Sunday, 3 May 2015

My Makeup Story: 2004-2015

Alice Red Makeup Story
2004: I think this is the earliest picture of me wearing makeup? Only a bit of mascara, though. I would have been 13 or 14.

I don’t remember being all that interested in makeup as a child, but I do remember disliking my appearance. I had unruly red hair, a fringe that often defied gravity, and teeth that were so determined to be crooked that even having braces didn’t entirely fix them. In Primary School I could distract myself by watching Art Attack, but when I started High School I became very concerned with what I looked liked. At the time, I thought makeup was only for the pretty and popular girls. Maybe if Youtube had existed back then it would have been different. When I was about 13 or 14 I thought about makeup a little bit more, but of course I had very little money at the time, so it was only the occasional purchase: maybe a brown mascara or clear lipgloss here and there. Oh, and I loved to paint my nails black, even though the teachers made me remove it in class.

Alice Red Makeup Story
2006-2007: Otherwise known as "The Blue Eyeshadow Phase"
(And yes, I was really into dying my hair...)

By the time I was at Sixth Form at 16 I had discovered foundation, but hated applying it so rarely bothered (this was 2006, where there wasn't a Real Techniques Buffing Brush in sight). I went through phases of applying black eyeshadow or maybe a blue eyeliner now and again, but whatever I did, I always made sure my blonde eyelashes had two coats of mascara. I really wish that someone had taught me how to fill in my eyebrows, too, but oh well. At this point in my life, I didn’t really know how to apply makeup - but more than that my opinion of myself was so low that I didn’t think it would make any difference. I didn’t think anything could make me look pretty.

Alice Red Makeup Story
2010: University trip to Paris, at a time when I never wore makeup (this was before the major weight gain)

When I was at university, there was a point where I stopped wearing makeup altogether. My boyfriend at the time didn't like makeup, and I wasn't all that keen on wearing it anyway. When we spilt up, I was single for the first time in six years and it hit me pretty hard. My anxiety crippled me. I was doing a Bachelor's Degree in Photography and suddenly I just didn't want to go outside and take pictures. But I still wanted to do well on the course, so I started doing self-portraits at home. This was a bit strange for me as I had got into the habit of avoiding mirrors and now I was being confronted with my own appearance. I had gained weight and wasn't taking any care of myself, so I felt uglier than ever. I spent hours editing the redness in my skin and trying to enhance my eyes, until it occurred to me that I would probably be a lot more photogenic if I started wearing makeup and maybe blow-dried my hair once in a while.

I think that was when I started looking online for makeup tutorials and possibly watched a few Youtube videos, but I didn’t subscribe to any particular channels at first. Makeup was expensive, especially as I was starting from scratch, but eventually I had two go-to makeup routines: the one for my photographs, were I would apply foundation and spend ages exaggerating my eyes, and then my subtle everyday look which was more of a concealer/powder/mascara/lipbalm kind of approach. Oh, and I finally got the hang of drawing on eyebrows. I liked the natural, enhanced look - I still looked like myself, but the best possible version of myself. It made a big difference to my confidence when I had a camera in front of me. I looked so different in the photographs that classmates - and even my own family members - didn't believe they were self-portraits. It felt like I transformed into a different person. I ran with that for the rest of the Bachelor's Degree, and then carried on with it on my Master's Degree where disguise was still a big theme in my self-portraits. For that reason, you could say that makeup changed my life.

Alice Red Makeup Story
2013: Self Portraits with heavy makeup (well, for me, anyway) taken during my Master's Degree

It wasn’t until I was doing my Master’s Degree, aged 22, that I realised that beauty videos on Youtube were a “thing”, something I could watch for fun. I found Essiebutton by accident. I was looking for Primark Hauls and stumbled across one of her videos. She was chatting about her new haircut and looked so happy and confident - pretty much the opposite of me at the time - and I ended up watching all her old videos on her channel in a few days. From there I found other beauty gurus and started reading blogs, and suddenly I was making weekly trips to Boots and Superdrug and couldn’t leave the house without lipstick. It was like I was making up for lost time.

Alice Red Makeup Story
2015: My current go-to look

Fast forward to the present day: now I’ve finished with university and working on my own blog and Youtube channel. I have a wonderful collection of makeup, far more than I really need, and it only seems to be growing… but my makeup style is still relatively simple on an everyday basis. There are some amazing, talented makeup artists out there who can do a Kardashian-style contour and completely change their facial structure, but I don’t think I’m that person. I don't even know how to put on false eyelashes.

I think my makeup story is less about learning to apply foundation and more about learning to accept what I look like. I always thought I was ugly when I was growing up, but finding this online community of beauty lovers and making subtle enhancements to my appearance has given me a much-needed confidence boost. I don't want to make it sound like I hide behind a mask; but sometimes, on my really bad days, putting on makeup is the difference between being brave enough to leave the house and hiding in my bedroom.

How has your makeup changed over the years?

Coming Soon: My Hair Story


  1. Wow its really nice to see the evolution!
    I remember me not wearing any make up, I only covered up my spots a bit with a concealer, nothing else. Until a few years ago I didn't even wear mascara everyday! ;)

    Love, Charline | Charline Has a Blog

    1. Thanks Charline! I was a late lover of makeup too, how things change huh? Thanks for always taking the time to comment, I love reading them x