I was out last weekend enjoying plenty of drinks and laughter with good friends, until we bumped into a guy from my past – he felt the need to make a comment that was totally unsolicited: “You’re wearing too much make-up, Daisy.” Luckily it was the end of the evening, I was feeling merry on cider and had had far too much fun with people I care for, and who care for me – to even really care about what he’d said, but after waking up in the morning the next day it popped back into my mind and left me soberly pondering the topic…
Ever since I can remember I’ve loved make-up. I’m not sure where it came from, as my mum never really wore much, and my older sister wasn’t bothered either until much later in life – so I definitely wasn’t copying my peers, nor did I feel any pressure to hide my face or anything like that – I just really enjoyed experimenting with colours and looks. And experiment I did. I was a child of the 80’s which meant no YouTube tutorials for me, it was basically trial and error, and believe me there was lots of error.
I read an article recently where the brand St Ives found that almost one in ten women wear make-up solely to impress the opposite sex and that “too much make-up” was the top turn-off for men at 45% followed by fake tan 35%, and bright red lipstick 5%. I’m not sure how I feel about these statistics. I think it makes me a little sad for the women who feel the need to paint their faces for men. I wear make-up for me, to enhance who I already am. So what quantifies as “too much make-up”!? Is it like wearing a low-cut top and a short skirt – does bold lipstick and eyeliner mean too much, but just the lipstick is OK? Or is foundation and bronzer together too much? Is it simply a question of what suits you, like being mutton dressed as lamb? Could someone with poorly applied make-up, or questionable choices in products be considered as someone who is wearing “too much make-up”? Where are the guidelines, where’s the book?!
Writing a beauty blog it’s pretty obvious to see that I really love make-up, but why? I love fashion, art, music and culture – being creative and individual. I love meeting people of all walks of life. I find it super-interesting how people can be inspired by the experiences in their life, and how this can translate onto clothing, hair styles, the shoes you choose to wear, and make-up too.
I don’t remember ever wearing make-up to make myself look older, or to fit in – I wore it because I thought it was really awesome. At about twelve years old I visited The Body Shop and discovered a shimmering pale green eye creme, I don’t think I had ever seen anything so pretty and I slapped that stuff on my eyelids like my life depended on it. I got up earlier in the morning before school so I could go through my shimmering routine. Who was it for? The cutest guy in school who I would scrawl the initials of across my homework books intertwined with my own… nope – it was for me and my girlfriends – because we thought we looked so cool it hurt, and maybe we did.
Fast forward to today where I wear make-up everyday for work. I use foundation, blush, bronzer, highlighter, mascara and eyeliner, I also fill my eyebrows and often wear lipstick too. It takes me about fifteen minutes to do my make-up in the morning which I think is actually pretty quick considering, and I genuinely enjoy the process every time. I really like using my foundation brushes and seeing how the make-up all comes together (almost) perfectly. Along with my dog walk, shower and vanilla latte, it’s my routine, it’s what I have in the mornings to gently prepare me for the day ahead.
Some call it war paint. Why not? I work in an incredibly stressful (and male) environment, where I am one woman in a bunch of men with positions of authority within the company. I’m a decision maker, and I need my voice to be heard. I dress smartly, I use my clothes to convey power and respect, and my make-up helps to do the same. I work with a girl who doesn’t wear much make-up day-to-day at work, but if she has a meeting, without fail the pillar box red Chanel lipstick comes out. Does she do it to look prettier for her client, or to impress guys? Hell no – I think she wears it to make a statement; here I am, and I mean business!
So back to the guy from my past who told me I was wearing too much make-up, and that I “didn’t need to”. He also went on to tell me that I shouldn’t dye my hair, which was kind of funny as he seems to have forgotten that I was a natural redhead anyway, and the colour – like make-up I suppose – just accentuates who I am. Was it a backhanded compliment, or was he genuinely trying to get across that he thought I was pretty, but that because he assumes women hide behind make-up that I must be somehow deeply unhappy and therefore in need of his reassurance that I was pretty without make-up? I’m not sure, and I didn’t stick around to find out.
For reference, the picture above was taken that night out. Just like fashion, make-up is there to be enjoyed, to help show your character and individuality – to make you feel confident. Would I feel comfortable going out without make-up, or to work? Yes, but I choose not to. I’m lucky in that my skin is pretty well-behaved most of the time, and that my eyelashes are quite long which I think helps make me feel comfortable in my own skin. When I look in the mirror without make-up on of course I see things I don’t like – everybody does – but my appearance doesn’t make me want to throw myself on the floor wailing in despair reaching for the nearest mascara. (Maybe when i’m hungover!)
So what did I learn from this encounter? It reaffirmed for me that as long as you’re not hurting anyone with your actions or choices, that you really shouldn’t care what people say or think about you. Consider the comment for a moment, take the opportunity to check yourself, then move on. If you want to wear crazy blue and purple eyeshadow and bright pink lipstick because it makes you feel good – go for it. If you want to contour within an inch of your life like Kim Kardashian, knock yourself out. Do whatever makes you feel happy – make-up, along with tons of other things like straightening your hair, having tattoos, listening to rock ‘n roll, drinking coffee, being vegetarian… they’re all personal choices, and are choices you are free to make without anyone telling you otherwise – and you know what? I bloody love make-up!