Waste Not, Want Not

Thoughts of luxuryWaste Not, Want Not A phrase that the working classes have instilled in their children from depression times on in the U.S. The “working class” is now the fortunate one, as the reduction of jobs across the board has become a way of life, setting a lower standard of living. The reality of “frugality” may take some time to set in for many of us who enjoyed spending – when a weekly paycheck funded the coffers of our discretionary income. Income, or the extreme lack thereof, has redefined the growing “unemployed” populace, now learning to edit lifestyle choices for the sake of economy. Despite the continual promotion of luxury goods and experiences in the media, a larger “budget-minded” audience is being targeted and capitalized on by some crafty and creative entrepreneurs and advertisers. “Sales” are a 24-7 business; the Blue Laws of yesteryear begone! Department stores open their doors at 6 a.m. and close after 1 a.m. for premature and/or last-minute holiday shopping.

Piggy Bank
Saving Bank

My natural predisposition to practice discipline manifested itself at an early age; rarely allowing me to stray from my preference to save rather than to purchase on a whim. Placing my allowance in a passbook account, and eventually investing in the market for increased wealth, has, on occasion, paid off. While sustaining all possible utility from clothing and devices even past their shelf life, when it comes to replacement, I want NEW. I am not a flea market shopper, nor an extreme couponer, but will happily accept “hand-me-down” clothing offered by a friend or relative if they fit.

A segment on a “newsy” TV program caught my attention the other evening. A “step-and-buck-saving beauty tipster” was demonstrating methods of extracting the last drops of make-up from myriad containers – I considered it worth a listen.

In order to get the last vestiges of seemingly dried mascara from its tube, add a drop or two of contact lens solution to the tube and replace the wand. Without pulling the wand out of the container, move it up and down to liquefy the caked mascara. It was recommended to avoid adding air to the mix, i.e., keep the wand in the container while mixing.

In order to salvage the sticky residue of lip gloss in a tube, hold the tube under a faucet, letting fairly warm water run onto it (keep the applicator wand inside and closed so that no water gets into the container). Once the gloss starts to liquefy enough to pour, remove the applicator and pour gloss into a tiny plastic or glass container with a screw lid about the size of a quarter. (You might even save and thoroughly clean an old lip gloss tub container and reuse for the remnants of a tube container.)

In order to extract every last trace of your foundation in a jar, find an itty-bitty, mini plastic spatula and insert into bottle to scoop out and apply to face.

As to the mascara:  It is well documented that it should be discarded after 6 months, especially if it has dried up. It would be unhealthy to continue to use and certainly if you added any potential contaminants to it. Not only would you incur the cost of contact lens solution, but a possible trip to an emergency room if an eye infection emerged.

Lip gloss is cheap enough, let it go. How much time do you need to invest in search of that “tiny container,” which would have to be sterilized before use. But as demonstrated on the program, you are to dip your pinky finger into the pot each time you needed to reapply – consider the sticky mess on your finger and the time to wash your hands before and after applying. “Time is money” and lip gloss comes in a tube container with applicator wand to address and simplify all the conditions you will now bring upon yourself. No recycling!

Turn your jar of foundation upside down and let it stay that way once the product is just too depleted to reach. (You may have to prop it up by leaning it against something else.) Carefully open the jar once foundation regroups into the cap and neck of jar. You will be able to use with dab of finger or Q-tip for another month or so. Done!

Brings to mind another wise saying: ”Penny wise and pound foolish.”  Back to my point – Waste Not, Want Not.

Mascara: The Art of Application

NefertitiEnhancing the eyes by darkened articulation has been an accepted aesthetic preference from as far back as 4000 BC in ancient Egypt. Over the millennia, the properties of the materials used to cosmetically blacken the eyes, eyebrows, eyelashes and moustache hairs (of men), while similar throughout the world, would never have been approved by today’s FDA guidelines. Not until the late 19th century, would a prototype for our current concept of mascara be developed by the French chemist, Eugene Rimmel, in England, using petroleum jelly. A similar, yet improved product was fashioned in the U.S. by T.L. Williams for his sister, Mabel, in 1913; and later sold through mail order by a company eventually known as Maybelline. As the 20th and 21st centuries progressed, so did the compelling desire for cosmetic manufacturers to create mascaras that promised long, longer, thick, thicker, black, blacker lashes.  If you look at giraffes and camels, these animals have luxurious, beautiful lashes – if only we could emulate theirs – oh, wait – we have. We have false eye lashes in every imaginable pattern and shape. But, for those of us born with modest, short, sparse and lightly-colored eyelashes, not into adhesive attachments – there is mascara.

I started wearing eye makeup at the age of 13. Over the decades, I have only made very minor changes to my look. Since fashion trends are often revisited a couple of generations later, the current eye fashion, (using excessive black eyeliner, smoky shades of eye shadow, pearlized highlighters, and lots of mascara) is pretty much the same as when I got started. Eye makeup should be dramatic and, I believe, sexy. I have always been complimented on my makeup application and, on occasion, asked to show a woman how to make up her eyes. I am not a “makeup artist.” I have no training outside of my own observations and lifetime of personal experience. When I did ballroom dance competition, I was given a few pointers in ballroom makeup, and, of course, have seen, many competitors and their amazing makeup – often done by professionals.

Women who generally don’t wear makeup, especially eye makeup, are often intimidated by the whole process of picking products – and complain that they are physically uncomfortable with “stuff” on their eyes. I agree that sensitivity to different products is very common, and it does take exploration to find those we can live in. I suggest buying inexpensive over-the-counter brands in chain stores, i.e., CVS and Harmons, where they also have liberal return policies.

Not all mascaras are created equal: some are watery and non-lengthening, some are volumnizing and allow you to build up your lashes significantly. Age changes the consistency of mascara, thickening it, making it more substantial and easier to apply. When asked to critique a woman’s makeup, by my standards, she is usually not wearing enough for me to see. I often comment that she needs eye shadow, eyeliner, mascara, foundation, blush, lip liner and lipstick. I am then told that she put the components on in the morning, but they wore away during the day. I have never personally had this experience, except for lipstick, which needs re-application a minimum of 3-4 times a day. Because I’m writing about Mascara, I will not get into why makeup disappears, but simply advise: consider the products and the application. For women who claim their mascara is not noticeable – they usually do not understand “the art of mascara application.”

So, here we go: To properly apply mascara, one has to have patience and precision. Dip the wand into the case to coat with fresh mascara, but not excessively. Carefully apply to upper lashes starting from inside of eye (closest to your nose) moving to the outside (near cheekbone). Stroke gently upward from the base of the lash to the tip. Return wand to case to refill brush and keep putting fresh mascara on till you see your lashes turning black and lengthening. Yes, you should always buy black mascara unless you are an albino or have blonde lashes, and then brown would be OK. You may accidently smudge part of your eyelid or nose; clean up at the end with a cotton swab and eye makeup remover. Also, you may have to remove an obvious clump of mascara from some of your lashes; do so carefully with your finger tips (or a toothpick if your vision is exceptional). The key is to keep applying mascara to the lashes across the entire lid for as long as it takes them to become obviously thicker, blacker, and longer. If you were to count the strokes – you could easily do from 50 to 100 strokes per eye. In time, that’s a minimum of a minute per eye. The lower lashes (inside lid or outside lid)only need to be outlined with eyeliner.

There are many brands and types of mascara to choose from. At the higher end ($24-$35), Lancôme makes excellent mascara, in the $8 range, I like L’oréal Voluminous Original.