When I finally can afford it (and some people could argue actually need it), I use it the least.
I’m talking about makeup.
In my early 20s, I could spend hours at the beauty counters in big department stores like Harvey Nick’s, Selfridges or Harrods. Not to mention the beauty section in airport tax-free. I would swatch, blend, smell and try out any new product I could get my hands on. Mainly in the hopes of finding the one product that would change my life (get my that boy/job/friends or whatever I was dreaming of).
Most of the time I couldn’t afford the big brands glitzy packaging that came with luxurious ad campaigns selling so much more than just a new lipstick. Instead, I had to settle for cheaper drugstore dupes. I used to treat myself to a new small pot of eyeshadow whenever I felt a bit down. I had at least 35.
When I started blogging, I all of a sudden found myself showered with skincare and makeup products. Every week it would be a new package by my door. Most days I would find myself in front of a table full of makeup and an expert doing up my face. Modeling was a great way to get to try on makeup without buying it.
My standard question used to be “show me your favorite makeup product”. And then I would hit “buy” on my phone on the tube on my way home.
I was literally hoarding makeup.
I have had a Benjamin Button journey with makeup.
As a teenager, I used to slather covering Clinique foundation (it was a recurrent Christmas gift from my mother) over my skin until you couldn’t see a pore or a freckle. Resembling an actor with a face full of pancake and leaving hard to wash out stains on any boyfriends shirt and pillowcases.
I knew not to sleep in a full get-up, but I would wake up before him and make sure to have put my face back on before I snuck back in bed again. To have anyone see me without a full face of pigment was unthinkable. I would spend an hour in the bathroom only to go down to the shop around the corner, just in case I bumped into someone I knew.
In my mid-20s, with modeling, I quickly realized that good skin was my signature and moneymaker. And you cannot have good skin if you don’t let it breathe. So I would make myself have makeup-free days before big jobs or important castings. Most of the time it meant I didn’t leave the house and ordered in food and watched shit tv..
I was still uncomfortable with anyone seeing my, to me, tired, grey and boring face with all its imperfections. I was addicted to a retouched version of myself.
And then I grew up.
My life got busy, I met someone, got engaged, got married, had a child. My time in the bathroom in the morning shrunk with every year. The makeup-free days became more than the ones when I actually could be bothered with “putting my face on”. My makeup-drawer got Marie Kondo-ed and I told the companies who sent me lots of drugstore makeup to stop since I wasn’t going to use or feature it in my channels.
You might think that I “gave up” and “let myself go”. But in fact, it’s the opposite.
I literally got comfortable in my own skin.
I decided to stop hiding the small imperfections and instead treat my skin with care to make sure they didn’t become big imperfections. I started chasing a “healthy glow” instead of perfection. I embraced my freckles and moles.
I’m 36 and my face is aging. As it should. But still, I feel prettier now than I ever did when my skin was “perfect”. I so regret that when my face was at its prime, I covered it up the most.
They say beauty is wasted on the young and I’m not convinced.
Sure, I’m angry at myself for not truly appreciating what I had. But I also understand that it had nothing to do with the outside. I just wasn’t the same person I am now on the inside.
So maybe it’s a good thing that we are more insecure when we are better looking and not the other way around. Maybe the charm with aging is to actually appreciate the beauty that is left.
Once we stop chasing perfection, makeup becomes a completely different thing. More a fun hobby than an absolute must. I still swatch and blend at airports. But even though I can afford it, my purchases are few.
These days I actually don’t buy a lot of makeup at all. I have favorites that I have loved for years. Most of them are by glitzy brands since my pockets are deeper. But I’m actually spending a lot less on makeup these days than what I did then. I just buy less but better and use it until it’s finished.
What I want to say is that we shouldn’t be scared of aging. It’s going to happen. But the good thing is that it’s not just the outside that changes with the years, the inside does too. We end up caring less about what we look like and care more about who we are and what we do. So maybe mother nature knows exactly what she is doing?
I still, of course, wear makeup now and then. But these days I wear it for how it makes me feel instead of what other people might think.
Photos – Ida Zander My feathery top is by Coast.
These are my favorite makeup products in my 30s (affiliate links)-