Birmingham literature festival took place in October, bringing with it the opportunity to hear from Caitlin Moran, Sali Hughes and Lauren Laverne – so naturally I jumped at the chance.
Going along to see these women in conversation with each other, I fully expected to come out fangirling (as always) over how incredible they are. And I did. But something else I came out with was much less expected – the decision that I was going to get back into beauty and makeup.
I was crazy about makeup and beauty at college; always watching YouTube tutorials, forever trying out new looks and buying into anything that promised to mattify my oily skin. But I lost that interest at university and there are a couple of reasons why I think that happened.
Makeup definitely became less affordable on a student budget, but I also think it became something of a chore. I lived a very stereotypical student lifestyle, going out at least three times a week, so I got bored of making myself up (fairly heavily) all the time. It was a big effort and at some point my brain just went “I cba with all this contouring” and that was that – my interest in makeup was over.
I did try to get back into makeup at points. I asked for the Naked smoky palette when it was first released, highlighted my cheekbones for special occasions and at one point I definitely bought setting spray with the intention of using it. But by this point, influencers were out in full force and makeup – now I was an outsider looking in – just seemed…crazy?
I remember being served by a teenage girl in a shop about a year ago, who’d done her makeup like Instagram beauty influencers tell you to, and all I could think was how must her makeup wipes look when she removes all that in the evening? And surely she feels like she’s coated her face in sand there’s that much stuff on it? If this is makeup now, I shall remain forever uninterested.
But listening to Sali in conversation with Lauren during the Pretty Iconic talk, I was inspired to get back into makeup and beauty properly. They touched on the importance of makeup – not just to individuals but in terms of pop culture – how perceptions of the beauty industry are sexist and harmful, and how you can be (shock announcement everyone) interested in makeup and other things like politics as well.
Sali said her makeup and beauty journalism is for women who are in their mid-twenties and up. And, even though I’m only just 23, I think my horror vis-a-vis the Instagram makeup girl shows that I’m just not a teenager when it comes to makeup anymore.
I came out the talk excited to dive head-first back into the beauty industry, but as an adult who just wants a foundation that lasts the full working day.
With this in mind, I’ve decided to start trialing different foundations because I’m sick of accepting that the one I currently have is virtually non-existent by 2pm. I’ve subscribed to new cruelty-free and vegan beauty YouTubers too, and I’m genuinely looking forward to watching their content. I’m looking into buying blonde brow pencils, rather than just using an angled brush and picking any eye shadow that vaguely matches my brow colour. I might even look into whether hydrating skin masks are worth my time and money – crazy!
I think the adult aspect comes into it because I’m thinking about what I’d like to achieve as well as what’s actually attainable (I think I’ve finally accepted I’ll never look like Tanya Burr). I’m not letting my look be dictated to me by someone who’s five years younger than me on YouTube telling me I have to try this new thing that’s been gifted to them but will set myself and others back £40. I’m making the conscious decision to be more ethical and to buy things I will use, as well as things that will last.
Like any kind of hobby or interest; it’s going to take some effort. Like playing the guitar again after months of leaving it on its stand in the corner of your bedroom. Or packing your gym stuff in your bag, and actually going after work, like you’ve been saying you will for the past two weeks.
Forcing yourself to take an interest in what you like is a weird one (it should come naturally right?), and tbh I’m annoyed at myself for forgetting something that was once such a big part of me.
So here I go, stumbling into the world of makeup for adults. Maybe next time I write something I’ll actually know what face oils are for.