14 November 2012

1950s makeup

For years, I've followed the warm/cool colouring and seasons concepts of co-ordinating makeup and clothing colours with your skin and natural hair colour.

It came as something of a shock, then, to be told on Saturday that lips must always be bright red, blush pink and eyeliner black for 1950s makeup. When I say pink blush, I mean bright pale pink!

While clothing might be coordinated to hair and skin tone, doing so was less of a consideration back then, and these basic makeup colours are constants, independent of everything else.

Then I stopped and thought about it and realised that the whole colour coordination seasons concept appeared in the 1980s as far as I know, so it's not that they were breaking the rules in the 1950s, but that the rules hadn't been written back then.

So, while pink blush and black eyeliner might not be the best colours to compliment my natural colouring, they are period correct colours and I won't achieve an effective retro look without using them. I'm also still getting used to the idea that no matter what colour clothes you wear, the lipstick is always bright red.

So what are the differences between retro makeup and modern makeup?
  • Foundation is basically the same ~ matched fairly closely to skin tone, but nominally no highlighting and contouring. Because I tend to do very subtle highlighting and contouring, I think that I can still get away with it. :) With the hairstyles revealing more of my hairline where I colour it in, I'm going to have to blend the edges more than I have been.
  • Blush is not only a completely different colour, but it also goes in a completely different place. Smile so that you get a pair of bulges either side of your nose, and that's where the blush goes. It's still blended of course, but this position is quite different to the modern line along the cheek bone way of doing blush! I'd already applied a bit of my usual colour blush in the usual place before the class, so my results weren't as effective as they could have been.
  • Eyebrows are longer. Over time, I, along with a lot of women, have reduced the outer ends of my brows and even though my moderately thin brows are okay, they needed to extend in a bit of a curve out and down from the ends to frame my eyes more.
  • Eyeshadow is almost a non-event. At most, a slight hint of white under the peaks of the brows, very lightly applied and blended in.
  • Eyeliner should ideally be a bold black line over the top lid, rising at the outside end of the eyes, but my eyelids are too hooded for this to work. If I apply the ideal line with an eye closed and let it dry, it vanishes into the fold when I open the eye. I'm still not sure what I can do about this short of surgery. There should be absolutely no eyeliner below the eye!
  • Mascara, like eyeliner, is for top lashes only. Full top lashes are the aim, and false lashes or lots of coats of mascara are fine. My bottom lashes are so blonde that they are invisible, particularly since I can no longer get them tinted, and I'm yet to work out whether I should apply one coat of mascara just to define the lashes or leave them completely invisible.
  • Lips not only have to be red but they also need to be full and balanced top to bottom with a bow on top, which means a little overdrawing for me, as well as the usual slightly unbalanced application to correct for my uneven lips. Contrary to appearance, my lips were even in the photo accompanying this post, but it was a candid shot where my mouth was a little wonky.

The explanation for mascara and eyeliner being on the top only was that movie cameras and lighting of the era tended to create shadows from any makeup under the eyes, resulting in the appearance of dark circles. By avoiding makeup under the eyes, they avoided the shadows, and because that's how the movie stars had their makeup, everybody else copied!

The headaches and sleepiness that I mentioned last week are back, so I haven't managed to do any makeup or hair styling since Saturday, but I really hope to have a go at it again within the next few days.

As a footnote to yesterday's post about using Brylcreem to treat dandruff, last night I found a post from last year from when the problem started. It was caused by a Minoxidil solution that I trialled and saw very little result from.

13 November 2012


Yes, I know that I said yesterday that makeup was next, but this just came up and I was so impressed I wanted to write about it first!

On Saturday, it was suggested that we buy either a special flyaway cream or Brylcreem (from the men's grooming section at the supermarket) to control flyaway hairs. The idea is to get a tiny bit of it on the bristles of a comb, then comb it into the problem areas after completing styling but before spraying with hairspray.

Fair enough.

So on Sunday, I went to Charlestown to pick up a new brush (something else that I'd discovered on Saturday that I needed) and a pot of Brylcreem. When I found it, I realised that there were 2 types ~ regular and anti-dandruff. The anti-dandruff version contains pyrithione zinc 0.1% W/W (by weight). This is the same active ingredient as used in many anti-dandruff shampoos.

