Patricia Pitman, Writer, talks about Beauty
‘When I was almost out of babyhood my mother started putting Bourjois rouge on my cheeks because I was so terribly pale and she didn’t want to be shown up.’
You are ninety-two years old and have fabulous skin, what is your secret?
I got my good skin from my mother. She had flawless skin – it’s probably Irish blood, they’re meant to have very good skin.
Did you ever protect your skin from the sun?
I don’t like the sun. I never went in the sun.
What was your first experience with makeup?
First makeup I ever put on – in about 1932 – it was some black stuff on my mother’s dressing table. I noticed that my mother put it on her eyes. I tried it on my eyes and couldn’t see much use for it.
What was your skin like when you were younger?
Just before I started work, when I was fourteen, I had appalling acne (which is a cruel thing to have) and people were appalling about it. It’s amazing how terribly insensitive people are. One day my mother said I can’t go out with you looking like that. I’ve never forgotten that.
Who is your beauty icon?
Valerie Hobson. She was just so elegant and I liked her face. I wished I was like her.
How do you feel about aging?
It’s awful, I see nothing at all inspiring or enjoyable about aging – it’s just miserable.
Did you ever try any homemade skin care recipes?
Egg whites make a wonderful face mask, they tighten the face. I used to do that quite often when I was in my twenties and thirties. It’s a good psychological boost.
Did you ever have any beauty disasters?
Makeup was very hard to get hold of during the war. I thought if I had a sort of yellow-y pink-y stuff on my face it would hide the acne. Which it did – it made me look absolutely dreadful as if I had leprosy or something, people would say – ‘what’s wrong with your face?’ I made terrible mistakes with foundation and I went to great lengths to get it.
You served in the ATS during WWII, what was it like getting hold of beauty products?
I was never without makeup in the war, I always managed to get some. The biggest queues were always for makeup – longer queues than for food.
Is there any makeup you couldn’t live without?
eyeliner – my eyes are pale with no definition and it just adds a bit of character. I’d never be without eyeliner.
What do you think was the worst period for makeup?
People shaving their proper eyebrows and drawing on fake ones. Also, 1960s pale lipstick was very unbecoming – it looked as if they were wanting to be embalmed.
And the best?
The 1950s, they hadn’t approached the madness of the 60s. Moderation was the word.
What makeup tip would you give?
For the average woman – lipstick enhances completely, changes a face. If a woman puts lipstick on it transforms her.