It was a warm Wednesday evening and I was relaxing on the sofa with a cold glass of pinot grigio, waiting for my newly painted nails to dry, when I heard a familiar car.
My husband William, an engineering manager, wasn’t due back from his business trip for several hours. But peering through the window, I saw his silver Volvo pull up.
I’d just had a bath and didn’t have a scrap of make-up on. Panicking, I abandoned my wine and hurried to the bathroom, pausing only to grab my cosmetics bag and high heels. Some time later I emerged, full foundation, lipstick, eyeshadow and blusher in place, wearing my heels and a kaftan.
Wandering into the kitchen, I found William chatting to his boss. ‘Hello! What a surprise – I didn’t know you were back early,’ I said, pouring them each a glass of wine.
William gave me a knowing look but said nothing. I felt a bit embarrassed at having been in the bathroom for so long – what if his boss thought I was ill? – but honestly I’d rather that than let them see my face au naturel.
I’m 72, have been married to William for seven years and have never let him see me without make-up. At bedtime I switch off the light as soon as I’ve washed my face. (He’s used to it, so never objects.)
The way I see it, on our first date – and I carefully chose a restaurant with lots of natural light to enhance my features – William was attracted to a well-groomed woman wearing carefully applied make-up. And I’ve no intention of letting things slip because we’re married.
I should say that I do enjoy wearing make-up. Growing up, I had two elder sisters and experimented with their eyeshadows and blushers, but I really got into it in the 1980s, when I ran a modelling agency and was sent skincare products to try.
Later I started working as a film extra and had to wear thick layers of foundation. Since then I’ve perfected my routine, getting up at 7.30am to apply a full face in the 30 minutes before William wakes. I put in my contact lenses, then use a special cleansing wipe on my face, dot it with argan oil and apply moisturiser.
Next I dab on foundation and concealer with a sponge and smooth it in using my fingers. I dust pink blusher across my cheekbones and use a bronze crayon to add shine to my lips.
These days I go for blue-toned eyeshadow on the bottom lids and a light white to highlight the top. Finally I draw around my eyes with a black eyeliner and plump my lashes with mascara.
I have other beauty habits: I sleep on my back rather than my side, to avoid creasing my skin, and get a blow-dry every Friday at 10am. Between appointments I use a curling iron to give the ends some body. My family don’t mind the lengths I go to: my grandkids love having a ‘glamorous gran’ and William appreciates the effort. Just this morning, he told me how pretty I look. The only time he doesn’t like it is when I really plaster it on.
Many women would hate the idea of getting made-up for their husbands, but for me it isn’t about insecurity – it’s about making the most of what I’ve been given. I look and feel better with my full face on. And I’ve no intention of beginning my day any other way.