I've been having a bit of trouble with peeling skin style dandruff, just near my hairline around my forehead, both across the middle of the top and down the sides, so I decided to experiment by rubbing in the lightest smear of Brylcreem using a couple of finger tips. It actually released most of the peeling skin from the scalp. Problem solved!

So now I have discovered a product that has been around for decades, and I have multiple uses for it. I'd call that a win. :)

12 November 2012

There's no substitute for hands-on experience

I'm gradually working my way through all of the things that I learned on Saturday. It's amazing how much you can absorb in one day, and how long you can spend trying to get it all sorted out again!

This wasn't meant to come out sounding like an advertisement, but I suspect that it will. In fact, I started this post with the title "1950s makeup", but got so far off track that I've decided to change the title of this one, and do the makeup post next. I assure you, though, that I haven't been paid to write this post, I'm just an incredibly happy customer!

In effect, these blog posts following the lesson are my notes on what I got from the day. I'm pretty certain that if you were to search the internet, you'd find all of the information that I've learned and more about styling from the mid 20th century, so I don't think that I'm giving away any trade secrets.

I think that my experience has demonstrated very strongly, to me at least, that with something as practical as hair and makeup, what you can get from the internet is never going to be a substitute for doing a class with experienced teachers.

Like the lessons that I've done in the past in rockabilly dancing, belly dancing and yoga, as well as my university degree and apprenticeship (and all the other stuff that I can't think of off hand), when you've done the hands-on training, you are far better equipped to understand and use information that you can find on line or in books.

It's likely that as I work on trying to gain proficiency in vintage hair, makeup and styling, I'll combine what I learned on Saturday with quite a bit of information found on line, but I'm pretty sure that if I hadn't done the lessons I did on Saturday, I would still be trying to figure out where to start, assuming that I could even motivate myself to start. Saturday was a big kick in the posterior for me, and has got me moving. I'm really hoping that I'll be able to keep that momentum up. :)

If you're in Australia and you're interested in learning about vintage hair and makeup, I'd encourage you to take a course with The Lindy Charm School. If you're somewhere else in the world, have a look around to see if there is something comparable where you are. If not, perhaps it's time to start planning a holiday in Australia. :P

11 November 2012

I need a haircut!

Back in August last year, I mentioned that when I straighten my hair, about 4 inches at the ends didn't straighten properly, and that Sharon, the manager at Tree of Life in Charlestown had said that it needed to be cut off.

Later, the hair dresser that I went to at Maitland (because he came highly recommended) insisted that it was great and just needed a bit of a trim.

I've since had it trimmed again by a local hairdresser while getting my first lot of foils done just before IMATS. She didn't say anything about the condition of the ends, but I've already found split ends since that trim.

At The Lindy Charm School yesterday, Sharon's comments were confirmed when one of the teachers observed that the last 3 inches or so of my hair is damaged, limp, lifeless and is weighing the rest down. That's the 4 inches or so that was a problem last year, less the couple of trims that I've had since.

I did several hairstyles yesterday, and those damaged ends were an issue, particularly with the 1940s to 1950s wave styles that were done using the hot rollers. I know that it was my first attempt using hot rollers, but the damaged ends did exactly what the teacher suggested, weighing the rest down and looking scruffy.

I'll have to talk to the hairdresser who did my foils recently. If she can't see the damage, I'll have to try to find someone who can. I'm not all that happy about taking that length off, but it's clearly going to have to go, and I want to get it cut by a hairdresser who actually recognises the damage.

10 November 2012

A great day

By the time I had organised myself for The Lindy Charm School today, I didn't get to bed until 12:45am, with my alarm set for 5:45am...

I have to say, it was worth it. It was a great day!

I filled my pilots case with hair and makeup gear, having to pack the last of it after getting ready this morning. That made for very un-feminine weight lifting exercises getting it in and out of the car and carrying it up and down the stairs at MisKonduct Klothing, even if I was doing it in 5" Siren stilettos (the ones at the right end of the row in my recent post about Choosing high heels.) :)

Any doubts that I might have had about whether the staff at MisKonduct knew about me were dispelled today, in a quite positive way. Similarly, I was made to feel completely welcome by the staff and other students at The Lindy Charm School.

