My lifelong love affair with cosmetics began early and was shaped by the time in which I grew up: the ’80s.
I was born in the mid ’70s, and the intense makeup styles of the ’80s made an impression on me. Jem instilled in me a love of brightly colored anything, and I saw art in every makeup configuration.
But certain events were pivotal.
My first hands-on encounter with makeup (not including the green face paint for my M&M costume which, incidentally, freaked me out at the time) was a shimmery ballet-pink single shadow. I feel fairly certain it was L’Oreal and the year was sometime in the mid ’80s. It was my mother’s and I never saw her wear it. I don’t recall her wearing anything other than the occasional eye shadow or lipstick, and only ever in her narrow wheelhouse of shades of lavender.
Back to that pink shadow.
I remember squirreling it away and trying it out a couple of times, mainly to see if I’d be caught wearing it. I remember it made me feel like I was almost not unattractive. The transformative power of makeup struck me even then.
Back in the day, the drugstore was a strong pull for me. I remember my Electric Youth perfume and my hairspray that smelled of delightfully sickening artificial watermelon. I remember wanting all those cosmetics (I couldn’t afford them) so desperately that I considered stealing them (I was very young), but only considered. I coveted those gateways to beauty. When I got my first paper route in 6th grade and finally had a tiny income of my own, I would wander the aisles of the drugstore for ages deciding what to buy.
Magazines also played a huge part in my cosmetic desires.
Around that time, my oldest brother was dating this impossibly chic Japanese woman, and she would often let me have her old Japanese fashion magazines. I was entranced by those magazines (and by her incredible fashion sense and poise), and spent hours poring over them. I tried to get copies of YM and Seventeen when I could, and I studied the makeup application features closely.
My skin has always been a battle, and on the first day of 7th grade, my skin was, as usual, quite broken out. I didn’t own any concealer, but my mother had a free Estee Lauder gift with purchase set which included a small bottle of foundation that was far too dark for either of us. I used it anyway. I tried my best to cover my abundance of zits with it, and all I did was make myself look ridiculous. I remember feeling horribly self-conscious that day. I can pinpoint that moment as the start of my obsession with having clear skin and proper foundation and concealer. I don’t think my mother ever wore foundation, so I was left to my own research to figure it all out. Around that time, I discovered Clinique and their three-step system which was the first thing to really help my skin. I also learned more about how to apply the basics. It was a turning point for me.
The real revolution came when I discovered Kevyn Aucoin, quite possibly the greatest fashion makeup artist, period. He believed in the beauty in people and wanted to bring that out; he was an incredible artist. His books are glorious testaments to his skill and creativity. When he died in 2002, the world lost not just a makeup artist, but a beautiful soul.
It was around that time that I discovered MAC (Makeup Artist Cosmetics), and the rest, as some say, is history. MAC was (and is) perfect for me. It’s perfect for everyone. That’s one of the things I love most about MAC: their philosophy of inclusion.
Of course, I also love their products. I love the color range. I love that no matter what you want to achieve with a look, you can find a way to make it happen with their offerings.
In 2008 I met a lovely lady named Megan and she happened to be a makeup artist for MAC. We hit it off and became friends. She taught me so much about technique (and how to apply fake lashes!), and I’m better off for it. We had very similar tastes in the creativity and artistry of cosmetics and would often spur each other to new and crazy ideas. Some of the best photos of me have to do directly with techniques she taught me. Things I never would have thought of, but that made such difference, particularly on camera. She knew her craft, and I was lucky to learn from her.
I’ve always felt cosmetics allowed anyone to explore themselves and to create a glorious and fleeting art installation. The art is on your face, and you can change it at will. That’s kind of incredible. I will always love the intense amount of possibilities makeup affords.
Which might explain my arsenal of cosmetics. :)
Below, you will find some photos of what I am fortunate enough to work with. Please keep in mind this wasn’t purchased over a short span of time. My eye shadows and blushes are well-maintained (once a year I lightly shave off the top layer with a piece of paper to keep them fresher), as are all other products. Once something starts to smell or turn, out it goes. I’m also very careful about foundation and mascara, the two things quickest to go.
Let’s dive in!
This is the top drawer of my cosmetics. These are the items I use most often, namely the items in the two left columns of dividers. There you will find the basics of foundation, concealer, primers, etc. I wanted to be able to see the colors of each MAC lipstick, so I bought clear tops on Amazon. One of the best finds I’ve made!
This is the second drawer down. In dividers stacked four high are my eye shadows, and then my blushes (as well as other unique items). There are a couple of palettes in this drawer, as well as two types of makeup wipes and some various sponges.
This container (it’s laying down for this photo) holds my most used makeup brushes, as well as my collection of MAC Dazzleglass. If you love glittery lip gloss, I encourage you to seek them out, at least to try on. They are so beautiful.
I am a huge fan of MAC’s pigments and glitters. A little goes a long way, and I’ve had these for quite some time. I’m always looking for an excuse to use them.
A new line of MAC palettes recently released and I’m borderline obsessed with them. Here are the exteriors.
And here are the interiors! I apologize for the lousy lighting; I was using my phone to photograph these, and it was hard to get a decent image. Rest assured, they look gorgeous in person!
My Borderlands 2 loot chest stores all my backup cosmetics; these are the items I wouldn’t want to be without, so I have spares. There are myriad colored mascaras (hot pink and teal are my favorites), my favorite lipstick in the world (MAC’s Mangrove of which I have more than a few spare tubes of), and various primers and such. There’s no better place to store them than a loot chest!
I know so many people who adore cosmetics, both male and female, and I’d love to hear some of your stories about what they mean to you or how you were drawn in to them. Please, please, PLEASE share those stories!