Lip Balm and Black Eyeliner – Makeup for an Old Lady

Do you remember when you were a teenager and couldn’t wait to wear makeup?  I was about 13 years old when I started trying out things to put on my face.  I didn’t have much, but maybe some eye shadow, and some lipstick in colours that absolutely did not suit my colouring at all.

How grown up I felt! 

I remember I had a metallic green eyeshadow once.  It came free on the front cover of a magazine for teenage girls – all about pop starts and actors.  I loved this eyeshadow to bits, even though it was quite oily and difficult to remove.  The magazine had come all the way from England and so I was thrilled to wear this eyeshadow as often as I could.

born in a car makeup green eye shadow
I imagined I looked like this, but I probably didn’t

At 13 and 14 years of age I went to a private girls’ school, and makeup was strictly forbidden, so I could only ‘experiment’ with my goodies on the weekends.

Then along came mascara and black eyeliner (I was an 80s teenager).  Oh, how wonderful it was to feel so mature!   And then there was face powder in a compact with a mirror!

And then I discovered liquid foundation!  What a wonderful world I lived in that I could get all of these things to improve my looks.  Which, at the tender age of 14, I believed needed improving. 

Eventually I had all of this, and more, in my makeup bag

Like most women, my teens were my experimental makeup years.  I don’t mean that I did unusual things with it, I just mean that I was learning how to use it and how it looked best on me.

Getting older

Then in my 20s I started working in a bank, and so my Monday to Friday makeup regime was quite regular and ‘normal’.  Probably could be described as subtle. 

Weekends during my 20s were often about going ‘out’, discos, pubs, live music, parties with friends.  And of course, makeup, and lots of it, was absolutely necessary for these kinds of activities.

Lots of liquid foundation to hide my ‘flaws’.  I had (and still have) quite freckly skin, and I hated my freckled face, and so tried to use this liquid foundation to hide these brown spots.  One of my aunts used to call them ‘sun kisses’, and while, as a young child, this worked and allowed me to look at them with some tenderness, as a young adult it didn’t fool me. They were freckles and I hated them.

So, in my 20s I went through a lot of liquid foundation, followed by face powder, eyeshadow, mascara, eyeliner, lipstick – the lot. I probably looked like a clown most of the time.

born in a car lipstick
Lipstick featured a lot in my 20s

Less is more

As I entered my 30s I changed my life a bit and went out clubbing with friends less, and so I started to wear a lot less makeup.  I’m not sure if I felt more confident in my 4th decade, or if I was just tired of carting around a huge bag of cosmetics, but I definitely became less concerned about what I looked like when I went out. 

Lip gloss was one of my favourite things, usually in a pale or neutral colour, and I still wore eyeliner (black), but mascara was rare and eyeshadow even rarer in my 30s.  I was a lot more natural and not so busy trying to ‘compete’ with other women in that stage of my life.

A new life

I left Australia to start teaching English in Moscow, Russia when I was 39.  I arrived in Moscow for the first time one month before I turned 40.  Apart from all the other culture shocks I experienced, I once again found myself facing a little bit of ‘peer pressure’, just like in high school.

Russian women wear a lot of makeup!  Yes, it’s a generalisation and there are a lot of women in Russia who don’t wear any makeup at all.  But for me, who had become comfortable without wearing anything except eyeliner most days, I was faced with the full-faced makeup job everywhere I looked!

Let me just add here, only a little off topic, that coming from a very casually dressed Australia, I felt very much like everyone was looking at me in the street and metro in Moscow, due to my Australian clothes and lightly made up face.  I felt poor, foreign and very, very different.

So out came the mascara again!  I tried, I really did, to look Russian so I would fit in and not feel so different in my new home.  I started wearing mascara and lipstick every day.  Until one day I was out walking in a beautiful park in Moscow and it was snowing.  And my mascara wasn’t waterproof.

Black streaks under my eyes.

Not very attractive.

The day the mascara ran down my face in the snow

Despite the snow I continued to wear mascara for some time.  But somehow I just felt a bit unnatural wearing it, so after a few months I stopped.

Finding my own style

And so it was just eyeliner and coloured lip gloss for some years.  I was feeling pretty good about myself and about my freckles.  In my 40s I managed to find self-acceptance (after I stopped comparing myself to 20-30 year old Russian Goddesses).  And this self-acceptance meant that I could throw away the lip gloss!  And the face powder!

By the time I hit 50 I was down to black eyeliner and non-coloured lip balm.  The lip balm wasn’t for looks, but for dry lips.

