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Painted Lady

43 comments | February 14th, 2012

(story by Mir, from WouldaShoulda.com)

We've already established that I hardly ever wear makeup. I could insist that this is due to my rejection of the patriarchal ideals of feminine beauty — and you might even believe me, if I was earnest enough — but the reality is that, mostly, I'm just lazy.

Yep. I'm a feminist, sure, but I'm also not a morning person. Or even really a people person. And I don't like the way makeup feels on my face. What's more, I very rarely like the way makeup looks on people. Women who wear a full face of makeup every single day, to do things like run to the grocery store or—(my personal mind-boggling favorite) work out at the gym or go for a run—make me suspicious. I'm not unaware of the irony of not wanting to be judged for going bare-faced and then turning around and passing judgment on those who keep cosmetic companies in business, but I'm more or less okay with it.

Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone who paints on her eyebrows every morning? I don't know about you, but I can't look away. Or I do look away, but then I feel like it's obvious that I'm looking here, there, everywhere—basically darting my gaze around like a rodent on crack, trying not to look at their eyebrows. Or how about a woman with so much blush on that she looks like her cheeks are on fire? I'm sure there's other examples that come to mind; the point is that when someone is wearing too much makeup, I find it unattractive and even distracting.

My idea of "good makeup" is when you barely notice that someone is wearing it. Good makeup enhances beauty, it doesn't replace it with something else.

Now, it true that I wear makeup occasionally. A special night out, say. Or if I'm headed to a business event. Then I'll take the extra time, the extra care. Sometimes it's because I like the way it makes me look, and sometimes it's because I feel it's expected of me. Either way, you're never going to see me with a face that resembles a china doll; I apply light eye makeup, a bit of blush, maybe some lip gloss. That's about it. I can't even claim that I skip it because I'm not vain, because I do pay attention to the clothes I wear, and I pay to have my hair cut and colored (and buy expensive hair products). Makeup has just never been a part of my regular routine.

This week I'm performing in a local play, and we need to wear "light stage makeup." Back in the days when I did theater on a regular basis (20-something years ago), we had a makeup crew with boxes and bins of what I affectionately referred to as war paint: Before you went on stage, you got coated. Have you ever worn pancake makeup? I think it was named with the idea that it makes your skin as flat and uniform-appearing as a pancake, but to me, it rather feels like being coated in pancake batter. The stuff is vile. Once you used that, then you put on enough eye makeup and blush and a bright enough lipstick that anyone seeing you close up would have to assume you were a hooker. That much makeup was necessary to be seen well even in the back of the theater, though, so that was just part of the deal.

For our first dress rehearsal, I dove into my tiny little makeup drawer here at home and discovered that the only foundation I currently own came from a Mary Kay party I attended in 2004. No matter how much of my "regular" eyeliner I applied, my chosen "natural" shade wasn't dark enough for stage use. My handful of lip glosses were also too subtle, and the "lasting" lipstick I finally dug out—purchased for my wedding, five years ago—dried out my lips and started flaking almost immediately. Then, at rehearsal, I realized that the only makeup I hadn't been worried about—my mascara—would also need to be replaced. (I never buy waterproof mascara; it's too hard to take off! But for tears and sweat onstage, waterproof is a must.)

So I hit the store to buy some new makeup, grumbling the whole time because 1) I hate to spend money on stuff I don't really want and 2) it seems unfair that makeup dries out and otherwise expires, when I'd have to spend all this money, use it only this week, and then let it sit in my drawer for years until I remember to throw it away.

I'm now the proud (?) new owner of some waterproof mascara, black eyeliner, a "lip stain" that is basically a magic marker intended for the mouth, and some mousse foundation in "natural buff," which may or may not be the same color as my skin. By the time I got to that—after sorting through twenty varieties of mascara and no less than seven different colors of black eyeliner (no, really, what is the difference between pearl black and blackest black and onyx??)—I just couldn't care anymore. Hopefully it works.

Sure, every now and then I get that feeling… you know the one… the one where I look in the mirror and think, "You know, I'm getting older. I should maybe take a little more care with my appearance, wear a little more makeup." But then I remember that I work from home. And that I'm basically very lazy. Also: When I tried out all of my new makeup, I thought I looked like a hooker. It's not a good look for me. I'll do it for the stage, but then again—I'm playing a part.

