Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Doing without Making Up

There are all sorts of making up.  There is the making up that comes after breaking up, making up requiring a leap of faith on both sides that things are maybe going to be better plus a venturing forward again when you're not sure.  The costs are mainly emotional. The sort of making up I'm talking about however generally costs a fortune (I seem to carry hundreds of pounds worth in my handbag), requires a mirror of some sort, preferably good lighting and skill in what you're doing.

I seem to have been doing make up for as long as I can remember, clandestinely in Mom's room when her back was turned and latterly for the last seven years or so, as a woman.  Borrowing Mom's makeup was a mixture of exciting and worrying.  Exciting to get the chance to 'be' the girl I wanted to be and worrying lest I got found out.  I'm pretty sure that Mom must have known, no way was I that good taking it all off again.  She never said anything but in a way I always wanted her to find out so that I could confide in someone.

When I came out and began my transition, makeup was an absolute essential.  My decision to be who I wanted to be, full time, without electrolysis or hormones forced me into a situation where makeup had to cover so much.  Dermablend was the foundation of choice, difficult to remove but brilliant for covering up the grayness left by shaving.  Too often I tended to go OTT on the mascara and eyeshadow with lip color choices far too bold to be natural for work. I hated those awful moments when one of my real friends in the know would pull me to one side and tell my that I'd used too much: blusher/concealer/eyeshadow/eyeliner/mascara - delete the one that doesn't apply.  It took a while for me to learn that trying to cover up what might give me away actually gave me away by looking so wrong. I was going through a second adolescence with no Mom there to help guide me through it :(

Time went past.  I got to the stage where the combined effects of skin softening hormones, anti-aging moisturizers, electrolysis, brow shaping and my clever hair stylist convinced me to go for a more understated natural look: lighter foundation, touché éclat, brown eyeshadow palette, natural lip colors and glosses etc.  It took time to get it right and to practice.  I'm so grateful to the best friends who took time to help me and support me.  Where would I have been without them? It made being a full time working woman possible.

Students often make good teachers.  All this learning came at the right time.  It was a period when my youngest daughter was becoming a teenager herself.  It was lovely to be able to help her get her make up right too and to show her how.  It helped me feel more like the Mom I had aspired to be for so long.

I have to say however that makeup, however subtle, has become a ritual.  Having got it right, it has become a charm without which I have become unwilling to leave the house, something that I felt guaranteed my acceptance as a woman and my passing without comment. I realized that come this month, I had been using makeup continually on a daily basis for seven whole years without stop. Makeup had become essential and my greatest nightmare was a finding myself in a situation where I was without it.  Famously on one occasion, having driven 30 miles to a friend's house to spend the night, I made the panicky 60 mile round trip (at 11pm) to call back home and collect the makeup bag I had forgotten to pack.

Last Sunday then was a first.  The first time I had the courage to just cleanse, moisturize, brush out & straighten my hair and then stop.  For once I tried leaving off my makeup.  It felt initially like going out without my clothes on.  I felt naked and it felt wrong. However, it was another milestone as momentous in it's own way as me venturing out as a woman for the first time or using the ladies restroom at work. It helped to have my daughter say how nice I looked.  We went out to do some grocery shopping and it felt okay, in fact in felt no different to normal.  I am so glad I did it.

Will it change my daily routine? Probably not. The last thing I want to do at my age is to go out, skin blemishes, dark circles and all, looking like I've just got up.  The dress code at work expects us to be well presented in work casual mode, that includes making an effort with my makeup.  If I didn't I would be the odd one out.  It will however see me buying tinted moisturizer and clear mascara.  I will still be covering up those weary looking dark circles but at weekends I won't be wearing much makeup except when I'm going out. The point is that I will know that I can leave off my makeup sometimes and still feel like me, I finally have a choice about whether to put it on or not :)

Robyn-Jane xx





  1. My must was to be able to open the door in the morning to the Postie to sign for a parcel without having to spend an hour in preparation.

    As a wash and go girl I have had an easy time and by some miracle I have go by, I have given in slightly and this week bought a lightly tinted moisturiser and love it.

    The scent of my mothers makeup still haunts me...

    1. Thanks Caroline, what a lovely comment. I too have been there with 'getting ready' an hour before when I knew someone would be knocking on my door early.

      Love your use of the word 'haunt' really sums it all up. I felt most like a dreamy girl during the times I got to sit in Mum's room and sit at her dressing table with her perfume and makeup...a little girl dreaming of being a woman and a Mum with kids of her own, feeling too bad I was a boy...

      Robyn-Jane xx

  2. mmm - I am not sure what the postie thinks when he opens the door. I have been dressed in all sorts - from pink nighties to gowns in the past. There was a time I would just ignore the ringing bell but these days I just open it and see - I am sure there are worse sights.

    As for the make-up - its a skill I have yet to learn. I do notice though how few women of my age actually wear anything noticeable. Some foundation or a tint - some Mascara perhaps but not much in the day time. That said I am sure it would help me and I have my focus on some Urban Decay that was mentioned in another place a few days ago. ....

  3. Thanks Becca :) lovely comment, pink nightie beats my Primark floral jammies. Make up is one of those things that if it's noticeable then it's probably overdone. Being the age I am, (been 35 for as long as I can remember), it's the skin firming products and intense moisturizers that I can't get away without, why do they have to cost such a fortune?

    Robyn-Jane xx