In elementary school, every year on picture day my friend Brittany would steal her mom's foundation (among a long list of other makeup definitely not well suited to an eleven-year-old) and pile it on so thick that when she stood in profile you could see that her face had noticeably expanded by a good half inch of flesh-colored spackle. It was horrifying.
For this reason, in sixth grade I swore I'd never wear any facial makeup whatsoever for the rest of my life. I upheld this vow until my freshman year of college, when the realization set in that I'm a honky (as my Italian mother refers to my blonde father and I), and therefore I really do need some sun protection and a little shmidge of color.
I read an article in a random fashion magazine that claimed Clinique's tinted moisturizer made your skin look dreamy perfect but was light enough that freckles still show. It was the classic "Looks like you, only better!" line that appears roughly 400 times per women's magazine beauty section, but for some reason the pitch got to me and I went out and bought it (foolish, really, considering that I've read in these same publications that men find toe cleavage just as sexy as breast cleavage--seriously give me a call the next time you catch a guy staring at the line between your big and second toe and you have to say "Hey, I'm up here. Like, way up here. Keep going. Almost there. Yeah, here.")
Well, for once those crazy beauty writers turned out to be right on, and I've been wearing Clinique Sheer Moisture Tint in "fair" ever since (still haven't ever had my toes ogled, though). I took it with me to school in Hawaii, ready to rock my dreamy perfect but still naturally freckled complexion in the land of dreamy perfect sand and sun. But within a week, the tint of my usually super-blendable tinted moisturizer started to look a little weird every time I put it on. I assumed this was because I was actually gaining some color in my face, and despite my love of the product I happily abandoned it for the remainder of my stay, convinced that fair skin was so Oregon and I was on the fast track to tan city, baby.
A few days after I got back to Oregon, I triumphantly marched up to the Clinique counter at Macy's to share the news and buy a new supply. "I used to be a 'fair,'" I explained to the faux scientist in the Clinique lab coat and gaudy green eyeshadow, "but then I went to Hawaii for four months and got a tan and everything, and, well, I think I'm ready to upgrade."
She looked discerningly at my face for a moment and then smiled. "Yep, I think you're a 'neutral.'"
I squealed with delight and sat down in the makeover chair for the official test. "I'm so excited!" I said as she dabbed the new color, my new life, along my jawline. She laughed.
Then, all of a sudden she looked very much like a veterinarian who had joyously told a family that their new puppy had miraculously survived being hit by a bus, but then realized that she'd picked up the wrong medical records. The puppy was dead.
"Oohhh..." she said very quietly.
"I'm still a 'fair,' aren't I?"
She held up a mirror for me to look, to see the proof that I'd been in Hawaii for four months and had somehow remained the exact same color. "It's so close, but the 'neutral' just looks a little orange on you. I guess if you blended it rea--"
I held up my hand. "It's okay. I'll take a tube of 'fair.'"
I paid for the makeup and left. Sometimes life isn't fair. But I am.