What's your beauty relationship status?
By Zoya Pon
Our relationship with makeup is about so much more than simply looking good. For most, it's about self-confidence, whether that means wearing it or not wearing it at all. Putting on a full face can feel like the equivalent of war paint, with a slick of red lipstick the difference between facing a busy day and choosing to hide inside your house because you're not feeling yourself. Likewise, not wearing anything can be a brave personal statement and act of rebellion in a world where everything seems so heavily overdone.
My personal relationship with makeup started as a teen when my overly sensitive skin began breaking out in red rashes as a reaction to, well, anything. Since then concealer has been my best friend. According to Bustle, this is a common reason for makeup as a study by Harris Poll "found that 44 percent of women wore makeup to hide 'flaws'". 48% stated that they really just wear makeup because, well, they like it.
The state of my skin still plays a role in how much and whether I choose to don a full face these days, as well as my job. Modelling requires that your skin take a break from full set makeup, layer upon layer, and shared brushes that easily lead to breakouts if you're not giving your skin the TLC it needs. Shunning the full coverage foundation of my teens, when off-duty I wear a simple bb cream, concealer where needed, mascara, a quick slick of eyebrow gel and a lipstain. So I decided to try out a week of full face beat, and what I discovered surprised me.
The week started off with me not really being sure what a full face meant (I am no face beat kween). After applying what I thought might be too much I was surprised when the end result was more or less quite natural looking. Which just goes to show how untrue the 'barely there' makeup term really is. This is me doing a 'full face':
Anyway, this definitely affected my mood, and I'm not alone! A study by Sally Hansen states that "84 percent of women say beauty can be empowering". Being a freelancer, a big part of getting up and getting going is getting dressed and done up. It made a huge difference to my mindset because doing my face meant it was time to start the day!
Day two I realised that I might be in a makeup rut. Guys, this is as complicated as my face gets. But the challenge got me thinking it might be time to play around with colour more. And with my selfies, too.
On Wednesday I tried a burgundy lip and was pretty pleased with myself. There's something to be said for the pride women feel when they perfect a new beauty trick.
By Thursday I'd switched my full cover foundation for a bb cream with a dot of base (SPF, moisturiser and coverage in one? Yes please!). I'm struggling to find the energy for a full face, and apparently I'm with the majority on this one. The same Sally Hansen survey found that 18% of women wear makeup every day, with 28% wearing it "most days", leaving "more than half of women wearing makeup twice a week or less".
I decide to go full out with a red lip and black winged liner because Friday.
Here's my tip for eyeliner: don't overthink it. Just swipe from the inside to the end, keeping it as thin as possible. You can always add more, but too much means starting over (and no one likes that).
On Saturday I received a reprieve. I was shooting and so my makeup was done for me. I'm sorry if this seems like a cheat, and tbh it's exactly what I wear everyday anyway, but look at those results!
For the final day I was sooo tempted to not wear anything at all. But I put on my bb and base mix and snapped a before image anyway. Which got me thinking about authenticity online and the 'image' I portray on social media, whether consciously or not. So I did a video without a full face, to prove that I don't need the war paint – a nice to have when I need it.
Later that day I did a full face to laze around my house in, because mama didn't raise no quitter.
This experiment was fun, it made me think about my relationship with makeup and, sure, I can be confident without, but some days I low key need it. Beauty can be quite empowering, when used to enhance your features as opposed to chasing a certain aesthetic. It can form part of an overall style and help you to get the job, or not. (And this applies to every career, not just modelling, where makeup can either deter or boost your paycheque, sadly). The most important thing was to learn to love my reflection with or without makeup, making peace with my sensitive skin and giving it the love it needs so that I can pull off any look, without the filter.