I woke up this morning to an email request from The Daily Mail asking me to be pictured make-up free. The request was also to talk about my relationship with make-up. So, while I quite liked the idea of thinking about what make-up really means to me, a mug-shot for the DM is out of the question. Have you seen their commenters? Too scary for me and I’m not ashamed to say so! With no editorial control and no way to know quite what the slant would be (“blogger confesses to make-up shame”, “this woman can’t be seen in public without lipstick”) it’s just not an option.
I have always loved make-up – it goes back as far as I can remember (and getting into BIG trouble when I was about three for spilling some nail polish), and unbelievably, I can remember putting on lipstick to answer the phone as a teenager! I’m not sure that was necessarily a healthy attitude, but it’s more the alchemy of colour that I’ve loved. How one colour can intensify your eyes, or, in some cases, completely deaden them, or how exactly the right colour blush can make your face come alive. Make-up is a continual journey of experimentation and I’ve never stopped loving what it can do. In my twenties, I was NEVER make-up free – I’d spend a long time before work putting my make-up on (I loved DIOR foundations – and it was my biggest make-up expenditure) although I never varnished my nails. I’d carry a make-up bag everywhere, and touch up many times during the day. But, I can genuinely say that I enjoyed doing so. In my twenties, my skin was perfect – absolutely perfect, to the point that people would comment and I loved having that flawless canvas as a base. I was experimental; I wore black lipstick when it was really edgy and could literally paint a rainbow on my eyes. I adore the smell of my make-up – the scent of a new eye shadow for example I know like the smell of my children when they were babies. There is no time when I can’t remember make-up being significant – from the smell of my grandma’s powder rouge to my first Estee Lauder lippie in its golden fluted case.. cosmetics have always been a complete source of pleasure.
It’s a hobby and my job so the passion literally never dies; I’m more excited about formulations or packaging or tooling than I’ve ever been (I think in my teens and twenties it never occurred to me exactly how make-up was made or formulated or how the ad campaigns work. These days, I think women are more able to see through ad-speak and I think a lot about what impression beauty brands make on self-esteem in general) so that’s only served to open up a whole other aspect of my passion.
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Ironically, I am at a time in life when I have never been more comfortable make-up free. I wear the very minimum at weekends; literally a BB, gloss and light blush is all it is and by the middle of the day it’s all gone from my face – I never touch up unless we are going out. But, my love of make-up is no longer the complex relationship that it used to be. I don’t need to cover up or change who I am (because I certainly used make-up for that as a teenager) or even think it makes me more beautiful; it enhances what I already have I think. I love the theatrics of it – a smudgy, smoked black lid is something that I still do and adore today and am currently still obsessed by the ‘bonne mine’ or well-looking look – a smudge of peach on the cheeks and a clear gloss makes ALL the difference.
It’s my face and I like it better with make-up that without, but that’s not to say I don’t like it without. I guess I would liken it to feeling I look better in clothes than out of them – some days it’s a jeans and t-shirt day and some days it’s a little black dress and high boots day. But whether I like my face or don’t like my face, sans or with make-up, no thanks to showing the world! No. Thank. You.
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