I’ve been doing people’s make up for over 12 years now. I’ve worked on countless faces of all ages, shapes colours. My job is never dull because each face is different. One thing never changes, however. Almost every time a woman sits in my make up chair, the first thing she does is point out all the things about herself she hates, things she thinks are her “faults.” She tells me how difficult her hair is to style because it’s too thick/fine/curly/flat/flyaway/straight/frizzy, then goes on to nitpick her skin problems, the shape of her face and the size of her eyes, lips, nose or eyebrows.
I can’t tell you how disheartening it is to hear my clients talk about their physical appearance this way. Because most of the time, they’re things that I haven’t noticed until they’ve been pointed out to me, and even then it’s never something I would consider a “fault.” You see, the misconception is that as a make up artist, I’m always looking at what needs to be corrected. But that simply isn’t true.
I had a bad experience when I was at college studying media make up. Each lesson, our tutor would ask a different class member to model for her demonstration. I got the short straw and was asked to model for the “corrective make up” demo. This is (I feel) an old-fashioned term for contouring – that hugely popular make up technique used to make your face look more like Kim Kardashian’s.
My tutor began the demo with my face shape which, once she had deemed “very long,” she duly shaded with brown foundation around my chin and forehead. Next, she pointed out to the class that one of my eyes was much smaller than the other (my bugbear in passport photos) and evened them out using eyeliner of different thickness on each eye. My nose was next – it curves to the right thanks to a childhood injury. This too was “corrected.” Finally, she observed that my top lip is thinner than my bottom lip and in fact my whole mouth is rather wonky. Huge amounts of lipliner and lipstick were employed to make it even, and therefore more attractive.
When I looked in the mirror I didn’t recognise myself and neither did the rest of the class. On top of that, I was suddenly very aware of how imperfect my face was and how little it compared to ideal standards of beauty. To me, my unique face was now a badly proportioned and unsymmetrical mess of wrong angles. Everything was either too big, too small or wonky. I felt like crying, right there in front of the whole class.
Now, I know my tutor was only doing her job and I suppose someone in the class had to have their face contoured but I decided there and then that I never wanted any of my future clients to feel as horrible as I did in that moment. Because each person is different and beautiful in their own way. My face may be long and my nose may be wonky but it’s mineand nobody else has the same one.
So that’s why when I look at you, the thing I see first isn’t that thing you hate. It’s actually your best feature, whether that be your eyebrows, skin, cheekbones or just everything! That’s the feature I want to bring out and focus on using the tools of my trade. I don’t care about your spots, wrinkles or eye bags. I want to paint big lips with bright lipstick and big eyes with loads of mascara. I want to use the sheerest foundation on freckles because freckles are so pretty. Most of all, I want to make you smile when you see yourself in the mirror.
Make up is a great tool and there’s nothing that can pick me up more when I’m tired and or bit hungover than concealer, mascara and red lipstick. But it shouldn’t be a mask. We should love our faces for their uniqueness and their lovely quirks. Celebrate the changes as we age because they show that we’ve lived a life.
So please start now and tell me below, what do you LOVE about yourself?