The husband was away on business and I had a make up splurge. Not something I do terribly often. Around this time of year when the winter clouds lift and my centrally heated, dulled complexion gazes back at me in the spring lightness of my unforgiving bathroom mirror. I then know its time to drop into my favourite ‘never knowingly undersold’ department store.
My standard routine is a few laps of the beauty floor trailing an air of disinterest; because of course I don’t want to look as if I might want to buy something. When I’m sure I won’t be pounced on, I sidle up to my chosen counter of delights and feign a knowledgeable interest in the quite frankly unfathomable array of products.
The moment I begin to touch any of said products, I’m done for. They change into magical pots of promise. A vision of untold, light reflecting, illuminating transformation unfolds before my puffy eyes. It’s then I seek out the bored, glamorous sales assistant. Those perfumed wizards of the make up world who can make me beautiful with a sweep of a mascara wand and an expertly blended daub of foundation.
As soon as I take a seat behind the counter I’m under their spell as they utter words like ‘highlight’ and ‘glow’. I am putty in their perfectly manicured hands, and I’m carried away to a mythical world of lipstick, powder and paint.
I remember quite clearly my first encounter with ‘luxury’ make up. I was new to London and browsing around Barkers of Kensington. I was drawn to the quirky packaging of the make up on the Benefit counter. I was obviously emanating vibes of interest and was easily persuaded to ‘take a seat’. Of course the minute I took a seat, I was done for. The make up brush wielding sales assistant was immediately painting me with ‘You Rebel’ tinted moisturiser and staining my cheeks with cherry red ‘benetint’. She told me I had a Scandinavian thing going on (enhanced by those products – obviously). That was it, I bought both and skipped away feeling lighter and prettier and altogether more Nordic. She did an excellent job because I continued to use Benefit products for some years afterwards. In fact I still have a battered tube of ‘you rebel’ tucked into a bathroom drawer.
I’ve switched allegiances over the years. In the early days I clamoured for Clinique; I schmoozed briefly with Shiseido, and was constantly bedazzled by Benefit. I’ve courted Clarins and had an on-off liaison with Lancome, but my longstanding love affair is with Bobbie Brown. It is to her I remain faithful
What is it about these luxury brands that do it not only for me but for the millions of other women who part with their precious cash for the joy of owning them? It’s not only the promise of untold translucent, barely there beauty. Less expensive products also promise that and I’ve had my fair share of those too. There’s something about the packaging of luxury branded make up that proves repeatedly irresistible. The weight of a shiny black encased crayon of lipstick; the contours of a shapely glass bottle of foundation and the shimmery quality of a neatly packaged eyeshadow.
For some this may appear shallow. After all we all know that outward beauty is only skin deep and its whats underneath that counts; character, heart and all those things. But I would say beauty is also in the eye of the beholder, and anything that makes me feel even a tiny bit better about myself when I behold myself in the bathroom mirror is fine by me.
I know that as long as make up and especially luxury make up helps me to feel good on the outside I shall continue to spend my hard earned pennies (well pounds actually) on it!