After looking enviously at the beautiful bright auburn hair of Chelsea, one of the other students who looked vaguely familiar, I discovered at lunch time that this wasn't the first time I'd envied her hair ~ we used to belly dance together several years ago, and she used to work where we bought drinks and icecream when shopping at Charlestown Square around the same time. She now lives in Sydney, but came to Newcastle for the weekend to go to the Charm School (because it was booked out last time it was on in Sydney) and to visit family. It was great to catch up with her. :)

There's a lot more that I could say about the day, but having packed everything away, I'm too exhausted to do much more tonight. I'll probably post a bit more about it in the next few days.

09 November 2012

Rapid preparations

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm going to Lindy Charm School tomorrow. I'm feeling a combination of trepidation and elation. Trepidation because I don't know how I'll be received, how well I'll be able to keep up, or even if I'll be able to get everything organised in such a short time. Elation because it's something that I've wanted to do since the first time I ever heard of it, but never thought that I'd even be game to ask.

Yesterday afternoon, I had my nails done in a nice solid slightly orangey red, and took off a bit of length to get them somewhat like the 1950s style.

I also dragged out my makeup brush roll and thoroughly washed the lot, whether I thought they needed it or not. I was a bit of a shock to realise that of the 24 brushes left after I threw out a disintegrated foam tipped applicator, I use around 18 of them for a normal makeup application!

On the information for what to take with you, it says

Your own make up – Don’t stress if you do not possess much but a mascara, eye liner, foundation, cheek stain, & lippy would be good.
I'm looking at what I'd tend to pack thinking that I could be embarrassed for the opposite reason ~ having way too much makeup, too many brushes etc. 

I also have 3 new brushes still in their packaging, including a 2nd foundation brush that I'll put into my roll when I wash the other one after doing my makeup in the morning. Makeup is one of the reasons I'm not sure how I'll go. I guess that we'd be expected to turn up without any and apply it during the lesson, but I don't think that I could go out en femme without makeup ~ my skin just isn't good enough to do that! I'll go for minimal eye makeup and try to keep the rest subtle so that I can build up over it. That's about the best I can do.

It also said that, for the intermediate class (the afternoon session), I'd also need to take

2 Slide Combs (matching your hair colour)
Hot Rollers and/or Hot Sticks
I didn't have any of these, so I did a little shopping last night and picked up a couple of packets of slide combs and a hot roller set. I couldn't find the bright orange combs that used to be common, but for less than $3 each, I grabbed a pack of clear and a pack of darker brown. I suspect that the clear will work better but at least I've got the option.

I see the hot rollers as an investment. I've never done much with my hair before, but I liked the way the huge bun worked for me, so this might be the start of much more adventurous hair styling for me. :)

I still have to work out what to wear. I've got so many pairs of heels that would work well with many of my dresses, but I don't have flats that would look right and I'm not sure that my modern heels would be the right thing to wear...

08 November 2012

Lindy Charm School

I just got news that I've been accepted for the Lindy Charm School on Saturday. I'm literally shaking!

For those who don't know what a charm school is, it's a day of workshops on how to do hair and makeup and select clothing in 1940s and 1950s styles.

I've seen them advertised before, but I'd never seriously considered applying to do one! I wasn't sure that they'd be happy for me to go, so I sent a link to my flickr photos and blog in an email explaining who I am and asking if they'd have me, and the answer that came back was yes. The only real question was whether it was all my own hair (which it is), since wigs and synthetic extensions cannot be styled using the techniques to be taught at the workshop. :)

To do what I want to do for the Kurri Kurri Nostalgia Festival, I really need to do this first, so it just suddenly feels like things are coming together.

And guess where it's being held? Upstairs at MisKonduct Klothing, who were also asked if they thought that it would be okay for me to go, and also said yes!

I've got to go shopping to get some hair accessories for Saturday, and pay online, but that's easy! Oh, and work out what to wear...

I guess I'll get my nails done red today. Maybe not favourite orangey red but a 1950s style red red. Hmm. Still don't know which shade but it'll be red! ;)

07 November 2012

Breaking a drug habit

No, I haven't got myself addicted to illicit drugs, or even legal drugs for that matter. I don't drink alcohol, I don't smoke or inject anything, but for a while now, I've been taking ibuprofen for headache and back pain.

The problem is that instead of just taking it occasionally, I got to the stage of habitually taking 2 with breakfast and 2 with dinner, every day, as a precautionary measure because when I don't take it, the pain comes back...