Black Eyeliner

The one thing I can’t seem to give up is the black eyeliner.  I know why, and it’s purely psychological (and a bit dysfunctional).

I believe that if I don’t wear eyeliner nobody will see me.  That without it I’m invisible.  This black eyeliner defines me.

Well, the good news is that eyeliner is very small, it’s just a pencil.  And for someone who is in the process of minimalising their life and getting rid of their excess ‘things’, keeping an eyeliner or two isn’t going to make a huge impact on my life.

And the lip balm is for health, so we can forgive that too.

So there you have it!  I’m down to an eyeliner and a lip balm.

born in a car black eyeliner and lip balm
This is now all I have for makeup

I decided to take my makeup bag and check out what I had in it.  I still had some eye shadow and some lip gloss, both of which I hadn’t used for years, and some other makeup items.  In the bag I also found a lot of trinkets and stuff, like coins, a watch and some jewellery, and some hair clips.  And some black eyeliner pencils.

I can now get rid of the makeup bag and most of the contents – the lip balm and eyeliner can fit in my pocket.

While I was thinking about the history of cosmetics in my life, I was wondering about how other women feel about using makeup as they get older.

Are you using more makeup than when you were younger?  Do you use it to hide your (perceived) ‘imperfections’?  Or are you ready to bare all and show your natural self?  Let me know because I’m really curious about it!

Cheryl no makeup born in a car
Me – makeup free…not even any black eyeliner!

Author: Cheryl

I'm an Australian woman who is now living in a village in rural Bulgaria. I lived for 12 years in Moscow, Russian Federation, working as an English language teacher. My current loves are my husband and my vegetable garden.

6 thoughts on “Lip Balm and Black Eyeliner – Makeup for an Old Lady”

  1. Hi Cheryl, I’ve never been much of a make-up wearer. Virtually none at all in my teens, 20’s and 30’s. I started using it more in my 40’s – probably when I left the dental world behind and became more ‘front office’ and felt like I needed to look a bit more put together. I also feel like I’m fading a bit with age and like to add some colour when I go out. Basically 90% of the time I’m au naturale and then I throw on the eyeshadow, liner, mascara and lippy for special occasions – with a little bit of cover stick for the splodgy bits – I’m hopeless with foundation because I touch my face and spread it everywhere!


    1. Hi Leanne, I so wished that I was ‘free’ enough to not wear makeup when I was younger! I always felt I had to be ‘beautiful’, I believed the women’s magazines! I agree though, it’s nice to have a bit of colour sometimes, but I’ve just thrown away my coloured lip gloss so I guess I’ll have to forget about that! Have a great week! 🙂 x


  2. I enjoyed this post so much! I was about 12 or 13 when I started playing around with makeup. I remember sitting in Science class, after our work was done, putting on eye shadow with my friend. From college until I was in my 50s, I would wear a full face of makeup if I left the house even just for errands. Even when my kids were newborns! Now, at 63, most days I wear some sunscreen or a tinted moisturizer, lipgloss, and I draw on my eyebrows (because mine disappeared…) Sometimes I put on a little powder to cover some broken capillaries. But I save the liquid foundation for special occasions now! Thanks for the fun post.


    1. Hi Pam, so glad you enjoyed my post! Isn’t it funny how much importance (and time!) we gave to using makeup! And now we care a lot less about these things, even if we still want to look our best. My eyebrows are also slowly disappearing! I’ve just thrown out everything except for the eyeliner and lip balm, so if I need to draw my eyebrows on I’ll have to go makeup shopping again! Thanks for stopping by and commenting! 🙂


  3. Hi Cheryl. It’s so good to be back with you. You have such beautiful skin, that I can see why you don’t wear makeup. I’ve worn full makeup almost every day since I was about 19 years old. I wasn’t very good at putting it on, and I didn’t know what type was suitable for my very oily skin. Recently, I haven’t been wearing a lot while working on the house, every day. Honestly though, it’s been tough for me to go without, so I recently started just using a BB cream, instead of foundation. I like the less made up look and the Garnier brand that I bought has sunscreen in it. I always enjoy connecting with you. I’ll be sharing to FB.


    1. Hi Christina, thank you for the compliment. I do appreciate having good skin, although as a teenager and young woman I thought I had the worst skin in the world! I think it’s a good idea to wear some kind of light sunscreen, especially if you’re outside a lot. I really do feel much better without makeup, though. Nice to hear from you, hope you have a productive week ahead! 🙂 x


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