How do you feel about makeup? Am I missing an essentially womanly gene or something, do you think?

(Welcome back, Mir.  We missed you.  And for the rest of you, read more Mir here.)
 

43 comments

  • MomQueenBee

    Posted on February 14, 2012

    My mother stopped wearing mascara when she was in her 50s, and young, judgmental me thought “Oh, come on, Mom, make an effort.” I am now in my 50s and guess what? No effort here. Also no mascara.

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  • crazyjane

    Posted on February 14, 2012

    I am completely with you on this. I hate putting anything on my face, it just feels icky. Plus, you know, the lazy.

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  • Sarah G.

    Posted on February 14, 2012

    Makeup, I just never got into. I’ll wear it for special occasions, but like you I think I look like a hooker. I just try to go for high class call girl.

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  • Nelson's Mama

    Posted on February 14, 2012

    I wear makeup, but not a lot. I rarely leave the house without mascara and a touch of lip gloss – it just makes me feel better about myself. I don’t wear heavy foundation makeup, I’ve worn tinted moisturizers for years and they feel great and just even up my skin tone and cover all of the sun damage that I have.

    I don’t mind spending money on good products that I enjoy using, right now I’m stuck on MAC. I don’t splurge on cleansing products and will confess that I ALWAYS go to be with my makeup on…always have…and generally wash my face with shampoo(GASP). My skin doesn’t look any worse for the wear, go figure.

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  • BKC

    Posted on February 14, 2012

    I would actually like to be a gal that can wear (tasteful) makeup, but I’m heavy, and I sweat on my face. It’s just not worth it to see money and time on the back of my hand after I’ve accidentally swiped at my forehead or behind my glasses. Just a lightly tinted chapstick for me.

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  • Katy

    Posted on February 14, 2012

    Oh, I agree, anything remotely paint-like is just too much. Then again, I’m pretty sure that if I took before and after pictures of my version of “wearing makeup,” no one would be able to tell the difference. It’s all in my head :)

    As a side note – when Chickadee is old enough to be interested, take advantage of those rare occasions to show her how to apply makeup. Since my mother never wore makeup, I can attest to the embarrassment of reaching semi-adulthood without ever learning how to do it properly.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted on February 14, 2012

      Agreed! I can attest to the embarrassment of your husband having to teach you to put on makeup – thank goodness he worked at a theater in college, and therefore if I ever have a daughter, I will teach her how to apply makeup, even if she never ends up wearing it.

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  • joanne

    Posted on February 14, 2012

    Oh, eyebrows…. sigh.
    I rarely wear make-up, but try not to leave the house without eyebrows. Sadly, my brows are so light colored that it appears I don’t have any, and I need to brush them in. This is the only makeup I wear regularly. My brows look like a little kids’ — very sparse and light.

    However, just last month, I discovered the art of professional eye-brow shaping, and now (if necessary) I can leave the house without painting on the brows…. they look a little sparse, but they have been groomed into making an appearance.

    Oddly enough, my next-born sister has always had heavy brows. not fair.

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  • Little Bird

    Posted on February 14, 2012

    I wear makeup, but not much. No foundation, no blush. Usually it’s just eyeliner and mascara. If its an occasion I’ll add eyeshadow. And an occasion is something like a date, or tea with the queen.

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  • Alix D

    Posted on February 14, 2012

    I wear makeup, when I can be bothered to. Read: When I’m not scrambling to get out the door adequately showered, and dressed let alone the frills. (Which is why I go to a slightly more expensive stylist to get the haircut that looks good no matter how little I do to it.) But when I do wear makeup, it’s becase I like the effect, not to meet some imaginary standard of acceptability.

    I rarely wear a lot, usually mascara, eyeliner, blush and tinted chapstick. (I sound like those Dos Equis commercials – I don’t usually [do X], but when I do, it’s [X++])

    When I do go all out, though, I’m still in your camp: it needs to look natural. So I spend a lot for good stuff to make myself look like me, only better. Or whatever. I do tend to go heavy on the eyes, though, because I wear VERY thick glasses.

