How I Learned To Put On Some Damn Blush

Everyone has something that keeps them going when nothing else will do. For some it's cupcakes. Others choose wine. My husband has football. I have beauty magazines.
08/08/2012 06:27 pm ET Updated Oct 13, 2012

Everyone has something that keeps them going when nothing else will do. For some it's cupcakes. Others choose wine. My husband has football. I have beauty magazines.

I'm not exactly sure where I get my make-up, hair product, fragrance and clothes jones. Partially from my mother, who could transform herself in miraculous ways between walking in and out of the bathroom. And she loved her clothes. But she didn't have a graveyard of products, as I do (or such a plethora of make-up and hair doo-dads that my daughters can shop in the mom-store.) Nor did she gobble books and magazines promising a world of change. Me? Hooked from my first bottle of Jean Nate.

My lovely editor, Greer Hendricks from Atria Books, and I fell in love by phone -- we sealed the deal in person with our discovery of a mutual favorite moment each month: The arrival of Allure. When I discovered that she'd actually worked for the magazine, my full-blown crush on her was complete. We might have tried wooing each other by quoting Proust, but really, I knew I could say "you complete me" to Greer when, as she loaded me up with an armful of books, she included Eva Scrivo on Beauty: The Tools, Techniques, and Insider Knowledge Every Woman Needs to Be Her Most Beautiful, Confident Self.

It was a mouthful of a title. I couldn't wait to open it.

As my editor, Greer knew that while one of the three main characters in my new, releasing in winter, book (The Comfort of Lies) worked with the elderly, and another was a pathologist. The third, God bless her, owned an upscale skin and make-up business. Now that was research we could enjoy. I bought many books, amazing myself by my dedication to my work. I'd get home, put all other work aside and dive into, for example, The Makeup Wakeup or Does This Make Me Look Fat? Learning something from each and every one as I sat there working at home, alone, wearing the oldest pair of white jeans in existence, with a once bright red (so-not-my-color) ancient Gap tee shirt, wearing no make-up at all and my hair pulled back tight enough to highlight each wrinkle.

Still, occasionally, I went out. And Juliette, my character, she needed to know it all.

From Eva Scrivo on Beauty, I learned that I didn't have a clue exactly which (and how many!) hair products I needed. I learned to put on eye makeup before face makeup (I used to do the opposite.) Now I rinse out all the hair conditioner (no, it doesn't help to leave a little in, unless you're going after that flat head look.) And, for goodness sake, after years of learning that I shouldn't, I began to brush my hair before going to bed. Oh, and did you know that there is such a thing as hair foundation spray? (I now own some.)

This is in-depth stuff, folks. An education in a book. And someday, if the world shines more light on me, I am going to her salon in New York.

I don't know where I found Makeup Wakeup by Lois Joy Johnson and Sandy Linter, but I'm glad I did. Love this advice on makeup for those of us who've passed the mid-line mark. Look at the before and after. Look at how to apply eye makeup. And use some damn blush. Best pictures of older women looking smashing I've ever seen. And after reading this book, I actually threw out old makeup.

Plus, I dragged the book to Leila at Station 8, pointed to a picture, and said "I want that." And she gave it to me.

After reading How to Look Expensive by Andrea Pomerantz Lustig (which I was lucky enough to get a bit before the release) I marched into my (same, very patient) hairdresser Leila, and demanded to know if I had highlight and lowlights -- because apparently, in order not to look like a hootchie mama, you need both.

This is another of those books that my greedy eyes couldn't gobble fast enough. Lists of products? Check. Lists of when to spend the $, when it doesn't matter? Check. Want to have your lashes look like J.Lo? Layer a thin natural one and a special effect one (from the drugstore is just fine). Save money on expensive eye creams (and use it for products with retinol).

And yes, I found another hair style to bring to Leila.

Hello. My name is Randy and I am a beauty book junkie.