Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Punk Rock Preening

by Miss Justine Brown

These days we have a plethora of products. Cosmetics firms are wheeling out tantalizing new items all the time, and they cater to all sorts of skin tones and styles. Prescriptives offers foundation in porcelain, ebony, and all hues in between, and affordable lines like L'Oreal's True Match have popped up in its wake-- to take the example of Miss Brown's personal obsession-- FOUNDATION.

Not so in 1978. There was no Mac; there was no Benefit, with its witty Vargas-girl packaging and inventive items. Unthinkable! The palest foundations available had names like Golden Beige and Deep Honey. Everyone was supposed to want a tan. On the other hand, this sorry state of affairs obliged punks and goths to be inventive. For all our makeup needs, we haunted the following spots:

1. theatrical supply stores
2. Little India, for kohl
3. Chinatown, for this amazing little white cake with a delicate Asian beauty printed on top
4. dusty drugstores with stock left over from the 50s and 60s. Vintage makeup, you might say.

We lived in hope of finding virtually anything from the 1950s. Following this dream, we took interminable bus rides to visit suburban thrift shops. If someone happened to have a car, typically a Valiant or Rambler, we would drive around the whole region hitting thrift shops in small towns. British Columbia, then over the border to Washington, Oregon, northern California...questing for that treasure trove in mint condition.

Miss Brown's Punk Rock Beauty Routine

It started with some anti-acne lotion which never seemed to work, including the fancy Helena Rubenstein stuff. Next came Erace concealer in Light, a holdover from years gone by, which looked like a lipstick. Then came chalk white pancake makeup designed for Hallowe'en vampires and mimes (ouch), which you wet with a sponge and daubed on your face like watercolour-- or plaster, in some cases. The pancake makeup camouflaged teenage spots-- somewhat-- and gave Miss Brown the ghostly pallor she loved then and still loves now (though she's made some concessions to the realms of realism). Then out came the Maybelline eye-pencil in Black. The pencils themselves were bright red.

A 1950s journalist tries to drum some sense into the female population

Mostly they were used by elderly ladies to draw in doll-style brows, since they had plucked out the real ones in the 1930s, and these had never grown back. Miss Brown ringed her eyes in black, focusing on the lower lid, and finished off the look with points at the outer corners. These slanted down somewhat, like her eyes. Sounds all topsy-turvy, doesn't it? She didn't wear lipstick in those days, just relied on the oldest trick in the book-- lip-biting. But no cheek-pinching, no blush of any kind. Grandmother Brown warned of anemia.

And that was it. These days, however, we are overwhelmed by the number of beautiful foundations, and Miss Brown likes it like that. Currently she is using Bobbi Brown Oil-Free Even Finish SPF15 ( (UK customers go to in Porcelain-- still trying for that pale, luminous look. It comes with a pump and smells like watercolour paint, something she loves. It goes on smoothly, especially with the use of a foundation brush, and with a little help from brilliant anti-aging ingredient-filled Time Balm concealer from The Balm ( (UK customers try, covers up post-summer discolouration (YES, Miss Brown wears sunscreen devotedly, but...?). She would definitely buy both items again.

All this writing has put Miss Brown in the mood-- for makeup. Gather ye brushes while ye may.

Next time: punk rock hair stories!

No comments:

Post a Comment