|When makeup was simple and consisted of just a few items, back in the day.|
I had a Facebook conversation with my friend and colleague, makeup artist Nick Barose, the other day. Let's just say it was based on his pictorial post on women using Monistat cream as primer, hemorrhoid cream, etc. for facial remedies. Whatever the case, all of the back and forth chatter brought me back to watching my Korean grandmas when I was a child, using their limited beauty supplies and routines.
They were of a different time, generations away from us. And what they grew up using in Korea and Japan - was practically medieval -- compared to the oodles of LaMer, rows of Sephora products and strips malls lined with Sally Beauty we've come to know as American Beauty. But they were looking just as pretty in the mirror, right? Of course! No matter what the ingredient, or the nature of beauty ritual, beauty is beauty.
And in my mind these days, I firmly believe, simplicity is the way to go.
I've been covering beauty as a writer for almost a decade. I've been doing makeup and been obsessed with cosmetics for years and years (remember when a lipstick was just rouge, and it wasn't a light too or did 17 other things ;-)?). I've seen models and celebrities from varying walks of life caked in studio makeup so thick it looks as though they're clowns, and looking so beautiful in makeup that you wonder if it's been airbrushed. Makeup is clever, it's painting, it's amazing. But in the end it's just powder and paint.
My paternal grandmother had a routine I never saw change for the 25 years I knew her. She spent many of her years in Kyoto, and then Japan-occupied South Korea. She raised 9 children in poverty for most of her mothering years. Everyday she woke up and went to the restroom, to the mirror. She would first part her hair in the middle, a signature for Korean females. Then she would comb her straight graying hair with oil and tie it in a low simple ponytail. Not a single strand was allowed to come astray. Next, she took a few pieces of Korean thick sea salt, which lay on a single white ceramic dish, on her index finger and slowly brushed her teeth in the mirror. She would check herself slowly afterwards -- her face, her hair. Push down her slicked back hair. And she'd be ready.
My maternal grandmother fled from North Korea and raised five children in the South. She had been wealthy in the North but lost it all in the division. We were very close and I used to watch her getting ready with fantasy and awe. She sat at her Korean traditional lacquered vanity with dedication every morning. She would carefully comb and pull at her permed curls and hug them with her curved hands. Whether or not she was leaving her home, she would adjust her hair and add some hairspray to create a polished 50s set of nested locks, placed perfectly against her head. She would draw her eyebrows swiftly with a pencil, then add rouge. A simple red. It would happen very quickly as she'd been doing it for 40 years by the time I was seeing it. Then came a quick dusting of loose white powder, and swoosh she'd be done.
In the mirror was my grandmother, ready as ever. For the house -- for her rose bushes, and most importantly for herself.
Want a simple classic red rouge like my maternal grandmother wore?
Try Hourglass's Femme Rouge Velvet Creme Lipstick in ICON ($30):
|It's highly pigmented and absolutely a classic. I would've given mine to
my grandma |
if she were still here. She would've loved it!
Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with the companies I write and vlog about. My picks and decisions are always editorially and artistically-based and independent.