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Who’s That Girl?
May 27th, 2010 by Christina

I try to steer clear of whining about the physical decline inherent in midlife, because it’s so cliche.

Me, formerly flawless and well-lit.

But I recently experienced a moment of reckoning in a fitting room at Lord & Taylor, where I was all alone with fluorescent lighting and a three-way mirror. There was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. My 46-year-old self stared back at me in all directions. Who knew I had a little pouchy chin thing, plus the beginnings of the weirdness that happens to one’s neck–not to mention less-than-taut upper arms? Not me. Until then.

I walked out of L&T dazed and confused, and without having purchased anything. (I might have bought something had the lighting been less brutal. Seriously–has no one done market research and found that women will buy things if the dressing rooms are designed to flatter, not to appall??)

In my disoriented, highly vulnerable state, I wandered into one of the three Sephora stores near my office. (There seems to be a 1:1 ratio of Sephora to Starbucks stores lately.)

I’ve worn makeup since I was in junior high school, back when my skin was a creamy, smooth blank slate, open to subtle enhancement via a bottle of Maybelline Kissing Potion roll-on lip gloss and a streak of eyeliner inside the lower lids (remember that technique, gals my age?) A spritz of Love’s Baby Soft and I was good to go.

Now, at my advanced age, enhancement is the least of it. Correction is what it’s about, and Sephora is all over that, with displays devoted to wrinkle fillers, concealers, and the newest word in corrective makeup: Primers. These are all designed to bring your face back to a flaw-free baseline so that it can receive the more frivolous embellishments like eyeshadow and lipstick.

It seemed exciting at first, to think I could erase all my facial flaws simply by purchasing a few tubes and jars, but I soon experienced what I call the orange-juice dilemma, which goes like this: When I was a girl there was one kind of orange juice. From concentrate, period. Now, you can choose from OJ with some pulp, no pulp, a little pulp, tons of pulp, with calcium, without acid, with other kinds of juices, etc. Should you want no pulp, yet tons of calcium, or a little pulp with a soupcon of pineapple juice, you are screwed. It is truly panic-inducing (or is it just me?) and I often find it easier to go without OJ than be forced to prioritize like that.

With the face-fixers, it’s the same thing. Sure, you can have a perfect face, if you can decide which flaw to prioritize. Wrinkles? Redness? Age spots? Crepey eyelids? Dark circles? Shrinking lips? Acne scars? Oily skin? Dry skin? No skin? No one product seems to do it all, yet the time and money commitment involved in covering even a few bases seems mind-boggling.

I decided to start small, with a concealer that has two components. The first one “neutralizes” discoloration and the second layer does, um… something else. I forgot what, exactly, but I know it works because it cost $28, not including the special brush, which was only half that price.

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6 Responses  
Laura Buchholz writes:
May 27th, 2010 at 1:21 pm

First of all, nuh-uh with the scary I’m-getting-old thing. Please. I see you.

Second of all, yes to the disoriented, vulnerable state. Hilarious. I know that well.

Sephora–you have to know exactly what you want going in, or you’re in trouble. Esp. if vulnerable.

Christina writes:
May 27th, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Nuh-uh, we’re not playing this game, she who is much younger than I. Talk to me in a decade or so, baby face.

Jessica writes:
May 27th, 2010 at 5:49 pm

I so remember the eyeliner inside the lower part of the eye! I myself was very fond of the blue (deep sparkly blue) kohl eyeliner. Boy did I feel ready to party with that on with a vintage cocktail dress, colored tights and big geometric earrings. LOL!

Christina writes:
May 27th, 2010 at 6:32 pm

OMG–yes, Kohl was the big thing. I am suddenly flashing back to Madeline Mono brand kohl eyeliner–purchased at Gimbel’s East, along with a big ol’ Bonne Bell Dr. Pepper Lip Smacker that you hung around your neck.

Joanne Gallo writes:
May 28th, 2010 at 6:32 am

You know I understand…

Do you remember Stagelight? Purple Passion eyeliner. I think I find myself in Sephora partly so I can gaze at all the bright colors and pretend I’m going to the Palladium Friday night. And to find the perfect primer…

Ricki writes:
May 31st, 2010 at 6:33 pm

I had the same experience this weekend looking for a bathing suit at Bon Ton (ugh!) — O-M-G — I was flabbergasted, shocked and felt utterly defeated. It’s definitely an uphill battle. All this work – a lifetime of working-out, aerobics, yoga, weights, pilates – and what do I have to show for it? A whole lot of bumps and bulges and fleshy flesh! It was so harsh! The only good thing I could take from it was, it’s still early enough in the season to stop eating! Then we went to family with a POOL> Oh lord! A day sweatin’ it out, melting around a pool, simply feeling fat. And the water was too cold for me to go in, so I couldn’t even hide under water. Not to mention the 16 year old and 14 year old with perfect bodies. Now that’ sick! I’m sick! How could I have let this patriarchal, misogynistic culture-bullshit get to me, get inside me so? Here I am 45, (feminist!) and I’m looking at the 14 and 16 year olds with the “perfect bodies” because that’s what they show on the billboards and in the magazines (not that I read any of those magazines, I don’t)….It’s so sad. Meanwhile, I managed not to eat today, minus breakfast, lunch, and a cheeseburger with sweet potato fries for dinner! As far as Sephora, I’ve discovered the hard way that nothing is a miracle gel. But if you find one that even comes close, PLEASE TELL ME!!! (And if you don’t tell me, I will see it and force it out of you! :) ).

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