My make-up routine has largely been the same since I was about 17. For five years, I’ve applied my foundation, drawn on my eyebrows, stuck some eyeliner on and bronzed to the high heavens. Every now and then I’ve introduced a new product or new technique (we all remember the LA Girl Pro Concealer contouring disaster of 2014), but on the whole, I’ve always returned to the same bare lipped, cat liner look that I feel has become my signature standard.
But that doesn’t mean I've necessarily enjoyed wearing that make-up. It would usually take me around 35 minutes in the morning, and nearly an hour if I was going at the speed of a snail and watching Eastenders on BBC iPlayer at the same time. Especially if I was waking up early to travel or heading to work after an evening of not-so-great sleep, I resented having to sit in front of the mirror and waste time that could have most definitely have been better spent in bed.
And a lot of the time, I simply felt like there was too much on my face. Anybody who has ever worn mascara in their life will know the relief of rubbing your eyes and discovering that - hallelujah - you’d already taken your make-up off so you’re smudge free. I’ve cycled through a whole host of foundations in my time, but those that managed to stand the test of time (and the test of my extremely sweaty face) ended up feeling like they were suffocating me by the end of the day. That’s not to say that I didn’t appreciate the staying power of Estee Lauder’s Double Wear, but feeling like I could transfer onto any unsuspecting victim with so much as a kiss on the cheek didn’t fill me with the utmost confidence (funny story: I once gave my ex-boyfriend’s dad a hug, and when I pulled away, he had a beautiful orange mark all over the shoulder of his brand new white polo shirt. Nobody said anything, but we all noticed).
Much like wearing a bra when I really don’t to, my signature make-up look came to be my protective barrier. It was a habit, and a habit that was hard to break. Whenever I really didn’t want to wear as much, I found it difficult to strike a middle ground without looking as if I’d tried to look natural and drastically failed. Instead, I just went 100% bare-faced and remained stuck in my funk of only being able to wear one make-up look, and one make-up look only.
It was all or nothing for me; either I went in on the bronzer and donned my liquid eyeliner as I always did, or I remained completely naked, looking as if I just couldn’t be bothered to put anything on that morning or as if I had a debilitating hangover. And, okay, sometimes this may have been true, but other times when I just wanted to look a little bit more fresh and effortless, the you-can-see-how-much-I-drank-from-my-eye-bags look wasn’t quite cutting it.
This has been my routine for years now, bouncing between a full-face of glam to absolutely nothing at all. Up until about a few weeks ago, that is. One day I woke up, and I just made a decision. I didn’t like the make-up I was wearing. I didn’t like the time it took. I didn’t like feeling like my own face was outside of my control. The make-up I admired on other women as simple, effortless and let their features talk for themselves. If the only thing stopping me from wearing the make-up that I actually wanted to wear was myself, then I needed to just try it, at least, and see how it felt.
To begin with, it was weird. I spent a few days trying different things, cycling between just mascara, mascara and a little eyeshadow and nothing at all, and each time I felt like a second-rate version of myself. When you’ve worn the same look for so long, you worry that people will notice the change and comment on how tired you look - which did happen, to begin with. Unfortunately I'm blessed with under-eye bags the size of the iconic blue IKEA, and no amount of eye cream, sleep or dermal filler has been able to get rid of them. Previously lashings of mascara were able to detract from the dark circles, but now I was bare, there wasn’t much I could do about them.
This is the first outfit look I have ever shot in my entire blogging career without eye make-up on. Even shooting on set, I’ve always requested a brown eyeshadow and layers of liner. Realistically, this is minor in the grand scheme of things, but for me, it was a big step in feeling more confident in myself and feeling like less make-up was the new normal for me.
I'm in the process of breaking a habit of my adult lifetime, made even more difficult by the fact that I've been sharing the same version of myself online for now over four years. Previously, less make-up was saved for lazy days or for days when I was living my life offline, so I've still felt like, when getting ready in the mornings, I've been doing half a job. Make-up for me has been both my armour and a larger contributing factor to forming my own identity, so I've almost felt a little vulnerable heading into meetings and off to work without it, like I was heading into battle with a sword but no shield.
It has been wonderful though. My mornings have been quicker, my eyes are happier and I feel like I look like myself, not a curated version of what I think I should look like. There's something liberating about shedding the superficial, and accepting that these are my eye bags, these are my chubby cheeks, and these are the lines around my mouth that make me look like I smoke 20 a day. Of course, alongside that comes getting asked if I'm tired when in fact I've enjoyed 40 minutes of extra sleep, but the slightly intrusive lines of questioning are not enough to put me off of being a little more fresh-faced.
What is your relationship with make-up like? Up until this point I feel like my cosmetics have instructed me, determining a baseline amount and dictating a look that I felt too nervous to move away from. But now I'm back in control of the bag - I am the wielder of the brush (much artistry, such ~ lewk ~)! I'd love to hear how you feel about your daily routine and if you've always wanted to do something more or strip something back - let me know by popping a comment down below or finding me over on Twitter and Instagram. Until next time lovelies x