Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Beauty Beginnings

Clinique Mascara, Lip Gloss, Blush, & Black Honey
Thanks for thinking of me, Mom. <3
While this post may read a bit like a Beauty Diary, I actually wrote this essay as part of some application requirements to a local beauty school.  It's the story of how my curiosity and enthusiasm for makeup and beauty grew and evolved.  Names have been changed to protect the privacy of others.  Enjoy!
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     I had been so anxious for this day for a very long time.  It had practically consumed every thought I’d had over the last couple of weeks.  Starting school again after so long at a new building with new teachers!  What could be more exciting?  After all, it isn't every day you start Middle School.


     When the alarm buzzed, I jumped out of bed and headed to the bathroom to start getting ready.  There I found a surprise.  On the counter were some ‘Free Gift with Purchase’ samples my mom had saved from her visits to the Clinique counter.  There was a little tube of sparkly clear lip gloss, a tube of Almost Lipstick in Black Honey, a mini mascara, and a blush compact with a mirror and little brush inside.  It was everything a grown woman would need to “put her face on!”

     As I brushed my teeth and did my hair, I recalled the many mornings I had sat on the ottoman next to Mom’s vanity, chatting with her as she put on her makeup.  I used the mascara first like she did, wiggling it at the base of my lashes and pulling it through.  What a difference it made!  The Black Honey looked way too dark in the tube, but it went on so beautifully, such a perfect shade for the early fall.  The lip gloss was pretty but too sticky.  I wiped it all off and put on just the Black Honey.

     And then there was the blush.  I remembered Mom’s goofy chipmunk smile she would do when she was putting on blush.  I imitated her and realized why she did it.  It popped the apples of the cheeks right out there so it was easier to see where the blush needed to go.  I opened the marbled jade compact and swiped the brush across the pan, then blended it in little circles on my chipmunk cheeks.  I looked in the bathroom mirror but didn't see anything on my cheeks.  Hmmm.  I must not have pushed on the brush hard enough.  I tried again.  Swipe across the pan, goofy smile, little circles…  Still nothing.

     I finally pressed the bristles together in my fingers, scrubbed it over the surface of the blush until I saw powder piling up on the sides, dipped the brush in the loose powder, and then swiped it on my face.  I got it to barely show up a bit, but I could finally see a hint of color.  I could see why Mom gave me this one, it was so sheer.  Oh well, it was still nice of her to think of me.  

     I left the house and walked to the bus stop.  I boarded the bus with the other kids and after a few blocks, I noticed they were looking at me and whispering to their neighbors.  Some kids were humming the Circus Theme Song for some reason.  Giggles bubbled through the rows of seats.  “Ugh!”  I thought as I rolled my eyes.  “Can’t those boys grow up?  We’re in 7th grade now!”

     When the bus pulled up to the school, I looked through the window and found my group of friends on the front lawn, waiting for the bell to ring.  I stood up and grabbed my bag.  Some of the kids were smiling at me, waving me to go past them.  I thought to myself “How nice of them.  Maybe wearing makeup makes me look more grown-up so they’re showing a little respect!”  I swung my backpack over my shoulder as I took a smug step off the giggle-filled bus and headed towards my friends.

     They were huddled in a little circle chattering like teenage girls do.  As they caught sight of me, their conversation stopped dead.

     “Hey guys, what’s up?”  They said nothing.  They just kept staring.  Tammi let out a snort and quickly covered her mouth to stop any further laughter from escaping.  Jodi stared on in silent confusion, head cocked to the side.  Only Jessica was able to put to words what the other two were thinking.

     “What is on your face?!”  she said with a quizzical look.

     “Um, nothing.  I just put some makeup on today.  Mom gave it to me.  It’s Clinique even!”

     “Alright whatever, it doesn't matter.  C’mon lets go” she said as she took my hand and started walking towards the front door of the school.

     “But we still have like, 10 minutes before we have to go inside.  What’s the rush?”

     “You need to wash that off.  You look like an idiot.”

     “What?!  I do not!  Its just some mascara, blush, and lipstick.  What’s wrong with a little lipstick?”  I asked as I fought to stay in the warm morning sunlight a little longer.

