i started wearing makeup seriously in middle school. before it was discovered by the rest of the student body that i was a complete weirdo, there was a day, at the beginning of the school year, where i found myself in the locker room applying concealer to my tiny, prepubescent blemishes, before taking school photos.*
"what's that?" one of the girls asked.
"it's this stuff, you put it on your face and it makes spots and acne go away." i wasn't yet totally hep to the lingo.
"can i try some?"
i handed the tube over to the girl who had skin at least two shades darker than mine, and we all learned that sometimes, skin color really does matter.
over the years, i've tried a lot of freaking makeup. mostly drug store stuff, the usual brands, cover girl, maybelline; revlon if i had some extra money and was feeling fancy. for the longest time, i operated under the belief that the cheap stuff was just as good as the expensive stuff, and no way was i going to spend over ten dollars on an eyeliner pencil. and then i continued to live my life feeling uncomfortable about how my concealer cracked by mid-day, and totally everyone was staring at it thinking i was some kind of leper. this could easily spiral into a murky miasma post about self-confidence and body image and blah blah blah, and i'd rather it didn't, because then it would spoil the happy ending, which is that the expensive stuff is better, and just because it's expensive doesn't mean you have to spend all your money on it. see? happy.
actually, the first real fancy-pants makeup item i ever purchased was for full price, and wasn't all that great (though it smelled fantastic):
this claims to be something like a primer/mattifier, to be worn under or over your makeup, or by itself. i think that last part only works if you have airbrushed skin to begin with, because i personally don't have the kind of complexion that can walk around all naked-like. putting it on over my makeup just kind of smeared things around, and underneath it provided a negligible difference; that kind of turned me off of fancy makeup, and benefit as a brand, for a while.
luckily, i gave them another shot. however, i wasn't going to get sucked in this time. no ma'am, this time, i went to sephora and poked and smeared and dusted and prodded, wrote all my findings down in my little notepad, and hightailed it back home to ebay, where i went crazy procuring powders and creams for half of what they cost in stores.
of course, there are drawbacks to buying anything on ebay. i check the seller's ratings beforehand, and if there's even a single instance of someone saying that a product was fraudulent--even if it's something completely different from what i'm buying, and oh they have all these positives--i'm gone. regular makeup is enough chemistry for me already, i have no desire to apply ingredients that i can't even verify to my face, near my eyes and mucus membranes and mouth. it's worked pretty well thus far; i believe i've only been fleeced once, and i'm not even 100% about that.
*i believe my first sixth grade school photo is the last school picture in which you'll find me smiling with any sincerity.