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Tuesday 15 October 2013

Is there anything more frightening than make up counters?

As someone who is very-nearly-but-not-quite-thank-you-very-much 40, it strikes me that it's strange how there are still some things that can instill an irrational amount of fear into me. I'm not necessarily talking about those weird phobias that we all have, but more the kind of things that you would think become easier with practice. Silly things like tipping, public speaking and eating spaghetti in public without getting it all down your front.

One thing, however, that still brings me out in a cold sweat is the department store make-up counter. There's just something incredibly intimidating about those immaculate assistants smiling at you from behind a shiny glass stand with their perfect teeth. A smile that's supposed to signal encouragement but more often than not reeks of pity as you hover nervously wanting simultaneously for them to ignore you and take you in hand and sort you out. My experiences over the years have not been mixed, it has to be said. My first ever purchase was a blusher from a Clinique counter that prompted my then-housemate to declare that the makeover was "quite nice apart from the blusher". Plus, each one of them seems to have been obsessed with putting put me in the brightest Barbie pink lipstick they can find.

I've noticed over the last year or two that I've definitely hit a tipping point when it comes to make-up. Once, I used to wear make-up to look older. Going out without it meant I'd get asked for ID ("I'm 35!" I once squealed at the elderly dear in M&S, secretly wondering if they did it on purpose so that people like me would have a story to boast about), answering the door without it meant the double-glazing salesmen would ask if my parents were in (this happened to me at 31. Have I given you enough clues about how wonderfully youthful I once looked?)

Anyway, these days I'm now at the stage where I wear make-up to look younger. I no longer get asked for ID when I venture out without it. Instead, people act concerned and say things like "you look tired, are you ok?"

Then there are the studies and womens' magazines that tell us things like "36 is the optimum face age" or "women at best at 30, start to age at 41". Plus stuff about how wearing the same "look" you've been wearing since you were 20 isn't flattering once you get past 35. Much as you tell yourself you are above that stuff, eventually the insidious messages get to you. So you finally pluck up the courage to approach the women nearly half your age on a random make-up counter.

"Can I 'elp you?" she says. (Winning smile. French accent)
"mumble...mumble..update look...mumble...mumble..." (pick up random highlighter pen hoping it will leap onto my face and instantly cover up my blushes).

Thankfully she takes charge straight away, and sets to work with a random selection of products, all the time oohing and aaahing over my bone structure and my skin colour, and I'm finally starting to relax. We even converse in my rusty French, and I teach her the word "oomph" for "'ow you say in Eenglish, ze peps?"

It's all going swimmingly. Until, that is, she delivers that killer line: "Ah, I zink we 'ave similar skin. I 'ope mine is as good when I get to your age".

I'm sticking to Boots in future.

via Beauty Blitz


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