The New More Odoriferous Me

Can I tell you a thrilling aspect of corona induced isolation that you might not have considered?

Two pieces of background you need to understand the thrill. First, you have to know that for decades I’ve worked as makeup artist in film and television. Second, to understand my perspective you would either have to be a woman, a tv reporter, tv correspondent, an actor, or a television pundit.

Ladies first: Have you ever gotten your makeup done at a department store and your artist smelled like he or she had eaten a pile of Roquefort cheese from the compost pile? No. The answer is no you have not! They are a scrubbed cleaned and polished, always hyper aware of their personal hygiene, their appearance, smile, and whether there is any possibility of emitting offensive odors. It’s a thing. This is for obvious reasons especially so we don’t turn off any current or potential clients because of a slight miscalculation from a night of pungent odor producing debauchery. Before work it’s an intense workout of showering, and the heavy lifting all the various personal cleaning products needed for the kind of clean, freshness required to be in close proximity with others.

So imagine this; for the last 40 some years in tv and film I was one of those conscientious stylists. Out of respect for my guests (sometimes called victims – playfully of course) I wouldn’t eat garlic for dinner the night before or heaven forbid at lunch during a shoot! And if I did happen to eat the pungent herb(bulb, vegetable?) during the week, or a Sunday night, I would apologize profusely the next day as I did someone’s makeup at arm’s length (hard to do). I’d lightheartedly say, “I’m sorry, pardon my garlic hang-over.” They would laugh and say: oh I don’t smell a thing, but that would be because I would be holding my breath in between eyelash applications.

Now for the first time in decades because of isolation, I am using far less products, mostly just soap, shampoo, modest amounts of deodorant and…fanfare please…I can freely eat as much garlic as I want!!! I’m so excited for the first time in years I can really reek and I don’t have to apologize!!!  

I never thought about this before but now I can eat garlic anytime I want because of current mask-wearing-etiquette. My clients will think I’m just being politically correct! Genius, thank you covid 19, you just made a huge change in my life, that is if I ever get my job back.

Desert Island Makeup

If you all of a sudden found yourself falling out of an airplane about to crash into the pacific ocean and the only thing you could save was one piece of makeup from your overly stuffed cosmetic bag – what would it be? There you are, all alone on a deserted desert island with your__________? I’ll give you a hint. Blush, mascara, foundation, eye shadow, eyebrow pencil, lipstick and powder.

From my mother’s generation, I know it would be the lipstick. Hands down, nothing else counts except for that little tube of stain to make an otherwise drab pursing pucker into a luscious, mouthwatering kisser. What one would do with a mouthwatering kisser on a desert island, is a mystery. However, there are those that feel that is the key to beauty.

In the International Journal of Cosmetic Science there was a study done, using white women in a social setting like a bar. They were to determine which look, with and without makeup on, would attract more attention. The wearers of heavy makeup attracted the most notice and communication by same age white men, while the au natural women got less interest and the ones with just the lipstick, did not attract any one. Well…sorry mom. However, they didn’t specify the ages of the woman or the people they attracted. Keep going mom, what do they know about octogenarians?

Me? Mascara. But does it matter at this point? All of this fall into the same social psychology, and it’s all about attracting a mate, for procreation. However, at age 54 and having had two kids, I’m not sure what I would do if I attracted a mate for baby making….perhaps it can simply be for copulating rather than populating my island. In any case, I see my face looking brighter with mascara but if it’s not for charming the pants off a man (literally I guess), then who am I really making up for? Perhaps I just want to present a flashier appearance to compensate for my shyness. But I am curious, did batting ones eye lashes in cave-man days really bring on a plethora of eligible bachelors?

So what’s the point if we’re not populating the world? I was just wondering what all the other makeup is for? Yes, it can enhance and give color to pale skin and hide bags under the eyes and all that. So why not pick the one thing that we need for our desert island and not stress about the rest? Do we need all the other stuff? Ok, as a makeup artist, I’m supposed to push the stuff in large quantities, not deter you from ever buying the chemical laden stuff (oops next week’s article). Maybe for those of us that are at this odd point in our lives where we need a little brightening, I would say go for it. In your twenties or even thirties and sometimes 40’s and 50’s, do we really need the full makeup regime? Definitely not when you get too much older, it just looks silly after that.

I’ve spoken with some women about this and am met with wide eyed amazement that equals thrill, relief, gratitude and an almost theophonic revelation!

“You’re kidding, you mean I don’t have to wear the whole mask with the mismatched foundation or the clumpy mascara? All I want is blush, is that okay?”

“Uh, yeah!” my ‘no duh’ answer.

Next time you find yourself on a desert island, (that would be the bathroom or wherever it is that you put on makeup), maybe think twice about narrowing down the tons of makeup you might normally race to get on, to the bare minimum of what you can get away with. Do what you think makes you beautiful, not what Estee Lauder and Vogue tells us to think. Believe it or not that desert island isn’t so deserted.

Tribal Markings

I’m noticing a bit of a split in behavior in the world, especially with women. First, all we want is to stand out and be different, more creative, smarter, more athletic, energetic and outgoing (a key trait employers want you to have). My question is why do we all follow fashion trends like a herd of cattle? Most every woman has long hair, we all are now wearing boots, Michael Kors handbags and  skinny jeans. Car trends, remember when we all bought Cadilacs because the pimps were doing it, then it was SUVs’ and now it’s becoming ever so hip to go ‘green’ and get a hybrid. With all this social conformity, the need to belong – where then is our individuality?

