My first experience using makeup was a disaster of epic proportions. During lunchtime in junior high school, a friend unveiled a magical kit of color and decided to play Picasso on my face. Using an applicator that resembled a q-tip, yet felt like sandpaper, she applied layers of green, purple and aqua blue and when I looked in the mirror I resembled someone who had been through a tussle, correction, full-on Brooklyn beatdown, in the street. And the color palette had won. I had a boyfriend at the time who regarded me with a look that was a combination of confusion, terror and amusement. He told me that I wasn’t someone who needed makeup–I was beautiful without it. I think about that now, a few decades later, realizing how rare it is to hear someone tell you that you are complete with less.
I don’t wear makeup because I don’t see the point in it. I mean, I do, I do, but it’s a lot of fuss, I don’t understand the alchemy of pigment, texture, and shade, and the idea of standing in the bathroom staring at my face for hours on end gives me vertigo. I’ve also never been the sort who covets the “latest products” or adheres to the gleam of advanced skincare technology, rather I buy what looks and feels good. And more importantly, what works for my wallet. Because I’d rather spend all of my money on food and travel than plot my acquisition of a newfangled eye cream.
I like to keep my world simple and small.
When I was in India, the days were a photocopy of one another with regard to the heat. The days were a weight we all had to bear, and the idea of me wearing anything other than cotton and sunscreen were unimaginable. I’d brought a small vial of perfume on the trip, and it was in India that I realized I HATED perfume. It was, like the sun, a burden, another layer adding to rather than revealing what was (I’m sure my beauty friends will respectfully disagree), and when I came home I gave away all the expensive scents I’d collected over the years. Yet, while perfume made me squirm, I fell in LOVE with oils, a single scent rubbed into my skin. In India, I procured vials of oils that had been derived from generations of men who pressed flowers. Wild orchids, jasmine, lavender, rose–the scents were fresh instead of cloying, and they weren’t the kind of perfume that sent the legions into coughing fits when they entered a room.
When I packed for my trip to Thailand, I managed to fit ten days worth of clothes and products in a single carry-on. The days here are sometimes unforgiving with temperatures climbing into the 90s, and did I mention that it’s WINTER? I’ve given up on the fact that I won’t look like a Chia Pet as soon as I leave my hotel room, and the only makeup I can bear is red lipstick. However, when you travel with passionate beauty editors, who have the same zeal for stepping into an herbalist than I do when I cruise the food markets, one can get temporarily sucked into the void of sheet masks, placenta-enriched creams and essences.
However, let me reassure you, I didn’t go BANANAS. You’re never going to see me stockpiling makeup and products that will take a month to comprehend, much less apply, however, I did go in for jasmine body scrubs, orchid, jasmine and mangosteen (not available in the U.S.) body oils, and yes, I did snag some of the Etude House sheet masks simply because it reminded me of Hannibal Lecter (thanks, Amber!) and it seemed easier than actually digging my hands through a miniature jar. Also, cheap.
Can I tell you that as soon as I used a dollop of said bizarre placenta cream, I bought the whole thing. My face resembled a newborn, and as Edith Piaf so sagely crooned, I’VE NO REGRETS.
Because this woman still loves her food, I hoarded dried coconut, mango and jackfruit after my purchases, which, in total, amounted to $30!! I MEAN.
And yes, I’ll be returning to normal scheduled programming shortly.