Re-learning Makeup and Making a Discovery

learning makeup over again for my new age


50 Ways to Leave Your 40s Experience 35: The Make Up Lesson

I’ve always been fascinated with make-up, albeit I’ve probably never appreciated — or used it —to my advantage. Pots of eye colour, jars of foundation, glosses to make lips sparkle, shine and, if required, seriously pout. A whole collection of primers and products to transform even the freckliest of faces into a coloured, flawless, natural beauty. If you know what you’re doing of course….

Growing up, my beautiful Mum was my tutor with make up.  She made it look effortless and could go from bare-faced to glamorous with a small collection of tubes, pots and a slick of mascara. She wouldn’t dream of putting the bins out without her “face on” and would often raise a well arched penciled eyebrow if I turned up without any colour on my cheeks.

I’ve always been a less-is-more girl where makeup is concerned and will not hesitate to meander around Sainsburys without a scrap of concealer or blusher gracing my face. As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve realised this is not really an option and the dark circles and less than flawless skin need a little helping hand occasionally. Well, every day really…

However, as a girl of the 80’s, with a scabby Constance Carroll Blue Eyeliner as one of my tools, I’ve always felt that the correct application of makeup passed me by. I’m never quite sure what to do with eyeliner – should it be liquid or pencil? – and don’t get me started on flicking it out and creating wings. Blending, sweeping and contouring are not words associated with slapping the slap on and hoping I don’t look like that bloke from Kiss.

So at 49-years-old, I decided it was time I learned how to do it properly — and that’s how I found myself on this wet bank holiday Sunday; in a hotel with 30 other women of mixed ages (mainly under 21 though!) and a rather excitable Makeup Artist – or MUA as she referred to herself as. She selected a young girl from the assembled faces who happened to have the most perfect spot and blemish-free skin and she began the makeover…

Jo Howell is learning how to apply makeup in Experience #35.
Photo by Jo Howell

Who knew it was eyes first and not foundation?! For years, well forever, I’ve always put my face on and then my eyes…lesson number one ticked and in the (makeup) bag! And for the next two hours learning makeup, we followed step-by-step the order the MUA applied the makeup —brows, eyes, mascara, concealer, foundation, contour the cheeks, bronzer, highlighter, more mascara and setting powder. I think!

I scribbled notes in-between blending brown glitter eye shadow and trying to micro-blade my eyebrows (no, I have no idea either!). I got a thumbs up of approval from the other ladies at my table. The other ladies who’d all conveniently forgotten their own makeup and carefully watched my every move with every brushstroke I made….no pressure then.

Jo Howell is learning makeup can be fun and everyday in Experience #35.

The whole idea of these 50 experiences is to learn, open my mind to new possibilities and consider everything as an option; a new hobby or a future career. I’ve always loved putting makeup on others — my Girls World is a testament to that — and as I sit here tonight learning makeup, I am researching a more comprehensive Makeup Course. I seriously can’t think of anything better than turning women (and men – why not!) into confident, colourful and blooming butterflies.

Me – a 50-year-old MUA?! Why the hell not!




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