Beauty In the Breakdown


This essay was originally published on January 6, 2015.

After yesterday’s post about the continuing horrors of chemotherapy, I feel I have to redeem myself a little bit by posting something positive.

Last July, shortly after my mastectomy, an old and dear friend of mine started posting links on my Facebook page to some YouTube videos made by one of the countless beauty “gurus” who review makeup and skin care products, in an effort to keep my spirits up. The videos she chose are made by a woman who is relatively close in age to us, with a very down-to-earth attitude and sense of humor about beauty. She ends each video with a few minutes of bloopers culled from the filming, which are flat-out hysterical. I’ve gotten many a giggle from those videos, and as a result, I’ve taken to viewing such snippets regularly. I’ve also become somewhat of a disciple of these women, and now there is a growing group of them whose videos I’ve begun watching obsessively.

The link above is to a video made by British makeup artist Lisa Eldridge, who I wouldn’t classify as a “celebrity” makeup artist (even though she regularly makes up celebrities for red carpet events). She doesn’t have her own line of products, nor is she well-known here in North America. I stumbled onto her YouTube channel when one of the gurus I watch regularly mentioned her in a video. As the saying goes, I have found my “holy grail” beauty guru, because Ms. Eldridge embodies the aesthetic I very much admire: the ability to use cosmetics to look like the best version of yourself. It’s not that I don’t enjoy watching girls half my age transform themselves into goddesses of maquillage, with perfectly applied foundation, concealer, contour, highlighter, along with half a dozen eye shadows, liner and false lashes – it’s never been a look I could ever pull off. I admire the skill and artistry these girls possess, but at this stage of the game, I would look like the draggiest of drag queens if I tried to emulate a look like that today.

When I found Ms. Eldridge, I found my beauty scholar; her soothing, lilting accent, and her talent, have been a balm to my soul. Even though I don’t have any eyebrows or eyelashes to speak of right now, I enjoy watching her expert tutorials where she applies makeup to herself and others, and the knowledge she imparts about makeup and skin care products. I’ve always been a junkie in that regard; there was a time in my life when I had in my possession enough makeup and skin care products to last about three lifetimes. It’s possible I missed my calling by not becoming a makeup artist, or at least getting a job in the beauty industry, but I’m not the sort that would likely fit in well in that arena. Despite that, I do love to write about the stuff, and lately, watching these videos has been something of a lifesaver.

I must admit that before I was introduced to all this, my only use for YouTube was to search for snippets of old television shows, or watch music videos. I was not at all clued in to the vast beauty universe on social media. Now, I’m hooked; I’ve subscribed, followed, and commented, and I’ve learned quite a few tips and tricks I can’t wait to try on myself. This has been my version of the “Look Good, Feel Better” part of having cancer, and it’s done wonders for my psyche.

You might be thinking, why doesn’t she get all dolled up right now? The answer to that question is because I acknowledge my limitations. I refuse to be false, drawn on, and shimmery in my current state. For now, I prefer to express myself with my cheeky beanies and maybe a little lipstick. The time will come when I will once again join the ranks of the goddesses, and this time I will be armed with the knowledge that will ensure I get it right.

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