Have you noticed all the information on makeup and facial care that’s coming out of the media these days?
You pick up any magazine (well, maybe not Hot Rod Weekly) and they have an article on how to put that makeup on and look as though a pancake applicator has never touched that fresh, dewy face.
What’s the point? If it doesn’t look as though I’ve spent hours in front of the mirror trying to attain that plastered-wall smoothness, why have I wasted my time?
I learned to put my makeup on from my mother. I can remember her dressing table with the tubs of wrinkle cream and foundation, the tiny little jars of rouge of every hue.
There was “daylight blush” for that ” you’ve been out in the sun just long enough to get a little color” look. There was “dynamite” to show that you were in a temper and might be in the mood for a little romance — but there was nothing that said “dewy innocence.”
No “fresh face, no makeup need be applied.” Nada. The foundation was light, as Mama was very fair-skinned (as am I) and by light I mean in color, not in texture.
The foundation actually had a small triangular little doohickey that you used to spread the thick goo on your face…sort of like a trowel…then you spread it out with your fingers into your hair line, down under your chin to the throat — if not, you were in danger of looking like one of those Japanese wall masks that were in vogue a few years ago.
I can remember approaching Mama’s dressing table with something akin to fearful awe. This is where “Mama put her face on.”
I heard Daddy say “don’t bother Mama, she’s putting her face on” so much that in nightmares Mama would appear faceless. No eyes, no mouth no nose…just a white blur.
One day, I sat on the edge of her bed and watched the master at work. Her face was pretty to start with, but she had a smattering of freckles across her nose (as I do…Mac loves my freckles) that she attempted to banish nearly every day of her life. I watched as she examined her face that morning, turning it this way and that, lifting her chin, taking three fingers of hand and using the topside of those fingers, began tapping on the skin beneath her chin.
I asked her what she was doing. She told me she was trying to beat back time, and laughed. Her laugh was like the tinkling glass of a wind chime, and I can hear it now, in my mind. She picked up a jar of something called “Disappearing Cream.” I watched in rapt attention to see if anything on her face disappeared from sight. But no, her skin just glistened a bit.
Then she lightly patted at her face with a tissue before lifting up the little trowel and dipping it into the jar of foundation. She put six blobs of a pale beige goo on her face. One in the middle of her forehead, two on each cheek, one blob on her chin and two on either side of her throat.
Then she picked up a little white sponge (in a jar of many little white sponges) and began to smooth the foundation over her face, up into the hairline, up her throat. At this point she stopped and said, “notice I’m drawing the sponge in upward strokes…this is supposed to help keep the skin from sagging down…which is just a fairy tale that I’m afraid to go against,” and she laughed.
She picked up a little compact that held different colors of eye shadow, and picked one to apply. Then she took the mascara from the small drawer in the dressing table. I watched her apply it, her mouth making an “O” of surprise, one eye closed as she applied it to the other. When she was finished, she took a powder puff and lightly dipped it into some loose face powder, shook off the excess and lightly went over her face to “seal it.”
She then removed the pins from her hair and combed it out, put in a clip or two, picked up a can of Adorn Hairspray (the precursor of Freeze Spray) and sealed her hair in place, too.
And finally, she picked up a tube of “Fire Engine Red” lipstick and applied it lightly to her lips. She was beautiful. (To see a picture of Mama, she’s on the sidebar with her beloved Shelties.)
All this took about 45 minutes and the fact that I could sit still that long just shows the amazement that captured my attention for the rest of my life. I now knew the secrets of “putting on your face.” I never forgot them.
At one time, it was a routine I went through every morning of my life. I often arose before Mac to “put on my face” (as though the face that lay beneath the makeup was so repulsive he might turn away in horror at the nakedness of it!). But then one day I was telling a friend about my morning ritual and she nearly had a stroke laughing.
At first my feelings were a little hurt, but she assured me that was not her intention. She put her arm around my shoulder and said “Wake up, girl, it’s the ’70s, women are burning their bras and throwing out their makeup! Get with the program!”
OK, so I got with the program…slowly. This was a ritual so firmly ingrained in me that it was hard to go cold turkey. I weaned myself off the makeup mornings a little at a time.
Then one morning at breakfast, Mac ran his finger down my nose and smiled. “Hey, I didn’t know you had freckles, ” he said. “Imagine that.”
Sandi McBride is a resident of Jefferson who blogs regularly and enjoys her garden and her furry and feathered friends. She is a wife and mother of two sons.