Beauty Opal

The Merle Girls

The Merle Girls



Considering I’ve been on this planet for less than three decades I sure have been able to rack up quite an impressive list of regrets. Namely, I never went to the Century Club before it shut its doors, I wore brown lip liner in 8th grade and I never had the opportunity to join a Sorority. While I can’t make up for most of these I did find some redemption for the sorority comradely I sought while working as a retail salesperson for Merle Norman Cosmetics during my college years. Let me first lay the groundwork, if you don’t know the Merle Norman cosmetics line you are either very young or like me…been around their products for years without realizing it.

If you have a Grandma take a second to dig around her makeup bag, odds are you will find a Merle Norman product. Yes, while I denied it wholeheartedly during my time working there the demographic of the line is predominately older women. That is the beauty of it, this older generation has tried it all and sticks to what they know and love. Never, have I met more loyal customers than those elegant women who lunched and went to charity auctions. Whenever I would ring up a customer I could glance at their purchase history; pages and pages of the same makeup products dating back as long as the system would report. I gained this respect and admiration for these Clark’s wearing beauties in their teal pantsuits and oversized hats. These women were essentially the experts of the cheek stain, or as we called it the rouge pots.

Forget micellar cleansing waters, these women came in for their cleansing balms and simple emulsions while balking at the sad attempts we made to sell the newest fad product as they already knew what would withstand the test of time. I might have fantasied about working at another makeup counter from time to time, where stilettos were work shoes and faux lashes basic attire; but with time I learned to appreciate the studio and its clients. The confidence and regularity of their purchases allowed a certain sense of intimacy between ourselves and our customers. I knew when Miss Joan would be coming in because her powder compact would last her exactly 6 weeks, I relied on Miss Barbara to call in her 3-month order totaling up to the same amount every time; their belief in the products and their comfort in routine made me proud to work there. As for the products, in their modest, simple packaging they are still some of the best I’ve tried.

I have yet to been able to find a concealer better that theirs and the Aqua-Lube…well after you get that pervy smirk off your face just know that it is in fact one of the most kick-ass heavy duty moisturizers for dry skin I’ve ever used. My time there was short lived but the women I worked with and the women I served have etched a sentimental place in my heart. The other day, while standing in a ridiculously long line to purchase the Naked Vault I spotted a free-standing Merle Norman Studio way at the end of the mall. The modest signage and black apron clad salesperson calmly re-stocking products in the window display. If those studio walls could talk they’d be saying to us “we don’t need you but one day you will sure want us.”


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About Author

Opal is a small business owner with a background in Psychology, Clinical Sexuality, Holistic Health Sciences and is a Certified Reiki Practitioner. She is a Mom of four young children including a set of twins and is a self-proclaimed foodie, health-spa enthusiast and beauty junkie.