All the disclaimers - No one asked me to make this post. No one paid me or compensated me in any way to make this post. I am writing this out of total sincerity, because it was something I enjoyed that made me feel good and I wanted to share it for that reason. My intention in writing this wasn’t for personal gain, but to show that when we suffer from mental illness, in addition to traditional therapies and medications, we can also take lots of other unexpected, out of the box actions to help our healing process along. This is one of the things I discovered that worked for me. There is a referral link at the end of the post. The referral link, should you decide to use it, will give me points that I can use to order more beauty crap. That’s it.
A few months ago, I was intrigued when my cousin posted a photo of herself on Facebook and she looked spectacular. Her makeup was, as my students were saying last year and probably aren’t anymore, on fleek. This was unusual for a few reasons. 1. My cousin doesn’t post a lot of selfies. She usually just shares cat videos. and 2. I think the last time my cousin wore makeup was when she was my maid of honor in 2005. She isn’t a makeup girl, which is fine, because no one actually needs makeup.
Except me. I need makeup. Without makeup I look like a cast member of a particularly goth production of Sweeney Todd. But at the same time, I’m not really insecure about going around without makeup on either. Often my laziness overrides my desire to look…alive. And I don’t care. But I also really enjoy wearing makeup as much as I have no idea what any of the products are or how to use them.
For my entire life I have purchased all of my makeup at the drug store, and I never thought anything of it. I mean, where else do people buy cosmetics? Apparently this isn’t normal. A few weeks ago I was hanging out with my rich friend, the same one who doesn’t eat butter and uses nut juice in her coffee. Remember her? She confessed that her guilty pleasure is that she has discovered drug store makeup, and in particular she likes that brand “Maybe-Line.”
I was deceased. Girl just called May-buh-leen, Maybe-line. I was like “What brand?” just so I could hear her say it again, and I still haven’t corrected her, although I have vowed that the next time I see her I’m going to tell her I just love that fancy brand “Channel.” If I make enough money someday I will get some “Channel” perfume. When I get finished writing this I’m going to call her up and ask her what that makeup brand from CVS she likes so much is so I can hear her say “Maybe-Line” one more time. It just doesn’t get old.
The one exception to my drug store makeup habit I’d occasionally make was that here and there if I ever had extra money I might treat myself to some Clinique lipsticks, but only if they were giving away some good freebies with the purchase, otherwise I’m too cheap. The best part of this is that my single justification for buying Clinique lipstick was that the popular girls in high school in the 80s only wore Clinique lipstick. Hello, Raspberry Glace. I’m not even joking. That is literally the only reason I bought Clinique lipsticks. It is a miracle I’m not also wearing Lauren perfume right now. Do they still make that?
Otherwise, I stick with whatever I can buy at Walgreens, or if I’m being extremely chic, Target. I have used the same eyeshadow palette since the early 90s. It is called Designer Chocolates and I am on, probably, my 40th one. It is well documented that I am not a risk taker, and this holds true for my makeup technique. I guess when I say I like makeup that what I’m talking about is the SAME makeup I have worn since I was 19, or in the case of the lipstick, an eighth grader. Change is hard, people, especially when it comes to how you look. We find something we think looks good on us, and that gives us a sense of calm and safety, so naturally we stick with it.
We’ve all known that older person who has never updated their look. I think this is pretty common. People tend to recreate the looks popular in their heyday. They looked great back then, and those were good times. I get it. Like I said, I was still rockin’ the early 90s. Pale skin, black eyeliner, bright red or blackberry lips. I was so hot in the 90s. I was skinny then and took it for granted. I would do just about anything to be me back in the last decade of the 20th Century all over again. Give me a black velvet choker with a crystal, and play me some Mazzy Star, please!
But I am in my 40s now and I had to have a personal intervention. I was no longer in style. I looked ridiculous at this age trying to wing my eyeliner and go out midday with a matte red lip. I felt comfortable and confident with this look, but I finally came to understand that the way I was seeing myself in the mirror was not how others saw me. I was near delusional and I needed an update lest I end up the very person I always swore I wouldn’t be - the person who never changes their style. I needed to be forcibly removed from 1995. Goodbye, Vamp nail polish and Bjork-like space buns.
This January one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to figure out how to do makeup like a normal adult person and not a 20 year old aspiring artist from almost 30 years ago.
And then my cousin came to visit. Remember her? From the fabulous selfie?
My cousin looked incredible, and her suitcase held a multitude of wondrous things, one of which was a coveted mini bottle of Jo Malone Orange Blossom. She had lip glosses, eyeshadows, blushes, serums, and all kinds of things I never knew her to have, being a non-makeup-wearing individual.
“What gives?” I asked, “Where’d you get all this cool stuff?”
“My Ipsy Bag,” she casually replied.
I had no idea what this was.
