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Not a Concealer – A Revealer
Why It’s Time We Started Giving Make-Up The Respect It Deserves
Rather than looking down their powdered noses at makeup, people need to focus on how it can be a vital element in expressing personality.
With modern, cutting edge formulas like 24 hour wear liquid lipstick and cushion foundation, it’s easy to forget that the history of cosmetics spans over 6,000 years. Women in Ancient Rome lined their eyes with dark kohl and the pharaohs and queens of Ancient Egypt had their very own anti-ageing regimes using ingredients like beeswax and rosewater. In the thousands of years that makeup has existed, products may have gotten more sophisticated, but the attitude towards those who wear it has remained largely the same. Historically, wearing too much makeup or any at all was seen as a sin and a self-absorbed waste of time. And while you might not find many people calling it 'immoral' anymore, you don't have to look far to get a lingering sense that if you take pride in your appearance, you’re obviously vain, tacky and fake.
Many people view makeup simply as an exercise in vanity, a way to ensure all eyes are on the wearer – others, meanwhile, are far more damning, believing that makeup is a tool for the insecure to hide who they really are. The type of people to tut at a woman as she carefully applies her lipstick on the moving bus; the people who scoff at the perceived ‘shallowness’ of the world of beauty. Of course, to take such a two-dimensional view on a topic as complex and deep-rooted as this is to miss the point brilliantly. Instead, these people are just closing themselves off from a world of self-expression and true artistry.
Yes, beauty is an art form
Professional makeup artists says they love their work because each face presents a new set of challenges. Pat McGrath, described by Vogue as the most influential makeup artist in the world, says that the best skill you can have in her field is creativity along with a willingness to experiment, explore and play. As with all artists, those who express themselves through makeup are influenced by other creative movements: think graphic eyeliner inspired by the Cubists, or editorial looks that have an Impressionist vibe, all loose brushstrokes and soft edges.
Makeup has so much more potential than just a selection of products on your face that make you look like a better version of yourself. It can become an armour of sorts that you put on in order to take on your day. Like people covered in vibrant tattoos or the woman you always notice on your commute who dares to sport head to toe leopard print, makeup can become sort of a trademark. Just try to imagine Elizabeth Taylor without her signature crimson lip, or Grace Jones without her bold stage makeup. The late David Bowie showed that makeup was for everyone, transcending the boundaries of gender with a blue bolt of lightning painted across his face. Makeup can go a long way in helping you find a unique style that makes you more self-assured.
It might sound odd to describe the act of applying cosmetics as a form of self-care, but it really is. For some, self-care is a bubble bath or a long walk, for others it can be lightly dusting some glowy bronzer on the top of their cheekbones. Taking that time out of your day to really focus on yourself is invaluable to many women; it’s a time where all you need to focus on is making your eyeliner wings perfectly symmetrical and outlining your lips scarlet with the precision of a surgeon. As the pace of everyday life becomes more frenetic, choosing to do something entirely for yourself feels like a real treat; those few minutes are spent free from worrying about your mean supervisor or that fight you had with your best friend. And it doesn't stop there.
Makeup, for those unfortunate enough to endure particularly trying times, can be a source of strength and self-affirmation that would otherwise be impossible to come by. Cancer patients will often speak about how treatments like chemo and radiotherapy can leave them feeling like they have lost their identity. Skin, hair and nails will change as a result and leave you feeling down and disconnected from your personality. Makeup is not about self-hatred or trying to hide who you are. It’s the freedom of deciding who you’re going to be at the mirror every morning. It’s about enhancing the features you love about yourself, boosting confidence, and treating your face like a living canvas. It’s a revealer, not a concealer.