My salad dressing days

Grey is the new grey
January 15, 2006, 9:12 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Sometimes I feel a desperate urge to belong. To feel part of some greater whole. A small, yet significant something in the grander scheme of things. On this particular day, however, my brain just would not stretch to concepts of The Universe or The Solar System. So I decided I would settle for the greater whole that is a large department store in central London.

As politicians and civil servants are wont to say, I was minded to acquire New Make-Up Habits. Yep, not just Products, but Habits.

A whole new me. Oh yes.

Having briefly consulted The Plate Invigilator (she being my own personal font of beauty and fashion knowledge), I had been tipped off to take a stroll past the MAC make-up stand.

And right enough, a leisurely stroll was all it took before I was accosted by a MAC make-up consultant.

‘Can I help you?’

‘Oh yes! I’m just looking for some tips, really. Well, a whole new look, actually. Thing is I’ve been wearing the same make-up for, ooh, decades. Seriously! And I’m just wondering: am I wearing colours that suit me? Do I need to think about changing my lipstick colour? Stuff like that….’.

[Suddenly words are tumbling out of my mouth at a rate of knots. This is so not like going to the hairdressers.]

‘O-kay,’ she replied. ‘So…foundation?’

‘Oh God no! I haven’t got time for that! I have two young children and about four and a half minutes to devote to putting on make-up each day, if that. Basically, I can manage a bit of eyeliner and mascara and maybe lipstick if I’m going out.’

[She looks at me as if to say: ‘My God, your life SUCKS!’]

I ramble on: ‘I mean, I’ve been wearing grey eyeliner FOREVER. See? Maybe you’re going to say it doesn’t suit my eye colour…I am totally open to suggestion here.’

[She looks my face up and down a bit.]

‘Well, here, you could try this Super Duper Paint-It-On-Anywhere Stick Liner in taupe. That’s a good colour for you.’

‘Oh, so grey is not?’ [I feel thrilled. A poor choice of eyeliner colour is what’s been causing me to look like death warmed up! Hoorah!]

‘No, grey is good for you too. Greys and browns are good.’


She applies some of the taupe stuff and it looks pretty good so I say I will buy some.

‘Mascara?’ I inquire.

‘Hmmmm, let me see…you have a lot of lashes [YAY!] but they are quite thin [BOO!], so I’d recommend Super Duper Lash-Thickening Gorgeous-Making mascara in black.’

Again, I try some on and commit to a purchase.

She saunters over to the till indicating that I should follow.

Thing is, I’m getting a taste for this make-up makeover thing, so I ask:

‘As for lipsticks, I always go for a dark plum colour, but maybe I’m not choosing right? What d’you think?’

She scurries back from the till and takes me over to another stand.

‘Pinks are good for you,’ she muses.

‘So not plum?’

‘Oh no, plums are good. Here, let’s try this one. OK, part your lips just a little – I’m going to put on some lipliner first.’

This takes about five minutes. Crikey. By now, the chicklets would have broken into the cupboard under the sink and downed a litre bottle of cleaning fluid. Besides, I am starting to feel like a porn star posing for a shoot. I hope I don’t see anyone I know.

She disappears off, returning seconds later with the lipstick.

‘Oh no! You licked your lips!’

Did I?

On goes the lipstick. Another five minutes. At this point the chicklets would have figured out how to climb onto the gas hob and given themselves third degree burns by delving their arms into a vat of boiling soup. This, I think, is why I never wear lipstick.

I’m not so sure about the lipstick. It’s a bit too pink. I decide to stick to dark plums.

No matter, because now I am on a roll.

‘Alright, so say I did want to wear foundation, y’know, for a special occasion…do you have some that is VERY QUICK TO APPLY?’

[I hope by now she is getting the whole ‘time is of the essence’ message.]

Together we scuttle off to yet another stand.

‘This is a stick. You just roll it over your cheeks and forehead and blend it in with a brush.’

This sounds marvellous. She invites me to sit on a stool in front of a big, well-lit mirror.