My cousin explained that she paid $10.00 a month at the beginning of every month and then a couple weeks later she got a package in the mail. Each month she got a different style of makeup bag filled with 5 small cosmetic treats. Sometimes she got lipstick. Sometimes perfume. Other times she got scrubs, balms, lotions, foundation, powders - anything cosmetic related. All of it was great, high-end stuff. To me that means that it wasn’t from the drug store. Most of the products were really unique, neat products that she wouldn’t otherwise have known about. She liked the surprise of it and enjoyed trying new things.
This might be what I needed, I thought. At the time I was on the end of a long bout of anxiety and depression that I am still trying to pull out of. Ten dollars was definitely in my self-care budget, and I thought it would boost my mood to get a package in the mail filled with delights. It would be like Christmas every single month.
I miss mail. Anything important gets to me electronically these days, and although I have a mailbox, a lizard lives in it and sleeps on a bed of low-interest credit card offers and Winn-Dixie flyers. I would like to get surprises in the real mail again. I thought I would especially love to get surprises I could put on my face to make me pretty and nice-smelling.
Signing up for the Ipsy Bag was easy. The only problem, which wasn’t really a problem, was that I had to be on a waiting list. You can get off the waiting list if you post about the company on social media, but out of principal I refused to do that and basked in my own smugness because I was able to endure a wait without telling the world about it on Facebook. I was on the waiting list for about a month. Then they charged me, and a couple weeks later my bag came.
As predicted, it felt like a celebration. I had new stuff to play with and I really liked the small amounts, because one of the problems I always had with buying products was that it took me forever to use them up and a lot went to waste. The Ipsy bag contains small versions of the products you can get in the store. If you fall completely in love with something, which you will, then you can order the big versions on the Ipsy website if you want. I checked, and many of the things are also easily found at Ulta and Sephora too if you want instant gratification. My first bag contained a lipstick that is so perfectly flattering that I will absolutely buy it when the generously sized sample runs out. Seriously, this looked to me like a full sized lipstick, and the ten dollar charge was worth it for this lipstick alone. I also got an eyeshadow that I can’t imagine I’d need a larger size of. The smaller items were creams and scrubs, which I’ve found had about two or three uses per tube.
I have a bad habit of hoarding products and the Ipsy Bag is helping me get over that. I’d always keep my cosmetic and hygiene products forever, especially if I liked them, and only use them sparingly because I was afraid of not having them anymore. Except, what’s the point of having things you like if you aren’t using them? It doesn’t make any sense. It’s the whole having the cake and being able to eat it too dilemma and it’s just stupid. I am using the Ipsy Bag to stop this. When the bags come, I’m happily using all the things inside and then throwing them away to make room for new things. I think this sentiment can be applied to a lot of things in life.
It’s okay to use your nice things, even if that means not having them eventually. It’s okay to let go of the old to make room for the new. The bag is a reminder to trust that new good things really are coming once the old ones are gone. It’s a metaphor.
You know what else it is? Fun. I am experimenting with looking different ways and I like it.
Here’s the best part. It occurred to me that I have no freaking clue how to put on makeup and half the things I don’t even know what they are. I think I read a Cosmo article back in 1989 that told me how to do my eyes and I’ve been doing that ever since. Luckily, thank God, Ipsy has descriptions of all the products you get along with instructional videos. It is a blessed miracle for people like me who are in the remedial makeup application class. It also saved me from putting a mask on my face instead of my hair. I didn’t know that there were also masks for hair. Now I do and my hair is nicely conditioned. Yesterday, I even wore coral eyeshadow and I have to say, I believe I totally pulled it off. A few months ago I never would have dreamed of putting anything orange anywhere near my face.
Sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone. Not always, but at least when it comes to personal style. Sometimes small steps like that with something as superficial as fashion or makeup can lead to bigger steps in more serious parts of your life.
The cliche when you look good, you feel good really is true. A makeup bag subscription isn’t a cure for anything, but it’s been a lovely, unexpected addition to my healing process. It gives me something to look forward to, something to practice, and it’s given me a sense of accomplishment (woohoo I finally did a smoky eye!). I’m having a good time, and I always say you must cherish every tiny moment of fun and enjoyment you can find.
Also, I think it’s important to tell you that my cousin has said that after a year she canceled her subscription because she felt she’d gotten some a good collection of products and knew what she liked now. She said that canceling was quick and easy. Additionally, last month one of my items was not in the bag when it arrived. I was able to easily contact the company and let them know. They had the replacement on my doorstep within a week, no questions asked, so it appears they have reliable and trustworthy customer service in place, which is great.
If you would like to sign up for an Ipsy Bag yourself, here is my referral link. Again, I didn’t get paid to write this. I loved my experience so much that I wanted to share. If you sign up from this link I get points that I can trade for more products. That’s it.
I also, cannot, in good conscience, end this post without sharing the most perfect lipstick I have ever worn. You can find it here on the Ipsy site. I’ve been trying to figure out what brick and mortar stores carry it as well. I’ll let you know when I do. For real, this lipstick. It is that good.