My husband rues the day I discovered beauty vloggers on YouTube. That introduction to awesome videos, coupled with the fact that I write about beauty trends and products for a living, has resulted in more befuddled looks and double takes (and not the kind you get on the street when someone thinks you’re hot stuff) than I’m imagining most wives receive in a lifetime.
I fondly remember my husband’s first winged eyeliner encounter like it was yesterday. After fastening pieces of Scotch tape above my cheekbones and praying they didn’t take pieces of my skin along with them, I followed one vlogger’s priceless advice, dug a slanted brush thick into a tub of black gel eyeliner, and created come-hither eyes that would have had Cleopatra demanding my head out of pure envy. If you have yet to try this eyeliner hack, stop everything you’re doing and stock up on tape at Staples. I promise the tape won’t destroy your skin and you can be as clumsy as you want with your brush and still come out of the whole ordeal with seriously sexy eye wings.
Or, as my husband would later christen them (and my entire visage): “Sci-fi face.” Naturally, I paired my new eyes with black latex leggings and an oversized black cashmere sweater before shimmying down to the den to greet him like the goddess I imagined I was. I’m sure he meant to say “fierce face,” but was too overwhelmed by my beauty to get the right words out.
Over the years, my spouse of eight years has seen it all. Hot-pink eyeshadow, feathered faux lashes (it was New Year’s Eve!), colorblock eyeshadow, neon purple lipstick (Coloured Raine is genius) and more adaptations on the bangs, which my husband has dubbed “window shades,” than any one person can imagine. I haven’t even started to describe the amount of room it takes to house all of the skin care products I hoard and cherish as if they were my own flesh and blood throughout our bathroom and hall closets.
My husband has woken up on weekend mornings to find me wearing tiny black goggles and running a red laser device across my face, watched in disbelief as I coated my skin with an 18-karat gold leaf mask I received from a lovely PR contact, and I’m convinced a small part of him dies inside whenever I defend a woman or man’s right to get Botox or do whatever surgical tweak they feel will make them feel better about themselves. My attitude about it all has always been: You only live once. If your fine lines bother you and you have the extra money, get the Botox and get on with your life.
There are times when I’m sure my husband thinks I’m nuts for getting up every morning and, despite working from home and caring for our two young children, throwing on a hand-embroidered dress, ankle boots and blood-red lipstick just to pick up bread from the grocery store. But fabrics and colors and creams and serums excite me. It isn’t just about getting dressed; it’s about creating that day’s armor. What am I dreaming about that day? Who do I find inspirational at that moment? If it’s Jane Birkin whooping it up in the South of France, I’ll break out the striped T-shirts, high-waisted dungarees, strobing and nude lipstick. If it’s Liz Taylor, sorry, but I’m going to need my Cleopatra eyes and Scotch tape.
I spent far too much time in my late teens and early 20s dressing for men — the low-cut tops, the tight fits of skirts and blouses without any semblance of balance or mystery — styles I now find predictable and boring. With experience and age comes the freedom to explore your frivolity and whimsy. I’m fully embracing that now and plan on doing so until I’m old and gray. Giraffe-print top when I’m 90? I sure hope so. For good measure, I’ll buy the coordinating set of giraffe-print trousers for my husband, who will surely recognize the error of his thinking by then.