    I also remember, with great loathing, wearing stage makeup. The only stuff that reliably gets pancake off (cold cream of some variety) makes my skin oily for ages afterwards. I remember being so happy when I was in Our Town that the director wanted minimal stage makeup. Then I found out that because my natural hair was long enough (I was the only one,) he wanted me to do a Gibson Girl. I went through an entire can of hairspray for a three show run. One can usually lasts me YEARS. Ugh.

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  • Arnebya @whatnowandwhy

    Posted on February 14, 2012

    I am an occasional mascara wearer. I will wear eyeshadow if I go out (I love colors and will buy them knowing full damn well I am not going to wear them because I rarely go out anyway). I wear a nude gloss every day. But like you, I am lazy. I don’t like the people at work, there’s no one I’m trying to impress, and I doubt anyone is looking at me anyway. So,I make no effort (also, these may be Friday’s pants — see? No effort). I do sometimes look in the mirror and think “You should really try harder” but then I just take a nap and the feeling goes away. While not makeup, I will admit to feeling incomplete or less girly, if my nails aren’t painted.

    What I dislike most about religious makeup wearers, though, is when the foundation does not match her skin, stops right below the jaw line and you’ve got this obvious, um, distortion.

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  • Arnebya @whatnowandwhy

    Posted on February 14, 2012

    Oh, and wait! What is it recently with the women and the fake lashes? They look like felt! Or like they’re going to Muppets try-outs. It’s like thick pieces of cardboard attached to the eye. I imagine they’d be heavy. And yes, the painted on brows. There’s a woman who rides the train with me in the morning and for some reason, hers are drawn at a downward angle so she always looks angry. I stare and she looks up angriER. But it’s like Austin Powers and the mole. The more one tries to concentrate on something else, the more it goes like this: Yes, nice to mole you. Meet you! Nice to meet your mole.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted on February 14, 2012

    As a makeup-averse un-girly-girl, I endorse elf.com b/c their prices are low, their amounts are small (so when I only use it once it doesn’t rip my heart to throw it out) and they ship fast. Plus, tons of coupons. :-)

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  • ScottsdaleGirl

    Posted on February 14, 2012

    Mineral Powder base, mascara, light blush, cream eyeshadow pencil (Top lid only) and lipgloss. If I do my makeup that is all I am doing. Takes 5 minutes and it looks natural not ‘made up’.

    Working from home allows me to not have to do it most days though!

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  • Diane

    Posted on February 14, 2012

    In my first experience with stage make up, they had to age me from seventeen to sixty-five (Linda in Death of a Salesman). Shudder.

    I’m wearing make up to work today for the first time in at least a year. Since I use Bare Minerals, the feel on my face is wonderful (and it actually improves my skin when I wear it regularly), and I can apply it with a light enough hand I don’t look like a hooker. But after a ten hour day, ALL cosmetics fade, and I can’t be bothered with touch ups.

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  • Laura

    Posted on February 14, 2012

    I also believe that makeup should look natural – too much is a bad look. I admire people who go au naturale on a regular basis, but I do have to say that many of those who are of the ‘no make-up’, ‘just be your natural self’ type look great without makeup. I just get a little annoyed at how some people with that attitude come off because not everyone can just let go of the makeup and be fine with it. In general, I’m a very confident, easy going, laid back person, but I would NEVER go to work/out without my makeup. I don’t go crazy with it, but I look run down, non-glowing, etc. wtihout my makeup on. I don’t want to feel superficial just because I feel this way.

    Please understand, I know that you weren’t saying anything like what I was talking about — I just felt the need to make a point about how some people (not you) make statements about makeup being fake.

    Good luck in your performance!!

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    • Mir

      Posted on February 14, 2012

      I hear you, Laura, and I think it’s a fair point. Of course, I would argue that people who say “Oh I just look terrible without it” probably don’t, but that still doesn’t entitle me to paint everyone who loves makeup with the “superficial” brush. Thank you for (rightly) calling me out on that.

