Sorry, Sweetie — Your Mom Doesn't Know Anything About Makeup

by Nickey Dunn
Courtesy of Nickey Dunn

My daughter got her first makeup kit for her birthday and like any child in this day and age, she excitedly asked if we could watch makeup tutorials on YouTube for “looks”.

After a longer search than expected, we found a “beginner friendly” tutorial. She sat there enthralled and I sat there in utter confusion.

What were all these products? What were all these techniques? This terminology? Bake? Contour? Cut crease? Waterline? What were all these steps? Why was she using so many brushes? Was that a kitchen sponge? What had happened to the application of makeup since I had last checked in, which admittedly and evidently, had been a very long time ago? When did all this become the “beginner” stage of makeup?

I suddenly felt like I’ve been doing my own makeup wrong every day of my life.

I was having flashbacks to my late bloomer-hodgepodge days when I’d jealously watch the girlie girls do their makeup after gym class. I realized that no one had really ever taught me how to do my own makeup, other than the scene from “My Girl,” and I hardly doubt the theory “a girl can never have too much blue eyeshadow” was still holding up. Honestly, even now my current makeup collection was just slightly better then the Caboodles kit she just received. I’ve never even purchased anything from an actual makeup store for myself. I was, and still am, very late to the makeup scene and never had a “glow up.”

I didn’t want her to know that I was feeling like a total female figure failure.

We stood at the bathroom vanity and we tried to duplicate what we had seen in the video. She looked to me for guidance, as a makeup wearing human for the last twenty years, to start us off. I started the way I always did with foundation directly into the face and she immediately said “that’s not how she did it mom.” Then she scoffed at me when I reused the same brush for foundation and blush. My cheeks were starting to flush from the performance anxiety, which helped because that blush wasn’t super pigmented (think I used that right).

Courtesy of Nickey Dunn

I looked at her and didn’t know what to say. The stress sweat was starting to kick in which is not conducive to doing makeup, like I needed any other roadblocks. Was I going to confess to her that I had no idea what I was doing even though I did it everyday?? That I was a lost cause in this department?

I tried to remember what my own mom said to me while we stood together at the bathroom vanity in my childhood home after I won the battle of “you aren’t old enough.” She said, “You have such natural beauty though, you don’t even need to wear makeup.” I had totally bought it then, but was now one hundred percent questioning if that was true and not just a ploy to keep me from wearing it.

This little mini-me miss really didn’t need makeup at all. So, I’d hoped my mom honesty would save me from my ineptitude and I told her the same thing my mom l told me.

My daughter cocked her head, side-eyed me, and popped out her hip in sassy disapproval. Her retort was “I know I don’t need it, but I want it.”

Well shit….touché tiny human.

This was one of those pivotal mom-daughter moments and I felt like I was really blowing it with my cosmetological awkwardness.

Hanging on the edge of an epic bonding fail which may scar her for life, I pulled out the finessed version of “I don’t know what I’m doing” with “well, let’s just have fun with it, okay!?”

She smiled and got on board with that plan pretty quickly. She started mimicking what she saw on the video, with me as her client, talking into our mirror like a camera. She held up everything she was going to use and called me “honey.” She giggled while saying words she had heard and then said she didn’t know what they meant. I giggled too because neither did I. I just went along with the less-then-tender barrage of brushes on my face, pokes to the eyes, and random assortment of colors she used. My face had so much product in it but she said “that’s on trend!” She held my face in her hands and said I was so beautiful and I said that she was, just the way she was.

By the end of the session, it felt way more like the bonding moment I had hoped we were going to have when this time came and a lot less like the interrogation into my makeup acumen and application theory.

Maybe I can get away with my secret a little longer. In the meantime, I think I should probably brush up (pun 100% intended) on my tutorials just in case she brings the heat again. Maybe also just do my makeup without anyone watching. Maybe also ask my friends who wear makeup what I’m supposed to be doing. I have a lot to work on before she finds out.