When was my last makeup makeover? Three years ago? Four? Who knows. How about you? After I turned 40, it fell off the radar.
Keeping up with makeup trends seems superfluous when I work from home, there's a teen to drive around and a budget to keep. I wear little makeup, replacing items only when they run out.
I was on my way to buy concealer when a friend called to say she'd just returned from a Lancôme makeover: She had an important event to update for, which is when most of us women of a certain age tend to get one.
Out of the ten products she bought, she had a favorite. "I bought a vibrating mascara. Get one and tell me what you think."
Infinity and beyond
So, at The Westchester Mall, I hopped the escalator to Nordstrom's Lancôme counter.
"Yes, we've got that," said Milli Molina, a makeup expert who's been with Lancôme for 25 years. The title on the box read, "Oscillation Vibrating Infinite PowerMascara," with 7,000 oscillations per minute.
It looked like regular black mascara tube, but then Molina opened the gizmo, pressed a button, and held out the battery-operated, vibrating wand. It emitted a slight buzzing and I grinned.
The vibrating brush didn't just dole out color, supposedly it also separated the lashes and individually coated each one 360 degrees.
There was also "Oscillation Powerbooster Vibrating, Amplifying, Primer." Nothing half-hearted here: it "massaged in" a serum that caused lashes to grow longer and stronger.
The mascara had been out a couple of years and the conditioner for one. But there was one new product.
Out came an egg-like container called "Oscillation PowerFoundation, Micro-Vibrating, Polishing, Mineral Makeup, SPF21." Molina said it had only been available a few months.
"The applicator oscillates," she said, pushing a button on the multi-tasker. A customer standing nearby rolled her eyes, but I closed mine and let Molina take a shot at my bare face.
"It polishes to give you a 'new skin' look," she said with a straight face.
The pamphlet claimed that micro-vibrations break down minerals in the powder, allowing it to deliver not just a foundation but a "pixel-precise complexion."
When did makeup start moving? And have to do so much?
Yet, the left side of my face did look smooth and younger—airbrushed, and a bit like a fake face. "It just takes a little practice to blend it the way you like," she told me.
I surprised myself by asking for a natural-looking makeover, rather than telling myself I didn't have time. Looking in the mirror when Molina was done, I felt optimistic, in step with the times. Why didn't I do this sooner?
Striking a balance
There's a balance that women over 40 want. We'd like to look refreshed and up-to-date without erring on the side of trying to look younger than we are. But sometimes we're in a rut, and getting a little outside info is in order.
While vibrating products aren't specifically aimed to the over-40 set, they do seem more geared to us.
A friend wonders if the vibration is meant to give my group a sense of youthful lightheartedness. If so, OK by me. Who couldn't use some of that these days?
While there were no vibrating cosmetics in the store, I did an online search when I got home and found mascara from Maybelline and Estée Lauder.
Sometimes there's a strong makeup trend that defines an era. (Think white eyeshadow, heavy liquid black eyeliner à la Barbara Streisand in the 1970s that's now making a comeback.)
Motorized makeup seems like that. Marvel at the foundation that can't do an ordinary job anymore; now it has to work like it's an animated Photoshop, worthy of a high-def closeup. This techno-action makeup is suited to our multi-tasking, multi-teching lives.
What did I get?
Well, my purchases can tell you where I am in life.
First, I bought a undereye cream for women over 40. Not long ago I would've skipped that for an eye shadow and a blush.
When you've been around the block a few times, you know that when it comes to fads, you just need a little. So I bought just the vibrating primer, and it's fun to use.
Finally, a purchase that has nothing to do with prevention or motors. It's lip gloss that Molina says is great on everybody, and is always in her purse. I'll tell you what it is: Called "Sunbaked Coral," it's barely noticeable, yet someone has already asked me the name of it.
I'm not sure it's just about the seen and unseen, vibrating and non-vibrating cosmetics on my face. Funny how making a few changes, meant solely to pamper and make time for ourselves, can change the way we appreciate ourself, at any age.
Katherine Ann Samon is the author of four books, including Dates From Hell and Ranch House Style. Her column, "Woman of a Certain Age," about starting over and enjoying life after 40, appears twice a month on Rye Patch. Katherine can be reached at email@example.com.