Comments in a recent post I made about shopping my own stash made me think about when my obsession over beauty products truly started--as in, how did it get to the point I had to even consider shopping from my own "collection," a word that makes me throw up a little in my mouth, since I am not a makeup artist.
I was definitely born with a strong interest in beauty products, but I don't know where it came from. I didn't have nearly the ocean of information available to me then that is available to girls today. And my mother was no tutor. The ultimate minimalist, she was more into layering fragrance and wearing pearls and her gold studs than wearing makeup. In fact, she wore only lipstick, but she wore it every single day, never left the house without it, and always looked great.
|Blasé Apricot—Mom's holy grail (still sold!)|
Starting at age 7, I asked Santa for a vanity table every single year. Why? My mother didn't have a vanity table, so I guess it was the influence of old movies (Bette Davis is a favorite.) In any case, that Red Rotundo never delivered, and you'd think he'd have gotten the hint year after year. By age 13, I was first to snatch up the Avon catalog, which I stared at for hours and then begged my mother to let me get some makeup (fat chance—I'm sure I wasn't even shaving my legs then). I read Seventeen Magazine in junior high and subscribed to Cosmopolitan, Mademoiselle, and Glamour (adored their Do's and Don'ts) in later years, finally graduating to Allure, InStyle, Vogue, and Elle. I'm sure I read others but you get my drift. To this day I love nothing more than a radical makeover, as well as those yearly best-of articles, and when Chic Simple had a monthly spread in InStyle, I was in heaven. But I am jumping ahead of myself.
My mother seemed uninterested in cultivating that girly side of me after I hit puberty (wanted to preserve my fresh-faced chastity as long as possible, no doubt) so I was on my own to explore. I had to resort to stuff I could get to within walking distance, which was the local drugstore, but clearly I was born to be mild because my splurges amounted to powder and mascara. Whoopee. I satisfied my love of color with nail polish. I probably had at least 10 bottles of Revlon and L'Oreal.
I was 24 when I made my first department store purchase. It had less to do with feeling intimidated by those counter ladies in their black smocks or white lab coats than with my lifestyle at the time. Expanding my makeup horizons hadn't occurred to me yet. I lived my life on campus during the school year, sports and play after classes, and summers out on the water, where the thought of makeup didn't even reach my level of consciousness. When you're young, sun-bleached hair, sun-kissed skin, glowing cheeks, and rosy lips are a gift not to be taken lightly. Who'd want to cover that up?
So, I was a late bloomer—at least compared to women today. I quickly settled on Prescriptives and picked up other staples at Clinique and Shiseido. I had zero interest in Estée Lauder (moms shopped that counter, dontcha know), determined that Lancôme and Borghese colors were too vivid for my coloring, and assumed Chanel, Dior, and Elizabeth Arden were for mature ladies. ;) I went makeup shopping once or twice a year. No, that was not a typo.
Enter the 90s. My first non-counter purchase was MAC. I had read an editor's-choice spread, probably in Allure, about MAC's "universal" Spice Lip pencil, and I had to have it. This was in 1993 before the Internet, unless you had a Prodigy account, and even then, almost no one was selling online. In fact, MAC might not have even been in the US yet. I was living in Bar Harbor, and trust me when I tell you that they rolled the sidewalks up in October. For a budding makeup addict, my options were zip unless I drove 90 minutes west to Bangor or 3 hours south to Portland. So my first sight-unseen purchase was made after calling a non-800 number in Canada and ordering MAC Spice, Wedge eyeshadow, and Prism blush, which all turned out to be bad color choices for me, but the thought that I could actually do this started the incubation period of a baby demon. One badass, hungry demon who demanded to be fed.
But before that demon had the chance to grow into a frumious bandersnatch, I remained more or less satisfied with my moderate stash for more than 15+ years. My everyday, go-to products were by Prescriptives and comprised one custom-blend powder, two eyeshadows, one lipstick, and a single lip pencil. I bought my mascara and eyelash curler at the drugstore, and I wore zero eyeliner, lip gloss, or blush. I occasionally picked up the odd item that captured my curiosity, but I quickly lost interest and always went back to my Px "system," which made me happy and made me look like an improved version of myself.
By the mid 90s I began to get an inkling for what I might be missing. I saw my first Bobbi Brown counter at Bloomingdale's (zero interest in that brown stuff), and I received my first bliss world catalog in the mail. Bliss introduced me to brands I wasn't seeing at my local malls: Chantecaille, T. Le Clerc, Shu Uemura, Stila, Laboratoire Remède, Phyto, and others. Of course I had to actually call my orders in. Despite having a computer, I wasn't online yet.
I tried a couple new things but always went back to my old standbys, which now included a few products by Jane Iredale, which used to be available only in select salons. Things were quiet for a while, but as it turns out, that was just the lull before dorking.
Enter 2007. Wanting something new and not feeling like driving to the mall, I typed "taupe eyeshadow" into Google, and I swear I heard someone scream, "Release the hounds!" Those innocent-looking two words led me to:
- Makeup Alley, where people reviewed products I had no idea I wanted! (Don't you hate when that happens?)
- YouTube, where people were actually putting on makeup in front of the camera! (You mean people actually wear more than two eyeshadows at one time? And WTH is the "outer v"?)
- Forums, where women (and men) were discussing all things beauty!
- BLOGS! Aka Lemming Generator™. There are a few of you (names withheld to protect the dastardly) who are indirectly responsible for my near-complete Edward Bess, Ellis Faas, Chantecaille, Laura Mercier, and Bobbi Brown collection ... probably others. I forget.
When did your makeup appreciation start and how did you exorcise (or exercise) those demons?