After being a makeup artist for over a decade, I can pretty much size you up the minute I see you coming. I can quickly assess you by your outfit, your bag, your hairstyle, and your jewelry and know immediately that you want only a tinted moisturizer. I know that, even when you say you want something more than that, you won't like it.
I know that you only wear Chapstick on your very chapped lips. When you say "Um yeah, I have an eye cream," with hesitation, I know that you are referring to the free Clinique sample that has been in your drawer for at least a year. I also know that you are compulsively plucking your brows that "just never grow!"
I don't judge. I really don't care what you do at home. Please, I am asking you to just be honest.
I can also tell as soon as you sit in my chair if you can handle a lot of makeup or not. But without fail at least once a day, a preppy, non-makeup wearing woman will sit down and look me straight in the face and say "I think I would like a smoky eye."
You don't want a smoky eye. You like the idea of it. You see Kim Kardashian on Pinterest and you fantasize about having this sultry look the next time you are attending a wedding or bar mitzvah. You imagine yourself as a much sexier version of yourself, and you think you are now ready to look like that sexy woman on Instagram with fake eyelashes and "contour" and black eyeliner rimming every inch of your eyeball.
Sometimes you wear the Naked Palette from Urban Decay so you think you are edgy, but if you were to be honest you would admit you only use the lightest shades in the palette and the darker colors are untouched. You may have watched the tutorials on YouTube on "how to create a smoky eye," so you think you are ready for it.
I know it.
You will have to learn the hard way.
"Do you normally wear a lot of eye makeup?" I ask innocently, while I prep your skin. I start with a soft fleshy tone on your lid and then I add a little bit of a darker tone. Never a true smoke color, because I don't want you to cry or run away. You will clutch the hand mirror and ask if you can look. I will let you.
You will try to watch what I am doing, as you give me permission to proceed. I will add some dark brown or smoky color in your crease. I add some smudgy black liner and some mascara. You don't even have two layers of fake lashes on yet like a Kardashian. I see that you are clutching your hand mirror and your knuckles are white so I let you take a peek.
You don't. But you also don't look like yourself.
I ask if you would like me to take off some of the makeup and gently remind you that you are nowhere near the amount of makeup featured in the Instagram photo that you showed me when you first sat down. You sheepishly say that you would like to take off some of the liner . . . and maybe some of the dark shadow.
I take off the makeup.
You say "Maybe just do what you think looks best?"
Now we can get along.
I suggest a more realistic "eye look" that will allow you to feel comfortable while still making you look good. I say "Let's create a look that shows off your eye color and makes you look like a better version of yourself." The tension in your shoulders lessens and the grip on the hand mirror relaxes a bit. "Yes, let's do that," you say with relief.
Because you are not Kim Kardashian, nor do you want to be. You will not be followed by the flashbulbs of the paparazzi and you will not spend your days taking selfies. You simply want to look like a better version of yourself and a "smoky eye" does not do that for most people.
You will leave with hydrated glowing skin and makeup that makes your blue eyes pop and your cheekbones glow. You are simply a better version of yourself, and you will walk out the door with your head held high and a little bit of a skip in your step.
You are better than a smoky eye. So don't ask for it again.