Makeup For Lost Time



I sit contemplating my dressing table…

Come on, ladies, don’t be shy.  You all have one – it may be the bathroom mirror or at the kitchen table; perhaps it is your visor mirror utilized on your way to work, but we’ve all got a “dressing table,” real or figurative, by which I mean a stash of cosmetics bursting out of some dusty box, bag, drawer or cupboard somewhere.

I have a lotion and potion to cure everything from under-eye suitcases to the “fine lines associated with aging,” aka good old fashioned crows feet and frown lines. It doesn’t matter that I obtained such souvenirs by squinting against the glare of a happy sun and smiling until my jaws hurt. As we age, it all tends to migrate south and settle into unhappy lines, more’s the pity. So I proceed with my morning patch and spackle routine.

I am suddenly drawn back to my grandmother’s own “dressing table,” and realize that perhaps I am going a bit too far. Her cosmetics consisted of a very, very old pot of rouge, perhaps a relic from pre-revolutionary France, probably made out of squashed beetles preserved in wolf lard. The stuff was ancient, smelled like a museum, and I don’t recall her ever using more than a very, very light pinch on special occasions, if then. Other than that, there was a large and well-used pot of Nivea cold cream, a large pink shaker of Cashmere Bouquet, which smelled like roses from the crematorium garden, and a stick of whitener for her fingernails. And at least a zillion hairpins, of course.

My grandmother’s glory was her hair, no doubt. It fell in long waves to her backside the whole of her life and was only ever let down twice a day: Once in the morning before it was wound up into a Victorian-era bun, and once in the evening when she would plait it into a thick rope for bed. She did not own a pair of trousers, had a box full of sparkly and inexpensive brooches, and wore any of about 10 homemade dresses. She was virtually devoid of vanity, yet was one of the most beautiful women I can recall in my life.

So what, I ask, is my problem? I dutifully cover my under eye circles, paste on some foundation (what some would coyly refer to as “tinted moisturizer” – hey, who are you kidding? If it is the color of your skin, people, it is FOUNDATION!), set it with powder, apply blusher and highlighter and eye makeup and liner and mascara… I have always viewed the making my face in the morning as a favor I do to the rest of the world. This plasticated society is not yet ready to view me unmade – I have rosacea. I’m getting old. I have circles under my eyes…

But then there is the truth:  I make myself up for myself and no one else. I just went through a 6 month phase of wearing nude lipstick because I felt it was more age appropriate… ok, so that is not entirely true. I saw J-Lo wear it on Xfactor and I thought it looked good. I know, I’m not proud of it, but there you are.

Well, that routine was broken this week. In a moment of sheer madness, I invested in a brightly intense fuchsia lipstick and found that when I punctuate my smile with it, the whole world seems to treat me better. Men are happy to let me edge out into traffic. The otherwise grumpy checker at Asda (Wal-Mart) smiles and inquires amiably about “how long I’ve been in this country.” My husband decides to take me out to dinner. On a Thursday.

Ok. So I’m a vain bird. My grandmother would be horrified. Beauty should and does, truly, come from within, but I intend to go down with a fight. I am not my grandmother. I am happily on the road to becoming that eccentric old lady with a shockingly youthful haircut, bright lipstick worn both on lips and teeth, and thick eyeliner in the approximate vicinity of my eyes. I will be a caricature of my former self. A HAPPY caricature, that is…

Have a fab day, my friends –
Kicking and screaming and aging gracelessly,

Your Mother Hen

feature photo: Shutterstock

© motherhendiaries 2014 all rights reserved

7 replies »

  1. I love wearing makeup. Women are funny things; we often criticise each other for our choice to wear makeup with comments like “she’s wearing so much makeup!” but many of us love the security it gives us.
    I used to convince myself it was a form of art, and maybe it is, but I’ve started to embrace the fact that I wear it to make myself feel better. And I have often worn a certain type of makeup because I’ve seen it on a celebrity, so you’re not alone there 🙂


    • I think it’s all about striking a balance – nobody wants to look like a cake faced tart, but most of us can do with a bit of self grooming and a touch of war paint now and again. 🙂 thanks, Janey – it’s always good to know we have company in this boat.


  2. The new house comes complete with a dressing room/walk-in closet in the master bedroom. Every woman who sees it claims she hates me for it. I of course feel its a bit wasted on me. I have buckets of make-up, but I usually wear concealer, powder, and mascara. It’s a 5 minute routine. (And, sometimes, I don’t wear it at all! I’ve found the llamas and horses care very little if I wear it while cleaning their stalls…)


    • Hahaha! So cute… you’re lovely with or without, Cherity. both the llamas and your adoring fanbase think you’re lovely anyway. But as for that dressing room – (!!!) Can I admit I’m a little jealous? I have set mine up in our guest room, so I live like Lady Muck with all the space in the world for my makeup and googas and gadgets for twirliing my stick straight hair into something resembling waves. But when we have company, all this is relocated to my bedroom. Poor Hubby has to live like a hoarder for the duration of any houseguests. My chickens and cats don’t care if I look like death warmed up – I have been known to collect the eggs in my nightgown and wellie boots (now, THAT is a look that will really fly on the catwalk!), looking something between the Wild Woman of Borneo and Cruella DeVil before coffee. But I’m pretty sure everyone else in the world will thank me for at LEAST covering up the dark circles. And the rosacea. 😀


  3. I loved your frankness, MH! I am so glad you admit to the use of the undereye creams and potions! I have a few different ones, also love lipstick on all women! My Mom felt that and a dash of mascara was all that was needed! She has lovely blue eyes and still wears mainly lipstick. She is not able to handle the mascara anymore. I use a new kind of cream on my face, it has some natural ingredients but is greasy as I sleep. I am not sure which fruit or vegetable is in it, but my youngest daughter insisted I throw out some of my older kinds of creams and also, sorted through my eye shadows, proclaiming most of them not good for my eyes! Laugh out loud! Smiles, Robin


    • Bless! Your daughter is trying to keep you “in the NOW” – mine does the same, but she is more subtle. She is a little bit of a fash guru anyhow, so I have learned to take my clues from her. I told her years ago that if I ever start becoming a caricature of who I used to be (by wearing too much makeup, coloring my hair too outrageously, etc) she would step in and STOP THE MADNESS. So far, I’m coloring between the lines… but I’m not getting any younger either! Ha! Mother Hen


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