Maeve Higgins guide to makeup #2 tells us how to get expertly applied eyeliner and a fantastic butt

Here is my hotly anticipated guide to who’s who in the world of cosmetics.

Make up is supposed to mimic the effects of being turned on. I’m not so sure. My neck flushes and my cheeks burn in business meetings than in the bedroom. Aren’t I so tame, thinking I can only be turned on in the bedroom? I need to open my mind and consider the infinite sexiness of the hotpress or that triangle under the stairs where we keep the mop. Anyway, when I’m turned on the spider veins on my cheekbones don’t coat themselves in taupe coloured shimmer, I wish!

That said, mascara does make it seem like each of your eyelashes have an erection.

 My friend’s sister uses a credit card to get the black line just right. I freestyle and it works out, though sometimes if I’m on some form of lurching public transport, I don’t manage to get the thickness completely the same on both eyes. That gives the impression that I have one eye bigger than the other, lending me a peculiar look I like to call ‘the dead doll who can walk around’. Eyeliner is worth that risk, it really plays up your eyes. Beauty experts always tell us to play up one feature, and one feature only, usually your eyes or your mouth. They never say what to do if neither of these happen to be your strong point. Not that I have anything to worry about – my eyes are endlessly fascinating.

You know how some people have eyes as blue as cornflowers in the sun? I pity those people for their conventional, easy to imagine colouring. My eyes are far more interesting. They are the colour of a gun if that gun was made from sort of a blue metal. They are the colour of the Irish Sea just after a minor oil spill.

They have the trails of a few Spanish trawlers running through them and locked inside is a glimpse of the infinite sadness of all Irish people crossing that sea away from the old country.My eyes are naturally sad looking.  When I’m happy or sad or not thinking about whether I’m happy or sad, my eyes remain sad looking. That’s why, (and you can do this too if you have downcast peepers) I use eyeliner to make them turn up into a smile. An inauthentic looking throwback smile from the 1950s, but a smile nonetheless. Glance at me and you’ll think there goes a happy washerwoman, whistling away with a smile in her eyes.

Look closer and you’ll say there goes a reasonably content woman with expertly applied eyeliner and a fantastic butt.

I’ll thank you not to break me down into parts like that, but I’ll also thank you for the compliments.


 How can you achieve that relaxed, sun warmed glow without exposing yourself to harmful rays of the actual brutish sun? The answer is you can’t. How can you make it look like I’ve dipped a boar bristle brush into some brown glitter then swiped it across your t-zone? The answer is you can do exactly that, and it will be apparent to all. Actual bronzing of faces rarely occurs in the natural landscape that is an Irish woman’s skin. It’s like when a pretentious architect builds a space-ship type house on the Burren – it’s the future showing up the past and nobody wins.

I have loved powder for a long time. It’s one of the reasons I think there was a mix up and I’m alive in the wrong era. I should be around in sixteenth century Paris. Instead of bathing I would simply use powder to disguise my filth. I would never catch a cold and I would sit in bed and eat Turkish delight directly from my maid’s hands, neither of us would feel weird about it because that was the way back then.

Not like nowadays, where you get a cup in a fast food restaurant and you have to bloody fill it up yourself. Body powder and
face powder is the same except face powder has some skin coloured dye in it. It’s purpose is to set your face, so you have to be careful what expression you’re making as you apply it. I always shoot for sanguine, try and stay away from horrified and end up somewhere along the lines of worried but fundamentally placid. That look drives men wild.

I am getting on in years so tend to use a LOT of blush. That, combined with a little romper suit with big buttons and my hair all done in ringlets, makes me look like a little girl again. My sister Rosie has a complicated relationship with blush. Since she was a tiny baby, she’s had unbearably cute, bright-pink cheeks. Strangers would often smile when they saw her and say ‘Hello Rosie’, making her think the world was a magical place, where everybody knew her name. The she grew to resent it. We told her she was lucky her name wasn’t Gonzo or Knockers but she  still turned against her pink cheeks, because they gave her name away and also because they made her look ‘too rural’.

