My first experience with makeup was just after my 17th birthday. I’d not long left school, was about to embark on my next chapter at college and had just experienced my first Saturday as a part time sales assistant at Primark! Even more exciting, I was finally earning my own money and much to my parent’s relief, they no longer had to fund my teenage social life!
Makeup was never really something that interested me, however, earning a small wage that was burning a hole in my pocket, meant that my eyes opened up to spending and soon enough I found myself splashing out on skincare products, Versace Red jeans perfume and the cheapest brands of makeup at Superdrug. Up until that point, I didn’t own a makeup bag but always kept a pot of Vaseline, a collection 2000 lip-gloss and a bottle of exclamation perfume hidden in my handbag!
To some, discovering makeup at 17 sounds about the right age to start experimenting with foundations, mascara’s and lip colours, but given I had prominent white patches around my eyes and mouth, some might say I’d left it pretty late before deciding to use makeup to disguise the patches on my face.
Being mixed race was never going to make finding the right foundation easy, because brands didn’t really cater for those with non white skin back when I was growing up. To make matters worse, having an additional problem in the form of Vitiligo, meant finding the right products was going to be even more difficult for someone like me. Standing in front of the makeup stands in Superdrug, trying to decide which brand or even shade of foundation to try, was like being a child and only being allowed to choose one sweet in the pick a mix! I had no idea where to start! I couldn’t even rely on the makeup artist’s trick of colour matching foundation on the back of my hand because the colour of my hand was no resemblance to the colour on my face!
Half the time, I would end up taking a chance. Purchasing a foundation from Collection 2000, Maybelline or Revlon and then deciding when I got home if I’d made the right choice. I would sit in front of the full length mirror, plastering the thick cream like foundation onto my face like it was a moisturiser. There was no technique involved. No beauty blending sponges or makeup brushes just the good old fashioned way…. the tips of my fingers! If I’m totally honest, I had zero interest in makeup, which was definitely evident in how I applied. My priority wasn’t to look pretty or enhance my features; it was simply to disguise the one thing on my face that caused me extreme embarrassment and really affected my confidence when it came to expressing who I was. The enjoyment aspect of makeup was completely non-existent. For me, the idea of wearing makeup to feel pretty, feel my best or enjoying the idea of trying out new looks wasn’t something that crossed my mind.
My casual approach to makeup stuck with me for a further 10 years. During the day, when I was going to college or shopping with my friends, my face was always covered with a lightweight foundation (extra coverage on my patches) and lipstick wise, I’d jump between subtle colours such as nudes, browns and baby pink. I was obsessed with the idea of looking natural and couldn’t bare the thought of my makeup looking as though it had been ‘caked’ on. I wasn’t really one for eye shadows and bronzers because I had no idea about blending or colours, and the most I would do for a night out was apply an extra dusting of pink blusher on my cheeks!
My makeup habits started to change in my late twenties. Makeup brands were starting to diversify, finally recognising that more than one skin tone existed and a wave of beauty bloggers and influencers started taking over YouTube, sharing tutorials and step by step guides on how to create a particular look. Highlighting, contouring, winged eye liner and creating the all important cupid’s bow became trends that makeup enthusiasts couldn’t get enough of. Makeup suddenly sounded more interesting and it was then I realised that makeup wasn’t about disguising those things we often refer to as flaws, it was about enhancing your favourite features, (for me it was my killer cheekbones!) having fun and enjoying the look and feel of makeup. Much like I had started to with fashion. Slowly, I was learning that I needed to apply makeup with love instead of the ‘slapdash’ approach I had adopted from the age of 17.
I started to watch makeup tutorials for inspiration and even enrolled myself on a 2-day makeup course so I could learn some of the techniques makeup artists often use to enhance facial features. I started to invest in brands such as Mac, Lancôme and Bare Minerals, watching closely as the makeup artist applied the products to my skin before I committed to purchasing. I got sucked in by brand advertising and soon enough I was stocking up on liquid eyeliners, glitzy eye shadows, highlighters and even found myself practising contouring for a night out (I still haven’t quite mastered the art, but I’m getting there!).
After quite a few years of practice, like most girls I have a makeup bag that can no longer zip up because I refuse to throw any of my makeup investments away! Even a makeup enthusiast could rifle through and discover a few must haves, I’m sure! I haven’t strayed far from a ‘nude lip’ but on a night out with the girls, I love rocking bolder lips, smokier eyes and I can’t leave the house without tracing a golden highlighter across my cheekbones.