     “Nothing’s wrong with a little lipstick.  But you've got so much blush on you look like Bozo the frickin’ Clown!”

     “Oh whatever, you can barely see it!”

     She whirled around and pointed to the other kids who rode the bus with me.  “Everyone’s laughing at you because of your blush.  We need to wash this off now or you’ll never hear the end of it!”

     I let her lead me inside as I looked back in bewilderment.  I could barely even see it…

     The clown jokes subsided by winter break, but it wasn't until sophomore year of high school that I found out the root of the Bozo Blush Incident- Anomalous Trichromancy-Deuteranomaly.  In a nutshell, I can see red and green, but I can’t see them as well as other people can.  My dad is red-green colorblind, and my mom’s dad was completely colorblind.  For whatever reason this genetic problem skipped my older brother and made me one of the “lucky” 0.4% of women who have a color blindness issue.

     This diagnosis made me write off blush entirely for another decade.

***

     I have always been an artistic person.  I learned origami in girl scouts, had totes of craft supplies, and excelled so much in art classes that I even stayed after school to finish some projects.  When I graduated high school, I went on to Iowa State University to major in Integrated Studio Arts.  It was a dream to wake up and create every day.  Reality knocked out my dream with a cruel double-whammy- a shortage of funding for tuition and the AT-P color blindness issue.  I couldn't get through Color Theory because I was always just slightly off from everyone else. 

     So I packed up my paint brushes and charcoal and returned home.  I enrolled in a local community college and exchanged my ISU art classes into humanities credits.  I put them and some general education courses together to get an Associates Degree in Liberal Arts, then promptly joined the regular work force.

***

     One evening in 2008 as I was winding down after work, I looked in the mirror and saw something other than a ruddy complexion and bad skin.  My cheeks had steadily broken out more and more over the last several months, and the breakouts were different from breakouts on other areas of my face.  And the redness!  It almost looked like a rash, but it didn't hurt.  I thought maybe I was having a reaction to one of my skin care products or something. 

     I got to thinking about it, and realized that I had been using the same skin care products I was using in my teens.  Maybe over the years my skin type had changed and the products I had always been using weren't appropriate anymore.  I looked at the packaging of my face wash, toner, and moisturizer.  They were all for acne-prone skin and had various amounts of something called salicylic acid in them.  Acid…

     Maybe that’s why my cheeks are mad.  It was time to re-evaluate my face and how I take care of it.
The first place I started was Google.  I looked for websites that could tell me about various skin types and the products typically needed to care for them.  This, of course, led into another search on my particular symptoms- oily t-zone, breakouts and redness in the cheeks.  Those results led to further searches- What reduces redness?  How do you mask it with makeup?  What causes redness in the first place?  What ingredients should I avoid in my makeup and skin care?  What’s Isoeugenol?  What’s a phenylpropene?  What makes certain oils “essential?”…  Well, you get the idea.

     From that night on my evenings were filled with Google searches, product comparisons, and reviews.  This led me to YouTube, where I found the Beauty Community.  There were so many helpful, smiling faces willing to share their skin care product experiences with the world.  Through these videos I could see what the products looked like, how to apply them, and so on.  I also learned similar things about makeup.  I finally learned to embrace peach-toned blushes because I can see them like regular folks can so I won’t have another Bozo Blush Incident.  Plus they look great with Black Honey!

     Through this online research, I learned that the redness and breakouts on my cheeks are actually Type 2 Rosacea.  After trying many lines of products, my research led me to Pevonia’s RS2 line, which has actually cleared up my Rosacea.  Now when I tell someone I have Rosacea, they do a double take and say “Wait, no you don’t!”

     This transformation inspired me to learn more about cosmetics, skin care products, and companies who manufacture them.  What once was curious and casual Googling is now a passion, a burning need for information, and a desire to share this information with my friends and family at every opportunity.  

Do you enjoy reading random posts like this? I have a whole category devoted to them called Stuff n' Things. Check out other Stuff n' Things posts here:
Sephora Grand Opening
The Disney Tag
Sigma Beauty Broadcast Event

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