Thursday, February 15, 2007

Letting Go

Bad beauty habits are like being in an abusive relationship. You know it's wrong, but you insist that it's just a phase; that it'll all come together in time. You defend it because you need it to feel like yourself.

You've seen it: The middle aged woman with 12 coats of mascara clumping her lashes, the teenager in heavy black eyeliner, or a lady with crispy hair that recalls a High School student from the 1980's (because that's when she obviously got out of High School).

I've had my share of bad beauty habits that I wouldn't discontinue. The one that stands is powdering the opaque concealer underneath my eyes.

I have dark circles. Not the kind that everybody thinks they have: Like, DARK. This requires concealer.

Everybody always thinks that they have the right concealer to erase my circles. What I've found over the years is that it looks better if they show a little. To conceal them completely means a heavy, probably cream concealer in an orangey shade under the eyes, followed by a powder foundation. They will look invisible. But what you have in it's place is a chalky collection of eye wrinkles complimenting the now pasty undereye area.

It was a slow transition and there have been days when I backslid to pull off red lips. Or maybe I've been in bad lighting selling makeup all day, adding more as the day wears on.

The new routine has mostly stuck, but I really had to trick myself. I had to tell myself 'I'll go back tomorrow. Just try it for a day.' Like a good friend coaxing me away from the alcoholic boyfriend. However, it's harder to break than most bad habits or addicitons: We are our only advocate and we're also the addict.

That's where I think we can change things. I rally those in the beauty world to soften their language when approaching a customer who is stuck in one of these ruts. Treat them like you would the Mother of three with a black eye. Talk them down slowly, give them options, show that you will be there. Instead of "Oh honey, this mascara is a big ol mess!" instead try "I see you like a defined lash. Would you like me to show you one that builds beautifully and you only need 2 coats to have a beautifully lush (use words they need to hear) lash?"

If someone had approached me 10 years ago saying "I can see that you've got a lot of darkness in your undereye area. Let me show you a trick that will have everybody thinking you aren't wearing anything to cover it up." Instead I heard a lot of "What you need to use to get rid of darkness is a creamy yellow!" Then it would turn grey. "What you need to use to get rid of the dark circles is this pink concealer!" Then it would crease. Then they would powder it. Then it would still crease. I would say "I've tried them all!" "Yellow doesn't work for me!" "Creamy concealers crease up right away on me!" "Actually pink doesn't make it any better. I'll still need to set it if it's a full coverage concealer." Nobody would listen to me. Finally I have talked myself into a sheer coverage concealer. It plays the area down and I don't have to set it with anything, thus, drawing more attention to the area.

The next time someone comes up to you with foundation 3 shades too dark (or light), remember this and give her the sweet talkdown and realize that maybe she HAS (probably not) tried tons of foundations and this is the only one that covers her brown spots (again, doubtful). But hey, it's worth a try. Even if it does end up taking the better part of a decade to get her in the right products.

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