Three days after my divorce, I decided I’d lounged around enough. It was time to get going. “You’re never going to get any chicks with the way you look,” said my brother in law. “It’s a dog eat dog world out there. You need something to spruce up your appearance. Maybe some makeup.”
I have to admit it. It still bothers me – the notion of lathering lotion all over my face still makes me a bit uncomfortable. But, if I’m going to compete against younger, svelte men, I have to be ready to try anything.
King Tut did. It’s rumored that he refreshed his make-up before exiling Moses into the desert in 1446 BC. He used ground ant eggs for eyeliner and applied pearlized fish scales to enhance the color of his lips and communicate to the world “I have arrived.” Fortunately, my options today are more palatable. Besides, I’m ant-egg intolerant. But, with so many products, where does a boy begin?
I decided to follow the majority of men buying men’s skincare products by shopping for mine online. The stigma of using anything remotely girly or similar to women’s make-up still prevents most of us from hanging out at cosmetic counters in Nordstrom’s. Fortunately, I had a plethora of choices that promised to deliver their products in a plain, brown wrapper – much like my brother’s Playboy subscription back in the 1960s. Many sites even have online chat rooms staffed by licensed cosmeticians. So, that’s where I started.
I wanted to begin slowly, carefully avoiding feminine labels like lipstick and eyeliner. If my roommate happens to stumble across my products, I’d rather that he found manscara, guyliner or urban camouflage instead of Ballerina Beauty Balm, Radiance Wonder Glow or Miracle Mousse. I spent a nanosecond contemplating Botox, but nixed it immediately. The men I know who have used it looked more like The Riddler than someone who wanted to gently turn back the clock.
An article in Marie Claire (my bible) suggested that I begin with a light cleanser to remove excess oil, followed by a mild astringent and concealer under my eyes to counter the dark circles I typically have after all-night poker games. Gradually, my 10-minute morning routine went from a quick lark in the shower to over an hour, including a daily self-examination for new wrinkles, lines and pores.
Once I started getting compliments from the guys at work, I was hooked. What else could I try? What steps could I take to transform my reptilian skin into the face of a Justin Bieber? I had only scratched the surface – literally.
The critical test came the night I hooked up with my first blind date. We agreed to meet at a trendy new Italian restaurant called Mal di Stomaco. They were known for their dark ambiance, so I thought it would be the perfect setting to try out some of my new fashion accessories.
I started with a light base of primer. I was familiar with primer from the time I spent toiling in an auto body shop after school. Much like Spackle, primer is designed to even out the surfaces of the skin, prolonging the life of your make-up. Er, I mean manouflage.
My cosmetician suggested that I add a light touch of bronzer to highlight my cheekbones and give my skin a shimmery look. Whatever that means. Next, I experimented with a little manscara, and guyliner with glittery flecks to enhance the size of my eyes. Nothing over the top. I finished with a liberal coating of setting spray to lock it all in place. I was ready for my big date.
The first thing Natalie said was, “Ewwww. Are you wearing make-up?” I was so embarrassed, I turned beet-red and ran to the men’s room. Fortunately, she couldn’t tell how flustered I was because the primer hid my skin color from the rest of the world. By the time I returned, she’d left a note on the table: “I’m sorry. I just don’t think this is going to work out. I like my men more natural.” Exactly the kind of man I used to be before I was introduced to the world of cosmetics.
I went to bed that night in full make-up because I was too tired to remove it. That, and the fact that my cosmetician hadn’t shown me how to take it off. It was going to take either a liberal acid wash or a few passes with a belt sander.
I have to confess I no longer wear urban camouflage. I ended up going back to my wife who told me she liked me exactly the way I was. I do, however, find myself falling back into my new, old ways spending evenings exfoliating and luxuriating under Botinal Line Defense facials. I’ve even been known to touch up my eyebrows with a coloring pen. But that’s as far as it goes.