In Defence Of Wearing Makeup

25 January 2019

Ever since I was a little girl - we're talking five years old and examining my mum's eyelash curler wondering what in the world it could be for - I've adored makeup and beauty products in general. Before I even hit my teens I'd pore over the beauty section of magazines, and my favourite thing to read (aside from books, obviously!) was the description on everything from shampoo to hair removal cream. Seriously, I wasn't even applying or using these things - I was simply just fascinated by the colours, textures, packaging, scents.

That fascination for beauty products has stayed with me through to my adult years - hence the large proportion of this blog that's dedicated to talking about them - and when my boyfriend and I decided to backpack the world for the best part of a year, I couldn't have been more excited to decide which items were going to voyage along with me.

Discovering the beauty blogging world when I was 13 let me know that there are other people out there like me, people who collectively love the world of beauty, as there are people who are passionate about food or surfing or art and could talk about it all day. It was never a vanity thing or centred around outward appearances for me, and I think the fact that I would sit and read the back of a body scrub aged seven (despite not actually being allowed to use it) is testament to that.

My point, explained in my usual wordily fashion, is that my passion for beauty products would exist whether the effect was visible or not. My eyeshadow blending is average at best but that'll never stop me from coveting and purchasing 102 palettes (all of which will probably be very similar mixes of nude champagnes and bronzes), as it's not about the way they look, but the way they make me feel. Looking at an outfit and conjuring an immediate mental 'this would be so sexy with a bronze smudgy eye and 90s nude liner' picture is the coolest, and I never feel more powerful than when I'm rocking a red lip.

So far, I've had a couple of comments about the fact that I'm wearing makeup whilst travelling and it got me thinking. Is it not 'the done thing', and why does it matter?

The first was a classic catty-girl tactic. She was rude (but only to me) from the get-go but I didn't take it personally as it was quite apparent that she fancied my boyfriend, and I'd gotten used to the constant sly digs designed to undermine and embarrass. One of which - said in front of everyone, of course - was "wow, it must take you such a long time to apply all that makeup". My makeup at the time: a teeny bit of Revolution Conceal & Define Concealer, hint of Benefit Hoola, brows brushed up with Glossier Boy Brow and a swipe of lip balm. I'd guess that this three-product application took me literally less than two minutes from start to finish, but my face not being completely bare was portrayed as a negative, my beloved Real Techniques Expert Face Brush used as a tool with which to bash me with.

The second was a genuine question from a guy we met (and ended up living with, and will be friends with for life I'm sure) who asked "you know you're travelling, right?" as I sat on our communal sofa applying my Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Luxury Palette. As someone who doesn't even wear shoes, I could completely see how unnecessary and decidedly 'extra' it looked to him. "It makes me happy!" I replied, to which he gave me an understanding nod and said, "you do you". It wasn't him, or my boyfriend, or anyone else that I bought the £45 palette for: it was for me, because I like pretty colours and making my eyelids all sparkly.

Both questions - one a strategic move from an insecure individual and one offhand remark from a perplexed shoeless Danish dude - implied that I shouldn't be wearing makeup. And I'm just here to say, why ever the hell not?

I get it, backpacking inherently implies minimalism as you can literally only own what you can physically carry on your back, and when it's hot you're thinking about reaching for a bottle of water and not a lipliner. But genuinely, what difference does it make whether your lips are lined or not? It impacts neither the experience nor the journey, and spending three minutes - which is nothing, in the grand scheme of a 24-hour day - applying a slick of mascara and a swipe of lipstick if that's what you want to do is your prerogative.

'If that's what you want to do' should be the takeaway from that last paragraph, as makeup is all about freedom and expression without rules or limitations. I'm currently in a travelling environment where makeup is extremely rare - I haven't seen a Velvet Teddy or a winged liner for weeks - and whilst I often forgo it during the day as I just can't be bothered, I really take pleasure in little things like smoothing on some Glossier Lidstar and blending it out. I find it relaxing, enjoyable and kind of like a form of self-care.

I guess the reason why I was compelled to write this blog post is the feeling of being judged: that by wearing makeup - especially whilst travelling, in a sea of hippie pants and dreadlocks - it means that you're hiding, unconfident or materialistic. The way I see it, not wearing any makeup is as much as a choice as wearing a full face of contour and as it's all down to personal preference, there's no right or wrong.

We see makeup-shaming all the time, from snide remarks about people who - shock, horror - wear it at the gym or the pool, to petty "she's wearing way too much makeup" comments on Instagram posts. FYI, the people who write those sorts of things are the same people who internally squeal with glee when a celebrity is 'caught' without a full face in the Daily Mail whilst dropping their kids off at school. It's bred from insecurity, enables them to feel superior and breeds nothing but negative judgement.

Your time is your time and your choices are your choices. If recreating one of the insanely talented Nikkie Tutorials videos means you feel happy and confident and creative, then that's what you should do - and what you shouldn't do is let outside irrelevant opinions stop you from expressing yourself in whatever way makes your soul shine.

I think everyone should strive to adopt a 'different strokes for different folks' attitude like our Danish friend, who didn't understand why I was buffing in foundation and applying blinding highlighter in a tiny village in the middle of the Philippines and thought the whole thing pointless, but accepted it and said "you do you" with a smile anyway.

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