MIRROR, MIRROR

I read in the Sunday papers that the ‘no make up’ look is becoming very fashionable. Apparently there was a phase of taking ‘selfies’ with no make-up. I haven’t worn make up for years – apart from (generally red) lipstick.

I used to regard it as ‘war paint’. I would put it on when I was engaging in a stressful situation, and at work. So I saw it as a distancing technique: it put a barrier between you and everything else and putting it on was like a mental exercise of getting on your armour.

I just gradually stopped using it. It’s much quicker – MUCH quicker – to be ready if you don’t have to perform that ritual. I didn’t like the feel of it on my skin. Although I was careful to use unperfumed varieties, even they had a faint scent, which I disliked.

It was always interesting to observe other women without their make-up. Some people put on their make up before they emerge from their bedroom. Travelling with a very fair friend, I was astonished at the huge difference in appearance between her unmade up self (very pale, eyebrows and eyelashes looking bleached, washed out appearance – not unattractive in itself but very different from her normal public style) and what I had thought was ‘her’. As I am dark, there’s not huge difference between my un-made up and made-up look.

Another problem that I have in relation to make-up, is that I despise the industry. Make-up is basically paint; you need to make sure it’s not harmful. I have done none of the things the cosmetics industry would recommend: I don’t moisturise, or wear expensive creams. I don’t use soap or any product on my face but just rinse it in tepid water. (When you do wear make up of course you have to remove it with a cleansing cream: tepid water would not suffice.) I suppose you could argue that I’ve been genetically fortunate and inherited good skin, (the women of the Western Isles were famous for their beautiful skin, and this is probably because they ate a lot of fish and the air was perpetually moist from Atlantic storms!) but I wonder if the loading it up with all that stuff is not in itself bad for it? I think the claims made for face creams are an insult to a woman’s intelligence. Best for you skin would be a) to be lucky in what you inherit; b) to eat well; c) to have a tranquil spirit.

Anyway, I dislike being ‘fashionable’, so I decided I would fish out my makeup box and see what it contained – bought for some reason about ten years ago, but I didn’t take up the habit again.

I haven’t forgotten how to do it. I stand at the mirror above the sink, as I always did. Foundation. I’ve got Clarins in a tube. I squeeze out a small blob, dab it on in spots with a finger, smooth it out with both hands, and take a tissue and wipe at least half of it off. Then I look at the powdered eye shadows – Rimmel or some equally cheap brand. I’m wearing a citrus yellow with black at my neck and I decide on grey. My eyes are somewhat hooded, so not a lot of it will show, but I apply it and again wipe it off. Luckily I’m in a point of my day when my hand is quite steady, so I apply the black eyeliner from above the middle of my eye to the edge. The shape of the right eye – which I always do first – is easier to draw round than the left. I use the tip of the black mascara brush to stroke the edges of my lashes, top and bottom. As I do this, I think of the ladies of Egypt, who also went through this ritual with eye painting. Then I pick out a powdered rouge, and apply a brush of it to my cheek bones, and wipe most of it off. Finally, I apply a deep pink lipstick.

I stand back and consider the result critically and am reminded of Picasso’s painting of a woman looking in her mirror and realise that a woman examining her reflection has an expression she probably never wears at any other time.

It looks OK. More wrinkles than when I last did it. More formal, perhaps I remember how when I was 17 and with the dewy complexion of youth, I wouldn’t have gone as far as the garden gate without full make up! But this didn’t take too long. I might keep this habit, until make up becomes ‘fashionable’ again.

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About adhocannie
I am a good natured woman with a long memory and a swift tongue. I like loooking at things and thinking about them. Also food, clothes, travel, reading, sewing. I try to see the ridiculous in things, but sobriety of reflection keeps edgting in. I have husband, children, grandchildren, friends... I feel rich in things that matter. I am a happy exile. I like writing. I do not like talking about me (though I do.). You willl be much more interesting.

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