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Beauty Experiment: Extreme Makeup
There was a time, I kid you not, when I refused to leave the house without heels, big hair and a full face of makeup—my quiet homage to the women of Knots Landing. But that was 30 years and a thousand somebody elses ago. Today I've got one daughter, two jobs, a special-needs rat terrier, very little energy and even less time. Still, tired of always looking tired—and pressured by the beauty department—I reserved a recent afternoon to slip my exhausted self onto a stool at the makeup counter of a Manhattan department store.

"I need a little oomph," I tell the makeup artist–salesperson. She springs into action, uttering just two words: "smoky eyes." So authoritative is her conviction that I find myself nodding in complete agreement. Over the next half hour, a grand total of 21 products are smudged, smeared and dabbed from my throat to my hairline—apparently I require smokiness from the neck up. For reasons I will never comprehend, she lines the inside rims of my upper eyelids, commanding me to breathe as she scratches away. "Breathing keeps you from tearing uncontrollably," she assures me as I tear uncontrollably. After five minutes, she pronounces me fabulous and hands me a mirror.

"I hope you're going somewhere very special tonight," she says. I don't have the heart to tell her I have a date with a fourth grader whose math homework neither of us understands. Or that the face she's created for me does not go with the life I've created for myself. Instead, I buy tinted moisturizer and lipstick and brace for a very special night of long division.

The next day, after two hot showers and 11,000 baby wipes, the black liner that refuses to budge from my eyes has actually left them subtly defined. It's a morning-after makeup miracle! I use the tinted moisturizer to even out my skin tone and apply the soft, pinky beige lipstick. I may not feel well-rested, but I look it—and that's a pretty nice start.

Verdict: Do it!

—Lisa Kogan, writer at large
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