My Mother's Beauty Style



I don't know where my love for beauty products came from. I know for sure wasn't taught: My mother was my antithesis in this area (and in most others). Her only form of "putting on her face" was applying Revlon lipstick while backing out of the driveway. Twenty years later, it has the exact same smell - an olfactory trip down memory lane.

The other glaring discrepancy: She bought no more than $30/year in cosmetics. No no-buy intact. No self-restraint. No penny pinching (well, maybe a little of that).. She just wasn't interested. In the mid-80s, she hosted a Mary Kay party for a friend. Her purchases sat in our bathroom closet until somewhere around 2000. She didn't use them, but she didn't throw them away.

She never wore sunscreen until her 50s and her skin looks like that of a much younger woman's. She never had skin cancer. She never taught me any beauty mantra as I reached puberty: Perhaps because we didn't bond in that way, but mostly because she just wasn't interested.

When I rummage through her makeup collection - which fits in its entirety in a oval wooden container no bigger than a salad plate - it's dated, shimmery, and random: It's loaded with shimmery lipsticks, shadows, and nail polishes in colors that follow no logical thought pattern. When I ask her why she picked a certain shadow color, she shrugs and replies, "It looked pretty." This is the response of the uninitiated. The initiated will reply with a logarithm leading to their selection.

My mother still curls her hair almost daily with hot rollers she bought in the 1970s. She also perms it the way we did in the 80s. She is uninterested in updated information or products or that great invention called heat protectant. Once I came home  to a hopeless look in her eyes: Her hair had been overprocessed so badly, it looked like it break off. She literally didn't know what to do but stand there close to tears.. I took her to the drugstore and amazed her with the selection of deep conditioners. It was literally like showing the Amish the Internet.

I would be much richer woman if I followed my mother's lead, but I just can't.

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