Making up with make up

I love experimenting with make up – with eye shadows and eye liners and lipsticks. I delight in matching my makeup to my clothes, my eye liner to my earrings, my lip gloss to my shoes. I like exploring the colours that make my green eyes pop – copper, gold, orange, pink.

A couple of weeks ago, in Varsity, I wrote:

I wear makeup to achieve these small moments of enjoyment – moments I can have alone, without having other people’s impressions of myself in the back of my mind. I’m wearing it for me, to interest me, to excite me.

Break up with makeup? We were never together

I wear make up for myself, to please myself, to explore my face in different lights. It’s an internally-driven desire. I don’t wear it that frequently, but I wouldn’t allow anyone else to dictate whether I should or shouldn’t wear makeup.

Or so I thought. Lockdown, and my subsequent lack of trips outside, has challenged my perception of makeup, of ‘getting ready’ and who I’m getting ready for. In the normal world, I would wear makeup maybe 3-4 times a week. Since lockdown began, I’ve worn makeup twice. That’s twice in five weeks.

It got me thinking. If my desire to wear makeup is truly so internally-driven, surely I would continue to wear it, even now.

I woke up a few days ago with a burning desire to put makeup on. At first, I thought it must be some part of me trying to prove that I do, in fact, wear makeup just for myself. But it’s more than that.

As I sat in front of my mirror, I realised that the process, how methodical it is, is comforting. As I lined my eyes with pink, I was transported back to my university room, where I used this eyeliner for the first time; matching it to my earrings; matching it to my shoes. I moved through the internalised process step-by-step, remembering simpler times when I’d be getting ready for a study day in a cafe, or drinks out with friends.

When I finished, I marvelled at how much brighter my eyes looked. I was mesmerised by my own reflection, how my eyes shimmered and shone with my smile. I looked at my lips, how their asymmetrical shape was more defined by the lipstick I was wearing. I couldn’t decide if the asymmetry is something I should work with or against.

When I left my room, and moved to the other side of the house, I entered some brighter natural light. As I walked towards a mirror, I watched as the sun bounced off the highlight on my cheekbones. It looked so cool.

I went about my day, catching glimpses of myself in my house’s many mirrors, smiling each time I did. I look so good, I kept thinking. I took so many photos of myself.

I’m normally quite obsessed with myself. My camera roll is full of pictures of myself – mirror photos, selfies, videos with Instagram filters.

I didn’t go anywhere. I didn’t share my selfies. I didn’t feel the need to share the moment I was having with myself with anyone else. For some bizarre reason, I also enjoyed taking my makeup off, washing the blush from my skin, moisturising afterwards. Having a routine to follow felt more relaxing than doing nothing at all.

Published by Liv

My name’s Liv, I’m 20 years old, and I’m currently studying English at Jesus College, University of Cambridge. I'm a journalist alongside this blog. Visit my home page or for more.

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