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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UPR chapter.

I remember looking at my cousins when they were in their freshman year of high school, gawking at their scene haircuts and their heavy dark eyeliner on their waterlines. The black of the makeup stood out from under their bangs and bestowed them invited looks, which eventually inspired me to try to do the same. About two to three years later, I bought my first eyeliner pencil at Walgreens. I can’t recall the brand no matter how hard I try, but I certainly remember the feeling of joy that surged through me at the thought that I could finally look as cool as them. At that point, they had mostly moved on from that look and mainly drew on a cat eye for special occasions. Naturally, I wanted to copy them for the umpteenth time in my life, so I figured the cat eye would look just like that on me. Until then, I had been faithfully coloring my waterline to go to school every day, along with a matching black tattoo choker.

Surely, it couldn’t have been that hard, could it?

Yes, yes it was.

In case you haven’t noticed, dear reader, I was using the same unsharpened eyeliner pencil for ages. Liquid eyeliner was the right choice when it came to cat eyes, since it’s more likely to stay in place far longer than my old, Walgreens-bought pencil. Safe to say, I looked like a raccoon for two days before giving up. My mom was eager to help me out, but as much as she wanted to, my dear mother could not do much. She was never as makeup-savvy as my cousins or her sister, my aunt. For a while, I opted to try to get some basics right, like how much blush was too much or how to put on mascara without looking like Sebastian Stan when he was introduced as the Winter Soldier. To say it was a process is an understatement.

Hidden away in my room, I tried so hard to master the art of makeup. The amount of damp, crumpled napkins in the garbage both impresses and terrifies me to this day. I’m impressed because of the dedication younger me went through to get things right, but I’m terrified at the amount of waste I produced. But, I digress. Slowly, I managed to make some progress. I learned about concealer and foundation, and how important color matching is. Seeing Donald Trump’s fake tan scared me into going to Sephora to try to find a match, but the prices were enough to discourage me from pursuing that. At one point about three years ago, I visited Jayuya with an aunt and my cousins and we went to the Pueblito’s beauty supply. There I managed to find a foundation that matched me: Bettina’s liquid foundation in Caribbean Beige. I’ve purchased it twice since then and only recently stopped using it because I’ve gotten paler due to reduced sun exposure. Despite it not being very pricey, the formula was flawless on my skin and my only real complaint was that my freckles were not as visible due to the coverage.

Eventually, I (somewhat) mastered the art of drawing on a cat eye, only to be blindsided by the fox eye trend. It’s a pain, but I’m learning to draw the inner corner evenly and without poking myself in the eye. I can conceal and throw on foundation; I can determine how much powder and blush I need; a smoky eye comes quite naturally to me, as it’s what I do most often with my eyeshadow. Deciding what to do about highlighting is still a struggle, though, and the fact that I’ve dropped my palette a few times now and pulverized one of them twice doesn’t help much. And do not get me started on contour. I tried, I failed, let’s leave it at that.

Overall, it’s been a fun journey thus far. There were definitely times where I was tugging my hair out of frustration, but I like to think it was worth it. Now, I manage to pull together some solid makeup looks for work and for special occasions. Recently, I even started giving my mom some tips and tricks to help her with makeup, as she seems to be interested in improving her techniques as well. It makes me happy to see how far I’ve come, especially with more colorful looks I’ve concocted since the pandemic began. It goes without saying that most days I forgo the makeup, as I don’t want to wind up with messed-up skin. All this being said, I found that discovering such a fun part of my identity through makeup is worth the occasional breakout. So go forth, reader, explore the world of makeup and have as much fun as possible!

Carola Ríos Pérez is a writer for the Her Campus at UPR chapter. She focuses on writing reviews and analyses about films, series, and books, as well as sharing some of her life experiences through personal essays. In 2021, she graduated with honors from Colegio Nuestra Señora de Belén. Initially, she began her career as a university undergraduate at the University of Puerto Rico’s Río Piedras campus as a Communications student, with a major in Public Relations and Publicity. Currently, she is a junior in Humanities, majoring in Modern Languages, with a focus on Portuguese and German. Other than academics and Her Campus, Carola enjoys kickboxing and spending some quality time with her three cats, Keanu, Ginger, and Kai. Her passion for languages is reflected in her music tastes, and there’s no song she won’t listen to at least once. Occasionally, inspiration will strike, and Carola will focus on writing her own stories, heavily inspired by the Young Adult novels that shaped her teenage years. Every once in a blue moon, though, she will either go into a minor baking frenzy to procrastinate or pick up her guitar and “jam” her worries away.