I had just turned 53 and as I exited the bathroom my eyes landed on my skincare products. I had a little chuckle to myself thinking, “I wonder if everyone has so many products, is everyone as beauty obsessed? ” Like anything that brings joy, we are drawn to it, we collect it, buy more than we need, and we justify it to ourselves. I NEED this!
The next thought I had was, when did this obsession start? I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s in the Midwest. We had an over the toilet storage cabinet that had a few shelves and a section with sliding doors. That’s where my mom kept her makeup. I remember in the towel closet there was a shelf with some things like Noxema, Ponds Cold Cream, Jean Nate, and scented talcum powder with a velvet puff. All the typical products of the time. I can remember climbing up onto the closed toilet seat to investigate and try on the makeup. I didn’t know much about applying makeup but I was ready to try all the different products.
In 1978 when I was twelve, a neighborhood boy came knocking one evening selling magazine subscriptions. Mom let me choose one and that is where my beauty obsession begins. I looked at all the pages in the brochure, Ranger Rick, Good Housekeeping, Time, but the one that called to me was Teen Magazine. I remember mom hesitated maybe she thought I was too young, so of course I jumped in saying, I wanted it. About two months later Teen started showing up in the mailbox.
Teen magazine had articles on fashion, relationships, friendships, school, and of course makeup and skincare. I faithfully read it cover to cover. I took the quizzes to find out if I had an oily t-zone, which shades of eye shadow suited my blue eyes, I tried the natural face masks with egg whites or banana and I followed the skincare recommendations to the letter. This began my skin routine obsession. I would steam my pores every few weeks to prevent blackheads, followed up with a toner/astringent and daily facial cleansing.
By the time I got to junior high, I was spending an hour every morning on my hair makeup before running to catch the bus. I had a Covergirl foundation that smelled like Noxema, blusher in a color called Woodrose, and an eye shadow palette with four shades. I would line my eyes with black pencil, softened by holding it over a lighter. When it was my weekend to spend with my dad (my parents divorced when I was in 8th grade) I’d con him into buying me makeup.
I think only someone who was skincare obsessed would remember when they first went to the local drugstore on their own. I was 16 and I can remember driving myself to my local SupeRx looking for AHA lotion after reading about it on the pages of magazines. The magazine promised glowing skin. I had to have it!
My husband tells me one of the first things that attracted him, was that I was always made up and looked put together. His mom and sister were into skincare and makeup too. One of the first Christmas gifts he ever gave me was an Estee Lauder Holiday makeup kit. I was so excited because it was my first real experience with anything other than drugstore products.
In the late 1980’s I took a job as a cosmetics salesperson behind the counter for Estee Lauder. That was truly a dream job. We got to use the products, they trained us in everything about skincare and makeup application. I started using everything, scrubbing my face with their Solid Milk Cleansing powder, moisturizing with Skin Perfecting Lotion, and I even won a sales contest where the prize was Eye Zone, a new cooling gel moisturizer for the delicate skin around the eyes. We were encouraged to come to work barefaced and make ourselves up at the counter. It was good for business for customers to see us applying our makeup. I’d always spritz a little cologne, usually White Linen, Cinnabar, or Beautiful.
Even after I went to work in various office jobs I was always reading magazines and spending my lunch hour at CVS and Walgreens. My makeup hero was Estee Lauder. I had read her autobiography, and I admired her for business and beauty intelligence. Competitors all thought she was crazy, but she was a true pioneer in the beauty world.
I was one of the first subscribers to Allure Magazine. It was the first magazine focused on beauty. That became my bible on skincare. It exposed me to the various product ingredients and what they did and didn’t do for your skin. I found out about brands that were available outside the U.S. On my first trip to London I made a beeline for Boots. When I pushed open the door it was as if I’d entered some hallowed halls! I was like a kid in a candy store in Italy when I stumbled upon KIKO Milano. I’m always up for a mini makeover at any cosmetics counter. I think I’ve tried nearly every high-end brand that way.
I have had makeup and skincare subscriptions to Birchbox, Ipsy, and Fab Fit Fun. They are superb at offering new products to try. I watch YouTube makeup channels on the weekend. My favorites are when they feature a drugstore dupe for a high-end product. Some of my favorite You Tubers are Trinny Woodall, Angie Hot and Flashy, Ms. Gold Girl, Nadine Baggott, and Caroline Hirons. I will admit to having a weird preference for British You Tubers. Maybe it’s their accent?
So, what are my must-haves you might ask?
I love everything about makeup and skincare. It allows us, women, to take care of ourselves, and look as good as possible. I find it fascinating to learn about the newest innovations and the history of cosmetics. All of us can have amazing skin ar any age, the key is consistency. When you find the perfect products, and use them diligently you will see results. Maybe you’ll even become beauty obsessed like me!
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