Recently, the media began circling, like a great white shark, around a new story, R&B songstress Alicia Key’s newest declaration: “I don’t want to cover up anymore. Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing.” See this article: http://www.lennyletter.com/style/a410/alicia-keys-time-to-uncover/) for her open letter. Alicia has started a “revolution,” a bonafide, hashtag-able trend, and like all celebrities with two or three fans, just because Alicia has resolved that #nomakeup is her new state of being, we all need to assess our levels of self-assuredness, prettidom, and transparency.
No to Makeup vs. Yes to Makeup
Interestingly, Alicia’s newfound freedom made me wonder what, exactly, IS makeup? I have my own definition, but I wanted to know what the defining experts have to say. According to Merriam-Webster.com, makeup is “substances (such as lipstick or powder) used to make someone’s face look more attractive.” Pretty genetic, huh? So, I kept looking. The British put another spin on it; Collins Dictionary posits that makeup is “cosmetics, such as powder, lipstick, etc, applied to the face to improve its appearance.” One thing is clear and a commonality-this stuff is used to make you look better than you would in the absence of it. We need make to look good, attractive, aesthetically appealing. Or do we?
Most of the women in my circle of friends and immediate family wear very little makeup. Now, I have a few “Divalicious” friends and one or two family members who wouldn’t be caught dead (or alive) without full coverage foundation, designer primers, multiple layers of eye shadow, lip and eye liners, with mascara-coated lashes, high-dollar glosses for upper and lower lips, and a fine-mist facial spritz to finish the look. But, that’s the exception; not the rule. The vast majority of the women folk I know embrace makeup as “dress up stuff,” and the daily look really only requires a pretty lip stain, a coat or two of black mascara, and maybe a mineral or translucent powder to hold the shine at bay.
This resurgence of a “no makeup movement” made me think about all of the times I have, publicly, shown my face without makeup. I wear makeup, roughly 5-6 days a week, but removing my makeup is the second of a three-step relaxation process after a long work day or weekend of play. The thought of wearing makeup just because, just walking around the house, well…it’s not a thought or consideration. I just don’t do it. Once I arrive home, if I’m not leaving the house again, and generally I’m not, my makeup is removed immediately along with my jewelry and clothing. Truth be told, my makeup gradually disappears throughout the day. The only makeup that’s lingering after lunch, but especially after a day of work or play, is my volumizing mascara. I reapply a shimmery lip gloss or a rich-colored lipstick once a day.
Here I am, ready for bed, fresh-faced with moisturized skin. My makeup is removed daily with baby or coconut oil. My skin is washed with Dove soap or Clinique’s Facial Bar Soap. I prefer a thin washcloth to any other abrasive or exfoliating scrub, sponge, or mask for my face. My face is moisturized with coconut oil or Clinique’s Moisture Surge Intense Hydrator-both applied with clean fingers. I rotate the use of the Clinique products, usually three times a week, with the Dove and coconut oil.
As I age, I’m getting fine lines in my forehead and age spots, particularly on my cheeks and along my jawline. Most camera filters do a fine job of camouflaging this reality, but the lines are there…to stay. I try to use a good SPF daily moisturizer, but me and the sun…that’s my boo. Will a full coverage foundation cover these lines? Most assuredly. Do I care enough to wear a foundational makeup everyday? Nope.
Every now and again, I have puffy under eyes, and dark circles under my eyes more regularly. Increasing my water intake goes a long way to improving the appearance of these eye issues, but using makeup to cover up these flaws, to me, really accentuates that there are flaws. Concealers, more often than not, aren’t concealing much at all.
My eyelids are dark, and they often look as though I’m wearing eye shadow-when I’m not, so making shadow a daily part of my makeup regimen is a no. I use a dark eye liner every now and again. Most days I just say no to even that.
Gloss…if I had to have one item of makeup, that would be it. I can’t stand crusty, cracked, dry lips, and you won’t ever see mine looking less than kissable. 😌 I prefer Lancôme’s Juicy Tubes which are slightly flavored with translucent, shimmering color. I keep three or four tubes with me at all times.
Again, ready for bed, and coconut oiled slicked up. Shining like a diamond!
So what does all of this mean? Saying “no” to wearing makeup diminishes its worth, as a rite of passage, for women. Makeup is defining; it can be very gender-specific and definitive for those of us who need that tiny bit of cover. In so many ways, as women, we want to reveal our full selves to the world; we want others to see our multi-dimensions and to appreciate our diverse gifts. To the majority of women I know, there is a distinct femininity associated with wearing makeup. Even men who wear makeup, for sport or to earn a living, acknowledge the importance of the illusion of makeup. The look, the image, the celebrity isn’t quite complete without the purposeful use of cosmetic cover.
Shopping for makeup can be a totally personalized, glamorous, and highly sensual experience. Good makeup ain’t cheap. Being professionally “made up” is a pampering experience that most of us relish. We enjoy the laser-focused attention that a makeup artist (or even ourselves) gives to the facial features that represent to the world who we are. While I have no doubt that Alicia Keys will have her fair share of faithful followers in her quest to push her #nomakeup agenda, the makeup manufacturers aren’t exactly shaking in their boots afraid that their stock will drop. There are simply many, many more of us who truly want to put our best face forward every day. Makeup is just one of the ways to represent our best selves – to expose just enough without being totally vulnerable to all of the eyes that gaze upon us.
Think on this: Anne Lamott, American novelist and non-fiction writer once wrote, “Joy is the best makeup.” I agree, Anne. Ladies, the use of cosmetics is simply an enhancement to what should be pouring from your eyes and oozing through your skin…anyway.