My kids once gave me a certificate for a facial, but I never used it. I find it annoying to have anyone fiddle with my face. That includes the bubbly sales clerks in the department stores who spot me several counters away and want to perform their magic on my countenance.
I recently made a trip to the mall to replace my lipstick. It was an emergency purchase; the rim of my old tube was beginning to leave scrape marks on my lips. I tried to remain focused.
“I need a tube of Pink Paradise lipstick,” I said firmly to the clerk in the black smock with the perfectly tinted face.
“I’m sorry, but we haven’t carried that shade since 1997. You must have had a large supply on hand.”
I argued, insisting that I had bought the tube within the last several years. The young lady smiled softly and introduced herself as “Tiffany,” a professional cosmetic artist, and steered me toward an alternative product.
“Do you want to be dramatic, sexy, or bold?” she inquired.
“None of the above. I just want to keep my lips from falling off, looking like fish scales, or taking on the appearance of a cadaver.”
Twenty Shades of Pink
Having quickly sized me up, she selected various tubes from her array of samples and applied several colors to the back of my hand. Pointing to one of the smudges, she declared, “This is the shade that most compliments your skin tone and it has far more conditioning properties than your old product.” She said the new lip color would moisturize my lips, protect them from harmful UV rays, make them shimmer, add natural collagen for a plumper look, and stay on, possibly, ten minutes longer than my old brand.
Tiffany assured me that I needed all the new features if I wanted healthy, full-bodied lips. To further enhance my appearance, she showed me how to use a lip pencil and a brush so I could get an even layer of color that didn’t wander outside the lines. I hate to buy cosmetics that require a training course, but I succumbed.
After forty-five minutes with Tiffany, I knew the difference between a matte finish and a gloss. I learned that Celebrity Sexy Pout is the pick of serious lippies and that wearing it would earn me two to three compliments a day. If I wanted longevity, (of lip color, that is), the hands down winner was Max Factor Lipfinity. Elizabeth Arden Exceptional “is to die for” she crooned, “rich and smooth, but you have to reapply it almost hourly.” She concluded by showing me how to blot correctly on a tissue, to set the color, but not blur it.
Tiffany said if I would come in again, she’d make my eyes look ten years younger. I told her a plastic surgeon had offered me twenty years, a tempting proposal but not one covered by Medicare—yet.
At that point, I couldn’t resist passing on a story someone told at my bridge club. “Did you hear what happened at a middle school in Oregon?” I asked. “The girls would blot their lips on the bathroom mirrors and every night the custodian had to spend extra time scrubbing it off. Finally, the principal assembled the girls in the bathroom to allow the custodian to show them how much trouble it was to clean the mirrors. He took out a long-handled squeegee, dipped it into a toilet bowl several times and scrubbed the mirrors clean. Since his demonstration, there have been no lip prints on the mirrors.”
“Yes,” she said with a patronizing smile, “I’ve heard that story several times. I think it’s an urban legend.” I could tell Tiffany was too close to her own teen years to find the tale as humorous as had the women in my bridge club. But as long as I had a cosmetic expert at my fingertips, I delved further.
The Lip Blot
“The women in my bridge club brought up a tantalizing question recently,” I said. “Do you have any idea how many tubes of lipstick the average woman has eaten in her lifetime—you know, on food and with lip licking and such.”
Obviously, she had touched on that topic in her facial studies because she didn’t hesitate in the least.
She smiled pleasantly. “We eat a lot less than we used to since we now have light lip glosses that give just a hint of color.”
“I guess it’s best we never know for sure,” I said with a sigh as I handed her my credit card. She agreed. I went on my way, leaving Tiffany to change the world one set of lips at a time.
Now each time I wear my new color, my daughter says, “That’s such a warm subtle shade; it’s just right for you.” I am so pleased. On the other hand, a number of friends my age have looked at me and said, “Why aren’t you wearing lipstick anymore?”
But Edna, who knows me best, ignored the amenities. She stared at my collagen-rich lips and said, “I hate to say this, Jean, but your lips are beginning to swell and so are your ankles. I think it’s time you go back on your diuretic pills.”