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Style > Beauty

This is why your make-up never looks “right”

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCT chapter.

I know I’m not the only one who was a bit late to learning how to do make-up, or then falling into a hole of Youtube and TikTok tutorials frantically trying to catch up with everyone else and all their really cool make-up looks. I know I’m also not the only one who then looked in the mirror and thought why doesn’t my make-up look “right?”.

During the 2020 lockdown, impulsive purchases and following trend cycles become almost therapeutic for me and a lot of other people. These quickly changing trend cycles extended right up to make-up looks – take for instance the “E-Girl” make-up look which quickly became uber popular, then just as quickly disappeared. But hey, I wanted to try it too! Hence many brash purchases were made and several TikTok tutorials were watched, only for me to look in the mirror and go “Why does this not look right on me?”

While learning how to do make-up through these online spaces was no doubt fun and creative, it also birthed an expectation that I wish I had realised earlier. I never understood why my make-up never looked like the photos and videos I was watching – I mean I was using the same products and following these tutorials entirely so why it wasn’t working?

The simple answer is that make-up will always look like make-up – it’s meant to sit on your skin. That means no matter what you do your skin texture will always show up on camera and in the mirror. Skin has texture, it’s meant to have texture. It is an organ after all and no matter how much a product says “skin-blurring” or “skin-like finish” – your skin is going to look like your skin and yeah, it’s super difficult to come to that conclusion and be okay with it when it feels like everyone’s make-up looks soooo perfect on camera.

The idea that my make-up could look exactly like that photo or video was based on the idea that the photo or video I was looking at was just a person wearing make-up. However, most of the time, those videos featured some sort of post-production blurring or smoothing of some sort. The expectation that my make-up was going to look exactly like that was an expectation that wasn’t going to be met.

TikTok especially has beauty filters that are barely detectable, and they often made me feel as if my skin texture was something I needed to hide. I began to try to cover myself with more make-up, only to be disappointed when I didn’t get the perfectly smooth, even and perfect look I saw online.

Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to use make-up to even out your skin tone or smooth out your complexion. The problem is when there’s an expectation placed on you for your make-up to look exactly like the smoothed-out video you watched on TikTok. The fact of the matter is: your skin will look like your skin no matter what, and make-up is supposed to be something fun and creative for everyone.

Skin has texture – bumps, ridges, wrinkles, spots and all. Make-up isn’t going to always look as perfect as the filter or the video, and that’s totally okay. There’s no such thing as a “right” way to do make-up after all!

Nuhaa Isaacs is a Cape Town born and raised student at the University of Cape Town. She is currently studying toward a BA triple majoring in English Literary Studies, Media and Writing as well as Gender Studies. She has been a staff writer for Her Campus UCT since 2021, and a current member of the Social Media Sub-committee at Her Campus UCT. Sappy romantic fantasy novels and incredibly specific Spotify playlists are everything to her (as well as her three cats: Zuri, Shelley and Peanut). You can find her on Instagram (@nuhaa_i) or Tiktok (@nuhaaorwhatever) probably posting silly little outfit videos. Get in touch via email for any formal inquiries: nuhaa.isaacs@gmail.com.