My Obsession with…MAKEUP

Well, there is some back story as to why I love makeup so much… I have been a makeup artist since the ripe age of 17! And…I have been infatuated with it as far back as I can remember.

Looking back at my childhood at where I think it sparked, I was probably around 4 or 5 yrs old. During those rare, special nights when my parents would go out somewhere fancy shmancy, I would be in a tizzy. Every.Single.Time. I can remember it like it was yesterday….

Watching my mom get ready was probably my biggest enjoyment of all being that little. There was just something so magical about it. I’d hear the shower turn off and start counting out till I couldn’t stand it anymore rushing into the bathroom. My parents’ bathroom is set up where the sink is next to the toilet, so I would get the all clear, and run to jump onto the toilet seat; waiting for my mom to put on her show. It really did feel like a show to me as a kid. She would be singing in Italian blow drying her hair.  She would heat up my hair for a few seconds with the dryer, too. That warm air felt amazing; and to hear her sing, I loved that. Then she would use her curling iron to make wide ringlets on the top of her hair which she would spray in place.

THEN, she started the magic! She would open up the vanity mirror, and take out her square bottle of foundation, black eye and lip liner pencils, and blush; laying them across the sink. I would look at the colorful spread hoping to touch or wear something, anything! Once in a while when she’d get side tracked, leaving me in the room alone, I’d grab her blush and smell it. It smelled of what I can only describe as that classy makeup smell. It would warm my soul smelling that.  My mom would always talk me through what she was doing, what the makeup was for. She would put on her foundation using her hands, telling me they were the best tools God gave us. Funny, cause I say that to my girls. I loved how the foundation would even out her freckled, olive skin; she looked so different. Then following it with a pass of powder to set it then that coral blush to rosey up her cheeks.  It was somewhat strange to see her become a blank canvas, then watching her add color to it..transforming in front of me. 

When she would apply makeup to her eyes, it was show stopping. My mother’s eyes are so soulful, and add some color and line them in black eye pencil .. wow.  She would look at me, smile and wink that heavy lidded wink. Then I would wink back. She would always put on this silvery eye shadow base, and a purple contouring eye shadow over it. I just loved it.  Still do! Then she would disappear to get dressed. Then back in the bathroom to comb out her curled hair, spraying it more. Then at the very end, she would get close to the vanity to line her lips and color them in red. This amazing velvety red. She would sometimes let me try some on, too.

Then there stood the most beautiful princess I had ever seen.  My mom.

My mom was a stay at home mom till I was seven, so at this young age she didn’t put makeup on often as she did when I got older. And. My mom’s every day look was beautiful, do not get me wrong, but even to this day, when she gets made up and puts on that red lipstick…well, it just is gorgeous. No one wears red lipstick like my mom does. NOT EVEN ME!  

And, she still keeps her makeup in that vanity mirror, which has changed over the years, but I can’t help myself from opening it up every time I am in the bathroom to look at what she has in there. I still love to smell her blush. 🙂

My dad getting ready, on the other hand, was slightly different for me. No, he didn’t wear makeup (and that was a silly thought), but my dad shaving was an art all on its own. For some reason, his grooming played a big part in the beginnings of my obsession with makeup. Watching my dad taking such good care of himself, like my mom, was just as special.

As soon as I could bust through the doors when he finished showering, I did! I’d curl up on that seat in the warmth of the steam, eagerly waiting on him to start his ritual of shaving. Like my mom, he would take everything out of that vanity mirror, like it was some magical portal for each of them, placing his ivory handled brush and his white cup filled with the soap on the sink. Following, I’d pick each item up to smell them. Sweeping the brush across my face smiling. Oh man, I can still smell that soap in that brush- it was so soft. My dad would soak the brush in warm water for a few seconds, then started a lather of the soap in the cup. I would sit quietly, listening to the sounds; the ivory handle clanging the cup as he made the puff of white soap, of the now mushy bristles lathering the soap onto his chin, and the sound of the sharp razor crossing his face. He’d occasionally wipe some soap on my nose, too, to make me laugh; and the rush of feeling I would get from that was outstanding.  Then he would wash up all the items, place them back in the vanity and pull out his after shave. He would put it on me first, then himself. (This just made me cry. I miss this.)

I guess the realization is that, the fact that they could transform or enhance their beautiful selves by doing these simple things just left an impression. A lasting impression of how I am with myself, and how I feel about it.