In her teens she began painting over them with a special green paste to tone down the pink, letting that dry in then applying a layer of brown foundation. She continues doing so to this day, always finishing off her cheeks with a dusting powdery pink blush to make them Rosie again, but urban.


Allow me to share this short verse with you.

To L.L. My sweetheart. My friend. My keeper of secrets, my darling boy. You know how I feel about my sharp little mouth, my lips the size and shape of a €2 coin-edge. You help me.

It does. Lipliner slinks up to me and giggles then gets serious as it asks me, concern in it’s pointy eyes why should you put up with those lips you’ve been given? When I am here for you and can help you get the lips you feel you deserve? I can only answer by grabbing lipliner by the neck, sharpening it and happily drawing a generous circle of it on all around my old mouth to create a giant new one that better represents my personality. If films about aliens have taught me anything, it’s that we are all evolving into creatures with tiny zippe- up mouths and big shark eyes. I’m half way there, which makes me feel conflicted. It means I don’t have a sultry pout, but it also hints at the fact that I am probably ahead of the posse in other ways too, like being emotionally in tune.  Just today I saw a woman crying at a bus stop and told an old man standing nearby that he should go and ask her if she was alright.

This season's hot new lipliner look

Since I was eight years old, my definition of being an adult has been someone that a)has a boyfriend and b) wears lipstick. I’d like to say right now CONGRATULATIONS MAEVE YOU PASSED THE TEST. YOU WON THE CHALLENGES. YOU ARE A GROWN UP.  You know me - always striving to be better. I’ve added more qualities now that I have yet to achieve. When I do I will finally become what doctors call ‘an actual grown up’. These qualities include:
- being able to drive a car or a truck
- cleaning the kitchen then sighing to myself and saying now, doesn’t the whole place feel much better?
- managing to hold it together when a bird gets in the house.
- becoming a parent or a grandparent

Despite my expertees, I have mixed feelings when it comes to buying trying and buying make up myself. As you have probably guessed, I am extremely fond of makeup artists and salespeople because they really brighten the place up.  The rules of department stores generally state that employees have to wear a uniform of all-black clothes in two sizes too small for them. Make-up sales people react against this austerity by hanging things off of, sticking things to and generally colouring in the front of their heads. They are like those dark monkeys with bright paradise faces. They’re like beautiful robot dolls with heightened features and hyper real hair styles. I feel giddy when I’m in their presence, like anything is possible when it comes to my face.

Some makeup artists yesterday

The excitement sours though and I get angry with myself when I catch sight of my boring reflection.  I curse my lack of imagination and try to make up for it by buying inappropriate items. I want to impress these big gaudy birds and live up to their sherbety ideal.

Once I bought a yellow eyeshadow for €17. Another time I almost bought a glittering black lipstick, but one of the pretty monkey gaudy birds felt sorry for me and stopped me.

At some make up counters, you have to book weeks in advance if you want to get your make up done there - even on a Wednesday. The last time I tried to get an appointment at a popular city centre counter, a thin boy wearing peacock feather eyelashes said, not unkindly, I don’t even have to look in the book to tell you that’s not gonna happen.

I sometimes dream of a parallel life as a make-up girl, where I’d make spots and wrinkles and ruddiness vanish and replace them with red, pillowy smiles and glowing, shimmering eyes. I’d spend all day using my mad skills with a set of brushes, making grateful people look like cartoon versions of themselves, in a good way.  And every night, right after I’d meticulously removed my own make-up, I’d go to sleep happy, clutching my lipliner, my love.


This is an extract from Maeve’s fantastic book
We Have a Good Time, Don’t We? - its out right now and the official launch is taking place tomorrow in the gorgeous Gutter Press bookshop in Temple Bar, Dublin

And check out the first part of her makeup guide – go on sure you might as well


We have FIVE SIGNED COPIES of the book to give away.  Just leave a comment and either Tweet or Like on FB to enter – give Maeve some love!

Sorry, this competition has ended now. You can check the Latest Competitions here

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