Am I Addicted To How I Look In My Makeup?


After a vacation at home mostly bopping from cabin to cabin, I realized I barely wore makeup. When I went back through that time, the only days I put it on were because family photos – haunted with knowledge that those photos will probably be on loved ones walls for decades – were being taken. When it was just the boat, my loved ones, and me I didn’t bother. Interesting.

I used to say that I wear makeup for myself, and myself alone. This last stint has me challenging my old thoughts. Would I wear makeup if no one – or camera – was looking? If there was no feedback – be it pictures, mirrors, or people – would I still do it? I cringe a bit at this incredibly vain theory.

My love affair with makeup grew as I aged. I really didn’t start getting “inside baseball” with makeup until my mid twenties. For most of my teens I stuck to eye shadows, over plucking my oh-so-spotty-brows, and piling on mascara. Go me.

I clearly remember the day when I started using eyebrow pencil to fill in my aforementioned sparse brows and how much of a game changer I thought it was. I actually saw what people were talking about when they said it “frames a face.” It did. I was hooked.

In my late twenties I moved on to lipstick and skincare. I didn’t want to stop my beauty journey after discovering my inner Brooke Shields; I wanted more. I went on rampage trying lots of shades and brands. I was going all out. I loved getting the trial size packages of lipstick and facewash and shampoo and zit crèmes. Slather it all over me, please and thank you. Fever driven I always asked, "Now what else is there to change my life?" I was a product junkie demon bellowing, “More, different, MORE!” I was experimental utopia. Until I wasn’t.

Just before thirty, my face held me hostage via major, all consuming flair ups. Rash-like bumps all over my face, jaw, and neck; puffy turtle-esq eyes that looked almost as sore as they felt; and red itchy patches near my eyes and nose. A few trips to the dermatologist and we had it cased: dermatitis. Translation: if you live in dry-AF Calgary your skin is more likely to be hella parched. My dermatologist explained that with the onslaught of the over $400 billion cosmetic industry products available to us, many, me included, have become addicted to trying product after product. The plethora of makeup products, perfumes, and skincare blowing up my social media, tempted me to try new things over and over. Turns out this intense, ever changing regime may trigger some peoples skin. While many can handle it no problem, it’s simply too much for sensitive skin types like me. Please indulge me as I exhale deeply.

I learned that I had to breakup with trying oodles of pretty, different stuff. It was a dejected time for a while. Since then I have simplified my routine to bare bones and found a select, few brands that don’t irritate me. Other than my tiny family of product brands, I stay away from most new things. This makes me sad sometimes, as I love to experiment. After a bit of time, I noticed, too, that the lack of options provided me a bit of relief. I no longer had to choose. Due to my sensitive skin I couldn’t keep-up-with-the Kardashians without my face revolting.

Since my skin reboot and figuring out what works I observed that I’ve piled on the makeup again. This time, however, instead of all of the different products across the entire cosmetic industry spectrum, it’s all of a select few. I say no to trial sizes outside of my brands. I no longer buy the multipacks of various lipstick products that I used to lust over every holiday season. I try to keep my head down, resist, and stay in my dry AF lane every time a shiny new product hits the market.

But the stuff that works for me, I use it. A lot. Maybe it’s because I stay away from all those fun new masks and scrubs and everything you see online for fear of a negative reaction that I go HAM on the products that don’t. I’m using and loving the select stuff that I have, hard. I just didn’t notice how deep I’ve got into it until I wasn’t wearing it everyday.

How does this relate to fashion, you may ask? I imagine my latest beauty routine may be the equivalent of a capsule wardrobe for clothing. In my case it’s a capsule beauty skincare collection. Now I only have a few things and buy them over and over again. I’m super dooper loyal. I suspect too, that because I am restricted in beauty and skincare products, the desire to go more maximalist with my clothes is more intense. After all a person’s style is a complete look. Hair, skincare, and clothing together give you your own version of a confidence concoction that culminates in unique personal style. Style can, and should, embrace your individual limitations and full expressions at the same time.

Let’s be clear: I love my face in full makeup and I accept how it looks without all the stuff. I contemplate that I may have to relearn and work a bit more on loving my face without makeup just as much as when it’s made up too. I am curious about challenging myself to take some of the faux face off and get under what’s really going on. Stay tuned.