My makeup journey feels like it’s been a lengthy one. As someone who wore makeup as a means of disguising a skin condition to now, being able to invest in the right foundation for my skin and enjoy being a little more creative with colour, it definitely feels like I’ve gone full circle! I love that I feel more educated and am completely in tune with what works on my skin and suits me and my personality.
So, with my journey in mind, this post is about sharing my makeup must-haves, loves and the products I simply couldn’t do without….
Lets start at the very beginning, because I’m a firm believer in prepping your face before allowing a makeup brush near the skin! Before I even sit down in front of the mirror, I make sure I use a good moisturiser and primer to prep my skin. At the moment, I’m in love with award winning, skincare brand, The Ordinary. There is something about the clean and clinical white décor in the Shoreditch stores that attracted me to the brand in the first place! They belong under the DECIEM umbrella, meaning all their products are free from parabens, sulphates, animal oils and all the other little nasties we shouldn’t be putting on our skin! I use the Natural Moisturising Factors + HA (surface hydration formula) as the first step of my daily makeup routine followed by the High-Adherence Silicone Primer (silicon free, water free, alcohol free and oil free) which forms a matte base for my makeup and helps my foundation to last that little bit longer. Apart from being a range that is very ‘clean’ with its ingredients, its super affordable and their extensive makeup range has a colour that will suit every skin tone (yes, every!)
Invest in a Foundation with SPF
My daytime look tends to be very natural, as I fear my skin not being able to breathe under layers that are too thick! Before anything else, I always make sure I go for a foundation that contains an SPF, as it means my face is protected without me having to use sunblock. My go to foundation for every day wear is Boots No 7 Stay Perfect Foundation in Warm Sand, which aside from having SPF 15, is very lightweight and allows my skin to breathe. The great thing about the Boots range, is that they offer a colour matching service that allows you to find your exact colour match without the makeup artist making a personal judgement (which can sometimes be wrong!) of what she thinks works for you.
I like to wear a slightly heavier foundation in the evening and my absolute go to brand at the moment is Fenty Beauty by Rhianna. The hotly anticipated makeup line, designed with all skin tones in mind, offers a great range including matchsticks, highlighters and contour sticks. After reading very mixed reviews from YouTube Bloggers who went crazy on its day of release, I finally made the trek across London to Harvey Nichols to see for myself exactly which products (if any!) would be a great match for my skin. My expectations were already high, not because it had RiRi’s name stamped all over it, but because the foundation range offered an impressive 40 shades. After trying out a number of products, I opted for the Pro Filte’r liquid foundation, a soft matte, long wearing foundation that made my skin look incredibly natural and flawless. It gives great coverage and subtly covered the patches around my eyes without me having to apply additional layers. My skin feels fresh all evening and there is no need for a ‘touch up’ because it doesn’t go patchy, just leaves a long lasting smooth glow.
Express Yourself Through Your Lips
I have the most fun with lipsticks! You can always tell my mood through the lipstick I wear! It’s the one makeup piece that can transform your day look, help you to ‘fake it’ and really take your look up a notch. I’m a big MAC fan and very rarely stray away from their lipsticks because I love how intense the colours are. My current faves include Velvet Teddy, a soft matte brown (Kylie Jenner worthy) and my trusted classic, Amplified, a subtle yet warm purple tone which can work as a day or night lipstick. When a makeup artist told me recently that ‘every girl has their perfect red’, I clung to the idea and hunted down my so-called perfect match. I found mine in Red Rock by MAC, which I wear mostly if I’m wearing a red outfit or if feeling the sultry look with soft, smoky eyes.
Lengthen Those Lashes
If I leave home without wearing mascara I’m going back home to apply…and I’ll be late to wherever I’m going! Its one of my little necessities in life! I have naturally long eyelashes and so love to enhance them with a good mascara. I’m partial to a cheapy brand during the day (Rimmel, Maybelline or Revlon) but when I want to make my eyes feel special I go for Lashtopia Mega Volume Mineral Based Mascara which does the job of making my lashes appear fuller without making them look clumpy or Haute and Naughty Lash Mascara by MAC.
I’m a firm believer that makeup doesn’t define who we are, nor does it determine your level of confidence. Makeup is a personal choice and every one’s reason for wearing is different to others. There are days when I go makeup free (Sunday chillax day) because I don’t care for the potential looks I might get and I want my face to have a breather from the products I use. Long gone are those days covering my face when all I want to do is step outside the front door and feel a breeze on my natural skin. For me, makeup is simply a form of expression, I feel great wearing it, just as I do when I leave the house without it. The only difference now, is that I give myself a choice, something I never thought I’d ever be brave enough to do…