I first started wearing makeup at the age of twelve. I say 'makeup', but what I really mean was a chalky coat of white eyeshadow on each evelid. Blending? Forget it. Mascara? What? I think what really got me started was my older sister insisting upon plucking my naturally thick eyebrows for me. She took me from caterpillar central to wafer-thin arches, and somehow managed to convince me at the time that they were the way forward. To say I cringe about it now is an understatement, and it's fair to say I regret ever letting her loose on them - especially considering that some of the damage remains to this day!
After the white eyeshadow, I soon progressed to black eyeliner and hair mascara, and it wasn't until several years later that I truly discovered makeup and how to wear it. I was probably about sixteen when I first complained to my mother about my dull-looking skin, and she suggested that, as I was going on a night out, I try some of her Clinique Superbalanced Liquid Foundation. From the moment she popped it onto my face for me (in shade Cream Chamois, if anyone's interested), I was in love. My skin looked just incredible! Smooth, glowy and healthy - why hadn't I given foundation a try sooner??
Actually, I'd always prided myself on not needing to wear anything on my face itself, as I had been blessed with good skin, but had I known the difference a good, well-chosen base could make then perhaps I'd have converted a little earlier. Growing up, I'd seen my sister getting ready for school in front of the mirror every morning. Almost without fail, she would ask me, "Do I look orange?", and not wanting to hurt her feelings, I'd - without fail, again - assured her that no, she didn't. Do I need to explain that that was a lie? The thing is, having never dabbled in makeup myself at that point, I didn't really know what it was supposed to look like. Anyway, thankfully she soon learnt what suited her and found herself the right shade - it was a learning curve for her too, much like my white eyeshadow and thick black eyeliner. Let's be honest - we've all made mistakes when it comes to beauty.
After my first dalliance into my mother's high-end foundation, and finding myself without the funds to buy such an expensive product (well, they're not cheap to a sixteen-year-old. Actually, they're still not), I would regularly sneak into her room before a night on the tiles and pop some on, foolishly assuming she'd be none the wiser. Of course, she was - I left foundation fingerprints all over the wall and door on my way out!
I spent the next few years experimenting with what did and didn't suit me and gradually began building up my own makeup collection, beginning to wear foundation on a daily basis, and it was only in the past couple of years that I began becoming interested in application techniques. It was beginning to read beauty blogs that set me off, and I was delighted to find that there were normal people out there who knew about these things.
For a while, I was a 'one o f everything' kind of girl, in that I couldn't understand why people would need more than one foundation, blush or mascara at once. Oh, how things change!
Anyway, the point to my little makeup story is this:
Is discovering makeup really a blessing? Or are we actually doing ourselves more harm than good in the long-run, and making our lives more stressful to boot?
I certainly don't regret the discovery of makeup on a daily basis. I genuinely enjoy applying my 'face' in the mornings, and seeing it go from tired and drained to healthy and glowing, and if I'm going out somewhere special then I adore having the opportunity to really make the effort.
But what happens when your skin breaks out, and could do with a break from all those products? What happens when you go away for the weekend and forget your makeup bag? Or when you're off to the beach or the pool?
My point is, by wearing makeup every single day, we become dependant on it, and it really makes those occasions when we really should give it a miss that bit harder to deal with. Who wants to apply a full face of makeup to go for a run in the park? Well, no one....but then on the other hand, are we really just dying to show off our bare, puffy-eyed, tired faces to the world either? Probably not. If we weren't so used to people seeing us with makeup on then it wouldn't have to be such a traumatic experience going without - or such a pain applying it for nothing, for those of you who just can't bare to be seen without it.
If I'm honest, I usually do slap on a bit of tinted moisturiser before I go to the gym or the beach, and it really annoys me that I feel the need to do so. Yes, it evens out my skin tone and makes me look more 'awake' and healthy. But as I mentioned earlier, before I started using makeup, I was always secretly pleased that my skin 'didn't need it'. I was perfectly happy with the way it looked, and didn't think twice going out without a scrap of anything on my face. I think that my philosophy now tends to be that yes, I could go without - but why would I want to if I could leave the house looking that bit better and feeling that bit more confident? In my case, I really do use just the bare minimum in these situations, but I know there are many of you who would go the whole hog due to much the same philosophy, and then again there are some of you who are happy to go bare-faced (good for you!)
Something else to consider - especially in the case of us beauty bloggers - is that all these products are not really doing our skin any favours. If we didn't shell out so much money on lotions and potions to prettify our faces then we wouldn't need to go and fork out another small fortune on skincare to correct the damage we are doing - and we wouldn't need to worry so much about anti-aging, either.
I think the ideal would be to never start wearing makeup during the day. Then we'd feel even more special when we did use it, which would be lovely for things like birthdays and celebrations, and at the same time our skin would be free to breathe for the most part. However, I know that a lot of people start wearing makeup for other reasons. It's not always to be 'grown up' (let's be honest - that's what it's all about in the beginning) or to look our prettiest - sometimes we have things that we would like to cover or disguise in order to feel more confident about ourselves, and I don't really see how this can be a bad thing. It's easy for people to say that you should just let it all hang out and be proud of your flaws, but who is really ever going to be proud of a great big spot on their chin?
It has its good sides. It has its bad sides.
What are your views?
Do you feel confident to go without makeup?