Dixie Peach: Skin Deep

Cooler than the other side of the pillow.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Skin Deep

I have always had a fascination with cosmetics. From the time I knew what they were, I wanted to have them. I don't get this from my mother. She never was more than a powder and lipstick sort of lady - maybe a little rouge if it was a special occasion (by the way, at what point did we stop calling it rouge and start calling it blush?). I don't get it from my sister either. She took after my mom and seldom wore anything but lipstick until she got into her 30s. The person who gave me my love of makeup is my Aunt Cora. When I was little I loved to sit and watch her make up her face. Foundation, powder, eye liner and mascara, rouge and ending it all with the deep red lipstick she favored back in the 60s. I loved her collection of makeup and creams and lotions and perfumes and wanted them for myself. All those tubes and bottles and jars that would transform you into something gorgeous. They seemed like magic potions to me.

When I was thirteen and in the seventh grade I began to experiment with makeup myself. I didn't think my mother would let me wear it yet so I didn't even ask her for it but instead began borrowing makeup from friends in school. Lip gloss and eyeshadow - nothing that couldn't be washed off quickly as soon as I got home from school. This went on for a few month and then one day my mother came home from shopping and surprised me with makeup for my own. I remember very clearly what she gave me. Revlon Touch-And-Glow liquid foundation, a pot of Max Factor periwinkle blue cream eyeshadow, some Bonne Bell Lip Smackers lipgloss and a tube of Max Factor mascara. No powder and no blush but pretty soon I added those to my stash and I began pouring over copies of Seventeen magazine to learn what was new and how to put on makeup in the right way.

I soon became one of those girls who didn't go anywhere without wearing makeup. Pretty much the only activities I did makeup free were swimming and sleeping and if I could have worn makeup while swimming I would have. I remember my late 70s look - painfully thin eyebrows, eyeshadow to match my eyes, meaning only blue, heavy blush and really glossy lips. Lips so glossy it looked like I'd just finished eating an extremely greasy pizza.

By the time I reached college I had my makeup application routine down to a science and could slap on a full face in under ten minutes. Not such a unique trick at my small Southern university where girls were known to put on full makeup and set their hair in hot rollers before going to do their laundry. You just never knew who might have the washer next to yours.

When I entered the working world it was the early 80s and my makeup matched. Glossy lips were replaced by strong matte lipsticks and making the smokey, smoldering eyes look was my specialty. I look at pictures of me from back then and am amazed at the amount of eyeliner that I wore. It was the time of big hair and you had to have the big makeup to match.

By the time I left work for good and moved to Germany my makeup had toned down to match the times and I had to make another change. I went from going to a job each day to staying home every day and it seemed unnecessary and even a bit wasteful to wear a full compliment of makeup. I'd also reached the age where too much makeup makes one look like one is trying too hard to look like a teenager. I then went on my quest to find just the right makeup for me and it's taken me years to find what I like. I've finally whittled down my makeup routine to just using a light powder foundation, eyebrown pencil, eyeliner pencil, mascara and lipstick. If I'm going somewhere I'll add blush and eyeshadow as well. I don't have to do this. I could probably get along fine without any makeup at all since most days I don't venture off any farther than the end of my block. And while B likes my makeup, he likes me without it as well and leaves the question of whether or not to use it completely up to me.

But I can't break the habit. I love the routine of putting on each cosmetic. I love how I feel brighter and cheerier if I'm made up. It makes me feel connected to my other friends who adore makeup as much as I do and don't find it a bit strange that I can't seem to pass a collection of lipsticks without buying one. It makes me feel like I wanted to feel all those years ago when I would watch Aunt Cora transform herself with just a few little bottles and jars of magic potions. It doesn't make me a better person or more worthy. That sort of thing takes more than just makeup. All it does is give me a bit of frivolous happiness and feeling happy is worthwhile.

Aunt Cora turns seventy-five this weekend. She's still beautiful and she still loves all the girly-girl cosmetics. In fact that's what I sent her for her birthday - beautiful, fragrant lotions and creams. More magic.


Blogger LeaderOfMyPack said...

I love makeup. My downfall is mascara and lipstick. I am no good at buying it though. I cannot tell you how many lipsticks I have sitting in my drawer because they don't look good on me.

