The evolution of my makeup: an ode to Lisa eldridge, kjh, & glossier.
I've always loved makeup. I've only recently understood how to wear it in such a way I feel amazing yet still look like myself. It's a shame, really. I'm 28. If I had figured this out when I was 18 imagine the time I could have saved, how many photos I would have that wouldn't make me cringe. Imagine how flawless my skin would have looked before I had my first forehead wrinkles! Imagine how many more years I could have felt comfortable in my own skin. Frankly, I bet I could have had a career in modeling had I known better. Okay, probably not. But you get the idea. So how did I get here?
In high school (2003-2007) I wore Trish McEvoy, Bobbi Brown, and Laura Mercier almost exclusively because those are the brands my mom wore. These are fantastic makeup brands, except my dumbass only wore powder products. In Arizona. While on Acutane. ::insert face palm emoji:: This was back when I was still convinced my skin type was oily. I would pop some powder all over my face, use the same two brown eyeshadows sloppily all over my lid, then add mascara without curling my eyelashes, and lastly dust some neutral pink blush on my cheeks. Thrilling. Many days I wouldn't wear makeup at all because I went to an all girls school and we collectively didn't give a fuck. I'd rather sleep a bit more than put on makeup. By the time I was in college I'd started reading InStyle, Glamour, Allure, etc. and began collecting many of the products from their pages, albeit unsure how to properly use them. There was a hopeful moment when I discovered Lisa Eldridge through whom I learned how to do cat eyeliner properly and who encouraged me to experiment with brightly colored lipstick (not, like, personally. I watched her videos). Now, dear reader, I wish I could tell you from there I stayed on the Lisa path and all was well. Unfortunately, while watching Lisa's videos, youtube suggested other videos it deemed similar. But similar they were not, and off the path I strayed.
Ah, youtube. You sweet, amazing, overwhelming place. Here's the problem with the youtube experience I had: it was all the same thing, over and over again. I found the quintessential youtubers who practiced what is today called "instagram makeup". You know who they are. If you don't, they are Nikki Tutorials, Manny MUA, Jeffree Star, etc. They are all very talented but all have a very similar style of makeup and I was convinced it was the only style, the correct style. If unfamiliar, "instagram makeup" is very heavy, very matte, heavily contoured, baked, filled brows type of makeup which is always finished with false lashes and a bath of setting spray. For a solid few years I bought just about everything Nikki put on her favorites list; she somehow convinced me (and countless others) to use men's aftershave balm as a primer even though it smelled like a freshly showered college athlete. I thoroughly believed one could not wear eye makeup without eyeliner, and the only way to wear eyeliner was a cat eye. I thought I looked good, and looking back at my photos from then, and in many ways I did. But I didn't look like how I felt. It all came to a head one evening when I found myself online trying to figure out how I could budget $300 worth of luxury false eyelashes (which would last under a year) and mentally setting aside time to practice putting them on, considering I was going to be wearing them on a daily basis. Wait, what?! It was an eye-opening moment. I closed all my tabs and slammed my laptop shut. I was frustrated because I realized I could never afford to buy enough false eyelashes to wear everyday but more importantly, I didn't want to. Internally I was screaming I don't like false eyelashes for every day! They are for special occasions or once in a while for fun! But everyone on instagram wore them with every single makeup look. That style of makeup itself looked incomplete without false lashes because that's how heavy the makeup was. Now, don't get me wrong; I am not slamming this style of makeup. It is beautiful and the people who are masters at it are crazy talented. It just didn't feel like me and the style was (and still is) so prevalent in our culture that I did not have any other examples of styles to turn to for inspiration. I was utterly defeated and confused. It was 2015 and thankfully for me (and my makeup), I was about to be saved.
Enter, Katie Jane Hughes. As I scrolled through my facebook one day an article caught my attention; Glamour's "The Difference Between Instagram Makeup and Real life". Inside featured Katie with half her face done the popular Instagram way, the other editorial style. I was floored. I so much preferred the editorial side. She reminded me of Lisa Eldridge, the famous British makeup artist I once loved and somehow had stopped following. I learned KJH was a professional makeup artist who was well-loved by celebrities and designers alike. She worked extensively during fashion week and was called upon to create makeup looks for editorial shoots for some of the biggest magazines on newsstands. Instantly I was following Katie's instagram, greedily scrolling and making note of technique and product choices. She loved fluffy brows and cream blush. She favored a Becca cream highlighter I had owned for years (thanks to Lisa) but stopped using because Nikki and Manny didn't. She didn't use primers, she didn't think they did anything (omg thank you! I don't think they work either, I just keep using them because everyone else does! I admitted internally). I signed on to her first Facebook Live wherein she demoed how to do a diffused cat eye with eyeshadow. She instructed to keep the skin minimal and dewy if you want to rock a dramatic eye or lip, so that way you'd never look over done. Something clicked, this was the type of makeup that matched my personal style. Instagram Live was created and KJH frequently signed on to demonstrate her makeup and skincare, always answering questions with refreshing frankness. I realized she had the same skin type as me, combination dry, and I learned about countless products to improve my skin. Take care of your skin, she noted, because healthy skin is the best makeup base you can have. Boom, life changed.
That last line may sound like hyperbole, but it's true. My skin had been a sore spot my whole adult life and previously I hadn't a clue what to do about it. I decided I would focus much more on my skincare with the goal of not needing makeup. Makeup would be to enhance, not cover.
Through Katie Jane Hughes I found countless beauty bloggers, beauty editors, and brands all of whom believed in celebrating our differences and in self care first. It was through them all I found the best products and advice to start anew with my skincare and beauty routine. One brand in particular worth mentioning is Glossier, whose slogan is literally "Skin First. Makeup Second." Glossier sells both skincare and makeup but wants to make it clear their products are here to help you be the best version of yourself, whoever that may be, not make you into something you think you should be. They are all for girls helping girls, self love, self care and celebrating everyone. I had found my community, and hot damn, were they a diverse group of incredible humans with unique styles. Finally I felt comfortable experimenting. I felt comfortable trying products and deciding they didn't work for me, no matter the internet hype. Now, every time I log into instagram I see new looks, different styles. I am no longer flooded with the same damn thing over and over again. Most importantly, there is an authenticity to the makeup I hadn't seen much of previously. These people wear their makeup for themselves, no one else.
I've come quite far in a short time. It took two years to get my skin to a place I felt comfortable wearing minimal foundation, and it will be a project for the rest of my life as skin is constantly changing. But let me tell you this: I've never felt prettier or more confident. My skin is healthy and it shows. For the first time when I wear makeup I'm not trying to cover or hide anything (well, except maybe the occasional hormonal zit or two, the little fuckers) but trying to enhance what is there. I experiment and have fun, which is something I haven't been able to say about makeup since my theatre days. What is most important is I wear makeup for me. So thank you, Lisa Eldridge, Katie Jane Hughes, Glossier, and the hoard of fellow beauty bloggers who have helped me get here. You are all boss ass fierce as hell goddesses and I love you dearly.