To say that the beautiful is true and the true is the beautiful may be to repeat a truism, but were we to act up to it we should become a more artistic people than we are now, which leaves a deal unsaid.
Realising this truism, many women who call upon art to give them beauty would cease to make the fearful blunders which they now commit in a laudable desire to present a pleasing appearance to the world. For art is permissible only when Nature fails, and to "paint the lily" is bad art.
Nature does not make mistakes-this is a certainty-so that a brunette desiring golden hair, and seeking to attain beauty by means of peroxide of hydrogen, is the one making the mistake. When she has succeeded in thus "improving" her hair, she finds that she must, unless she wishes to present a bizarre appearance, use many cosmetics in order to make her complexion tone in with her golden hair.
Nor is Nature failing, as a rule, when she touches the hair with strands of silver. Like the supreme artist she is, she tones the hair so that it shall form a pleasing frame for the face now taking the tints of autumn.
Fresh and clear as a complexion may be at forty, perhaps clearer and brighter than twenty years before, it still has not the tint of youth. The woman seeking by means of art to hide the marks of time defeats her own object, and she may possibly find herself looking artificial and " made-up " beside the man of her own age.
For this result much must be attributed to the not too charitable mind of the onlooker, who immediately, and perhaps unconsciously, discounts any natural advantages there may be because of the obvious attempt to mask some disadvantage.
It is the revolt of the mind against an attempt to dupe it, and there is always exaggeration where there is revolt.
For the rest, she has violated the laws of harmony and-perhaps by too red lips or cheeks, too bright hair, or too youthful a dress-has substituted the law of contrast. By force of contrast with brilliant cheeks, for instance, a woman's eyes may seem duller and older than they are in reality.
From all this it can be seen that the successful "make-up" does not seek to alter or replace but judiciously to aid. There are times when we desire to look our best, and when it may be necessary to hide the truth Nature is telling. Pain, fatigue, and worry are the real age-bringers. Without these a woman always looks her best, and can look young and pretty almost as long as she wills to do so. It follows, therefore, that the use of cosmetics should be intermittent, and never allowed to degenerate into a bad habit. Thus used, granted they are of good quality and properly applied, they will not hurt the skin as much as the " soap and clean water " advocated so strenuously by those who denounce the use of all or any cosmetics.
Of course, the habitual use of paints is opposed to hygiene-let this be thoroughly understood-because when the skin is covered its functions are impeded. All paints and powders should, therefore, be used sparingly, should not be used over too large a surface of the skin, and should be removed as soon as possible. A make-up should also be built up on a basis of a good cream or grease, as this at once protects the skin and facilitates the removal of the makeup when its use is over. This subject is more fully dealt with in Part 16.