I ought to be writing. I'm supposed to be writing. I'm playing with makeup instead.
Why? Because it's that time of year.
Now there are some that wax poetically about getting older. It could be said the passage of time overwrites our faces and hides behind the dulling eye. Some claim under eye bags and dark circles are badges of honor giving a glimpse of struggles endured. That each laugh or worry line has been carefully etched into our faces to form a topical road map of a life well-lived...
To that, I say
I don't really mind getting older. I've spent 60 (mostly wonderful) years on this earth. I've three (loving and thankfully) grown children, fantastic friends and relatives - all of which keep me laughing. I've had the great fortune to travel, although there are always more places to see. And, I've attained my life's dream of publishing a few novels.
So, for the most part, age isn't something I worry about. Except, of course, when it's that time of year.
But when you've got a birthday looming and are in the snotty grip of a nasty cold, heed my advice and stay away from the mirror.
If you are careless enough to stop and take a long look, don't blame me. Though, I suggest you try to remember that none of those grooves and discolorations happened overnight. They were created slowly. In the same way the earth's tectonic plates ebbs and flows over time, the landscape of the face changes.
It's all a plot to catch you unaware and unprepared. However, do as I do and try to only openly acknowledge them once a year. It makes you wonder. Why these things, that normally go unnoticed, should claim the attention right before a birthday.
How can the celebration of another year lived feel like a slap to the face?
But it can and it does and because it did I took it on the chin. I'll explain by explaining the realization happened on a day filled with more Claritin than clarity.
In retrospect, it was my own fault for buying a magnifying mirror. If you've not succumbed to the urge then never never buy one. Let me say that harsh 5x magnification with bright LED lighting only amplifies flaws of timeworn skin. My already double chin seemed to quadruple in such high relief. I swear I could drown an entire pod of whales in the dark bags beneath my eyes. Or lose an entire platoon in the grooves around my mouth. Mixed metaphors but you get the drift.
And, what the hell? When did my nostrils go all wonky? I can't remember any recent blows to the head, but it appears as if one side of my nose is collapsing in. Now, one nostril is misshapened and they are woefully mismatched. But, for the life of me, I can't remember which one has changed.
Feeling too cruddy to do anything, I spent the day reclining on the couch with tissue box and laptop. I'm telling you all of this so you can understand why I made the logical progression to YouTube tutorials about makeup.
Contouring is nothing new but, per usual, I'm late to the party. It might be because I'm too lazy to put much effort into face paint. It might be because I'm too cheap to buy tons of expensive products like fancy sponges and brushes. What I want to think is that, with the wisdom of years, I no longer care all that much about what people think.
I will admit, though, that contouring fascinates me. I enjoy seeing it - on other people. Before now, I never considered it for myself. It looked to be more effort than I'm inclined to give and I believed it took an artistic talent that I lack.
Yet, when I say I no longer worry about how I look it doesn't mean I want to end up looking like a clown from a horror movie either.
Taking encouragement, and a few hints from the dozens and dozens of videos out there, I experimented. Except for the contour stick, I haven't use anything I didn't previously own.
Face. For better or worse - there it is. Check.
Cheap white makeup sponges from WalMart. The kind you buy in mega batches.
A dab of moisturizer first, one poster insisted, to help blending later.
Heavy lifting equipment already in my arsenal: Hard Candy Highlight & Contour duo stick, Cover Girl/Olay Simply Ageless Foundation, a blush stick, and a pencil eyeliner. I use the same pencil in the eyelid crease and to line my eyes.
That's it. All cheap. All easily found at your local discount store.
Most tutorials are given by the young and still firmly skinned. While I watched them all, I stuck with techniques targeting more mature faces. A few of these suggested placing your highlight and contour lines on the face before anything else.
After trying it both ways, I decided using the contour stick beneath the foundation is best for me. Mainly, because it's more forgiving of mistakes.
Older faces, they say, need more highlighting to disguise dark circles, bags, lines, and uneven skin tones.
Here I am with my high and low lines done. Ready for the next part, I start blending with the sponge.
Ready for the end results?
First, the before. This photo was taken a few months ago. It shows me pretty much au naturel.
This last shot was taken today after using my new tricks. What do you think? Though I'm sure I'll improve with practice, I do think the skin looks a little smoother. A little younger. The bags less obvious. I noted that I no longer felt the need to put my hand under my face to hide all the chins.
Perhaps, the next step ought to be learning how to contour the nose to disguise the fact my nostrils have warped. Or, maybe, I'll leave them be so people have something to wonder about.
I'm happy to say, I thoroughly enjoyed my 61st birthday which was filled with tons of cake and laughter. I'll also admit that I'm relieved it's over so I can forget my appearance for another year.
Because, as I mentioned before, I'm supposed to be writing...
R E Mullins
author of vampire/romanceThe Blautsauger of Amber Heights Series
and the new Vampires of Amber Heights Series
Stand alone novella though Kindle Worlds:
Keep up with what I'm working on at