JILLIAN LOVEJOY LOWERY: I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I am not a naturally pretty girl. I’m not one of those women who is effortlessly beautiful, who wakes up looking lovely every single morning, whose complexion glows, and whose eyes shine, and whose hair is always perfect.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not half bad. I’ve gone out in public without makeup and not horrified anyone. I’m not deformed or ghastly. But I need a little help. God bless cosmetics and grooming products.
From a very young age, I was product obsessed. I’d spend hours playing with old odds and ends of my mother’s makeup and giving my friends makeovers. Later in life, I was often commissioned to help friends with their makeup before special events; I even did my friend’s makeup on her wedding day (and several of her bridesmaids, as well). It’s kind of my thing.
Cosmetics are fun. Changing up your makeup is a quick, easy way to totally change your look – and for someone flighty like me, that’s a huge selling point. And being able to downplay weak points while accentuating the best parts of a face? Absolutely priceless. Please, please, please pay attention to my giant doe eyes while ignoring my sizeable nose. Don’t worry, my makeup application makes that easier for you.
As I’ve aged and gotten more comfortable with myself, I do find I’m wearing less and less makeup. I used to be the girl who wouldn’t dare go to the grocery store or fill up my car without a full face. I’m over that. But, nine times out of ten, you’ll see my with significant makeup. It’s a delicate balance, looking “done,” but not overdone. There’s nothing worse than seeing someone who has really caked it on. The trick is to look polished, and like you’re not wearing a ton of it. Not looking like a prostitute is also important.
I wish I were a wash-and-go girl. I wish it didn’t take me at least an hour and a half to get ready in the morning. But it does. And as tedious as it can be sometimes, I mostly like my morning ritual. The end result is well worth the wait.
MOLLY SCHOEMANN: Makeup has long been a mystery to me. How can some women end up wearing it every day, and others don’t know what most of it is? Falling into the latter category, I am both jealous and suspicious of women who wear make up all the time and who are good at applying it. How did they learn? Why do they do it? Should I be doing it? Should they stop?
My morning routine involves splashing water on my face and putting my contacts in. And brushing my teeth. I shower at night so I generally go to sleep with a wet head and wake up with random crazy sticking-up curls, but I figure I live in the South so big hair is acceptable. If it looks truly horrid, I tie it back.
When I do wear makeup it’s on the weekends if I’m going to a party or a bar at night, and it’s either eyeliner and mascara which I apply with the experimental spirit, determination and skill of a six year old, or it’s a random lipstick I grabbed out of a drawer at the last minute. Whenever I try eyeshadow, it is an epic fail that I usually end up removing.
I am that girl who is always begging my girlfriends to do my makeup and hair before we go out together because a) I couldn’t be bothered and b) it feels nice. But I never, ever learn anything from the experience.
I would like to also note that it isn’t as though I am naturally fresh-faced and lovely without the help of makeup. I’m just exceedingly lazy and ambivalent about wearing it.
In conclusion, Jillian, can we have a sleepover sometime?
ZOË RICE: For a while, back in 2004-2007, I was one of the internet’s go-to people for cosmetics and skin care reviews. I called myself “Real Girl,” because like you (perhaps) I was no expert, just a gal who happened to research product ingredients, experiment with application processes, and report back on every single product and article of makeup I tested. Coincidentally for this discussion, I’ve recently revived Real Girl here (ignore the back-dating), and even just reviewed a glamorous eye shadow palette with tips for application. I love makeup. And skin care. And trying new, gorgeous looking products. For years, I’ve played with the boys. In high school I was the only girl in AP Calculus. I like science fiction and superhero flicks. I can talk baseball with the best of ‘em–and yes, I blog about that too. So here’s my pocket of girlhood. Writing about the details of makeup allows me to be clinical and analytical within a more feminine sphere than I travel in elsewhere. Plus, I like it. It’s fun.
However, I am not a fan of makeup for makeup’s sake. As Jillian says, makeup should enhance your appearance, but it shouldn’t mask your true face. One doesn’t need gobs of foundation (I actually rarely wear any) or caked-on heaps of eyeliner. Makeup’s first job is to hide flaws. I won’t even go to the gym without some concealer on my under-eye circles. My sparse eyebrows will always be subtly filled in. I wear bronzer to enhance my complexion, and what’s a lip without stain, lipstick, gloss, or tinted balm? A boring lip, that’s what. Since I turned thirty, I’ve started to wear more makeup. I rarely leave the house without mascara anymore, and usually I at least rim my eyes in shadow. I still look like me, and you wouldn’t think I’m wearing very much makeup. I’m not really–but I need to know it’s there in order to hold my head up high. The perfect smoky eye can make you feel infinitely more sexy in your little black dress. Even just at work, putting your best face forward can make the day a bit brighter.
Finally, and Real Girl would agree, makeup can lead to fun chick bonding experiences. You give advice to your girlfriends, and they guide you in return. Girls always want to share their favorite new product with others, review what works and what doesn’t, and offer tips for how to use an item most effectively. You can gossip over the bathroom mirror while applying mascara, rely on a friend to have some powder in her bag, or bond with a new acquaintance over a shared favorite brand of lip gloss. I’m probably more likely to enter conversations about baseball or art or books than I am about makeup, but I don’t disparage those girl bonding moments. It’s our common language, and I’m pretty fluent.