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      • Laura

        Posted on February 15, 2012

        You’re right – not everyone who believes they look bad without makeup actually does look bad. I’ve had the thought, many times, that the problem is with our expectations of what ‘looking good’ means. Men don’t wear makeup and we accept their natural face as how a man looks. For grown women, wearing makeup has become the default, therefore our expectations of how we should look/want to look are different. If only we had a magic wand that would re-start our expectations :-). Short of that, I guess it will just have to be one woman at a time making the decision to change things by going without it.

        Laura

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    • Nelson's Mama

      Posted on February 14, 2012

  • Jackie

    Posted on February 14, 2012

    You guys must have a wonderful complextion and be naturally pretty. I have to wear makeup. If I don’t put on eyeliner and mascara and lipstick i look sick as a dog. Hell even dog’s look prettier than I do. I don’t cake it on by any means. Heck I don’t normally make the effort to wear eye shadow. There are times where I will just put on mascara and eyeliner to run to the store or work out but I have to have something on. If I’m just at home I don’t care if I have my makeup on but outside of the house. Yeah I’m one of those that have to have it or people will run in the other direction. I only put it on once a day. If it wears of oh well sorry you have to look at the scary but I made the effort.

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  • Tenessa

    Posted on February 14, 2012

    I don’t wear make-up even though I like it. I like the idea of it, anyway, but in reality, I hate it on my face. Liquid foundations feel really oily and like they will slide right off. Powders make me feel like my skin is dry and about to flake right off my skull. No matter how little eyeshadow I use, I think I look trashy and no matter what I do to my eyelashes they will always be short and stick straight outta my eyelids (thanks, Dad) even though my hair is super curly.

    So I don’t do make-up. I used to apply a little when the occasion called for a special, dressier look, but I get lots of comments, “OMG, YOU HAVE MAKEUP ON!” etc. No thanks. I’ll just skip it and I find myself not wearing makeup for even the special occasions, now. And I find myself more comfortable in my own skin when it isn’t covered with even a little bit of moisturizer.

    I agree that makeup looks best when it is lightly applied and used to enhance rather than mask, and I think you’d look better sans eyebrows than with drawn on ones. But to each his/her own and I will continue to not wear makeup much to my mother’s dismay.

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  • jen_alluisi

    Posted on February 14, 2012

    I’m in the lazy camp. Even in my teens and 20s, I didn’t regularly wear makeup. I’m 34 now, and my skin is starting to get a little splotchy, so I’ve been considering a moisturizer/foundation combo – I do put moisturizer on every morning, so this wouldn’t take any extra effort. But so far, I have not been bothered enough to actually go find some said combo face stuff. On very rare occasions – weddings, or sometimes just because I have time and feel like “dressing up” – I’ll put on mascara and lip gloss. That’s about the extent of what I ever, ever put on my face, not because I think makeup is dumb or vain (actually, most of my friends who wear just a smidge daily look lovely with it, and I often think I’d probably look better if I wore just a smidge too) but rather because I’m lazy and SO not a morning person and usually running late so I don’t feel I have even 5 minutes to put makeup on.

    I highly doubt I’m any “prettier” than anyone else commenting above, but I probably care less whether other people think I’m pretty or not. I really just don’t give a shit.

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  • Megan

    Posted on February 14, 2012

    Having gone through what I affectionately term my ‘tropical fish stage’ as a teen I suppose I feel I’m pretty light on makeup these days – base, powder, eyeshadow and mascara and DONE. I’ve also noticed that the list of ‘activities requiring make-up’ is getting shorter and shorter. I’d like to call it confidence but honestly it’s sheer bloody laziness.

    Just last week I nudged a friend of mine and pointed out a magazine cover and said, ‘that girl? Has her makeup gun set to stun.’ Then I realized she was subtle and fresh faced compared to my 15 yr old self. Sigh.

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  • The Mommy Therapy

    Posted on February 14, 2012

    Well, if you can’t carry the hooker look, you might as well just not wear makeup anyway. :)

    I do wear light makeup almost every day. I have dark skin discoloration from my pregnancies and I am really self concious about it. I prefer to have the spots covered a bit.

    I do not understand women that wear makeup to workout though. On the days that I go to the gym, I don’t wear anything other than SPF on my face. I have a difficult enough time getting motivated for exercise, I don’t need to be worried about stuff melting off my face.

