By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support local journalism.
The high price of vanity
Sudie Crouch

Mama’s main indulgence has always been good makeup.

Clothes were not important. Her Mama-uniform has changed slightly over the decades, with the constant always being comfort above style.

However, good makeup --‘poof’ as she calls it – has always been something she loves.

Even when she didn’t know how to put it on.

One of my earliest memories was finding a pale pink Mary Kay compact filled with little squares of blush, eyeshadow, and lipstick.

Mama was not a fan of Mary Kay, but she was trying to help a friend get a pink Caddy.

She’d use the lipstick, but she didn’t know what to do with the rest until one day I told her I was going to put some of the color on her cheeks and eyes.

This little pink compact started a lifetime obsession with makeup for me and even though Mama still is challenged in terms of how to put her blush on, she has never had a problem buying it.

Through my teen years, Mama made sure I had the ‘good stuff’ as she called it. She didn’t understand why I wanted stuff by Cover Girl or Maybelline when she was offering up stuff like Elizabeth Arden and Lancome.

“Because, Mama,” I began. “I like my cheapie stuff.”

She’d sigh but get it for me, shaking her head the whole time.

To compensate, she would normally get me something from the mall later, thinking my drugstore finds were not good for my skin at all.
Now that I am older, I still like my cheapie stuff, especially now that I am paying for it.

I joke now that if there is something from a prestige line name in my bag, it was undoubtedly   from Mama.

Mama’s always buying stuff, trying it once, then giving it to me.

I don’t mind because like I said, I am all about the cheapie stuff and Mama doesn’t usually by the cheap stuff.

Her one exception to this rule is the occasional L’Oreal, especially since I told her they were the parent company of Lancome.

Of course, she never uses it, so I inherit it.

“Did you like that stuff?” she asked one day.

“What stuff?”

“That cream I gave you. It was pink. Why was it pink?”

“I loved it, Mama,” I said. “It doesn’t look pink when you put it on. All I know is it makes me look like I am well-rested, and I haven’t been that since I was four.”

“It didn’t do that for me. Maybe it was just for younger skin,” she said. “Do you want some more of it?”

“Sure, Mama.” That was probably her plan all along.

“Do you want me to get you something better than that? Something that’s not just $10?”

“No, Mama, that one’s fine. And I still have the whole jar. I’m good for a while.”

She sighs. She worries more about my wrinkles than I do.

A few months later, she tells me about another cream.

“I don’t think I like it,” she begins. “Would you like to have it?”

 “Why don’t you like it?”

“It feels too dry,” she said. “And it makes my face feel tacky.”

“And you think I will want it?”

How could she possibly think I wanted something that made my already dry skin feel drier and tacky. Not a good selling point if you asked me.

“Well, I paid a lot for it so I would like for it to get used and I am not going to use it.”

“How much did you pay for it?” I asked.

That’s not a good sign if she is complaining it was too much. Mama thinks if it a product works, it’s worth it.

“I don’t want to say,” she said. “But, if you’d like to have it, I will give it to you. Maybe it will do better for you.”
“Mama.”

“It was over $200, okay. It was a $200 face cream. And I thought it would be wonderful and be amazing and knew if it didn’t help me, that you would probably love it.”

“Mama, I would rather have $200 than a cream! Granny only used Pond’s and that woman looked 20 years younger than she was when she died!”

“I know,” Mama said exasperated. “But this was supposed to be the best cream out there. I was so disappointed when I tried it. I hope you like it.”
“You take that mess back,” I said.

“I can’t.”
“Mama, you can. Find that receipt and take it back and tell them it was not right.” I worked for a cosmetic line before and as long as someone had the receipt, we could do it.

“I didn’t know how much it was when I got it, but if you don’t want it, I don’t know what to do.”

“Oh, Mama,” I began. My sweet Mama is too polite to tell someone the price was way more – like $150 more – than she expected. She is not her daughter, who eyes everything being rang up and knows when a price is wrong.

“I hope I like it, too,” I said, just as exasperated as she was.

I told one of my girlfriends about the cream.

“Don’t you dare use it – how can your face possibly bounce from a $200 cream?” she said. “There will be no way you can go back to using L’Oreal or something that is less than that ever again!”

She was probably right.

There was nothing to worry about though.

Mama was completely right about the cream. It was dry and tacky, and not to mention horribly, ridiculously overpriced.

Looks like my face would have to stay happy with the $10 cream just a little bit longer and I was just fine with that.