ask what shampoos they would use, what hair sprays would benefit someone with fine wavy hair. Most would work magic on my hair and I would look like a totally new person. A couple were, well, outright duds. As a hair stylist, you need to know how to work with more than just thick luxurious hair that doesn’t overcurl or undercurl. You have to make hair look healthy and beautiful and styled — that is your job.

Luckily, the duds were very very few, maybe two. The rest were just fantastic and talented and were true artists.

One day a makeup artist said to me “You have fabulous skin.” And I went “Thank you” and they asked what was my secret. “I don’t wear makeup.” I replied. The makeup artist worked on me, and said, “That’s fine not to wear but when you are working, you need to put on something. Being an actor means this is part of the tools of your trade. You take acting lessons, you learn how to work on a set. You learn your lines. This is part of being an actor. But there’s other stuff too. You should know how to do your face because your face is your calling card too.”

And that’s when I woke up to learning the power of makeup.

As time went on, I stumbled onto YouTube videos — I was looking for a way to showcase my hazel eyes and had no idea how to do it. I readily admit I put makeup on like an eight year old, I didn’t know about blending or shading. When I would see what others looked like and tried to replicate it I looked like a sad raccoon.

It would be a case of slowly learning, of hits and misses.

The first video I came across was from StillGlamourous, who came up in a search for “how to enhance hazel eyes” ( and it was (pardon the expression) an eye opening experience. After watching her video, I went to buy the hazel eyes collection called Enhancing Eyes Palette “Gorgeous Green Eyes” and started to play around with the colors. I didn’t have any brushes, so used whatever came with the original palette along with my fingers to blend. I had not heard of eyelid primer, so I just put it on fresh clean eyelids. I made the effort NOT to rub my eyes or the area around my eyes as I didn’t have the know how or savvy to “set” my eyemakeup.

Oh how much I’ve grown from that initial experience! And still have a LOOONNNNG way to go!


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