It occurred to me that it was one of probably only a handful of times that I have left the house without make up in at least 20 years. Since that little experiment I’ve actually been a little more likely to go without it. Willing to pop to the corner shop at least, or go to the gym wearing only eyebrow pencil and mascara (I know, gasp).
To people who don’t wear make up it probably sounds ridiculous. But I’ve loved playing with make up since my early teens, and that was a long time ago.
My very first make up that was mine, and not borrowed from my Mums dressing table was a Minnie Mouse Set in the early 1990s. Try as I might I cannot find a picture. It was white plastic, shaped like Minnies head, with little pots of cream make up for eyes, cheeks and lips. I thought I was super grown up, but I suspect I used to apply it with a trowel. I remember my Mum making me sit down and teaching me the art of subtlety in make up application. As subtle as you can possibly be with blue shimmery cream eyeshadow, anyway.
When I was about 13 my Mum & Dad bought me a vanity case for Christmas filled with real life grown up make up. I spent all of Christmas trying to decide if Rimmel Earth Star or 17 Heather Berry were more my colour. (The answer was no to both of those colours).
At school we weren’t allowed to wear make up, but I’m pretty sure I wore concealer and mascara from the age of at least 14.
The first time I remember wearing foundation was when a friend gave me a pot that wasn’t her colour. It wasn’t my colour either, but I didn’t let that stop me. I learnt from assorted magazine make up tutorials and blended it with moisturiser to lighten it up and create my own “natural” tinted moisturiser.
I had green concealers for all my imaginary red areas (that just made me look a bit grey), ill advised orangey red lipsticks and every orange foundation under the sun. It took me a long time to realise my skin had pink undertones, rather than yellow, and that therefore nearly all foundations would go orange on me.
When I was 18 I bought my first “designer” make up. A friend and I went out for lunch, shared a bottle of wine and impulsively went and bought a tube of Chanel Rouge Noir each because we wanted to be Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction. I still have it, I shouldn’t, obviously, but it was expensive and it brings back memories sat on my dressing table. Memories in which I look nothing like Uma Thurman.
I’ve heard wearing make up all the time described as wearing a mask. Like by putting on foundation you’re somehow hiding your true self.
I’ve never felt like that.
I don’t wear make up because I feel ugly without it. The truth is that without I just feel a bit “blah”. Like I’m colourless and see through.
I’m a pretty vibrant person most of the time. I’m irritatingly talkative, a bit loud. Not normally one to sit in a corner quietly at parties, even if it means I spend the whole of the next day worrying about what an idiot I was.
Without make up, that’s not the woman I see in the mirror.
I wear make up for the same reason I wear novelty prints, vintage, and heels. Make up adds the finishing touch to those looks. I can be a smouldering rock chick, pouting pin-up, or natural beauty.
I like my waist, so I wear belts. I like my green eyes so I wear eyeliner and mascara.
I’ve worn make up for a very long time (if you know your dates you’ll have added up to well over 20 years). I think the occasional trip out without it isn’t a bad thing. Just to remind myself that it’s a choice, not a necessity.
When make up becomes a crutch, something you rely on for self-confidence, then maybe it’s time to wean yourself off it a little. I’ve heard of people who get up early in the morning so their boyfriends don’t see them without make up. I’ve never been that bad, but when I catch myself putting eyebrows and mascara on to go to the corner shop for milk on a Sunday morning I have to remind myself that no one cares about my lack of eyebrows.