7 February 2015

Cosmetics

 Quite a few women drop by this manly blog and I will be most interested to find out what they have to say about today's subject - cosmetics. Last year, "The Independent" newspaper reckoned that in her lifetime the average British woman will spend around £100,000 on cosmetic products. Products which hide blemishes, which colour or gloss the lips, which embellish the eyes with eye shadow and mascara and do various other jobs to enhance or perhaps to hide the face that Nature has provided.

A former teaching colleague called Val once confided in me that all her adult life she had had to factor in an extra half hour every morning in order to apply her war-paint. She admitted that she wore "a mask" and that no one outside her family had ever seen her without the face she had painted on every day for forty years. I found this very sad and wondered what it had to say about women's liberation.

Many of the older teenage girls I taught must have spent more time preening themselves in mirrors than they spent on their homework. Their faces could be caked with concealing creams - often in tan colours that would be too dark for a Greek peasant in a heatwave. Their eyebrows would be plucked and shaped so perfectly that they looked as if they had been stuck on from a clown's kit.

Like most men, I have never worn any make-up (apart from theatrical make-up). My eyebrows have never been plucked and my hair has never been coloured. Before I go out, I sometimes comb my hair and that's all. No lipstick, no concealing creams, no eye shadow.

I think that many modern women have got the balance right. In everyday life and work they may wear no make-up at all and only when "going out" on special nights do they reach into their make-up bags or apply some of the products they keep on their dressing tables. Isn't it all about self-confidence? 

Perhaps a woman's relationship with cosmetics has a great deal to say about how she sees herself. For girls who are becoming women it cannot be easy. They receive so many mixed messages. On the one hand, they are told that men and women are equals and yet they see so many images of women who meticulously seek to enhance their natural appearances with expensive facial products. And finally, I also wonder what cosmetics have to do with making women more desirable to the so-called "opposite" sex when honesty is surely beauty's best companion. Oh, and please don't get me started on face lifts and botox and other such self-indulgent nonsense.

24 comments:

  1. I often think about whether I should be wearing makeup as I get older ~ but would prefer an extra half hour sleep myself.

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    1. I guess that wearing make up in a hot tropical climate is rather more problematic than it is for women in cooler climes.

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  2. I'm one of those women who never leave home without makeup but I would never spend anything like that amount. Can't imagine where they get those figures from. I think I'd spend about $250 a year plus a bit more for perfume. I spend far more than that on keeping the grey hairs at bay !

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    1. Wearing a balaclava and sunglasses would save an awful lot of money Helen.

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    2. Love your reply.
      I don't go out without a full mask job, it takes me 8mins. I spend about £20 a year on war paint and maybe £15 on perfume, but I only wear natural oils. I call it "making an effort" not to frighten the horses or my grandchildren!

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    3. PS, Above pic looks like a negative.

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  3. Mmmm, that's a LOT of money to spend on make-up. It's been my observation over the years that a lot of the money spent on cosmetics for girls and young women either sits unused in the bathroom or is dispatched to the garbage bin if it doesn't measure up to expectations.

    Speaking as someone who sits very close to her use-by date, my bathroom cupboard contains only the basic items these days, with moisturiser and sunscreen the most used items on a daily basis.

    Ms Soup

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    1. You sit close to your use-by date Alphie? Does that mean you are heading to the pearly gates real soon? Been nice knowing you. Hope you haven't sinned too much.

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  4. I'm not a big fan of makeup. I never wear it if I'm off work, and at work it's usually just a tiny dab of concealer for the dark circles under my eyes, a bit of powder, and maybe if it's a good day I'll wear a little mascara and lipstick. I typically have to throw out leftover makeup after 6 months or so because I haven't finished it. Only then do I buy more. It's just not a big deal to me!

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    1. Dark circles under your eyes Jennifer? Are you a panda? Sounds like you have got cosmetics in proper perspective.

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  5. You did scare me with that first picture this morning, YP! Good job I have not had my breakfast yet...

    On a related topic ("Changing Faces"), I wrote this post in 2011. I still feel and think pretty much the same.

    These days, I usually wear lipstick and mascara when I go to work at my customers'. For evenings out, I add eye shadow. The colours of lipstick and eye shadwos always take up the most prominent colour of that day's (or night's) outfit. I still don't use any powder, concealer or "cakey" make-up, and I never pluck or stencil my eyebrows. I don't use nail polish, either, since I dislike my hands and fingers and do not want to draw attention to them.
    As for hair - well, if I didn't do anything about that, I'd be completely grey-white by now. It runs in the family to be grey early; in fact I had my first grey hairs at 26. Now I am nearly 47 and keep telling myself (and my hair dresser) that I'll stop colouring when I turn 50. We'll see!

