Angela Bocage

Where minimalism fears to tread, unless you’re Tilda Swinton: a mascara primer, part I

From the cats’ eyes of the 1950s to the smoky eyes of just last season, sandwiching Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy and Joni, Madonna and Cyndi and Chrissie and Joan, Halle and Angelina, in between, fashion has never yet in my lifetime (and for some time before that personal milestone, smile) championed minimalism where the dark fringe of our eyes is concerned. Only Tilda Swinton is the exception, that lovely androgynous thing: to practice eyelash minimalism, thanks to her, is to follow her, and it’s simply futile. You’re Tilda or you’re not.

Like anything and everything else in fashion’s shimmering barometer of zeitgeistical fluctuations, this could be changing as I write, but it has been oddly consistent for fifty-some years. So for the next few weeks at least, perhaps months or a year, we’ll be emphasizing that penultimate vestige of approved body hair. [Or for even longer, should one live away from the coastlines and practice the wily art of protective coloration.]  I’m going to cut to the chase here; what’s the best way to help our eyelashes carry the burden, be the concentrated microcosm of all the information sent by healthy shiny rich shadowy fur? 

It’s essential to use a fine primer before applying mascara. While many of Shiseido’s products have inspired me to rapturous awe over the years (starting in my twenties, theirs was my first comprehensive skincare system), their mascara primer is not among the pantheon; it’s shockingly useless. Smashbox makes an adequate mascara primer, if used in conjunction with the balance of the system I’m breaking down here, but it’s to Sue Devitt’s that I always return. Devitt, justly revered for the Sari sheer lipcolor that is minimalism at its prettiest, makes the mascara primer product that would simply evaporate on contact when it hit Sephora shelves in the more amusing parts of Manhattan. [Remember, as with any product review here, please don’t hesitate to share with the class if you’ve discovered a splendid alternative.]

Primer is the first key, heat is the second. Even a so-so drugstore mascara will be more effective if you heat the tube under hot tap water until its very warm to the touch before applying. When you do the same with your Sue Devitt lash primer and your Diorshow black mascara, you’ll get an effect so gorgeous you may want to skip eyeliner. To be continued!


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  1. * the bass cat lady says:

    I can’t say I’ve noticed women’s eyelashes that much, except in one case where the hostess of several legendary Brooklyn 1970s parties (yes, the jello-in-the-bathtub one) was wearing an outrageous pair of Betty Boop fake eyelashes, and once when I dated a woman who’d decimated hers with mascara… maybe it’s a part of the beauty process too subtle for us thick straight boys to appreciate?

    But the people I’ve noticed eyelashes on the most tend to be under age five… part of big-eyed neoteny? In that respect, I guess I passed on some good genes.

    | Reply Posted 10 years, 5 months ago
  2. * angelabocage says:

    To Bass Cat Lady and all the readers, I apologize for the delay in completing the mascara primer, especially if anybody’s in danger of “decimating” their eyelashes! (Mascara removal tips, I see, will also be an important part of the continuing story!) I’ve been spending some Pesach time with a lovely young lady whose eyelashes resemble rich sable fur, and, indeed, have since she was well under five, taking airplane rides on people’s feet. Our people do seem to pass on some rockin’ eyelash genes, BCL; maybe it’s something in the matzoh! Straight boys are as welcome as anyone else to share their relevant musings, by the way, especially greying punk rockers whose whole families we adore…

    | Reply Posted 10 years, 5 months ago
  3. * Makeup DIY says:

    Hey hun, nice blog! I really like this article.. I was curious about this for a long time now. This cleared a lot up for me! Do you have a rss feed that I can add?

    | Reply Posted 7 years, 7 months ago

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