So much so, that as soon as I was allowed to wear makeup, I jumped at the chance! I didn’t start off so well, but when I was 17yrs old, all that changed.

I worked at Aldo Shoes in the Cambridgeside Galleria, where my older sister worked upstairs at Filene’s for Origins. My sister and I would take lunch breaks… or smoke breaks in the stairwells of the mall every day we worked together.  So, waiting for my sister to go on lunch one afternoon, I started playing with the makeup at the counter like I always had. Putting on light under eye concealer to brighten up my eyes. Running to Chanel, as I was wiping off my morning’s lipstick in exchange for whatever new color was being showcased on their seasonal makeup display. When all of a sudden I get tapped on the shoulder. All I remember was thinking I was getting spoken to about doing something, cause I was always getting in trouble for nothing back then. But, when I turned around I was looking at this black haired, skinny white guy wearing an impeccable grey suit with a black skinny tie.  He was smiling as he was blurting out words in my direction. He, the department manager, was not asking me, but insisting that I work for him at the Lancôme counter cause he had seen me a few times in the store and loved my face. Just like that!

Uhm, this was very bizarre to me cause, well, I wasn’t a pretty girl some guy would approach like that. And, never mind how I looked, I was, not to mention a makeup novice! I was in my first year of college, where my major was in Computer Science. So, I basically was going to school with a bunch of smarty pants and I didn’t have to look all that special. I mean, I think I saw his appeal. I was a type of fashionista with my overly made up face, wide leg jeans, tight t-shirts, blue Doc Martins, always carting around a medium DD coffee in one hand, and an oversize messenger bag in the other …and super long pigtails. Hah Oh man, how awful!! Let’s just say I was a fashionista, but not really at all now that I said all that. hah  

I was so flattered by his request, and scared at the same time.  I had never ever thought of working there, but loved the cosmetic line that he was asking me to work for, too. So I said yes without even thinking about it much.  Or my current job!! Once the word yes came out of my mouth, he had me apply for the job at that second!

Then we had my interview, which was literally the next afternoon! We sat up in the corporate office upstairs from the selling floor. We talked for a short bit about the store, the perks of the job and a lot of other things I had to say to sell myself, as I had zero makeup experience. He then brought me down to the Lancome counter. I figured he was giving me the walk out greeting me goodbye as the counter was by the main entrance, but he didn’t do that. He walked me to the counter and asked me to a challenge. (if you know me, you know what this means to me) He asked me to stop someone walking in the store for a makeover.  SAY WHAT NOW, FRANK?  And that is exactly what I did.  I got the courage to get the first woman I saw to sit in the chair for me. Did I mention without having any knowledge of putting makeup on a stranger before in my life!? I said nothing to him though, and pretended to be confident.  All I kept thinking to myself was to get in the zone to enhance that woman’s face, and, asking for God to help me not screw it up!  ha  

Twenty minutes of ‘working it’ passed and I was done. The woman came out great, and I felt transformed. The satisfaction I got from that impromptu makeover was so powerful. The confidence Frank had in me also played a huge roll, too. I ended up getting the job right on the spot! The interviews with the company followed, but basically, I was the candidate in his eyes. For the first time, I tapped into my talents and a passion I had hidden. I worked there for a few years, and it was an amazing experience. I moved on to start out on my own doing makeup for weddings, proms and teaching teens to apply makeup. And haven’t looked back since!

Now, almost twenty years later, I am a walking billboard not just of my talents, but for my obsession with makeup. There is rarely a day I go without someone complimenting my makeup or asking me about makeup in some way. I wear it every day. And if by chance, I don’t have makeup on cause I have the flu dying in bed, which is when I don’t wear it..OK I am lying, I still put on lipgloss or stain. EVERY DAY PEOPLE. hah

I am not saying makeup is the deal breaker for beauty or anything, because I see plenty of people without it that are stunning. I am not one of these people. Personally, for me, wearing makeup the way I do is my way of celebrating my life with color and using my art, and hiding my imperfections at the same time. I can change my eyes or lips, and even cheeks, with what I wear, or what type of day it is, or if it’s a holiday/special event. It can be subtle, or it can be extreme. It can make me seem beautiful to one person, and ugly to another. It’s my obsession, and I don’t care what people think, honestly. It’s all such an extension of my being, that I can’t fathom life without the act of contouring, coloring, or enhancing …me.


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