Thursday, October 25, 2007

Confessions of a Beauty Junkie

It all started when I happened upon Kevyn Aucoin’s glossy book The Art of Makeup, while I was browsing one day in Powerbooks. No, I didn’t buy it, instead I read it from cover to cover. Then I re-read it, paying close attention to the stunning photos. The next time I was at the mall, I picked up the book again, and I knew then it had turned into a fixation. I devoured his other books that followed: Face Forward, Making Faces, and finally A Beautiful Life, which was released shortly after the legendary makeup artist’s death in 2002.

Was it the star power of celebrities like Barbra Streisand, Cindy Crawford, Sharon Stone, and Audrey Hepburn that got me hooked? It was fascinating on some level to see their faces stand out in the photographs, but what struck a chord in me in those photos was the transforming power of makeup and how a simple photograph had the power to evoke emotions.

The transformations were amazing- re-creations of Hollywood icons, ethereal creatures like the “Explorer” (Mary J. Blige) and “Floralia” (Lucy Liu), and of course, makeovers of real people. Aucoin in his books explored the past, present, and future of beauty. It is truly a wonder how a few dabs of eyeshadow and gloss can remake a plain jane into a goddess.

In a way, Aucoin showed how you can indeed turn a “dream” into reality, however brief a period (well, up until the makeup fades). Don’t laugh at this part: I think seeing yourself at your best, in that millisecond captured by the shutter, there’s magic. Suddenly you are not the “regular you” you see in the mirror everyday; you are a nymph in the water and your eyes match the color of the sea, you are a futuristic astronaut, or a swashbuckling pirate. It is fun, let me tell you.

What followed was a manic practice of beauty routines, crazy experiments, and every possible ritual that Allure or Cosmo promised would work wonders. I have always wondered why we buy it, when we all know that character counts more than a pretty face. Maybe it’s because even if what we appreciate is what’s inside, we do have the tendency to reach for the most beautifully wrapped present first.

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