0

Eyeliner: My Arch-Nemesis

I have a dysfunctional relationship with makeup.

When I say this, I mean that I have never really mastered the physical techniques. I know what the experts, beauty-icon how-to manuals, internet beauty gurus, and random broads with too much mascara say is the best way to apply it. However, my manual dexterity rates somewhere between ‘hyperactive spider monkey after too much coffee’ and ‘actual disability in muscular control,’ which means ‘simple’ techniques become an exercise in creative obscenity at ever-increasing volumes and the progenitor of a growing stack of used makeup wipes on my bathroom counter.

When I say this, I mean that I have never really mastered the physical techniques. I know what the experts, beauty-icon how-to manuals, internet beauty gurus, and random broads with too much mascara say is the best way to apply it. However, my manual dexterity rates somewhere between ‘hyperactive spider monkey after too much coffee’ and ‘actual disability in muscular control,’ which means ‘simple’ techniques become an exercise in creative obscenity at ever-increasing volumes and the progenitor of a growing stack of used makeup wipes on my bathroom counter.

I love makeup, but sometimes it feels like Stockholm Syndrome.

The result is that I go long periods of time not wearing any at all, until I finally go back and say ‘it will be different this time. This time, my mascara won’t somehow end up on my forehead and lips, and I won’t wind up crying eyeliner globules.’

A dramatic reenactment of
post-eyeliner moments Chez Broad.

Spoiler: This time isn’t different. Ever.

I look into my makeup drawers (yes, plural. Don’t judge!) with wistful eyes. Wistful eyes that never, ever, have perfect eyeliner.

It was easy when I was a teen in the 80s. Slap some liquid black liner in your bottom waterline, trowel on foundation and mascara and blush, slap on some shiny-ass gloss, fingerpaint on some clashing colors in unblended stripes along your eyelid, crease, and browbone. Voila, done!

I got older, and I learned about technique, and suddenly, I didn’t want to wear it at all if I couldn’t do it right– and by ‘right,’ I mean ‘it looks like an ad in Vogue.’ The worst and most stress-inducing part of this whole thing is eyeliner.

I don’t do bottom-waterline eyeliner any more. It honestly looks terrible on me. The only technique I can do with any skill is the ‘use setting spray on eyeshadow on a square ‘push’ brush and work it into the lashline.’ This is not a bad technique, but it can be both messy and short-lived. I wanted to learn to use felt-tip liners. Idiot-proof, right?

Apparently I’m the better, stronger, faster idiot. When it comes to eyeliner, I am the Six Million Dollar Idiot.

Just yesterday, I managed to turn a simple ‘line along the upper lashes with a felt-tip liner’ task into ‘well, shit, there goes all the expensive layers of skincare I just applied’ after needfully swiping a makeup wipe all over my right eyelid, browbone, cheek, and somehow, the bridge of my nose to get rid of the fallout.

The worse part? I ended up with a quarter inch of eyeliner where it belonged. A noncontiguous quarter-inch broken up into little dashes. I like to think that in Morse code, my eyeliner said, “I am a complete dork, please send a cosmetician, stat.”

What’s even worse than this requires a side story.

My husband, who I shall call the Nerd by his choice, does cosplay sometimes. One costume required a certain amount of makeup to make it look right. I taught him how to apply it. Because I suck at eyeliner, I gave him both a liner pencil and an eyeshadow to work with, and taught him the push-brush method as well as the conventional pencil method.

On his second try, he’d done a baby-winged eyeliner with the brush and shadow in vivid crimson that was perfect, and by that, I mean, I could have used his liner to check self-leveling cement.

I almost cried. I was tempted to make him do my damned eyeliner every day. Second try, and he does it perfectly. I’ve been doing eyeliner for literal decades and I still wind up with it on my lips.

So… yeah. Eyeliner, we are frenemies. When you show up and do your job, you’re awesome and do lovely things to my eyes. Unfortunately, you’re usually too busy trying to do the aesthetic equivalent of giving me a swirly to make that happen.

So what say we end this dysfunctional relationship and try to… make up?



Photo by Ricardo Viana on Unsplash.

The Broad

‘The Broad’ is the nom de plume of a snarky, 50ish writer with many observations, opinions, and hopefully-bon mots.