    As a teenager, I did not wear any makeup at all. I didn't feel comfortable with it, plus I had very good skin (no pimples all through puberty).

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    1. That first picture? Did you think you were looking in a mirror Miss Arian? Thanks for sharing some of you secrets re. grooming.

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  6. Like Helsie, I don't venture out of the door without my make up on. I suppose it is a mask in a way but if you look in the mirror and you look good, then you feel good. Covering the grey hair is like painting the Forth Bridge! I don't want to go fully grey at my age - I'm far too young!!

    I don't like to see young schoolgirls caked in make up either.

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    1. What do you like to see young schoolgirls caked in? Quick drying concrete?

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  7. I think the mixed messages that our young women (and young men) hear are just awful. And, for big companies to make more and more money, our young people are being mentally tortured with those mixed messages! Love yourself the way you are (but change the way you look by using this product). Stay in school, get a good education, work hard and you will have success. But, Kim and Justin can screw up and be brats and still make gobs of money and have fans who love them everywhere. Your father and mother work hard to provide for their family, but instead of them being your hero's, you should adore and worship those football players who get away with drug abuse, domestic violence and even murder.

    As for me, I lived my life as a blonde person. And as I have aged, my eyelashes and eyebrows have gone from blonde to transparent. So, when I go out, I wear a little brow pencil and mascara and blush. And underneath that, always sunscreen and tinted moisturizer. Oh, and always, always toenail polish. Pink in summer, blue in fall, red in winter and green in spring......

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    1. Does Big Bear paint his toenails too?
      You are right about the subtle pressures upon youth these days. It is a wonder that the majority of our young people appear to get through all that crap relatively unscathed.

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  8. The only time I wear make-up these days is if I'm going out somewhere special...to a social gathering or such. Light foundation, a bit of blush (known in my mother's day as "rouge", eye shadow, liner, mascara and lipstick...nothing over-the-top, though. I never pluck my eyebrows. Fortunately (or unfortunately...whatever way you look at them...I don't have to look at them often), they don't need plucking.

    I wore make-up everyday, of course, when I was in the workforce. And for 14 years of my working life I worked within the fashion industry, but I never applied it heavily; always pretty subtly. I'm now retired and I definitely don't wear make-up here at home.

    When I go out to do my shopping (to the local supermarket) I do put on some lipstick, but that is all....they just have to take me bare-faced whether they like it or not!

    I believe drinking lots of water daily is the best make-up of all! I don't even use face creams, lotions, moisturerizers or whatever else. Water is best...for me, anyway.

    I don't dye my hair. Nowadays I'm grey...and I like my hair that way. If others don't, well that's their problem, and I don't care!

    As for fingernail polish...I just don't like it. Wearing it annoys me. I've gone through stages...brief stages...through the years when I'd wear it...but, as I said, only in brief bursts. Fingernail polish and I just don't get on. I've never ever bothered painting my toe nails.

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    1. If I had the time and the inclination I would write a book about cosmetics and women's various relationships with the stuff. There's be chapter devoted specially to you Lee.

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    2. You wouldn't have to write the chapter, Yorky...I've already done that for you. You'd just have to "copy and paste" it! :)

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  9. When I worked I worked 12 hour shifts and got too hot & bothered to wear makeup, it melted and I wasn't allowed to wear nail polish. Now I don't work I will wear makeup when I go out during the day. I still don't wear nail polish, old habits die hard. I am going grey but I don't dye my hair, I haven't the patience to sit in the hairdressers and go through the process, even if I could afford it!. I don't think I'll spend anything like £100,000 in my life time!

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    1. The amount of money mature women spend on hair treatments is absurd. I wish that more women would grow old gracefully instead of trying to fight back the years but there's so much pressure on women to create illusions of youth.

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  10. Never worn it. Never likely to. No hair = no problem there either.

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    1. We should try everything once. Be brave Graham and make an appointment at "Bliss Therapy" or "Envy" in Stornoway for a cosmetics make-over. You will look and feel like a new man.

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  11. I can't imagine that you found all these answers to be of interest to you, YP. My husband would have nodded off by now. For what it's worth, I wear no makeup. Can't be bothered. I've never been a beauty queen, but not a monster either. On some of my ugliest days, my DH has said 'Oh, you look nice today' and on some of my best days....nothing. I've a sneaking suspicion that I look pretty much the same no matter what I do or don't do, so I slap my hair in a ponytail, brush my teeth, put on my favorite jeans, T-shirt and a good attitude, and TA DA, head into the day!

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