The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Why Did I Start?
Like many schools in Asia, my high school didn’t allow students to wear makeup and there wasn’t really a social pressure to wear it in my country either. I feel like that might’ve changed with the emergence of TikTok and how there’s so many kids on that god forsaken app, but I just might be some cynical old lady… Either way, I was never influenced or felt the need to wear makeup or learn anything related to it. I was also regrettably in a “I’m-not-like-other-girls” phase for a few years and tried really hard to be anti-beauty.
This changed when I was about to graduate high school, as I knew that a woman has to know how to take care of her physical appearance if she wants to be taken seriously in the real world. And knowing how to apply makeup, or at least basic makeup, was part of that criteria (thanks patriarchy!). From there, I reluctantly learned the basics of makeup but ended up liking the process of it after some time.
It took more than a year for me to appreciate and get excited about beauty. It was during the first COVID lockdown that I started to develop my non-existent makeup skills. By that time, I had already graduated high school but didn’t know how to apply makeup myself. However, some of my friends gave me an eyeshadow palette and blush on my birthday that I barely used and I didn’t want it to go to waste. I figured this was the perfect time to learn since no one would be able to see my learning process.
How Did I Use Makeup More Often?
Once I saw makeup as another way to take care of myself, enjoying makeup became a healing process for me. Like many people from Generation Z, I used self-deprecation and self-hatred as humour and part of my personality, which- no surprise- didn’t help my insecurities. But acknowledging that I didn’t need to beat myself up to be liked helped me be less critical of myself and to let me enjoy things that might seem shallow or stupid for the sake of it. With this newfound determination for self-respect, I think that’s when I started to get into makeup more.
What started from hesitancy and obligatory had changed to certainty and voluntary. I can’t really explain the change in mindset, but the routine of applying makeup started to feel more grounding than a chore. Especially during such unpredictable times, this consistency allowed me to have time for myself. I think that would be a tip on how to enjoy makeup: to use it as a time for yourself. I find that when I wore makeup because I “had to” it was not as enjoyable as when I purposely took time out of my day to do it.
How Do I Have Fun with Makeup?
On the contrary, I also found that makeup can be really overwhelming as there are limitless products out there for every part of the face. Feeling overwhelmed from a hobby can really suck the fun out of things, so I wanted to find a way to make things less daunting. What helped me not drown in the sea of consumerism was to focus on one feature of my face and go from there. This helped me be less nervous and more excited about learning new types of products and what they do. For me, I first started with my eyes and extended out from there.
Besides that, I also think that looking at makeup to make you more comfortable makes the process more fun. For example, I have pretty light eyebrows and when I draw them in it makes me feel more at ease in public. Personally, I see the idea of having to love every part of yourself all the time unrealistic, and sometimes it’s fine to “change” yourself. I’m aware this is a little contradictory to what I said previously, but using makeup as an outlet to make yourself feel comfortable in your own skin is just like wearing clothes that make you feel good. If you find makeup empowering, it’s a whole lot more fun than if you see it as a social pressure.
I also used makeup as a way to treat myself and to let me indulge in my childishness. There are definitely some products I own that I don’t necessarily need (then again, makeup isn’t necessarily a need in general) but bought it for the fun of it. I still use them, but it’s not essential to my routine. My cushion foundation goes under this category, since I only bought it because I’ve always thought a cushion was cool after seeing a compact powder be used as a spy gadget on Totally Spies.
When I stopped looking at makeup as something I had to do, things seemed less bleak. However, what made things infinitely more fun was the satisfaction of finding a product that had everything I wanted. To put it simply, the search for something better makes it exciting for me. As mentioned above, there are so many products and brands out there. I try to use that to my advantage by trying to search for the perfect product. By that I mean I would only buy a product if there’s nothing I would change about it. If there’s a certain colour in an eyeshadow palette I know I wouldn’t use, or a formula of a blush I don’t like, I’d just give it up and look for something else. Since there’s so much out there, I’m bound to find a product that ticks all my boxes. This is also a more sustainable route than overconsumption, especially since cosmetics aren’t so easily donatable (and donating doesn’t mean you’re being sustainable either).
Overall, I think it’s the fact that respecting my choices, no matter how small and stupid, is what got me into makeup. The little artsy part of me also feels giddy whenever I do a nice makeup look or when I blend things out perfectly. With the media depicting women as only a pretty object and white feminists’ tendency to demonize femininity, I’ll sometimes get a moral dilemma of if it’s okay to like makeup and beauty.
I guess this is payback for being so anti-makeup in my younger years, but there’s nothing wrong or shallow about liking makeup and putting effort into your physical appearance. There are days where I want to give out a specific vibe, and if makeup helps me to achieve it, then so be it.