I’ve been watching Lisa Eldridge makeup videos lately, studying her techniques for “mature looks”. Lisa is a world renowned makeup artist whose credentials include the covers of Vogue, Marie Claire & Harper’s Bazaar magazines, and red carpet looks for the likes of Kate Winslet and Keira Knightly. She was also the makeup tutorial expert for Chanel’s website until her most recent coupe as the newly named creative director for Lancome, a longtime favorite of mine.
My obsession with makeup began as far back as I can remember when the “Avon Lady” would come by the house with her suitcases of colors and creams and elixirs. She would gossip with mom seemingly for hours while she’d make up her face. Back then it was all pale blue eye shadows and rich coral lips, with thick solid wing tipped eyeliner arching out to create the iconic cat eye. I’d sit on the couch as close as possible, mouth agape in deep concentration, watching every stroke of the brush, while waiting my turn for just a little touch of pink on my lips. I can still remember the tiny little white tube samples of lipstick she left with me.
My own makeup cache would fill a carry on suitcase and that’s after unloading huge amounts to my daughters not long ago. Guilty as charged, I’m a sucker for each season’s new look. Bedazzled for the holidays by Chanel! Escape to St. Tropez with Lancome! Long, long, LONG Doll lashes, which I’m in possession of thanks to the irritating, scratchy glaucoma drops I have to use for high pressure in my eyes. The upshot is the loveliest lashes I’ve ever had!
Needless to say, I didn’t really need any more makeup on my recent excursion right before Christmas to the prestigious Plaza Frontenac, where you must dress correctly just to enter the place, lest you be tossed out like Julie Roberts in Pretty Woman. “We don’t need your business!”
At least I didn’t think I needed any more makeup. My first stop was the MAC cosmetic store, just to look for an eyebrow pencil. I have alopecia on my brows, an autoimmune disease that attacks the hair follicles, leaving the hair barely existent. My dermatologist gave up last year when three rounds of cortisone shots to the brow did nothing. Bloody hell, it hurts to have a needle lacing through your brows! So I’m always on the lookout for some new way to recreate the illusion of my former lush brows.
This should have been simple, but a gorgeous, exotic Asian woman got ahold of me the moment I walked in and that was all she wrote. She was just supposed to find the right color for my brow, but before I knew it, I was seated under the lights while she studied me long and hard in the mirror before reaching for concealer. “Do you ever use concealer?”, she asked. “This will take years off your face!” Knowing I was approaching yet another milestone birthday, I thought ok, let’s go for it.
She went after my face like a pit bull! Out came little sponge puffs and she began to tap, tap, tap, tap so much so that before I knew it, I was in a deep recline and at risk of falling backward off the stool. But then I looked in the mirror and Wow, under those lights, it was amazing! I thought I Was wearing makeup but noooo! Next she grabbed the MAC Studio Sculpt foundation, and I was suddenly transformed like a geisha! All I needed was chopsticks in my hair! It was a miracle and fifteen minutes later I was heading out the door carting the Holy Grail.
Feeling ten years younger, I continued my quest at Sak’s Fifth Avenue. I was next looking for the Dior counter to duplicate the wonderful mascara sample I’d recently received as a “free gift”. I can only imagine how men perceive the labyrinth that is the makeup counters. Hungry clerks in every direction eyeing you for a cut of the money. Even I get lost and I know my way around a makeup counter. I approached what I thought was Dior but lo and behold, it was Laura Mercier, where I was quickly approached for a consultation. “Well, I’m actually looking for the Dior counter for mascara”, I said. “Oh, it’s over that direction, but have you tried the latest concealers from Laura Mercier? They’re really wonderful, and will take years off your face.”
I didn’t miss a beat. “No”, I said, “I’ve not tried them.” She lit up at the prospect of fixing my aging face. “Here! Sit right here!”, she said as she reached for Camouflage Concealer #2. “See all of this redness under your eyes? This will cover it up completely and will last for hours. And you have redness on your brows. Let’s cover that too.” I sat there amused and let her go for it, concealing me for a 2nd time that day. I even bought the concealer. What the heck! It was Christmas time!
Finally, I found the Dior counter, and the mascara I was looking for, Dior Addict-IT for glorious lush lashes. Mostly, I just love the little brush that comes with it. As she was ringing up my purchase, she asked, “Is there anything else I can help you with? Foundation? Concealer?” This time I just smiled, declined and thanked her. “Merry Christmas!”
And so, on the eve of my 55th birthday, I know that time will continue to travel across my face and all the concealer in the world won’t hide it. But I am thankful for the years I’ve been graced with, as I remember my beloved friends Maggie and Bea and Debbie, who didn’t get to see 55. Many of my wrinkles are from laughter shared with them and so many others, and that’s a good thing. It’s all good!
Lorie McMillin, Webster Groves, MO, January, 2015