‘Oh God, I look dreadful! I look as if I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep for months!’ [I haven’t, so I guess that figures.]

She smiles. I wait for the ‘no, not at all! you look great!’. She nods.

Work your magic, lady, WORK YOUR MAGIC, I think.

She starts painting the foundation on and my verbal diarrhoea continues:

‘Thing is, I have two young kids. I care for them full-time, so there’s not much time for beauty routines!’ I chortle merrily.

‘So, you don’t get out much then?’ she asks, her eyes full of pity.

I shake my head dolefully.

‘So this is a rare afternoon off?’

I nod.

‘Oh well then, we had better make the most of it! How about a bit of blusher? And I’ll put some concealer under your eyes.’

I briefly feign reluctance but then say ‘oh, go on then!’.

Once our session is over, I look at myself in the mirror. Yikes, I hope I don’t scare the chicklets when I get home. Mr Chick will most probably think I’ve developed a secret amateur dramatics habit.

Still, I now possess a whole bunch of beauty secrets and tricks to rival those espoused by make-up ‘I worked on The English Patient’ experts on TV, and this was by far and away the most productive use I’ve made of the chicklets’ Child Benefit.

I scoot upstairs for a cup of tea and a piece of cake. As I am shovelling the last morcels of pear and almond tart into my mouth, I find myself licking my lips. I quickly check myself in the mirror of my compact – my lipstick has half-disappeared! This explains a lot. I can’t get along with lipstick because I lick my lips! Because I EAT! Dammit, there’s another habit I’m going to have to kick in 2006.

Anyway, I take a long route out of the store to avoid the accusing eyes of my consultant and tootle home, stopping to pout and admire The New Me in each shop window I pass.

When I get home, I race upstairs to give the chicklets a goodnight (air)kiss.

Mr Chick looks me up and down:

‘Decided to audition for ‘The Mikado’ after all, did you?’

Ha bloody ha.

[Image courtesy of Natalie Dee.]


21 Comments so far
Leave a comment

That’s all very well, but did you get the obligatory “free gift”? It’s free in store today, if you buy 19 items and fill in this form, which includes details of your mortgage and gynaecological history. The bag is made of faux-PVC in the style of Lulu Guinness (you wish) and contains handy-sized versions of our best-selling Armpit Glitter and Lip Enhancer (available today in “Menstrual Cramp”…)

Comment by the plate invigilator

My mum always used to say “make up looks best if no one can tell you’re wearing any”
It took me years to work out the best way to achieve this look was not to wear any.
I think she was lying so as not to have to say anything about my make up. Sometimes she really tried to be encouraging.

Comment by mig bardsley

TPI: dammit, if only i had bought the pink lippy (bringing it up to 19 items)

and besides, isn’t it ‘handy-sized oddments’? emphasis on the ‘odd’


MB: of course you are right – i am always trying to achieve the ‘look like you’re not wearing any make-up’ look when really i should take it to the next level and NOT wear any

Comment by Urban Chick

That was frenetic! I felt like ai was racing around a department store on dead legs with you!

As for foundation – if you haven’t been wearing it its because you don’t need it. Wrecks your skin anyway (starts muttering about English princesses with their perfect un-sun-destroyed visages…)

Comment by Justine

Why, WHY can the counter girls not realize that we all don’t have a half hour a day to apply pancake makeup, nor would we want to if we did have it.

I think you look lovely, UC.

Comment by Whinger

Oh my God, you are so brave. There’s hardly anything that scares me more than the prospect of some Amazonian make-up counter diva scrutinising and criticising my physical appearance.


And again, brrrrr.

Comment by patroclus

Wow, you have time to put on makeup? I stopped wearing lipstick when I read somewhere that we eat about 30 lbs of the stuff every year…

Comment by Violet

one of my new years resolutions was going to be to wear mascara every day but someone pointed out that wouldn’t actually make me a better person and also I couldn’t be bothered. Anyone ever tinted? However I did consider getting a few make up tips from a dept store counter, esp re eyeshadow. It worries me. I think I’d like to try it. And I can’t help feeling at my age I should at least own foundation.

