Growing up, my mum never wore or had much makeup so, when I entered secondary school, I quickly realised I didn’t have much of a clue. But, with the arrival of acne, concealer fast became an essential of mine and soon mascara and foundation found their way into my daily routine too. However, year 9 and 10 were the years that really transformed my relationship with makeup. Rewinding back to 2010, I remember caking myself in Maybelline’s Dream Matte Mousse, applying layers of Colossal mascara and thick pencil eyeliner before using a lip tint and plenty of Hollister lip-gloss to perfect my look. Sadly though, this relatively cheap appearance was short-lived.

year 9 and 10 were the years that really transformed my relationship with makeup


Convincing my mum to purchase Hello Flawless powder foundation from Benefit at £29 a pop in year 11 was not so much fun. Hoola and BadGal Lash mascara also created large dents in the bank of mum and dad as I tried to keep up with my friends until I got myself a Saturday job. By 17, my skin continued to break out despite the various topical treatments I had tried from my GP which further fuelled my purchasing of higher brand makeup to help aid coverage and reduce the blocking of pores. Meanwhile, the release of Urban Decay’s Naked palettes came to revolutionise my eyeshadow routine and the launch of the Anastasia Beverley Hills and Kat Von D contour kits changed the makeup game altogether. Within these years I don’t believe I went to school without spending an hour on my hair and make-up in the morning and I remember significantly the day my best friend told me I looked ill the one time I didn’t.

Choosing to head to university in the US after sixth form was therefore both a shock and a relief for me. I quickly noticed the majority of girls didn’t wear much makeup and, as a student-athlete in particular, myself and my friends spent most days bare-faced. The summer highs of 40 degrees also meant any makeup would melt as soon as you left air-conditioning so any effort was deemed worthless anyway. As a result, I condensed my morning routine down to 10 minutes and my lifestyle became much more minimal as I quickly learnt to be comfortable without make-up again (even though having a tan definitely made this easier). While concealer remained a daily product for acne and eye circles, the rest of my make-up bag remained firmly set aside for nights out.

my return to the UK brought about a new relationship with makeup

Consequently, my return to the UK after two years away brought about a new relationship with makeup for myself. While I rarely head to campus in Exeter without wearing my essentials, I am not fussed if people see me bare-faced if I wake up late or simply can’t be bothered. I enjoy the freedom makeup gives me in creating different looks and love that the industry is constantly changing and advancing just like fashion. I even find the application process quite therapeutic and destressing so it helps me start my day in a better mindset than I would otherwise. Additionally, while my love for expensive brands such as Huda Beauty, Charlotte Tilbury, Chanel, Benefit and Urban Decay (to name a few) has continued, I no longer feel defined or controlled by the industry. In this sense I don’t believe that makeup should ever feel like an obligation but rather should be something that helps you to express your personality and accentuate your features so that you can be a more confident version of yourself. At 23 it’s taken me a while to reach this point of reflection and, while I haven’t met anyone who owns more makeup than me, I think I’ve finally gotten the balance right.

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