A Deal Diva makeup lesson for tweens
I stood chattering at a brunch with co-workers, cookies steadily going in my maw, when a friend approached with furrowed brows.
"My daughter," said Leonora LaPeter Anton. "What should she be doing for makeup? She's 12. All her friends are wearing it."
No big deal. I started in with surfacey advice about lipgloss and other juvenile cosmetics. After all, when I was 12, my entire arsenal included a misguided pink lipstick and clear Jane mascara.
Yeah, yeah, lipgloss, sure, my friend dismissed. But what color eyeshadow? How should her daughter apply it? And what about eyeliner?
Eyeliner? At 12?
Of course eyeliner at 12. How could I be so dense? It's 2011. Girls get Lip Smackers at 4 and Bratz Dolls at 6. Gossip Girl stars wear lucite stripper heels with dollar slots. Hannah Montana wraps her red lipstick around a bong and it's all over YouTube.
There are two options.
1. Launch into a diatribe about the rapid toilet flush of the culture, followed by an "in my day" speech, followed by total makeup denial, followed by a door slam, followed by her finding a way to wear it anyway. Or...
2. Take the wheel. Show her how to use eyeliner before she joins the Courtney Love School of Manners and Beauty.
Leonora chose 2, but she needed help. Fortunately, while other teenagers were out having lives ten years ago, I stayed home in my room playing with makeup. I studied late makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin's amazing instruction book, Making Faces, like it was trig homework. I practiced on friends. Now grown, I have several train cases of products, and perhaps, an addiction.
We would have an informal class. Leonora brought her daughter, Lauren LaPeter, 12, to our St. Petersburg Times photo studio. In tow were Lauren's best friends from Baypoint Middle in St. Petersburg -- Savanah Catalina, 13, Elizabeth Mitchell, 12, and Caroline Lawery, 13. They posed for a before picture.
We went into the dressing room, sat in a circle and talked first about reality. Girls at school wore tons of makeup, they said. Foundation. Lipstick. Eyeliner so thick they look attacked by a Sharpie.
These girls had dabbled in makeup, but were still very unsure. Caroline wore mascara every day except one. "I have no-makeup Tuesday," she proclaimed in a tidbit of completely enlightened wisdom.
They will have years for nit-picking and self-loathing, so I decided not to go there at all. We talked about enhancing their favorite features, totally ignoring ones they didn't like. I made them pick their prettiest parts, and they praised their eyes and single dimples and eyebrows. I told the girls, between jealous sighs, that they would never have better skin than they do now. There's no sense in shellacking it or spending hours in messing it up tanning beds.
Instead of foundation, we used tinted moisturizer with sunscreen. It keeps skin soft and even without looking cakey. We applied with sponges so their fingers wouldn't spread middle school grime and cause breakouts. They blended everything into the neck and topped it with a dusting of translucent powder in their forehead and nose "T-zone" where oil likes to gather.
The girls made big, cheesy smiles and pink blush went right on the apples, where the sun would hit them in real life. No fuchsia highways to the hairline allowed.
It was time for eyes. They tensed a little. This is scary stuff, wielding wands and clamps and brushes and pencils at the very things from which you see. I did one eye and let them do the second, because it's no good having someone do your makeup if you don't learn how.
Using a good, sturdy brush in place of the dinky Q-tip jobby that comes with eyeshadow, we swept shimmery white power along the inside corners and under the brow bone. For the eyelids, we picked shades that made eyes pop -- burgundy for the blues and a rich khaki green with gold flecks for the browns. It's all about layers, I told them, like you're painting a picture.
Then eyeliner. Dun dun dun. Nervous groans.
It's about precision and blending and definition, I said, not about who can get the black line the highest. Their hands shook, and I had to remind them to look in the mirror, always, when your face is at stake. We made slow, small dashes as close to the top lash line as possible, then went over it with a smudging brush.
Some girls wanted eyeliner on the bottom, which I said was a personal choice. It can make your eyes look small and claustrophobic. Or, if you're careful about it, it can work. I advised top only for day, possibly adding bottoms for hanging out with friends and going to dances and movies.
We finished with a careful eyelash curl and a coat of black Maybelline Great Lash mascara, the timeless choice in the hot pink tube. And we swiped on iridescent lip gloss. No need for liner, unless they wanted to look like a 70-year-old lady at bingo.
In the end, I couldn't help preaching. Take off your makeup every night, I said, no matter how tired you are. Stay out of the sun. Try new colors and have fun, but don't make yourself unrecognizable. It's OK to mess up, to look back at pictures in ten years and laugh. Makeup washes off, and you're still there.
They posed for an after picture looking confident and fresh. And despite a little eyeliner, they looked pretty darn close to how they did before.
Just as it should be.
Deal Diva Stephanie
Photos: Kathleen Flynn, Times