Maggie Robinson

Jul 28
Pretty in Paint

My daughter went on a buying trip with her old boss a couple of months ago. She’s switched jobs, but he still trusts her taste for gifts for his store, and she found me the perfect gift. I now have a little ceramic sign on my bulletin board which says, “Put on a little lipstick. You’ll be fine.” This is a bit of a joke with the three Robinson girls. All their lives I’ve encouraged them to wear lipstick. They do not. Oh, they’ll slap on some chapstick once in a while. But it’s the rare occasion they wear lipstick, whereas I do not even put the trash out without some Revlon on my lips.

I grew up when you wore a lot of make-up to look “natural.” I’m down to blush, mascara and lipstick now, but there was a time when I was gluing on fake lashes and liquid-lining my eyes. Think Cleopatra, with an ass instead of an asp. Fashions change, and now even make-up is going “green,” with all natural ingredients and animal-free testing. While we’re not rubbing beet juice on our cheeks like they did in the 1800s, we’re not killing ourselves or the bunnies, either.

Three thousand years B.C., the Egyptians were wearing green eye-show and lining their eyes with kohl. Persian women put henna on their faces and bodies to “summon the majesty of the earth.” In the Middle Ages, women would bleed themselves so they could look fashionably pale. Lead, mercury and arsenic were common make-up ingredients, and I don’t even want to tell you what they did with cat dung and mouse skin. Rouge was all the rage in the Regency. Victorians put a stop to all that fun and frivolity, and it was the bare face that reigned until the 1920s, when mass-market make-up made it possible for everyone to be as glamorous as the new movie stars.
It is always a jolt to see Hollywood’s version of history. It takes a brave actress to go natural in front of the camera, but I’m pleased to see most period dramas today eschew the eye make-up and lipstick of the past.

How about you? Are you a sucker for the “free gift with purchase” at the Clinique counter? Are your heroines natural beauties or are they dusting their face with rice powder and rouging their nipples?

A woman without paint is like food without salt. ~Plautus (254-184 B.C.)

Come back soon for the MRMR August contest! And don’t forget to check out Romance Novel TV’s Start Your Book Month beginning August 1. Lots of authors will share their expertise and energy!

13 comments to “Pretty in Paint”

  1. Gillian
     · July 28th, 2007 at 3:42 pm · Link

    Maggie, this is a timely post for me. I discovered the fun of Bare Minerals, and although with three kids in the house I don’t have the money to waste, waste it I did. What fun to tap and swirl and mix colors and buff away. That and their lip gloss has some kind of peppermint extract that makes my lips tingle. (I’m sure I don’t want to know if it’s bad for me–it just keeps me awake in boring meetings)

    Makeup is so fun! I wear very little during “at home” days, but when I go out, the love the ritual.

  2. anne
     · July 28th, 2007 at 8:40 pm · Link

    Funny post, Maggie, LOL! As a teen I refused to wear makeup, thinking–and knowing–that it was probably the onyly time in my life when I didn’t need it to look good. (So sorry to tell you, friends, that I cruised through adolescence without acne!) My makeup today is applied for enhancement and color. I’m not big on the GWPs, as most of them contain colors that never suit my coloring, but I will confess to spending around $180 on a makeover because I was waaaaaayyyyy overdue for new makeup! On at-home days, I use only a smudgy eyeliner and mascara, and a little blush and lipstick (Lauder’s Rose Tea) for a little color (blush, blush!)

  3. TiffinaC
     · July 29th, 2007 at 1:16 pm · Link

    I am lazy with makeup! I keep a lip gloss in my purse but I don’t pull it out often.
    And I am VERY pale, with dark dark eyes, not overly attractive if I don’t blend it out with some foundation! So I do at least put some of that on…not on the weekends though, it’s too much work to bother when I rarely go anywhere…but I do primp when I go out with the girls…
    And I have one heroine that is thinking about rouging her nipples! LOL

    Fun Blog Maggie

  4. Stephanie
     · July 29th, 2007 at 2:21 pm · Link

    Oh makeup…sometimes so fun and yet sometimes I can’t stand it. There are those times when I achieve the perfect going-out look and it’s slathered on me. Then I go through phases where I wear next to nothing. I have pretty good skin, but I still must have concealer, mascara, and then I just use carmex because I have pretty pink lips as is!

    Gillian…isn’t Bare Minerals amazing? Their eye shadows are so fun because of the slight glimmer.

  5. Maggie Robinson
     · July 29th, 2007 at 4:09 pm · Link

    Anne, the last time I tried a department store makeover, I wound up looking like a hooker. Will have to try again.

    Gillian, I hate foundation stuff but am tempted by BM ads…everyone looks so polished and perfect.