Unlike codeine, which is often combined with ibuprofen to make addictive extra-strength pain relievers (which featured on the ABC 7:30 report last night), inbuprofen is not an addictive drug, but it is the part of the combined pain relievers that actually causes major medical problems if used continuously and excessively.

Ibuprofen is not supposed to be used continuously, as people addicted to codeine do, and I had been until about a week ago.

I've been aware of the potential medical problems and trying to convince myself that it's not that bad because the instructions say that 6 per day is the maximum dose, but I've only been taking 4. About a week ago, I decided that I needed to face reality and stop taking ibuprofen for a while. I'm just going to have to toughen up and get used to living with the pain.

If my sciatica becomes bad enough to be debilitating, I'll have to take it again, but only for a short period until the sciatica settles down again. That's how I originally used it, and that's how I've get to go back to using it.

That means that I'm currently adjusting to living with dull to moderate levels of pain in all sorts of places including my back, and the occasional bad headache or migraine that goes along with cutting out ibuprofen for a while.

My work productivity is shot because my concentration is shot, so I'm stressing about the work that I'm not getting done. I struggle to get out of bed at a reasonable time, but after a few days I'm actually finding that I'm more aware of being tired earlier in the evenings, which might help me to finally start getting my sleep pattern under control.

It probably comes as no surprise, then, that I didn't go out last night even though it was Melbourne Cup day. Aside from working towards my plan to go to the Kurri Kurri Nostalgia Festival next year, I have no specific plans to go out en femme soon. I need concentrate on getting myself sorted out, and if opportunities present themselves along the way, I'll try to take them.

06 November 2012

Returning to the scene...

Shortly after typing up yesterday's post, I headed out to Cardiff to do a couple of little errands. Since I was nearby, I wandered into the Lifeline shop, where the full length Halloween photo was taken.

The manager, Brenda, was there. I commented to her that she hadn't been there on the Saturday, and she replied that no, she wasn't there, but she'd seen the photos. I'd forgotten that while a couple of photos were taken using my camera, Bev was taking photos with her phone. In fact, I was looking at Bev when the photo that I used here was taken.

I can't remember Brenda's exact words yesterday but there was something in there about needing a fire extinguisher because I was so hot. :P

05 November 2012

Dreaming about green nails

It seems that my nails have made into my dreams.

I rarely remember dreams, probably mostly because I don't get enough sleep to dream all that much. When I do remember a dream, it's usually just a tiny snippet rather than a whole dream.

True to form, today I remember a tiny snippet of a dream.

Snap. Oops. I look down at my nails, which are painted in the current green polish and realise that I've snapped the tip off the left pinkie. My reaction is "Damn, my nail appointment isn't for another few days yet."

Tomorrow is Melbourne Cup day. Unlike last year and the year before, I've done nothing about a special outfit for cup day. I looked in my wardrobe last night and found one dress that would go okay with my green nail polish, but I'm not all that keen on it. No, I'm not counting the Tinkerbell costume as an option! :)

I have quite a bit of preparation work that I need to do if I'm going to go out to the cafe night tomorrow night, and I'm now trying to decide whether changing nail colour should be part of that, as I have several dresses that I would like to wear, none of which go with my present nail colour.

I wonder if changing nail colour would also reduce the chance of breaking a nail. :P

04 November 2012

More comments arising

I blame Meg from Call Me Meg for getting me into Freecycle. After she mentioned it in her blog, I found out from a few people locally that there was a Freecycle group in my area.

Like Meg, I've picked up and given away some clothes through Freecycle. I've also picked up and given away other completely unrelated items such as giving away my father's old concrete mixer and a couple of garden sheds, and picking up various other items.

So it was that today, I borrowed a friend's trailer and drove about 30km (20Mi) each way to pick up a piece of machinery that had been dragged out of the back of an elderly American guy's garage because it was easier for him to buy a new cheap Chinese unit than to repair a minor fault in the  home-made one that he'd made 25 years ago.

He was quite friendly. I deliberately backed the trailer into his driveway while keeping the car almost parallel to the street, putting the trailer almost sideways relative to my car while neatly taking it over the invert without scraping the kerb and he complimented my ability to manoeuvre a small trailer. We chatted about how much easier it is to manoeuvre big trailers than small and a few other things while loading the machine onto the trailer.