And yet I can't throw them away! They might look good on someone!

12:19 AM  
Blogger Dixie said...

My current quest is to find a mascara that doesn't make my lashes all clumpy and doesn't smear and make you look like a raccoon after an hour.

12:33 AM  
Anonymous shimala said...

From one makeup ho' to another, I feel ya, Dix! Ironically, while waiting for a prescription to be filled not an hour ago I happened upon a clearance bin of lipsticks. We're not talking el cheapo, cakey gross Wet 'N Wild stuff either...girl, they had Max Factor for $3 and a Cover Girl plumping and moisturizing line I simply ADORE for $2!! TWO DOLLARS! WHO does that???

Hog Heaven, I tell ya. I almost forgot about about my prescription! But I am 7 gorgeous, silky, wonderful shades richer. Touch me!

Love your blog, Kim, I've had it bookmarked for over a year now. Wonderful reading!

Hugs to you and B,

12:33 AM  
Blogger Dixie said...

Shimtastica, you made my day. Love ya to little bitty pieces, sugar.

12:36 AM  
Blogger LeaderOfMyPack said...

My current favorite mascara = Loreal Voluminous. I don't have a problem with smearing, and it doesn't clump. (that doesn't stop me from buying different ones to try though)

12:43 AM  
Blogger Carol said...

I think my daughters have sold me on "Bare Minerals" make-up. Heard of it? Great stuff!

And by the way, why can't I subscribe to a feed for your blog??


12:59 AM  
Blogger Mr. Fabulous said...

I looked and looked and searched and searched and I could not find an ounce of testosterone in this post :)

1:01 AM  
Blogger Dixie said...

Carol, I've heard of Bare Minerals but I've never seen it for sale here. I'm using Estee Lauder Double Wear powder makeup and like it a lot.

Gah. I have no idea why you can't subscribe to a feed from my blog because to be quite honest, I have never figured out how that even works.

Mr. Fab - Yeah, it's all girly stuff but you know you're tempted to try on just a little flick of mascara. Just to bring out your pretty, pretty eyes.

1:09 AM  
Blogger Katya said...

My daughter will be 13 in December. I'm asking this question as a person who has never worn makeup -- is that a good age for girls to start wearing makeup? She loves makeup and I have refused to let her wear it? Would this be a good time for me buy her some makeup of her own for her birthday?

3:16 AM  
Blogger Hilda said...

Dixie - My makeup history is very similar to yours.

My mother first allowed me to wear makeup when I was 13. I was allowed baby blue eye shadow (shudder!), a little blush and lightly tinted lip gloss - preferably flavored. I didn't really need mascara because my eye lashes (at the time) were very long, curled and dark.

In college I perfected the tri-colored eye shadow, I would wear all sorts of fashionable combinations of colors. Anything but baby blue! I graduated to eyeliner - always pencil, usually black - as well as lipstick, usually reds and wines. Never pastels, as they look god-awful on me. This is also when I discovered the *trick* of sucking in your cheeks and adding a darker shade of blush to the hollows created - that was supposed to accentuate your cheekbones.

Once I started working and was into my twenties I would wear full makeup every day - including eye shadow, not three colors anymore, just the one unless I was going out to a party or a club, then I would apply the main eye shadow and an accent color.

As I got older I wore less makeup. Now I barely wear makeup at all. On a daily basis for work or on casual weekend outings I wear medium tone face powder, dark rose blush, Lancome (only Lancome) Black Ebony eye liner - lapis if I'm wearing blue - mascara and wine colored lip tint. If going out for a very special occasion I'll wear black eye shadow with gold accent under the eye brow, and a darker colored lipstick.

Oh yeah, and my lipstick is always matte, never frosted. When I'm feeling particularly feisty I'll wear what I call "puta red" (puta is slang for prostitute in Spanish - LOL) lipstick.

I had my makeup professionally done for my wedding - the most makeup I've ever worn! My eyes were lined with white eyeliner (it looked much, much better than it sounds), shades of brown eyeshadow, medium toned foundation (which I *never* wear -too hot in Miami), and a brownish burgundy lipstick. I swear I could feel the makeup's weight on my face, but it did photograph really well. the first thing I did when we got to the bed and breakfast we stayed at for our wedding night was wash all the makeup off!