    Tiff, because I have summers off, I go make-upless (except, of course, for lipstick unless there’s something special going on).

    Steph, experimenting is so much fun, which is why I have a whole basket full of weird things!

  6. beverley
     · July 29th, 2007 at 4:20 pm · Link

    Since I hate make-up, but at times it’s a necessary evil, my heroines don’t wear it. Natural, natural. But I don’t like to shop, period. Not a clothes horse, have only the basic for make-up. Foundation, lip-stick, and eye-liner I only use to fill in my feeble brows. I don’t ever wear it to work or when I’m doing regular business. Just when I’m meeting people who don’t know me.

  7. RevMelinda
     · July 29th, 2007 at 8:28 pm · Link

    Maggie, my mother in law was my Lipstick Pimp. She can wear that Bold!Red!Color! and those pretty pinks. I’m strictly a Mauve and Plum girl myself.

    On the mineral makeup front, I am a complete convert, though I use a less-expensive brand made here in Portland called Alima (their site is

    It takes all of 30 seconds to put on, PLUS I can do it with eyes closed (very important, as I’m blind as a bat without glasses and it has always sucked to have to hover 2 inches from the mirror) and it’s basically idiotproof.

    Liquid foundation always clumps, streaks, and flakes off my skin during the day–but the mineral powder just stays in place and stays lovely. I’ll never go back!

  8. terrio
     · July 30th, 2007 at 9:24 am · Link

    I can freely admit make up is my security blanket. Unless I know for sure I am not walking out my front door, I have it on. Foundation, shadow, liner and mascara. But I never wear lipstick. Which is ironic because like you, my mother (and my grandmother before her) wears only lipstick.

    I’ve been tempted to look into that mineral stuff and I probably will someday but I did finally figure out that if I want the make up to stay nice all day, I have to pay more. So I do. And I just have to add that Proactiv is the best stuff evah! Had acne my entire adult life until now. Can’t imagine living without it.

  9. Anonymous
     · July 30th, 2007 at 11:44 am · Link

    After reading over your past blogs, I’m curious about your affinity for younger women/older men. Do you actually know any couples where this has worked…or any couples who wanted to make it work? I know, I know…romance novels aren’t about real life. Ah, but the tragedy of real life is sometimes much more dramatic. I look forward to your response…emma

  10. Maggie Robinson
     · July 30th, 2007 at 12:19 pm · Link

    Emma, not sure about my “affinity” for the younger woman/older man scenario, except that it’s kind of a tradition in many romance novels that the hero is in his 30s and the heroine in her 20s. I think it can be a recipe for disaster in real life (think Charles and Diana’s 12 year age difference), although one of my daughters is happily married to a man 11 years older than she is. My husband and I were born in the same year, but his birthday is in January and mine is in October, so I’m the younger woman! My current heroes and heroines range in age from mid-twenties to fifties,but there are no huge age gaps between any of them.

    Bev, I hate shopping now too, much to my husband’s delight. I used to be a TJ Maxx addict.

    Terrio, my youngest daughter swears Proactiv changed her life.

    RevM, you all are convincing me this mineral stuff is worth a try. I wear a little pressed powder and blush in the winter so I don’t look dead, but my face always feels suffocated.

  11. Tessa Dare
     · July 31st, 2007 at 1:58 am · Link

    Hmm. My GOB heroine has a bit of ricepowder, but that’s it. Lucy – no makeup on her!

    I used to wear makeup everyday, but now – in mommyland – most days it’s a touch of powder and mascara. And concealer under the eyes, natch.

  12. irisheyes
     · July 31st, 2007 at 9:40 pm · Link

    I don’t wear make-up every day. Only on special occassions. The most I’ll do is put on colored Burt’s Bees. I was just discussing this with my 12 year old daughter the other day. I told her not to get into nasty habits too young when it comes to make-up.

    I’ve never stopped her from getting make-up and playing around with it but I told her I’m putting a stop to her wearing it every day and feeling she can’t leave the house without it on. She mostly plays with lipsticks and glitter stuff.

    At this point in my life I’m more into lotions that will keep the wrinkles away – Oil of Olay 7 in one cream. I could never master putting on make-up and not looking, as you say, like a hooker. Plus I’m really lazy and never wanted to put forth the effort.

    I laugh about the lipstick comment. My mom and aunt are like that. They never wear any make-up but wouldn’t be caught dead without lipstick on.

  13. Ericka Scott
     · August 1st, 2007 at 8:38 pm · Link

    Used to be I never left the house without my full face-paint.

    Nowadays…I go au natural. I’m probably pretty scary at the grocery store…but that just makes the lines at the checkout counter shorter, right?