Last week, for the first time in my life, I learned how to apply make-up. I’m not saying I’ve never used make-up before, I have and I do, but I’ve never actually learned how to apply it before.

I attended a make-up class for one, led by the delightful Mary Blackhurst Hill of House of Colour. We’d talked about doing this for a while before I agreed to sign up for it. I have an odd relationship with make-up and I felt it was time to face up to it.


My relationship with make-up

Some people have odd relationships with food. You could say I have an odd relationship with make-up.

I’m not sure at what point this happened, but I never really got on with make-up from the start. And having missed those crucial lessons, often learned earlier on in life, I always felt a little on the back-foot.

Maybe it was my lack of attention to detail!

Maybe it was my short-sightedness – make-up isn’t easy to apply when you can’t see what you’re doing!

Maybe it was seeing other people look pretty bad having slapped it on…or covered themselves up badly to ‘conceal’ their acne or the like.

Maybe it was the fact that I felt like (looked like?) I was in fancy dress every time I wore make-up – I have a terrible picture in my mind of a 10-year-old me dressed as a random dwarf (from a Snow-White themed carnival float with the Brownies). Why wasn’t I picked as Snow White, I sometimes wonder?!

Maybe it was my frequent workouts – running, swimming, gym, aerobics. Make-up is just an unnecessary evil for someone who frequently likes to get hot and sweaty (for fun).


My history

For years I dabbled with make-up but ultimately wore as little as I could get away with. A little mascara. The occasional bit of lippy at the beginning of an evening out. I would never really think much about it, let alone carry anything around with me.

This approach lasted me reasonably well until my early thirties.

Rosy cheeks

At this point my rosy cheeks started to drive me crazy. The more I worried about my cheeks, the redder I became….and then people would mention how red I was….and this could then often last me all day…

I remember a discussion with a close friend who told me that make-up was the only way forward. Grrr!

So, for several years I tried various anti-redness concealers (often green tinged stuff), settling for something for a while before moving on to try something else. I’m pleased to say a found a rather good solution for my cheeks 5 years ago which serves me OK for the main.


I’m naturally blonde. This may seem fairly inconsequential, except that my eyelashes and eye brows are practically invisible. I’ve been having them tinted periodically for much of my adult life. Sometimes this works really well, but often only lasts for a week or so and by the end of week 3 or 4, I’m practically featureless again.


I’ve had a couple of make-overs in my time. There was one really successful one at a Body Shop party many years ago, and a couple of dreadful ones at department stores. These often resulted in some purchases, which I wore temporarily, before getting bored or feeling like a clown once again in the light of day.


Mid-life crisis

Now I’ve reached the grand old age of 44, I know I probably need to start behaving like a grown up. This is similar to a handbag and tights realisation I had in my early thirties. Alas, I’ve no longer got youth on my side. I want to feel confident and credible as I need to sell myself more, as part of the next chapter of my life.

I shared my concerns about make-up Mary and she was very empathetic. It seems I am not alone. She agreed not to make me look like a clown, but to help me be a brighter version of me. I (somewhat grudgingly) agreed to give it a go.


Make-up lesson 

Mary welcomed me warmly and showed me through to her beautifully airy and light studio. It also helped that it was a nice summery day.

She sat me down at a lovely glass dressing table complete with make-up mirror and a range of drinks, snacks and make-up brushes.

After some initial paperwork, we got down to business.


I started by removing the (limited) make-up I was already wearing, with cleanser. I then wore a mask for 10 minutes or so to give my face a proper clean. Following this I dutily applied toner, moisturiser and eye cream and was ready to go. All the products were from House of Colour and smelled divine.

Mary consulted me on my ‘style preference’ and we concluded that I’m a Classic-Ingenue, which means I am ‘elegantly feminine’. I can live with this! I already knew my colours were cool summer from my previous style journey.

Building foundations

Mary helped by selecting the appropriate concealers and foundation and we steadily built up my face, step by step. She’d demonstrate on one side and I’d do the other. It was amazing to see things take shape, even from the early steps.

Applying blusher was a shocker. I don’t think I’d been near the stuff since I was a dwarf on the carnival float aged 10! But Mary selected an appropriate shade for me and showed me how and where to apply it. This helped to shape my face.

Getting expressive

Eyes were next. Firstly, we found a suitable eye shadow to darken my pale eyebrows. Mary found one that pretty much matched my hair, yet still helped my eyebrows to become visible!

Eye shadow went on next – not one, but 3 in different parts of my eye, for emphasis. Luckily one doubling up with the eyebrow one.

Finally, we selected a lipstick. I never thought of myself as much of a pink girl (I’m not a girly girl) although there have been a couple of pink items finding themselves into my wardrobe over the past 18 months. I never would have picked the raspberry pink colour for myself, but it worked! Mary showed me how to apply it so it would look good and stay on all day. We topped it off with some lip gloss.

And we were done!

Overall, I was pretty impressed with the result. I didn’t look or feel like I was wearing much make-up, but this really was the point!



Last week, in my mid-forties, I learned how to apply make-up. Not just any make-up but colours and style to suit my natural look and the me I want to portray to the world.

I now feel more confident in applying make-up and wearing it. I’ve had some great compliments so far. I just need to keep practicing until it becomes more natural and less time consuming.


Thank you for reading! For more on Age Life Balance, browse the blog at to find out  more.