5:38 AM  
Blogger Miz said...

My brother and I were allowed to get our Christmas stockings early in the AM and take them back to our rooms until Mom and Dad got up.
I remember my 13th Christmas as the make-up Christmas. That pot of teal blue frost eyeshadow, the bonnybell lip gloss and the blue mascara. I spent the early morning hours perfecting the "look".
You should have seen my Dads face when his "Ho" daughter greeted him at Christmas breakfast! It was hard to tone that stuff down!

6:09 AM  
Anonymous Belinda said...

I've never been a girl that was facinated with make-up. I consider myself lucky if I actually brush my hair at some point. I shower everyday and wash my hair, but I don't blow just gets tied into a little Zopf and that's it. Even when I was in high school and all the girls were wearing make-up I just never got into it. I just hate the way it feels on my face. I'm quite active and I tend to sweat a lot so make-up isn't really functional. Plus, I figure I may as well let people see me lolol scary as that may be ;)

9:00 AM  
Blogger Ginnie said...

For someone who doesn't usually wear any makeup whatsoever (moi), except when meeting someone for the first time (you) or on special occasions (when it's only mascara), I read every word of this post! If that doesn't say something about the brilliant way you write, Dixie, what does!

3:41 PM  
Blogger cncz said...

Love this post, I am so with you. I love my makeup and so happy now that I have my routine. Even when I am not working, I have a routine. A little bit of sheer blush and powder but still a routine. Just to feel not scary ugly.
Also, I have to say, I know of The Perfect Mascara and it is not to be had in Europe. It is however, to be had in the US and I plan on stocking up in a few weeks because my forays into European mascara have sadly failed. Almay waterproof in the solid silver container. I started wearing it in high school and stopped because I wanted to wear "expensive" mascara. The only expensive one that sort of worked was Nars. Do you like black or brown? And for a waterproof it washes off easily (smear a little nivea cream on it).

5:49 PM  
Blogger Dixie said...

I probably will never give up my makeup routine but when I know I'm not going out anywhere I do it light - just powder, not even my powder foundation but regular pressed powder (I like Shiseido because it's very fine), eyebrow pencil, mascara and sheer lipstick. I will probably never go back to liquid foundation ever again.

Katya, even though I wore makeup at 13 I don't think 13 year olds need as much makeup as I did. I'd suggest for your daughter just a nice pressed powder, mascara and a sheer lipstick or tinted lipbalm. When she gets older, maybe when she's 14, you can move up to adding blush and eyeshadow. I don't care for liquid eyeliner on teens and I'd suggest a good liner pencil. I think she should look natural, just enhanced.

I'm glad others wore that crazy ass bright eyeshadow as a teenager like I did.

cncz - I have red hair and probably should wear brown mascara but I can't seem to break the black habit. Thanks for the tips!

9:33 PM  
Blogger Katya said...

Thanks, Dix: she's been asking for makeup for forever and I've been clueless about it being one of these people who take baths and wash my hair but don't touch the makeup.

9:53 PM  
Blogger sari said...

Happy Birthday, Aunt Cora!!

I love Aunt Cora stories.

4:10 AM  
Blogger Sam B said...

What a great post Dixie - I love your writing. Happy Birthday to Aunt cora too.

Now, on the subject of cosmetics, I too had a mother who never wore make up. It took me a while to get "into it" too but now I am obsessed with all things girlie! To turn things around, my mother has no started showing an interest in these things and is always dipping in my things to "just have a look!"

10:02 AM  
Anonymous pkb said...

Happy Birthday sweet Aunt Cora. Who is quite possibly the most put-together person on the face of this entire earth!

I, too, have loved make up my entire life. The smell, texture, color, blending, applying, layering, organizing my make up bins, cleaning all the bottles and cases is like therapy to me. I have always said my favorite part of the day is drying my hair and putting on my make up.

My fondest memories with my friends is when we all gathered in the bathroom and shared make up and hair secrets and tips.

I can never get enough of it.

3:56 PM  
Anonymous Lorrie said...

Happy Birthday to Aunt Cora....wishing her many more years of fired pickles and hushpuppies...mmmmm

Makeup, what's that? mean it's more than just chap stick? Dix (and other), I am in awe of your makeup routines.

11:39 PM  

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