This season, it seems that the sartorialists of the world have decided to tackle a problem that has long irritated them: people who wear woollen winter coats but haven’t bothered to snip that little piece of thread that holds together the vent at the back. Some members of the fashion police carry tiny pairs of scissors with them and offer to help the ignorant offenders and thus help make the world a better place in their own little way.
Us beauty editors have a harder job. It’s much more difficult to tell people we know or strangers that they’re offending the world order with their choice of lipliner or blush. Makeup is such a personal thing that unless you know the person very well, you run the risk of hurting their feelings. While the fashion police walks around with Swiss Army knives, we beauty editors would like to walk around with a bag of cotton balls and a bottle of makeup remover just in case we see someone who really needs a makeover.
I once went to the school with a girl who wore fake eyelashes and then coated them with a thick layer of bright blue mascara. She had blonde hair, dirty blonde eyebrows, and hazel-brown eyes. Why she chose to use blue mascara is beyond me. Maybe she felt like she was drawing attending to her eyelashes that way. Maybe she was colour blind. Whatever the reason may have been for her wearing that awful blue mascara, she was a beauty offender.
I also used to work with a woman who used to draw herself a beautiful pair of full red lips. She was, as Cher Horowitz would say, “a Monet” – good from far but far from good. I dreaded personal meetings with her because her lips would always distract me. Apart from constantly fighting the urge to wipe her lips clean with a makeup wipe, I always wanted to ask her what brand of lipstick she used. It never budged, and never looked messy. It wasn’t too matte or too glossy but rather resembled plastic glued on to her lips.
Once upon a time, I had a professor who drew in her eyebrows using some kind of brown ink – the rest of her hair was grey. These new eyebrows were majestic things – they literally flew over her forhead and were as graceful as butterfly wings. As nice as this may sound, they didn’t at all resemble a real eyebrow shape. They weren’t arched and didn’t even look like ^’s. One couldn’t help but be distracted by her eyebrows. I even knew of students who, when attending lectures, would only sit where they had a clear view of said professor’s eyebrows so that they could examine them at their leisure for the hour or so that the lecture was going on. She was quite brilliant in her work and to her students, her eyebrows cemented the fact that she was indeed eccentric. We wondered what her husband thought of her amazing brows. It turned out that he lived in another country for most of the year – it was mean of us of course, but the running joke was that he just couldn’t keep a straight face in the presence of those eyebrows.
These beauty faux pas are not little mistakes. They’re not as bad as having eyeliner that’s heavier on one eye than the other. It’s not as if the eyeshadow has drifted into the crease or the nailpolish is a little chipped. It’s nowhere as bad as eyebrows that are ungroomed or cuticles that need to be taken care of. Those minor details simply exist because women are sometimes overworked, under-rested, and perhaps rushed for time. Give us an afternoon off, a sunday morning to ourselves, an extra 10 minutes in the morning, and those little glitches will sort themselves out and will be a think of the past.
But what is the solution to the bigger problems? Who can solve those?
The people who solve these other bigger problems are make up artists near you. They work at makeup counters at your favorite mall or MAC boutique and are just itching to do your makeup. The solution – excuse me, solution – is to go and get a makeover at least once a year. The first time should be at the beginning of the spring season, as in now, since all the spring collections are in. Go in without wearing any makeup at all and let the person working the counter do his or her job. Step in only if they begin to go into product overload, piling the powder, bronzer, and blush on your face. Other than that, let them do their stuff and then actually keep the makeup on for the rest of the day! Go out, see how you feel in it and see if it’s YOU. See if you get any compliments from your friends, husbands, or children. Who knows, you might just learn a thing or two about creating your own signature look.