Sunday is Mother's Day and in the spirit of "Mother knows best...", here are three things I learned about beauty (the hard way) from my mom.
For as long as I can remember, my mother has been a minimalist. Whether it was growing up in conservative Oxford, England, or her penchant for babe-songstress Joni Mitchell, I've always known her to be bare-faced with natural, free-flowing hair. This probably makes her an unlikely expert on the topic of beauty, but let me explain.
Rule #1: Focus on your best asset (or at least just one asset at a time)
Growing up, it was super-annoying having a mother that didn't wear makeup. Talk about having nothing to bring to the table when it came to playing dress-up with my friends! To make matters worse, she didn't like the idea of me wearing makeup either. She was worried I would look 'trashy'—which, if my electric blue eye shadow and cherry red lipstick skills from dress-up had any bearing, wasn't a far stretch.
When I finally insisted on wearing makeup to school, it had to go through her first. I started off by lining my lips with a dark taupey lip pencil that I stole from my sister's makeup bag, and then filled them in with clear gloss (hey, it was the '90s!). Then I spread some bronze eyeshadow all over my lids (yes, ALL over—from the lashes right up to the brows) but skipped mascara because I wasn't allowed to wear it.
My mom was HORRIFIED. She explained that covering my face with all those muddy colours made me look dirty more than pretty. She had a point. (Note from Michelle: She probably could've written this post!)
Though my mom never wore makeup, she always had great hair. (Well, save the year I was born when she had a lopped-off k.d. lang cut—it was the '80s). Otherwise, her hair has always been one of her best assets, and one of the few things she actually pays any attention to—which makes her look pulled together despite her bare face.
Over the years, I've kept this in mind and learned to focus on one thing at a time when it comes to my beauty regimen. If I'm going to do a smoky eye, then I'll keep a nude lip. Or if I'm going to try something bright or bold on my mouth, I'll stick with just mascara.
Rule #2: Put down the cigarette and pick up the kale
Any beauty expert will tell you that the secret to great hair, skin, nails, etc., is a healthy body.
In the last few years, I've watched my mom really embrace this notion. Though she was never really out of shape, turning 50 brought on a renewed focus on getting healthy. She started eating better, got a personal trainer and fell in love with running. I'd never seen her glow so brightly as she did after a great run or a few hours at the gym. In 2011, she tackled her first marathon—in New York City, no less:
To go with this, on weekends, my parents' kitchen became a lab for testing out interesting, healthy dishes from vegetarian or clean-eating cookbooks. Even my dad got on board—which, for anyone who's met him, is pretty hard to believe.
Tagging along on my mom's health kick, I've started to pay attention to my own body.
I've quit smoking (sorry, Mom!), went back to practising yoga and have taken up running. I've also started getting a bin of organic produce delivered to my house every other week, so that I'll always have fresh veggies on hand and won't resort to another night of Kraft Dinner (or, at least not as often).
The results have better than any miracle cream on the market—and trust me, I've tried a few.
Rule 3: Smile... and the rest will just sort itself out
The last thing I've learned from my mom is probably the most important.
Growing up during the '90s grunge era, listening to bands like Hole and Nirvana and obsessing over movies like The Craft, I had my "scowl face" pretty much down to a tee. Kate Moss was my hero and I thought looking miserable meant looking pretty.
In contrast, if there's one thing people remember about meeting my mom, it's her smile. When I asked her to send me some pictures for this piece, she called me in tears because she was laughing so hard at some of the old photos her and my dad had dug up. There were the bad perms and the unfortunate fashion mishaps, but underneath it all, the same smile.
(That's Mom on the right, me on the left, and my sister in the middle.)
My mom taught me that we can't all be perfect all of the time, and that rather than be embarrassed about our beauty mistakes, sometimes you've just got to laugh at yourself.
I've tried it and it works! Not only are people more drawn to someone who has a smile on their face, it actually makes you FEEL better. (Note from Michelle: Samantha Brick experience, anyone?)
Mom WAS right!
I've finally managed to grasp these three simple rules after years of resistance.
So, although my mom will never be the expert when it comes to mastering perfectly arched eyebrows or creating a smoky eye (we have beautyeditor for that, right?), she's taught me these tips that I like to keep tucked away in my beauty bag for whenever I forget myself.
Happy Mother's Day!
Do you agree with my mom's tips?
What was your mom's philosophy towards beauty?
What beauty "rules" will you pass on to YOUR daughters?