Comment by suburban bantam

I can do foundation, powder, eyeshadow, mascara, eyebrow pencil, lipstick (and even blusher once in a blue moon) in three minutes flat.

A lifetime of having hideous skin kind of refines your technique.

Lipstick only lasts as long as my 1st cup of coffee mind…

Comment by Spinsterella

You got served at a MAC counter! How do you do it. I’ve stood at MAC counters waving around my purse saying loudly that I need new blusher/eyeshadow/help whatever and have still been ignored. And I wasn’t dressed as Worzle Gummige at the time either. Please Please tell me your secret.

Comment by Jane

Memories of a school day out in London, aged 16. We ended up wasting half the day in Harvey Nichols while a friend was creosoted over and had her eyebrows plucked away to nothing, then she had to disappear to the ladies to attempt to scrub all the creosote off again. Another friend told me that one of those women scrutinized her and said “your eye colour is golden grey, NOT green, and gosh you DO have a lot of open pores”. As she had lovely alabaster skin, I imagine by comparison I would’ve been called the Human Golfball.

Only good advice I received at a make up counter was from a woman who selected a foundation shade called Beige Silk which suited me perfectly. It was promptly discontinued of course.

Comment by Betty

i am scared of makeup and makeup counter ladies. i do love a shiny lipgloss tho.

not really one of your girly girls, me.

Comment by surly girl

HAHA I always hide my face from the make-up counter ladies to they don’t see the sad state of affairs that is my make-up.

Comment by Jenny G

I’m not so keen on the lipstick, but the lipGLOSS on the other hand… well, I will apply and reapply as needed, over and over. Because I have morphed into a glossaholic. I’m sick, I know, and I’m sure there should be some sort of 12 step program, but there isn’t one just yet, so in the meantime I’ll just keep lacquering and lacquering over and over and over…

We don’t even want to get into my pathetic lip balm habit.

Comment by katiedid

I had a good laugh over this post UC! I relate to everything you said…including the whole frantic pace of it.

Don’t worry, there will be a time when the chicklets give you a little more breathing room. You may even have 5-10 minutes for your makeup 🙂

When I went to NYC last year, I had a NARS makeover. She made me look fabulous of course but you can do that when you put enough gunk on. I still just take the time for lipstick, eyeliner and a bit of blush-about 1 minutes worth of ‘me’ time.

The very best thing I bought in NYC was that bronzer and bronzer brush. Instant makeover!

And lipstick…I stick to the L’oreal Endless series. Its practically indelible (and cheap compared to Dior and such). ♥

Comment by Kyahgirl

My tip is to NEVER go to a make-up counter and ask for an “evening” look. They wait all day for this, and will cover you in everything shiny that they have. You then leave the department store in broad daylight and half an hour later you catch sight of yourself in a window and realise you have been walking through town looking like Lily Savage.

Also Maybelline and Virgin Vie both do lip glosses that stay on all day. You can only get them off with white spirit.

My make-up routine is painting-by-numbers. If you just do he same thing every day you don’t need to think about it to hard.

Comment by Kellycat

If it’s OK for me to join in here, I think they do a special kind of permanent lipstick tattoo for people with this lip-licking problem.

Oh Mama! I’m commenting on a lipstick thread!

Comment by Dave F

Did you visit the “Sacherel” counter??

Comment by the plate invigilator

heh, heh, just laughing at Dave f ‘commenting on a lipstick thread’ 🙂

Comment by Kyahgirl

btw, mr chick never said the ‘the mikado’ line

i’m really stretching the limits of what passes as ‘artistic licence’, aren’t i?

well, TOO BAD – i needed to round it off neatly

Comment by Urban Chick

See, most of my make-up is ancient and I almost never wear it. I don’t have the excuse of having frangelittles, though, I just prefer to spend that extra 10 (?) minutes in bed. Much more productive.

Comment by frangelita

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