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  • Liza

    Posted on February 14, 2012

    Count me in the “too lazy” camp, also.

    When I was younger, I was in the “omgIwillneverevereverleavethehousewithoutafullfaceofmakeupon” school of thought.

    My first year of college, I saw a play that used white plaster masks in some Deeply Symbolic way, and then the next day, my acting class made them ourselves. All the Deep Symbolism and Transformational Cleanliness hit 18 year old me like a ton of bricks. I made a vow to go for 1 year without wearing makeup.

    I believe I broke my word twice during that year, but on the whole, it did transform my relationship to my own appearance, my “need” to wear makeup, etc. Since then, I’ve worn it more for fun, for special occasions, when I felt that the social situation demanded…but not every day, not by a long shot.

    Also? I have unusual eyelids that cause eye shadow to crease in minutes, no matter what kind of fancy product I use. So I am immensely relieved not to be throwing away money in order to have strange colored lines on my eyelids anymore. At least not too often — I have experimented with recommendations from the blogosphere over the last several years.

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  • the anonymous poster

    Posted on February 14, 2012

    I’m of the too-lazy-not-a-morning-person line of thought as well. I look good with make up, I did enough performing with dance and dance-like things to know how to put it on subtly to accent rather than change, but putting a brush or a stick near my face when I’m not awake enough to avoid walking into a wall seems rather a bad idea.

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  • My Kids Mom

    Posted on February 14, 2012

    Sometime when my husband and I were first dating he told me he liked me without makeup. Nuf said. Now, I put on cover stick as needed, blush if I feel pale and am out the door. If I put on eye makeup my kids ask if we have a babysitter coming!

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  • Anna

    Posted on February 14, 2012

    I have generally been a little-to-no make-up girl. I wasn’t good at applying it, so it looked bad. My husband refused to kiss me, because it felt bad. I have four children, I didn’t have time.

    I am getting better at doing just a little made-up, because I want to look like I made an effort. Mineral make-up was pretty easy and light. Tinted moisturizer is awesome. I now use that, some lip gloss, mascara and eye liner for most days. I add bronzer and eye shadow if I’m going really fancy. I think that’s a good balance for a thirty-something SAHM. Nice, but not over done.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted on February 14, 2012

    I don’t wear makeup. I did, as a teen, and I also had a hairstyle that wouldn’t twitch on a roller coaster. I could do some kind of nifty things with like four shades of purple eyeshadow!

    Now I do none of that. I put some on for a job interview and at formal occasions… I am told I have nice skin, but even when I have nasty breakouts (or psoriasis patches) I just leave it be.

    I’m me. That’s gonna be the face you see.

    I did buy into the mary kay cleansing products, because I’d started having more breakouts. They seem to work. Moreover, they actually feel pretty good to me.

    That’s the most important thing. But I do wish more women would say “f*ck this” and skip the makeup. I’d like to see “socially acceptable female appearance” modified closer to the reality of actual women’s bodies, so we can all spend less time becoming adequately gorgeous before we venture out into the wider world.

    I’m strongly considering bucking the Rules Of Beauty so far that I don’t wear makeup for my wedding. Or shave. My future husband is beautiful enough as he is! So am I! So what if there’ll be pictures? It is not actually a staged production where my expressions must be read out to the back of the hall! Nobody’s going to miss me, I’m extra-bonus-plus sized, and I’ll be the one in the enormous dress.

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  • Midj

    Posted on February 14, 2012

    When I went to the chiropractor last Friday, they couldn’t figure out what was different. Well, I had walked the foster dogs early in the morning and had a few extra minutes before the childcare babies got here. I put in my contacts *and* applied make-up. I used to work in the mall and had make-up, hose and heels on every day… I’m so glad I work from home, now, and can decide when, and if, I want to “paint my face”…

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  • Reb

    Posted on February 14, 2012

    My cheeks are pretty red so I look much better with foundation … from a distance. Close up, yuck. And I’m totally not a morning person. Make up = less sleep. Not a chance.

    I’ll bother next time I have to make a good impression, like at a job interview, but that’s it.

