Monday, April 9, 2012

Breakdown in the Beauty Aisle!

Mel Biv Devoe

I came to a realization this past weekend. I was at the drugstore, browsing the beauty section and looking for a new product to test out. I strolled through the aisles, stopping every now and then to look at all the different brands and their ever-increasing selection of foundations, powders, lipsticks, etc., etc., when it hit me: I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing.

It struck me as an epiphany, but anyone who knows me would be surprised that I've only just figured it out.  I've never known what I'm doing when it comes to makeup.  I have literally been using the same type of powder and mascara since I was 13.  That's 16 years now! So while I've always been clueless, it was trying to compare foundations that finally broke me.

First of all, I don't know what season or color I am.  You know how colorblind people look at, say, a red emblem on shirt, and only see a shirt?  I think I have a very specific variation of that.  I look at my face and I don't see undertones or "warm" or "cool" - I just see a face.  A fleshy face.  I guess if pressed hard, I'd say my face is sorta peachy?  But that doesn't even sound right.  So trying to pick the right foundation is a daunting task.  Most of the containers look like the same shade to me when I compare them side by side, and then holding them up to my face?  Forget it!  Everything looks the same.  It doesn't help that most stores are horribly lit and the mirrors they provide you are basically little silver stickers that wildly distort your face. 

Secondly, when did the makeup companies decide we should be orange?  Seriously, most of the shades are more orange than flesh-colored.  Look, I'm not Snooki, I just want to look NORMAL.  I'm not confident enough to go out without makeup - I prefer the way I look with it to without it or I'd just give up altogether.  But I definitely don't want to look like Janice from the Muppets, either. 

Third, even if by some miracle I select the right color, I don't even know what to do with it, to be honest.  My mother never wore much makeup - a little blush, a little mascara.  I never sat and watched her put it on.  I don't have any sisters and I'm the oldest of all my cousins on BOTH sides of my family, so I had no one to look up to for things like this.  And my friends in high school weren't into doing girly stuff like trying on makeup together or doing each other's hair - we were too busy doing stuff like playing in band, singing in chorus, playing sports and working after-school jobs.  My money didn't get spent on makeup - it went to things like CDs, comic books (yup), and - let's be honest - food.  We loved to eat!  But that meant that I spent my formative years learning very, very little about these things. 

And fourth, is it not enough to just have foundation and powder?  Must there also be concealer, and primer, and bronzer?  Must they all be so freaking expensive??  And the choices, oh, the choices - do you want them in liquid, cream, or mousse? Or what about in spray form?  How about matte or shiny?  Oh, and do you want an oil-based product or should you get organic or mineral or OH MY GOD, MY HEAD IS GOING TO EXPLODE!

When you consider all that, it's no wonder I feel totally lost when I'm staring at the hundreds of products the makeup companies keep churning out.  But I'm trying.  I'm thankful that the ladies here at Hot Ink know their way around a makeup bag, because I need all the help I can get.  Maybe someday, when I've got more money than I need, I can pay some woman at a makeup counter to tell me what my colors are.  But until that day, I will be sticking to the local drugstore.  So the next time you're out shopping and you see a bewildered woman pacing the makeup aisle and muttering something about Oompa-Loompas, don't be afraid.  I'm just trying to match a power to my foundation.  Maybe help a girl out if you can?  I'll totally buy you lunch.

Are you overwhelmed in the beauty aisle too? Check out Vee's Beauty Essentials, Rusty's Cream Eyeshadow Tutorial, and Rusty's Eyebrow Tutorial.


  1. I love this post! I agree! I love make up, but I usually only wear concealer, powder, blush and mascara. That's it. Now they have highlighters, primers, foundations in powder, mineral, mousse etc. I can't keep up and I feel like I could potentially be missing out on some great stuff but I also wonder- who needs to slather five layers of stuff on their face every day? Creams, primer, concealer, foundation, powder, blush and highlighter? It sounds like a lot to me.

  2. So much YES. I also grew up with no one to teach me about makeup, and everything I've learned I've just...winged it, basically. I've also come to the conclusion that there is stuff out there on that aisle that I just do NOT need--bronzer? What the hell IS that? An eyelash curler? More like torture device for something that people REALLY aren't gonna notice. Primers...for your EYELASHES? Gel for your EYEBROWS? Forget it! I've picked the things I've concluded are actually useful (primer, concealer, foundation, blush, eye color and mascara), and that a LOT of stuff is just shit you don't actually need.

  3. Also, most of the time the cheap stuff is just as good, if not better, than the department store stuff.

  4. FYI, many places will help you find a shade of foundation or whatever that suits you and give you a sample so you can see how it looks when you go home and put it on yourself. THEN you can decide if you have enough $$ to blow on it and if you'll really use it.

    My method is totally trial and error as I never had makeup-related bonding with the other ladies in my youthful life but sometimes it's good to have some help from an outside pair of eyes. Just find the ones that aren't on commission.