but it’s make up most of us can’t seem to go without. A friend of mine posted a brief post on her blog today about her daily beauty regimen (see her post here) and it got me thinking. Not just about my own beauty regimen (or occasional lack there of), but also us, as a society and how hard we strive to mask imperfection.
My own beauty regimen is pretty low key. I really just make sure my face is washed every day and moisturized. I rarely wear make up, it’s impractical when I have to be at work at 7 AM and I work at a pool so it’s going to wash off anyways but I do really like wearing make up.
When I was younger, my mom used to tell me that she wished I would try more girly things, like wearing make up (I was a huge tomboy) but it seemed silly to me, as well as a waste of time. I could barely get out the door on time when all I had to do was get up, shower and dress, I couldn’t imagine adding make up or hair styling to that regimen, especially after several girls at school told me they would get up at 5 AM to start prepping for the day.
I think I really started wearing make up my senior year of high school, maybe my freshman year of college but now that I look back on those pictures, I had a really heavy, clumsy hand with it and I can’t help but cringe. I know, I was young, and no one was really teaching me how to do it. I was trying to combine what I knew about painting/drawing with some tutorials I was tearing out of my roommates’ Cosmopolitan magazine!
I look back now and I know I was heavier, I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life, but when I started wearing makeup, I could hide some imperfections (acne, redness), if I drew peoples attention to my face, they weren’t judging my body and I feel like a lot of people use makeup for this very reason.
These days, I rarely wear make up. It’s a waste of time when I go to work so early and it’s really pointless when it’s just going to be sweated or washed off in the pool and I’m OK with that. Really, I am. and I’ve also noticed, my skin is healthier for it too.
My skin’s combination oily/sensitive so I’m really picky about the products I use but lately, since I’m really not wearing a whole lot of makeup, if any, the only break outs I’m seeing are before my period and if I’m really stressed. It’s not even as oily as it used to be.
Last weekend I went to a bridal show and since I was going out, I did put make up on. Don’t get me wrong, just because I don’t wear it that often, doesn’t mean I don’t like it! I love make up. I love dressing up. I love being girly on occasion, I just don’t get to do it as often as I’d like!
Anyways, I ran into one of my sparring partners from the gym and he didn’t recognize me with makeup ON! Go figure! He was like “I’m sorry, I know I know you from somewhere but where. . .?” The transformative power of makeup is quite amusing to me, as well as saddening.
Liz Taylor as Cleopatra, 1963
Makeup has been around for thousands of years. Sometimes it serves a practical purpose, like for the Egyptians, that black kohl they used? In an age before Aviator sunglasses, that kohl helped protect their eyes from the intense desert sun! Face paint among various tribes protected their skin from bugs, as well as the sun. Slowly, that practical purpose evolved into one of vanity. Those Egyptian kohl-lined eyes served as the inspiration for the “cat eye” make up that first emerged in the 30s and 40s and is enjoying a resurgence today (and which I often do, when I do wear makeup).
I am a staunch believer in enhancing what you LIKE about yourself, versus hiding what you don’t and it saddens me that so many people feel like they CAN’T leave the house without makeup. I’ve been there, I was one of you. I felt naked without it. I felt ugly, but in the long run, I got used it it and I’m healthier without it.
Most days I don’t wear any. Sometimes a little mascara, but, and I can’t reiterate this enough, it’s important to know your face and what works. I have very strong features that can sometimes come off as masculine and I’ve learned that less is more, lest I end up looking like a drag queen, so, since I really like my eyes, I prefer, when I do wear make up, to enhance them, and play down the rest of my face.
Beauty, and the perception thereof, is a very heavy and often explored theme in my work though I’m rather dubious about labeling myself a feminist, but it breaks my heart when I see girls, especially young girls, who won’t leave the house without makeup, or layer it on to the point where they look like their face is going to crack if they smile.
Me, c. 2009
Hunny, acne and imperfections are going to happen, they happen to everyone. It will get better. It will clear up and go away. Diet and exercise are just as important for healthy skin as bathing and SPF are. Take care of yourself and you won’t NEED to wear make up and when you do, it’ll be a fun transformation, instead of a dubious defense mechanism!
Seriously, if you’re going to wear makeup, take care of your skin. Make up is fun. There’s so many different looks. Wear it to enhance your natural beauty, not to create a whole ‘nother person!
Seriously. If I was going to give any advice on taking care of your skin:
1. wash it every day with a gentle cleanser.
2.moisturize! Especially given how dry and COLD this winter has been! Pay attention to your moisturizer, if you have oily skin, make sure it won’t add extra oil. If it has SPF in it, all the better. I’ve actually gotten sunburned on long car rides! Protecting against sun damage is just as important as cleaning your skin to keep it healthy.
3. pay attention to your skin, don’t use certain products if they irritate it (I can’t wear covergirl mascara, it burns my eyes!). There’s always an alternative that’s just as good if something doesn’t work or irritates your skin.
4. SWEAT! Sweating opens our pores and helps release toxins from our bodies. A lot of those toxins cause your skin to break out, sweat more (exercise!), experience less zits!
Trust me. IT GETS BETTER! January, 2014.
5. go easy on the tweezing. If you start too early that hair may not grow back and penciling in your eyebrows is just awkward. Embrace the natural shape of your brows.
6. if you’re going to wear make up, have fun with it. Seriously. It’s okay to experiment but just because looking like you have two black eyes is a poplar look on the runways, doesn’t mean it’s practical or attractive in real life.
7. Having people question “did she or didn’t she” can be just as fun so try to keep it subtle.
Trust me, if you are surrounded by people who make you feel like you have to paint your face, tweeze your brows, tan, or otherwise alter your skin, apply extensions or false eyelashes to feel pretty, or attractive, or wanted, they’re the wrong people for you to be around. Friends and family should make you feel good about yourself, regardless of your appearance and you should be able to look in the mirror with a clean and fresh face and say to yourself “I like this about myself” instead of “what can I do to hide or alter this part of myself?”
Everyone has insecurities. Trust me. I’m well aware of this scar, that blemish, my stretch marks from gaining and losing weight. I have fat days where I look in the mirror and hate everything I put on. I feel self conscious when my skin breaks out a week before my period but part of the perks of growing older is knowing it’s not permanent.
My face will clear up in a week or two. Changing my exercise plan and watching what I’m eating will help me like the outfit I chose to wear today. I’m my biggest critic but I also have the advantage of being 10 years away from my pizza-faced 15 year old, high school sophomore counterpart and I KNOW I’ve gotten better and wiser and if you’re reading this, you should assure yourself, or a younger person you know, of the same.
You will grow up. You will get better. You can change the things you’re self conscious over. Acne will fade. The glasses can be traded for contacts. The braces will come off. So will the weight. It’s okay to take pride in your appearance. I wrote in my last post about spanx. I still like to wear them for my own vanity but that’s the big thing:
I CHOOSE to wear make up for MYSELF. I CHOOSE to wear spanx under my dress because it keeps that extra skin, that by-product of weight loss, from jiggling. Again, I do it for MYSELF. I wear what I like because I THINK it looks good. If you’re going to do it, do it for yourself, not because you need to impress or attract or detract attention from anyone else! See how much happier you are when you make that realization for yourself.
However, when I DO decide to wear make up. . .