Of course, coming out of the back of his shed, the machine was quite dirty. I keep gloves in the car for such occasions, and I used them to load it onto the trailer, then kept them on while tying it down.

I commented that I wouldn't normally wear gloves while tying ropes, but that the rope was dirty. Without the slightest hint of disapproval, he commented something along the lines that I'd want to wear the gloves particularly with those nails.

I mentioned that the nails were green for Halloween, and the conversation moved onto the decline of Halloween in the USA because of social changes that have made it too dangerous in some places. After a bit more small talk as I secured the load, I thanked him for the machine, he thanked me for actually showing up to collect it (apparently failure to turn up to collect something that you're getting for free is a big issue with Freecycle!?!), we shook hands and off I went.

Of all of the colours that I've had my nails, this green has been the best conversation starter of the lot. It's not really a great polish, as it took 3 coats to get a reasonable application, and it's not a colour that goes with much of my clothing, but it's a great one for getting people to comment.

Ironically, the only person who I can recall ever saying anything negative about my nails is my mother, who would prefer that I go back to having normal male nails.

As an aside, one of the other guys that I chatted to at the party on Saturday night was clean shaven with one stud in each ear. I'm probably completely wrong, but I can't shake the feeling that I may have met him before en femme.

03 November 2012

Yeah, Occasionally ~ Revisited

Work has overwhelmed me again over the past few days. I had intended to post another follow-up on comments arising from Saturday, then I intended to post about an interesting little intersection of people from different parts of my life, and now there's a much more interesting story to relate, so I'll just put the three little stories together as one post.

On Thursday night, I went back to Price Attack in Charlestown Square, where I had bought the hair buns and the green nail polish for the Tinkerbell outfit. Having picked up the nail polish for $5, I thought I'd go back and see what other colours they had in the $5 basket. It was close to closing time, and I ended up in a conversation with the staff there about the hair bun donuts that I'd bought, including the fact that the height caused me to hit the garage door and have trouble fitting into the car.

That led to showing them the two photos that are on here, and explaining that I'd done it for the Saturday in Cardiff.

Apparently I should have spent more time wandering around, as there were some shops around the edges of the area that I didn't go to, and one of the women working at Price Attack was handing out lollies at her mother's hairdressing salon on the day.

So next year, I've not only got to improve on this year's costume, but I also have to try to get there much closer to 9am.

On Friday afternoon, I was working close to a shop called MisKonduct Klothing, that recently went from being an online store and selling at markets to having their own shop selling 1950s inspired clothing. To tie in with that, they also have a 1950s style cafe area in the back of the shop. It's run by a couple, with the girl running the dress shop and the guy working as the barista in the cafe.

I wandered into the shop in boy mode hoping to have a look at dresses, since I intend to go to the Kurri Kurri Nostalgia Festival next year retro en femme. Because of other people that we know, how unsubtle I am, etc, I'm assuming that they know about me, but nothing's ever been said.

I got talking to the barista, who has been a client of mine for years, then realised that one of the Vespa riders who turns up at the Lotus restaurant on Tuesday nights (when our group are there for our cafe nights) was there. I had a bit of a chat with him as well. Until then, he only knew me in girl mode, but he said nothing that would out me.

So after chatting for over an hour, I still didn't get to look at the dresses let alone try any on. I'm thinking that I should just go there in girl mode. :)

This afternoon and evening (Saturday) proved to be far more interesting than the previous two days combined!

I went to a birthday party in boy mode tonight, for the mother of one of the boys my son goes to school with. I have mentioned this family before, in the post Yeah, Occasionally. Several people asked about my green nails, and I said that it was for Halloween, and explained the whole Cardiff Saturday morning arrangement.

Of course, someone then had to ask what I went as, so I said "Tinkerbell". They didn't believe me until I showed them the photos. ;)

I ended up showing the photos to several people and relating the story of the bun being so high that I hit my head on the garage door and couldn't fit into the car properly.

The husband, who was the one who had previously asked if I dressed up to go with my nails, said tonight that he was hoping that I'd turn up "as [my] alter ego", and I told him that I would not do that unless specifically invited to do so. Consequently, I've been told that the next party that I'm invited to at their place, I'm to go in girl mode. :)