When I wear makeup, my goal is to look like a photo editor gently retouched me but in real life. Like I sat down for a portrait in Vanity fair in a stunning gown, messy hair, and invisible pores, if they shot a non famous 29 year old with a very vivid imagination and an affinity for makeup.
I get it from my Mom. She liked her lipsticks especially. When I was a preteen, my mom worked at the Chanel makeup counter during the holidays so from October through January I kept the fanciest of lip glosses rattling in my backpack.
The application of makeup is like all crafts: it begins by learning the basics. What started as an awkward shaky practice (studying the way my Mom did a liquid liner cat eye on me before a dance recital) became mastery of mascara application on the subway, no mirror. During college, I ditched the colorful Texas pallet in favor of a more bare NYC flare (thank god). Instead of metallic eye shimmers, I do a simple dewy eyelid with a lot of eyelashes. I keep the show to my lips. I wake up when I swipe NARS Semi Matte shade. On me, lipstick does more than add a pop of color, it brings the rest of my face into focus and brings out my eyes from there sleepiness. It anchors my face in matte, gloss, or cream textures. I keep a spare tube on my desk to reapply after lunch.
When my mom became sick this spring after having suffered a stroke from a hemorrhaging brain tumor, I sat in the hospital room rummaging through her tote bag as per her instructions. What was I looking for? Her MAC lipsticks. On a visit to NYC, she had accidentally taken my favorite autumn shade – a burgundy wine purple. She returned it apologetically when she realized the accident. I scolded here when I discovered that she had flattened the alluring “new lipstick angle” to a flat chapstick shape, as was her signature. But there, in the hospital room I desperately hoped that I’d returned it to her makeup bag. What I needed to do now was make her feel beautiful.
I learned what I know about makeup first from her. Her delight in a new Niki Minaj pink or an Iman gold continued to the end of her 50 years. Those are specific pleasures. They are a ritual tied to something I learned at seven watching my Mom apply Chanel lipstick beneath the vanity lights of our bathroom mirror.