Do you have friends who don’t wear makeup and do you ever look at them and think ‘you could look so much better with a bit of lovely (LFF) slap?’
I constantly see older women without a scrap of makeup on and invariably imagine just how great they could look if they just wore some skin unifying foundation or groomed and defined their brows, or added a touch of lovely pinky blush or lippie to their pale cheek and lips. And it always makes me question why these bare-faced women eschew one of the quickest and easiest ways to look tons better!
So this week I have been giving some thought to all the reasons an older woman might give to explain her decision not to enhance her looks with makeup.
1. ‘Because I can’t be bothered’.
Many older women ‘throw in the towel’ when it comes to looks. Maybe they bothered with their appearance when they were working but now they get up, wash their face, drag a comb through their short, no-nonsense hair and pull on an easy care, easy wear outfit in a plain, bland colour. Their philosophy now is ‘I am invisible so why should I care what I look like?’
2. ‘Because I lack confidence with applying makeup’.
Daunted by the young, pushy sales girls in beauty halls, they may well have had a bad experience with a makeover on a beauty counter. When they looked in the mirror afterwards, they couldn’t wait to get home and take it all off. Since then they have reluctantly accepted that makeup is for younger women with flawless complexions, which are the only images they ever see in magazines and in ads.
3. ‘Because I am terrified of looking like ‘mutton dressed as lamb’.
Maybe this was a favourite saying of their mother and now they are more mutton than lamb, they are very wary of applying makeup which might make them look like someone desperately clinging to their youth.
4. ‘Because my husband/partner doesn’t like it.’
When, on special occasions, they risk a light touch of pale pink lipstick their other half tells them that they look a lot better without it. As he is always disparaging of women who ‘doll themselves up’ they have learnt to curb their liking for colour and ornament. Or maybe they still remember the way their father told them to ‘go and wash that muck off’ when they experimented with makeup as a teenager.
5. ‘Because I am a lifelong feminist.’
They didn’t go on all those marches in the 60’s and 70’s to win equal rights for women to surrender to that ultimate symbol of male oppression (lipstick!) So their scrubbed face is a statement of their feminist credentials and membership of the sisterhood.
6. ‘Because I think that caring about surface appearance means that you are vain.’
They have few mirrors in their house and rarely look in them. Now that they are older they don’t much like what they see reflected back and think that any time spent making themselves look more attractive is a self indulgence.
7. ‘Because I was taught to think that makeup is ‘common’.
Deep down they have always thought that it’s only stupid, frivolous women who wear makeup and as they are clever, they wear their bare face as a mark of superior intelligence.
8. ‘Because I think that makeup is inappropriate now that you are older.’
They particularly dislike bright red lipstick on an older face and think that older women look cheap and tarty if they are not very careful.
9. ‘Because I want to blend in with my social group.’
Peer pressure doesn’t just exert itself on teenagers! No-one of their age in the book club, exercise class, golf club, church or any other group of which they are a member wears makeup and they don’t want to be the odd one out.
10. ’Because I don’t have time.’
What? Take five minutes every morning to apply some makeup? No way - they have a very busy life with lots of demands on them and, frankly, they have much better things to do with their time than bother with makeup.
I am a life-long makeup junkie who has worn makeup every day for about 55 years.
So I have really enjoyed trying to put myself in very different shoes and consider all the pressures both inside and outside which might mean that an older woman might feel reluctant to wear any makeup. And yet I know from the frequent emails that I receive that there are very many of you who have started to enjoy makeup after a lifetime of not bothering with it.
One of the most interesting of these was from Mary Ellis whose story I included in my book in the chapter on makeup, because it picks up on many of the reasons mentioned above. Here is an edited version of Mary’s email:
‘As a younger woman I had striking dark brown hair, (dark) eyes and olive skin. I never learnt to put on makeup as a youngster, and only very occasionally wore any since.
I didn't think I needed it, lacked confidence in how to apply it, and thought ‘what's the point, I'll only be taking it off again in a few hours’. Then in May 2015 I swapped my glasses for contact lenses. Where my glasses had given my face definition and colour, there was now blandness. I seemed to disappear. I started experimenting with makeup. I knew I needed lessons, or a makeover or both, but had been down this route before and hadn't been satisfied with the outcome.
I sat on a train and watched a young woman apply her makeup. What a routine, what a palaver! So many products - you'll never got me doing all of that! Absolutely not.
Then I stumbled across one of Tricia's 'How to' videos. Here was a video that made complete sense, explaining what product to use and why. For the first time I understood what to do and what effect it would have. I also learnt why my mascara looked heavy and messy, why my eyes didn't stand out, how to mitigate crepey eyelids, how to stop my lipstick bleeding into feathery lines, and many more important pointers and tips.
Just watching that first video gave me the confidence that even I could make myself up to look stunning.
What a difference it makes, giving subtle pretty tones together with the really lovely Lid Colour. Yes it takes time for my whole routine, but even then LFF has a 'Quick and Easy' video that's great if I'm in a rush. What utterly gorgeous products. I am so happy to have found Look Fabulous Forever. And so grateful to Tricia, Linda and all the models for showing me how to look, and feel, fabulous.’
We invited Mary to be one of our models for the advertisement we made for TV.
We styled her as a ‘rock chick’ wearing a leather jacket (her own) and styling her with a bright red lipstick (see photo above). With her fabulous long white hair, she looked stunning and a million miles away from the rather mousey-looking person you can see in the ‘bare-faced’ photo at the top. Did my list of reasons for not wearing makeup chime with you in any way? Like me, have you always worn makeup despite being an intelligent feminist? Do you also ‘stick out like a sore thumb’ in your social group with your lippie on?
Do leave your comments below - I read every single one and love to hear what you have to say. And maybe you’d like to forward this email to a friend who might be toying with the idea of wearing some makeup!