We hear this phrase in relation to almost every aspect of life – decor, fashion, life – as in: have one or two main focal points in a room, pare down your accessories, get rid of that clutter to live clearly. This version of Less is More pertains to a slightly more superficial matter, but not one that should ever be overlooked – I’m talking about the makeup on our faces.
I grew up always wearing makeup, I played with it since I was in the sixth grade. I started as many did, with the eyeliner, then mascara, and by the ninth grade I was a makeup pro. I always received compliments on my eye makeup, the way my skin looked and felt, and just how simply fabulous I looked. Eventually I had turned myself into the girl that wouldn’t go anywhere without a full face of makeup – from primer to blusher and every step in between. And it got tiring.
Sidenote: I should also explain that I suffer from big cheek face. Mandy Moore face. Picture it, big eyes, on a big head, with a big cheek ratio. And big lips. So I usually try to play up my eyes like crazy, and downplay my lips, while defining my cheekbones to make me look thinner.
I always played with my eye makeup, always tried to change up my look, but the time and effort it took to look so good? Not happening once I got pregnant and felt like crap constantly, not happening when you have a baby to take care of, and kinda happening when you have a toddler around, who occasionally asks you to dust her face with “makeup sparkles”.
My main concern: what am I getting all made up for? I am doing laundry today. A trip to Walmart. Then back home. The end. Is it suitable for a twenty-something to be wearing smokey or cat-eye look at nine in the morning? In the suburbs?
I have a ton of makeup. I went through a major shopaholic phase in my life (which I will surely cover in another post entirely), where I spent one whole year stocking up on MAC makeup. I don’t know why. I was always posting on the Specktra.net forums, doing crazy looks, and ended up with two huge makeup train cases full of glitter, eye shadows, and so many lip glosses that they’ll expire before I even get to them.
Typical Makeup Application:
- Wash face, apply serum, moisturizer, eye cream, pimple cream.
- Foundation primer
- Pencil in eye brows
- Concealer for any spots
- Foundation, put on with a foundation brush
- Eye primer
- Eye shadow (could be up to five different colours)
- Eye liner
- Curl lashes, Mascara
- Blush and highlighter
- Under eye concealer and under eye highlighter
- Lipgloss (if I was really going out, lipliner, stick, then gloss)
That’s a lot, right? For day to day? For days when you’re going to the mall? Hanging out at the park? Doing nothing at home all day!
Is there any wonder that I just haven’t been feeling it lately?
Last summer I started a job at a high-end department store, and I worked in the men’s department. I worked with four other women, three my age, the fourth in her mid-40s. The three that were my age wore practically no makeup. Like seriously, it looked like they would just scrub their face and go to work, which didn’t really look good, but sometimes they would put makeup on (like the weekends), and have this really nice natural look that I even envied at times.
I slowly stopped wearing the heavy black liquid liner I was so accustomed to. It was a huge change in itself. I acquired a Carrie Bradshaw-esque look of shimmery grey-brown smokey eyes, black kohl liner rimming the inner eyelids, pink blush on the apples of the cheeks and nudish lip gloss. I would sometimes go back to the liquid liner for night, of course, but my day look was very well suited for my job and my look.
When I quit in January, I slowly went back to the liquid liner look – partially because the kohl liner would smudge and at home I wouldn’t keep fixing my makeup in the mirrors, and partially because my favourite eyeshadow (the greyish/brown shimmer) was from Cargo and it was finished and they discontinued it. No joke. I was depressed about it for a whole week.
Back to the liquid liner – it’s a curse. I am perfect at the technique, the application, the different looks – I can do Cleopatra, I can do Angelina, I can do Amy Winehouse, all depending on how I apply it. Sexy, slutty, demure – it can all be done with liquid liner!! And trust me, I always always always got compliments, complete strangers coming up to me asking me how I did my eyes. It fed my ego enormously, which is probably also why I’m so addicted to it.
Fast forward to this week.
I’ve been working out in the middle of the day and showering right after, and I didn’t really feel like reapplying makeup at 4 in the afternoon – boyfriend be damned. He was going to have to live with no-eye-makeup girl tonight!!
And we were sitting there, watching Mall Cop (hilarious and very juvenile), and he looked at me, and he told me I looked so pretty.
Of course, my usual MO is to be all, yeah, whatever, thanks babe. Why? Because he says this to me when I’m wearing stinky old sweatpants with stains, a racerback tanktop with the bra straps hanging out, and I’m pigging out on pizza. But I was even more shocked because I had no eye makeup on. Like none. At all.
J says, “You aren’t covering your pretty eyes with any makeup. I can see them. They’re beautiful. You should wear so much eye makeup sometimes. I can see your eyes.”
I just kissed him, of course, and went back to the movie.
In my head, though, I was spinning. Have I wasted all these years, all those minutes perfecting my eye makeup, my liquid liner, the perfect cat eye look, and meanwhile HIDING my eyes???
And then a thought occured to me, I won’t have to waste so much time doing makeup. I’ve been getting frustrated with my eye makeup lately, and this is a plus, my man prefers pretty eyes to pretty makeup.
So this is my new day-to-day makeup routine:
- Wash face, apply eye cream, serum and tinted moisturizer
- Pencil in eyebrows (only cus they’re light, people!)
- Curl lashes, mascara.
- Cheek stain
- Under-eye concealer
- Tinted lip balm
- Powder in t-zone
If I have extra time I’ll dap on some of Nars Orgasm Stick for an extra flush, but really, this is all I need. And it’s unexpectedly pretty, once I got used to it. It’s a natural look, like I’ve always tried to accomplish with different shadows and face shading. And I feel comfortable with it.
I think with every year that I grow older, I feel more and more comfortable in my skin, and this new makeunder is really a testament of that. I still look like me, still polished and sexy, but not so overdone, I don’t look like I’m trying as hard – because I’m not. And at this stage in my life, I don’t want to look like anything but me.
That’s where the Less is More motto kicks in – it applies to almost every aspect of my life now. And I feel it’s like a little secret that I’ve discovered. I feel like calling up my girlfriends and tellings them it doesn’t matter if we spend an hour doing our makeup in the morning – guys like us anway! I was at Walmart today and the checkout girl had really heavy liner on with green shadow – which clashed terribly with the royal blue vests they’re forced to wear, and I felt like telling her how pretty she would look with just a nice brown liner, something simple, chic.
The horrifying thought that I was turning into my parents did occur to me at the moment, so I said nothing, grabbed my goods and took off.
The truth is, I used makeup as a guard, something to boost my ego and hide my fears from the world, the fear that I was aging, the fear that I wasn’t as hot as I used to be. Just hiding behind a mask, and it gave me a false confidence that I lived off of.
That one comment J made helped me more than any makeup ever could – that I am pretty just me, on my own, after gaining weight, having a baby, not being as hip as I used to be, not partying every weekend like we used to, just the me that is confident with herself, even when she’s not wearing makeup.
ps. How much makeup do you wear on a regular basis?
pps. My fave liquid liner is L’Oreal Carbon Black. The best. Hands down. I’ve tried them all.