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  • Eva@OOC

    Posted on February 14, 2012

    I completely agree! I’ve always felt foolish in make-up, like I was trying to be someone else. When I was the maid of honor at my BF’s wedding someone called me a “farm girl” because I wouldn’t wear lipstick!

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  • Tara

    Posted on February 14, 2012

    I LOVE makeup. I like playing with it, the transformation that it brings, that I can use a lot or a little. I look at women on the street and think of how they would look with a little mascara, some lip color. Don’t be afraid of makeup, ladies. You dye your hair, right? How is makeup different?

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    • Mir

      Posted on February 15, 2012

      I guess I feel like dying my hair 1) takes less time (once every however many weeks, done; rather than every day) and 2) is more natural-looking. My hair used to be all brown, instead of the salt-and-pepper it is now, so dying it brown again doesn’t cause people to think “OH SHE DYES HER HAIR,” at least so far as I know. But makeup looks like… makeup. Always. You never see someone wearing lipstick and think “Wow, her natural lip color is gorgeous,” you think “That’s pretty lipstick.”

      That’s not to say makeup is bad, only that that’s sort of how I see the difference from the hair thing.

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  • bryan

    Posted on February 14, 2012

    Whenever I am going to an event that requires makeup, I have to purchase mascara and base, because the previous supply has gone bad. Invariably, they have discontinued the shade of base I chose previously, so i have to start all over again.

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  • Brigitte

    Posted on February 15, 2012

    My poor mom naturally has about 4 eyebrow hairs, so she had to draw some on or look really odd – at least she chose a color that matched her hair. Now they’re tattooed on, and amazingly enough, with the few natural hairs in there it looks real until you get really close.

    I couldn’t go out without full makeup (except foundation, which felt too yucky) in the early 80s, but I also am far too lazy now. And, like BKF above, a heavy face-sweater with glasses, so why bother. I’ll gussy up for a special occasion now, but stick to natural, neutral sorts of shades, light gloss, and no blush (my rosacea takes care of the cheeks for me)!

    I do sometimes wonder (and am a little amused) why many transgendered people are FAR more interested in the whole mystique/allure of makeup than me, but maybe they need it to offset any overly masculine features?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted on February 15, 2012

    I have rosacea, and feel uncomfortable wearing no makeup…I just look splotchy and red. So I put on a little foundation, and then a little blush. I always laugh at myself for covering up my natural rosy cheeks and then putting on fake rosy cheeks, but I guess that’s the way it goes :-)

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  • Therese

    Posted on February 15, 2012

    Hey, hey, hey! Watch busting on the eyebrow drawers! Some of us have no brows to speak of, so we have to put a little on. Actually, if you use a eyebrow powder instead of a pencil, it’s a little harder to tell. I mix my moisturizer with my foundation, brush on a little bronzer, a little brush, draw on the brows, maybe mascara, maybe not, and out the door. Less than five minutes, and I don’t know, it just makes me feel more dressed for work. But I was an all-natural babe for many, many years. Just maybe in the last five or so, I’ve felt the need to enhance.

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  • Emmie

    Posted on February 15, 2012

    I wear makeup sporadically. My boyfriend says I don’t need it so it is pretty far down on my list of beauty requirements. When I do wear it I go for mascara, eyeliner, and lipstick only and mostly in neutral colors.

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  • Katherine

    Posted on February 15, 2012

    I very rarely wear makeup and even when I do, it’s very light. I never got the hang of foundation – it always looks wrong. If I ever do decide to wear it, I obviously need to get someone to show me how. I will NOT wear any kind of mascara. It got into my eyes/contacts a few times and I swore off it. Luckily my lashes are decent looking. Both my boys have long gorgeous lashes that most women would kill for. Mine aren’t nearly so good, but you can see them and my eyebrows.

    I’m sure I touch my face way too much, as if I’m wearing anything, I tend to end up with it in my eyes. For weddings, fancy parties, or other occasions that cause me to dress way up, I will wear a touch of blush and lipstick. Otherwise Blistix is about as far as I go. Btw, I don’t color my hair either. Im blessed not to need to, at 45, but I’m not sure I would bother at this point anyway. I don’t like taking the time (or money) to fiddle with keeping a “hairstyle”. I wear it long and donate to locks of love every 2 years.

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