Beauty sleep: why there’s no escaping makeup

Bare Minerals is selling makeup to wear in bed – meaning women may never have to show their real, unadorned faces again

It’s a real thing, apparently, and it was yesterday. It was inevitable, I suppose, that if you were a person who needed to be told that the US had a National Sleepover Day, you wouldn’t find out until it was over.

In New York, they marked the event by building a giant bed in Times Square. As a spontaneous gathering in a civic space, it was a little bit like Spain’s indignados movement, except for its corporate sponsors – Cosmo and the makeup company Bare Minerals – and its driving purpose, which was not to fight corruption but to free you from the tyranny of ever having to take your makeup off.

Bare Minerals’ USP is a makeup so light and, I don’t know, nonpore-clogging (they have very technical terms in makeup, but I think I’m getting there) that you can sleep in it without getting spots. Not sure what Cosmo’s skin was doing in this game; I think they just like being involved in giant beds, because they are saucy (one day I will tell you about my last commission from Cosmopolitan: it was 2001 and about sex tips because all their features were, and involved a tinned pineapple ring and a Frankfurt-school Marxist. Not today, though.)

Clearly, this is the innovation womankind has been waiting for: so much of our shame has been thoughtfully managed by the beauty market, from the disgusting way we smell to our vile body hair, from the decrepitude of our elasticity to the sebum of our t-zones, yet nobody’s ever thought to deal with the elephant in the room, or to be more precise, the moose in the bed.

All that effort lavished on presentability and yet we would still, until now, have to go to sleep showing our real, unadorned faces, in all probability straight to the person we most want to find us attractive.

You think your loved ones don’t notice, because familiarity and servitude have rendered you invisible? Think again. My daughter woke me up once, pointing at my face and going: “You’re red here, and here, and here, and that’s because you’re old.”

“It’s not just because I’m old,” I said instructively, “it’s also because I drink.” I then sprang out of bed really chuffed that I had outwitted a three-year-old.

But if I’m fine with this as a woman and a feminist, I am a little anxious about late-stage capitalism. There is a growing consensus that we’re coming to the end of stuff; we did stuff. The 20th century was all about stuff. But now we don’t need or want things any more – we want meaning. Yet of course there are companies for whom this is intolerable, who want to dredge us for one last pocket of stuff-lust, the last dribble of profit before the well’s dry. They want to find a willing consumer in the person who is unconscious. Next they will make playlists for people in comas, deodorants for the unborn.


Zoe Williams

The GuardianTramp

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