Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Minnie's Make-Up Bonanza

The phone rings: “Darling! What are you doing? Come over for tea.”

My friend Minnie is a style commentator of some note. She has just returned from three months of travelling, working a punishing schedule on several continents. So obviously she feels the urgent need to empty and reorganise her bathroom cupboards.

By the time I arrive she’s well and truly stuck into it. The bathroom has taken on the atmosphere of Selfridges’ sale. Cosmetics are lined up in neat ranks on every available surface. Rows of bronzers fall in next to flanks of blushers. Lipsticks line up on the edge of the bath. Foundations march in formation across the floor. Minnie is nothing if not methodical. “I find this is therapeutic. In fact it’s a form of meditation,” says Minnie, “I don’t think it’s an illness.” She looks at me pointedly.

“Anyway darling, tell me all about it.” I cast my eyes around, uncertain where to start so Minnie jumps in to help me out. “Have you lost weight?” “Yes,” I reply, somewhat embarrassed. I’m about to add: “but I’m eating lots of cheese and chocolate to put it back on” however Minnie gets there first. “Well it’s fabulous. That anorexic look really suits you.” Minnie is well known and admired for her forthrightness.

“Do you find you’re wearing different clothes?” she asks. I consider. “I have a small number of outfits that I feel good in. They’re smart but comfortable. I’m wearing lots of leggings and dresses.” “What about your colours. Have they changed?” asks Minnie. “Well yes, I’d say they have. I hardly ever wear black now. I’m drawn to brighter, clearer colours and not so much to the sludgier ones.” I’m really getting interested in this conversation. It is fascinating to me to observe the way that Minnie dissects the pathology of cancer style with professional expertise, in much the same way as the surgeon dissects and analyses the cancer itself. No sentiment, just the facts: “And your tailoring? Is it softer?” Her insight is remarkable. “Why yes!” I reply. Only the other day I found myself wistfully fingering long, drapey cardigans in Phase Eight, a shop whose door I would never have darkened B.C.

Because of her high profile job, Minnie gets given stacks of freebie make-up and beauty products. In the end it is more than one woman could ever use. It’s more than the entire cabaret at Madam Jo-Jos could ever use. And it’s not the cheap stuff either. There are multiples of Nars blushers, Chanel eyeshadows, Dior lipsticks...

“Anyway darling, what would you like?” My eyes bulge with greed and confusion. “You’ll need something to give you a glow” says Minnie handing me a tube of Laura Mercier tinted moisturiser. “How about some foundation? I think this is your colour.” She dabs Crème de la Mer base under my eyes. “I think you should have a bronzer.” I’m hesitant, “I wouldn’t know how to wear bronzer” I reply, concerned that I’m going to end up resembling Dale Winton. She grabs a box of Hoola by Benefit. “I’ve been using it a lot lately. It’s great for those fagged out moments in the middle of the day. Always tap the brush so that you don’t overdo it. Put it on everywhere that the sun would hit,” she applies the brown powder to my forehead, cheekbones, chin and nose, “always put some on your neck as well so you don’t get that big contrast between your face and your throat.”

“Would you like some false eyelashes?” “Hmmm,” I reply, “I think I’d better not. I’d be worried that the glue might pull my few remaining eyelashes out.” “Darling,” she replies, “I had those semi-permanent eyelash extensions and afterwards nearly all my eyelashes fell out. What you must go for when this all over is Latisse. It costs $180 but it makes your lashes grow thicker and darker.” “Wow,” I reply, “does it work?” She bats a luxuriant eyelid at me. “There’s a risk that it can make your blue eyes turn brown. You could get Revitalash or Neulash. They only cost $100.”

As I write this it’s 2.30 a.m. and I’m still researching eyelash growth promoters. Here is what I’ve learned so far...

Latisse is only available on prescription. Latisse, Revitalash and Neulash all contain prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are hormone-like substances that, amongst other things, control the dilation and constriction of blood vessels. The particular substances in these products were developed to treat glaucoma but in tests it was observed that the eyelashes also grew excessively. So the prostaglandins were subverted for cosmetic use by Allergan Inc, the people who brought you Botox. By all accounts the products do work. People are raving about them on the internet. But one known side effect is that they can change the colour of your irises – permanently.

I come across a fascinating website: They’ve tested lots of eyelash products and done useful research on many of them.

These eyelash fertilisers are strong drugs. Before I even think about using any of them, I feel I should ask my oncologist, Suzy Cleator, for her opinion. If I get the ok I will try some of them out and get back to you with the results.

So back to the story... By now, Minnie has applied to my face: moisturiser; foundation; bronzer; blusher; lipstick and eyeliner, all on top of the make-up I was wearing already.

“Well if you can't have the eyelashes here’s a nice pencil to fill in your eyebrows.” She feathers on small strokes with a Givenchy eyebrow pencil. Minnie then gets a huge shopping bag and piles in a couple of bottles of St Tropez, “you need a bit of colour on your legs darling,” some Proto-Col facial gel, A bottle of Bliss Thinny Thin Chin “to firm up your jawline”, four Clinique lips glosses, Nars creme blusher “for emergency cheek colour,” Terry Peace & Glow draining concentrate, “you need this for those puffy bags under your eyes.” “What puffy bags under my eyes?” “Those ones right there,” she says, jabbing them with the Peace & Glow. Minnie throws in a tube of Sisley Eye Contour Mask and a phial of Benefit undereye brightening cream just to make the point.

Things I got for free today:

A huge bag of make-up and face creams, too numerous and fabulous to list.


sally said...

Goodness! I am inspired to actually look into my bathroom cabinet and use up all the tiny Shiseido free samples that have sat there forever.

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