Wednesday, September 17, 2008

This Is Your Brain on Lipstick

All the recent furor about pigs and pit bulls in lipstick just made me think that it isn't fair to the animals, unless the lipstick is meat-flavored. Also, what would be a good lipstick color for a tan pit bull?

I really love lipstick, especially classic red shades, as I've mentioned before, and have always been fascinated by the transformative power of makeup. When I was in eighth grade, my friend Ruth plucked my eyebrows (or at least tried - they were far too thick for her to have much effect), slathered sparkly green shadow over my lids, and applied pink lip gloss. It was the first time I'd ever seen myself in it, and even though I now know that the colors were all wrong for me, I enjoyed looking different.

At 19, I got a job at Macy's Herald Square, working at the brand new Stagelight cosmetics counter on the fifth floor - then a sparkly disco line, now a drugstore brand if you can even find it. I took training classes before I started, and found that I loved doing makeup and had an aptitude for it (and was a heckuva saleswoman), putting wild stripes on people's eyelids and using easy tricks to make them look better.

Makeup is the key to the kind of movie-star glamour I adore. But I save the red lipstick and the strong eyeliner for evening. The key to looking good every day is well-applied concealer, a light hand with color (on me, a little color goes a very long way), and frequent reapplication of powder (I like MAC Studio Fix in NC15) and a lip color a little bit darker than my natural shade (for me, that's a medium plum, though for years I've been trying to find the perfect combination of color, shine, staying power and taste, since I do like to get kissed).

However, when I'm in a hurry I don't have a problem leaving my house with nothing on my face at all (except sunblock during the day, always). And I've decided, since our culturally engineered expectations are now that women should look the way they do when they have "natural" makeup on, that wearing no makeup in public - and thinking you look good that way - is actually the ultimate vanity.


(Vintage Max Factor ad found at Lulu's Vintage.)

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