Painting my Face: a brief foray into makeup

Sometime in November, when The Feminine Perspective was still gestating, I read an article about makeup routines in an online magazine I follow. I haven’t worn makeup consistently since high school, when I was experimenting with different looks. In college I developed really bad acne and started going bare-faced in an effort to clear my skin up. Lately I’ve only really worn any makeup on special occasions. The article inspired me to try a makeup experiment wherein I would wear foundation for a week and see what happened to my skin.

I didn’t want to go with a full coverage foundation. I love my freckles and refuse to cover them up, and I was afraid of suffocating my skin and breaking out – even though I’m not sure that’s how it works. I ended up going to the drug store and purchasing a BB cream from the skincare line I use: the Hydréane BB Cream from La Roche Posay. I started using La Roche Posay’s Effaclar line when I saw a dermatologist for my acne and I’ve been so satisfied that I thought this would be a safe bet.

I wanted to try to wear makeup every day for a week. At the very beginning, I wondered why I hadn’t been using it forever since it was so easy and I couldn’t really feel it on my face. But my thoughts quickly shifted as I got anxious: “did I sweat it off?” “I don’t even see a difference,” “what happens if I want to do yoga?” “there’s makeup gunk all over my glasses!” But, you know what? No acne! My skin tone looked a little more even with it on, and my freckles and a little bit of natural blush shone through. Now I usually mix the BB with a bit of moisturizer (Toleriane Riche by La Roche Posay) before applying. The very light coverage is usually enough on the days I decide to wear it, and I’ve since added some brown liner and mascara, as well as sheer lipgloss. Most days, I still choose to go bare-faced.

After my experiment I was left with one looming question: why did I want to do this in the first place?

As a culture, we in North America place a high value on women looking simultaneously put-together, professional and pretty. Makeup plays a huge part in this. We’re taught to cover up imperfections, and with the rise of contouring we can sculpt our faces into dramatically different shapes. Part of me thought that makeup would help me to look more feminine – whatever that means.

I heard a song on the radio today by Selena Gomez called “Good for You”. Some key lines are: “Gonna wear that dress you like, skin-tight / Do my hair up real, real nice … ‘Cause I just wanna look good for you.” This is the kind of stuff we listen to all day, and it tells us that we should look good for men! To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with dressing up and wanting to look good. There also isn’t anything wrong with wanting someone to compliment you. It feels good for someone to acknowledge it when you know you look great! But when I dress up, it’s for me. I love getting praise from my boyfriend, but I’m not just arm candy. When I “wanna look good” it’s not just “for you.” I don’t care if someone wants to wear a tight dress like Selena Gomez or whatever, but please, please don’t dress yourself just to look good beside some guy. Do it because it makes you feel like you’re on top of the freakin’ world!

Back to makeup: I was a bit concerned that I was starting to wear makeup because I thought it would make people more appreciative of my looks, like the message I gathered from Selena Gomez. And I won’t deny that that’s part of it. However, I think mostly I see wearing makeup as a way to accentuate the features that make me feel confident in my skin. I adhere to the Carmindy philosophy of the five-minute-face, meant to “enhance your natural beauty” (who remembers What Not to Wear? I was an addict.)

I’ll consider wearing so little makeup – or none at all – my quiet protest against our makeup culture. Other women rebel by wearing really funky, potentially alienating styles. Makeup exists, and it’s a great tool to help people feel a little bit more self-confident day-to-day. Just wear what feels good to you; you’ll feel better, and isn’t that what matters most?

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