I’m a freelance film and television makeup artist. I’ve seen many styles come and go but my favorite is the one that we do ourselves without the guidance of a “professional”. In television right now the trend is to put a very dark eyeliner on the lid, on top of a very light color that gets ever darker as you go towards the crease. Then the outside of the eyelid is blended with a darker smudge going towards the nose.Sometimes the inner part of the lower lid is blackened and the whole eye is smudged to look like smoky dark patches. And we all do it, as a makeup artist I’m expected to know how to create these two looks and not to deviate too much because then it just doesn’t follow the trend.  Here we are back to being sheep and yet we constantly are looking for the one unique outfit to set off above the rest.

I’d like to offer a path into the unknown, an adventure in aesthetics and a question to put in front of the mirror. Do I really want to look like everyone else? Perhaps by just adding a lighter color to my eyelid and nothing else, that will define my face more. Or just some blush to add color to otherwise sallow skin. In any case, I’ve seen people do their makeup and with an almost reckless abandon and it’s perfect. It’s uniquely them and I loved it!!

“Doesn’t it just make you want to tell them how to do right?” I’m asked all the time. “No,” I have to say, it really doesn’t. It really makes me want to tell them how wonderful and extraordinary they look and to not change a thing! They’ve done something so unique  and so individual, that they own it like a singer owns the song she sings. It’s the freedom from contemporary norms that artists continuously strive for. They pound their heads on the pavement to get that kind of liberation and here it is for free! It comes so naturally for so many woman and yet we still go to the makeup counter to learn how to do it “right”.

I’m sure that the person that puts the black slashes of eyeliner with nothing else around it, has narrowed this design down from a full makeup routine, probably taught to her by an over-anxious department store makeup artist, who just has to get her sales figures up.  Along we come and buy everything that’s suggested but when we get home and have to run out the door with trails of oatmeal and coffee strewn around the kitchen sink, those last-minute black slashes, we decide, will do the job just fine. I say it just can’t get any better than that. It makes us feel complete, even though we forgot to get our lunch out of the refrigerator and the dog is still inside – the kids are off to school, we have our black slashes and so what if we traded the report that was due for the scarf in the hall closet?

Look at Lady GaGa. She follows no norms, no restrictions or codes of beauty and builds out her cheekbones with ridges or completely paints her eyes with kohl black. She might be the extreme example but why not? She is so unique that the rest of us drool to see what she will come up with next. So what makes us follow the magazines and become sheep-like to everyone else’s idea of style?

The reason I titled this article tribal markings, is that in native cultures, we see all kinds of makeup, jewelry and strange adornment that have developed over the centuries and the people who use them see themselves as very striking and important. As strange as some of the embellishments are to us, they see beauty and high art. The woman who made those little black slashes or the one doing the sky blue eye lids, have some very deeply rooted idea of aesthetics (when they’re not in a hurry). Probably ideas they’re not even aware they have. When they look in the mirror do they really see themselves or do they see someone else that they’ve seen in a magazine and it’s an attempt to copy it? Is it a distant childhood memory of what some else did? Is it because they were given a positive reaction from having done it once and they continue to do it not realizing that it’s evolved over time? Ultimately makeup and style is all a part of belonging to the tribe to society, but how many different ways do we have to conform? Can’t we let go just a little? The tribe will always be there.

Mascara Mercury Free

Did you know that most mascara has a ton of toxic chemicals in it, including mercury?! It does, except for the few companies that have signed with the campaign for safe cosmetics. If they sign, they make a pledge to keep it clean and green. That’s quite a pledge and commitment and I celebrate their undertaking and vow.

I have two favorite companies right now that have signed up with the campaign. Josie Moran, who makes great use of Argon oil in her lush creamy products. You can find her at Sophora. Jane Iredale is a little harder to find, sometimes at salons and sometimes in health food stores, but you can always go on-line.

Of the two I actually prefer Jane Iredale’s. Why, you might ask? Believe it or not it’s because of the packaging. Honestly. She puts her mascara in a little squeezy tube instead of a stiff hard tube. With a hard tube you have to scrape and bend the wand to get to the last bits and you never know how much is actually still left in container. By putting it in the soft tube, kind of like a mini toothpaste tube, it’s easy to squeeze out the last drops of mascara, using all the contents you paid for….genius!

Non-toxic Perfume

I belong to a group called campaign for safe In it I’ve read about many disturbing ingredients that are apart of everyday items, like mascara and perfumes that are carcinogenic. Having had cancer twice already and not wanting to experience it again, I decided to embark on my own perfume making. I’ve also made a spray on deodorant that uses tea tree oil and sage and other antibacterial oils like spruce. The smells are fresh, antiseptic and most importantly they are non-toxic.

Here’s the recipe for a perfume that gets a lot of compliments. The variations on this are endless and I will try my hardest to keep a recipe book of the really successful ones.

This one smells like a mix between the desert and jungle flowers, so lets just call this one…Oasis.

One half eye dropper full of essential oils:

Blood Orange, Vanilla, Sandalwood and Amber

Blown Glass

Half an eye dropper full of  Patchouli (depending on how strong your patchouli is).

About 4 ounces of witch hazel and a few drops of glycerin.

Shake it up and spray it on. Let me know how it goes!

This is all experimental so vary the oils to match your personality. It’s gotten a lot of compliments and comments. Friends have offered Shalimar, Chanel and “What is it?”