Thursday, April 22, 2010

Making Up Personal Style


loose power (Cover Girl)
mascara (Great Lash)
concealer (Mary Kay)
black eyeliner (Cover Girl)
pink eyeshadow (Cover Girl)
lip balm (Burt's Bees)
perfume (Burberry London)


Today, I wanted to write about some of the smaller, less obvious parts of personal style.  Namely, that we reflect our personal style not only through our clothes and accessories, but also through the ways we alter our physical bodies.  Liz covered some of these issues in her wonderful post that includes her nail polish. 

So I thought I would go through my normal make-up routine as an entry point to discuss this issue.  I've never been one for an overly made up face, nor have I ever wanted to use it to drastically alter my appearance.  I use it to highlight my features and create an enhanced natural look.

I'll start with the base.  As you can see, I have a ton of freckles.  Considering my near uni-freckle, I have never worn foundation.  Ahem...I'll amend.  I wore foundation once, a long time ago, and it just looked so fake that I've never been tempted to go back.  Yes, I realize that there are ways to wear foundation with freckles, but I'm lucky enough to have good enough skin that it's never been a necessity.  So I begin with a bit of concealer on any blemishes and then a smattering of loose powder, just to cover any shine.

I'd say that I wear eyeliner about 70% of the time.  The other 30%, I just wear eyeshadow and mascara.  I usually use black eyeliner, though sometimes I'll wear brown.  I line the top of my eyelids -- sometimes half-way, sometimes all the way.  Then I add eyeshadow.  I think that a light pink shadow (I use a combination of the two middle shadows) is a great everyday color that looks good on most people.  I top it off with a brush of mascara.

I have naturally rosy cheeks, so I don't wear blush.  I have before, and it just makes me look clownish.  I rarely wear lipstick or even gloss on week days because 1) my hair sticks to it walking around campus and 2) I drink so much coffee during the day that it wears off immediately and/or just stains the rim of my coffee mug.

I've mentioned before that I think that having a signature scent is important.  I currently wear Burberry London, which has a warm, feminine scent that I really like.  I just use a quick spritz on my neck and sometimes my wrist so that I'm not an olfactory nuisance to everyone within a 50 yard radius.

I like my make-up routine because it's fast, low maintenance, and it gives me an easy, natural look.  However, I will say that I wish I knew more about make-up to give myself more options, especially when dressing it up.  When I'm going out, I tend not to do much differently -- darker eyeshadow, more eyeliner, or lip gloss, but that's about it.  I would love to expand my make-up horizons, so if you have any tips or suggestions, please share them.

I think that the way we make ourselves up does impact our personal style.  If a woman is impeccably dressed, but wearing glittery blue eyeshadow up to her brow ridge, more blusher than Bozo, and enough lip liner for an entire Clinique counter, she undoubtedly sends a different message than if she wore something more understated.  Likewise, a heavily made up woman in sweats or mismatched clothing raises an important question about personal style: is her face more important to her than other style choices and why?

  • I do wonder sometimes about why women wear make-up and how that reflects on us.  Do we wear it for men?  For other women?  For ourselves?
  • Do you wear minimal make-up or is your routine more complex?  Have any tips for twists on my routine?


Scholar Style Guide said...


You pose some great questions. I'm inclined to think about your preference for minimal makeup as subversive. No matter how adamantly makeup marketing insists upon the optionality of cosmetics- claiming that they're merely "fun" and "self-expressive" - the prevailing assumption is that makeup is a corrective for imperfection. That it's seen as a compulsory corrective is even more troubling, for it implies the social unacceptability of our au naturale selves.

According to this article, we develop a taste for aesthetic perfection at a young age:

Of course, makeup and beauty treatments aren't problematic in and of themselves, but the dependence upon them to meet normative standards of beauty might be.

Anyway, I like that you've embraced your freckles and porcelain skin. Your preference for your naturally rosy cheeks over rouged (do we use that word still?) ones encourages me to consider that some forms of makeup may be unnecessary for me too.

- Anne-Marie

Scholar Style Guide said...

While I certainly think it is possible to wear makeup subversively (drag performers strike me as a particularly strong example of this), I have decided that attempting to wear makeup subversively does not jive with my personality. It's just not an avenue of expression that has ever appealed to me, possibly for the reasons Anne-Marie mentions above.

As a result, I wear almost none. Loose powder to mitigate shine, dark brown eyeshadow worn as eyeliner along the lash line, and mascara. I do ritually curl my eyelashes, though, because I have convinced myself that curled eyelashes make me look more "awake." (It's probably only psychological.)

The real question, probably, is why I don't just drop the makeup routine entirely. I think it relates to the frequency with which I am mistaken for being much younger than I am. A slightly enhanced eye also makes me feel like I look more my age.


Scholar Style Guide said...

Liz, I agree! It's both possible to wear makeup and not wear makeup subversively. I don't typically consider the latter as subversive, though, unless I think of it in conjunction with nonnormative sexuality. So I was pleasantly surprised by my own reaction to Katie's post.

Like you, I wear makeup to look and feel older, and I've actually been told makeup would help me earn credibility. Hmph.

- Anne-Marie