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What I Do When I Look in the Mirror

Kathy Radigan’s morning ritual is something so many women do each day. Read more from Kathy on her blog.

What I Do When I Look in the Mirror: morning ritual

With very few exceptions, I’ve been partaking in a daily ritual since I was about 16.

I’ve performed it in front of an audience of acting students for a class exercise as well as with a dressing room full of other women, and sometimes men, getting ready to go onstage. I’ve even done it in front of a nurse a few hours after giving birth to my first child. Not to mention the many times I have done it with babies, toddlers, and even teens vying for my attention.

What is this thing I make sure, come hell or high water, I do?  My makeup.


The types of compacts and potions I use have changed and morphed throughout the years. At first it was mostly drugstore brands, mixed in with a few pricier items my mom would buy for me at the mall. As I got older and made more money, I moved up to more expensive formulas with much prettier packaging.

The colors I use have changed too. Gone are the bright technicolors I first loved as a girl in my teens and early twenties who spent days in acting school and nights out at clubs, to the more muted and professional tones of a woman who worked in an office and spent weekends walking in the city with her husband.

Today I favor colors that work with my middle-age skin and my role as part-time writer, full-time mom of three.

My time in front of a mirror applying my makeup is my most sacred time. No matter where I need to be or how fast I need to get there I can almost always find time to do it. There have only been a few incidents in my life where I have been so sick that I haven’t wanted to put on at least some lipstick or mascara.

I instinctively open up my collection of containers and compacts. I look at my face as my fingers reach for the sponge I use to apply my foundation. I reach for a brush and start tapping and swirling it into the translucent powder and then all over my cheeks and forehead. Always making sure to go down to my neck.  As I do this I watch my complexion get more even.

Now that my canvas is ready I can start to paint. Depending on what I have to do that day and how much time I have, I either brush on a little bronzer over my cheeks and eyes before I move on, or I more carefully apply blush and eye makeup. I suck my cheeks in and open my eyes as big as I can as I brush on whatever I chose to wear for the day. No matter what I always end with mascara and lipstick. Again, sometimes it’s just a quick sweep of the lashes and lips, other times I use the precision of a surgeon as I line my mouth or make sure each lash is covered.

My ears can pick up the noises outside my bathroom, but I don’t pay them much attention. I’m focused on what I’m doing, yet my mind is free to wander.

Some mornings my thoughts may go to one of the kids, or a project I’m working on. Sometimes I might think of an old friend or try to solve a problem. Other times I only focus on the task at hand.

After I’m done, I put my make up away, open the bathroom door, and allow the craziness of my day to begin.

Kathy Radigan

Kathy Radigan is a writer, blogger, social media addict, mom to three, wife to one and owner of a possessed appliance. She posts a weekly essay each Sunday on her blog, My dishwasher's possessed! and has had her writing featured on What to Expect, BlogHer, Mamapedia, The Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop and other publications. She is a contributing author in Sunshine After the Storm: a survival guide for the grieving mother and The HerStories Project: Women Explore the Joy, Pain and Power of Female Friendship. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Google +

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Wednesday 30th of September 2015

I love this - I'm not much of a makeup person, but I love how this ritual centers you and gets you ready for the day.

Carol Graham

Wednesday 30th of September 2015

I think I am one of the lucky ones who wears less makeup as I age. My skin is better than when I was a youth and if I am only running out the door for an errand I apply sun glasses and a splash of lip gloss. I only wear mineral make up and have for decades which really makes a difference in your skin.

Kathy Radigan

Wednesday 30th of September 2015

Carol I too wear less make up than I did when I was younger and I also love mineral makeup! For me it's really more about looking in the mirror and spending that time on something that is mine and mine alone. I think whatever someone does just for themselves is great!

Wednesday 30th of September 2015

Love this Kathy! It's been my daily ritual too. But lately, some days, I never apply a drop of make-up. Sometimes that feels right. Of course those are days when I don't leave the house all day!

Kathy Radigan

Wednesday 30th of September 2015

Nancy I really think, for me, it's more about having something that is just mine rather than putting on the actual make up. xo

Janine Huldie

Wednesday 30th of September 2015

Totally can relate and most definitely how I still to this day start my own day, as well. Makeup is just an essential and even though the types and colors have changed, I still can't help but see this as my little escape before hitting the ground running here, too ;)

Kathy Radigan

Wednesday 30th of September 2015

Thanks! It is so important to have something for ourselves, it doesn't have to be makeup, but any ritual that is just ours!

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