As a young lady I was obsessed with makeup. This was before it became common knowledge (as far as I’m aware) to contour and highlight and whatever else it is that you are supposed to do. No, this was the time of neon eyeshadows and plucked eyebrows, lip gloss and very questionable shades of blush. Put these tools in the hands of someone who had no idea what to do with them (*ahem*) and the results were quite something to behold. I still like makeup in the sense that I enjoy seeing people create masterpieces out of their faces and a few products – it’s incredible artistry and I appreciate the time, effort and money that goes into it. I just can’t do that for myself for three particular reasons.
Throughout my undergraduate year I lived with a truly gorgeous set of women. They were all stunning, and rocking up to the one of the three bars in my university town with these beauties guaranteed that I got in on the more comely friend pity card. I didn’t mind, Ontario winters are not good for lining up outside bars for hours as your buzz wears off. Perhaps I could have received the same attention as my friends did, but they were willing to go to great lengths for their nighttime look and I was not. You see, each and every one of them had to be told at least three hours before we were going out. They would then go through a whole routine that was elaborate and surprisingly synchronized; at times, frantic and fast-paced, at others, so still you could hear a pin drop (I assume they were putting on eyelashes, but that would only be a guess – it’s all still a mystery to me). I would slick on the eye shadow and eye liner, choose a rather alarming shade of lipstick, and then sit around getting sozzled on a cheap bottle of wine waiting to head on out.
Not much has changed. My husband takes longer to get ready than I do and he usually just changes his shirt. The reality is I simply don’t have the patience for the art of makeup. I thought about it, and I do not prioritize it in any way shape or form. The only time I will now wear makeup is when there is an event, and even then it is in miniscule proportions. My experience of watching the huge amount of time and effort put into these beautiful faces was fascinating to watch but I knew immediately that was not how I would choose to spend my time.
Fuck me, the amount of money that can be spent on beauty! I was recently in Toronto with a friend who wanted to stop in at Sephora, and I was shocked (I do my make up shopping about once every four years at a drug store – I know, I know, products expire, I’m gross, whatever, it works for me.) My friend bought two items, and the grand total was over $90. I don’t know if that was fair market price but regardless, nearly $100 for two tiny products hurt me right in my gut. She was extremely happy though, so to each their own!
In my teenage years my cousin worked at MAC in downtown Vancouver. One fateful day my mom decided to take my sister and I on a trip to town for some lunch and shopping, and she decided to drop into MAC to say hi. At 14 years old it is incredibly difficult to ignore the lure of the colourful display of eyeshadows – within two minutes I had managed to pick out multiple favourites and begin hatching schemes on how to afford them. My cousin gave me her 30% off staff discount, and I walked out with my first of many, many eye shadow palettes. All in all I probably spent about $400 in eyeshadow over two years, meticulously choosing palettes that had two “subtle” colours and two outrageously bright ones. I would wear the makeup everyday and loved the compliments (I’m willing to bet most of them were some form of dare, as no one ever truly looked good caked in neon yellow eyeshadow with zero blending).
However, $400 is a lot of money for a teenager, one who only worked part time at McDonald’s. Sometimes I like to imagine that I continued on my make up journey and managed to figure out my look – and then I realize that I would have spent thousands upon thousands of dollars to get there. Going back to my friend in Toronto: she loves her makeup and would gladly spend money on it. It’s one of her priorities, and she’s budgeted for it. For me, it’s an area where I save huge amount of money and I cannot bring myself to purchase anything over a $10 price tag, because it’s not a priority and I won’t use it more than a dozen times in a year.
As a lover of non-fiction books I often peruse dark corners of the library, searching for any topics under the sun that tickle my fancy. I pulled out a great one, Slow Death by Rubber Duck, by Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie, and set about reading it over the weekend. Once I hit the part about lead and horse urine in every day beauty products, I’d had enough. I’m not a die hard environmentalist (though I’d love to be) and I’m well aware that it’s impossible to avoid all these synthetic toxins we’ve cooked up, but I feel better knowing I’m not putting them on my face every day. That’s a part of it that I can control, and to me it’s better than nothing. Plus my face doesn’t break out, ever, so there’s that as well.
So there you have it. My non-existent beauty regime saves me time, money and chemical exposure. As I boldly march out of the house every morning I am most comfortable showing my face just as it is; it’s now been so long since I’ve worn a full face of makeup that I’d feel far more self-conscious than if I kept my face bare. To all you makeup peeps out there: keep doing what you’re doing! You’re creating beauty and happiness for so many people, and this is not a post against that. Just please, PLEASE, do not bankrupt yourself as you continue on your journey.