on beauty

From top left,: Kiehl's Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Masque, Boots Original Body Cream, Shu Uemura Depsea (their spelling, not mine!) Replenishing Emulsion (I think they mean moisturiser), Kiehl's lipbalm, Jo Malone Vintage Gardenia Cologne, Biore SPF 50 sunblock (I would include my concealer in the picture, but I might have left it behind in Bali.)

True story: An acquaintance of mine had been dating a girl. One day, arriving at her place to pick her up for date, she told him, I'm not ready, why don't you come up and wait?

He arrives at her flat. She opens the door, her make-up not yet applied. He looks at her, uncertain, and said, Hi, I'm looking for your sister.

(cue hysterical laughter, mine.)

He hadn't recognised her without her make-up on. His own girlfriend. I love this story because it's a cautionary tale that supports my own feelings towards make-up - I'm just a tad wary of its transformative powers. At some point, creating a dramatic effect crosses the line into disguise, and distorts what's real; does that disturb anyone? I admire the look of a smoky eye, the pop of red lips, but I've always been a little unnerved when someone's bare face looks completely different with their made-up one.

In Asia, it's popular amongst some style tribes to wear contacts that make your irises look bigger, to wear fake eyelashes and shovel on the eyeliner, even contacts in hues no Asian has (blue, green, purple). I have seen Taiwanese variety shows that make a sport of getting these girls to appear make-up free on TV and then demonstrating the transformation to a live audience.

I don't get it? How do they feel when they remove their make-up at night, and look at the mirror in the morning? For some it may be a bit of fun, but often I can't help but think it's saying something about their self-esteem.

I think make-up can be fun, and it's expected in some professional settings, but I would never, ever allow myself to feel that I can't be seen without some coverage. I'm all enhancing your features, but performing the equivalent of cosmetic surgery with foundation and eyeliner will always disturb me.

My idea of make-up: concealer for spots, lip balm.

I do pay a fair bit of attention to skincare though. I must have a good moisturiser and cleanser, and I wear sunscreen daily. From time to time I like a deep cleansing mask, and I also use a facial scrub every now and then. I have been trying, but failing to use eye cream regularly.

What do you think about make-up? What's your make-up and beauty routine like?


jennifer said…
I've been thinking a lot about make-up and skin care lately. Like you, I pay more attention to skincare than make-up. It's important for me to have a good moisturizer, sun block, and cleanser. I also have a wonderful esthetician in Taipei whom I visit repeatedly whenever I'm in town (I've yet to find someone as good in the States). On most days, I'll use mascara or draw a line of liquid liner on my upper lids. Some days, if I'm feeling adventurous, I'll wear bright red or hot pink lipstick. That's the most I can do. The reason I've been thinking a lot about make-up is because I've been trying out different tinted moisturizers and primers to try to even out and brighten my skin tone. While I'd like my skin to look brighter, I'm not sure if I want to achieve this by wearing something that makes my skin look like something it isn't, nor do I want to look like I'm wearing a lot of make-up.
S said…
hahaha, omg, that story is priceless!! I have very strong memories of seeing people who wear a full face of makeup on their "I woke up late" days and being so shocked by how different they looked. Even when a person wears light makeup (maybe a natural lipstick or a light foundation), on their no makeup days, they often look like perhaps their sick. At this point in my life, I no longer wear any makeup at all, but I could take better care of my skin. It's wash with Cetaphil and slather some Cetaphil lotion and whatever sunblock we have around. Same routine my husband and son use, lol. I like your photo, it's good inspiration to care just a little bit more.
Amanda said…
I'm 29 years old and I only started using mascara 2 years ago just to "shake things up" a little bit. I don't own any other makeup other than mascara and blush and I use them a maximum of 3 times a year.

I can see why some people need to use makeup though - I'm blessed with pretty good skin and I've avoided the plague of the single eyelid syndrome or whatever seems to be unattractive to Asians so I try not to judge when some people have to slather their face with foundation an inch thick and dilate their eyes with circle lenses and eyeliner.

Could I do something to make myself look better? Probably. But at the end of the day, it's too much effort and it really isn't worth the time to keep up.
i totally agree. i often wonder how early some girls have to get up in the morning to trowel on all the layers they apply to their faces. personally, i'd rather stick to sunscreen, a dash of powder to set it and maybe some blush if i look washed out. i honestly struggle to remember to put lipgloss on!
Alex said…
that story is so funny, I would love to see a before and after shot. I make sure I have a good skin care routine as well with cleanser, toner and moisturizer. During the day I use a really light Estee Lauder foundation right after moisturizing. Even though I could easily manage with concealer the texture always seems really thick to me..the only other things I do is curl my eyeleashes, put on some mascara + lucas paw paw ointment on my lips. I try to look like I'm wearing no makeup and not get too dependent on anything as well, I tried red lipstick for a while but find it a bit weird on me even though I love the look on others. The worst is when you see someone with very visible foundation..it looks so cheap
Lindsay K said…
Priceless story. I believe that it truly is about good skincare. I don't smoke, eat lots of fruits and vegetables and try to keep myself hydrated. I've found that all of that really helps keep your skin looking fresh. I could use more sleep to rid myself of the dark circles.

I don't like to much makeup. I prefer to take could care of my skin. I wash my face with Cetaphil and then use Mario Badescu's Aloe Vera Toner. I moisturize and apply sunscreen. Once or twice a week I exfoliate. I'm blessed with pretty great skin (I don't break out), but dryness (especially in the winter) is a huge issue for me.

When I wear makeup, I want it to look natural and like I'm not wearing any. I like to curl my lashes and apply mascara to the top lashes and a very natural lipgloss. On days where I've had a late night at work I apply a little concealer around the eyes and maybe a little bronzer to warm up my cheekbones. I look like a child wearing makeup if I do to much.
Anonymous said…
I have to agree that make up sometimes distorts whats real (as in the case of completely altering features such as eyes etc). It saddens me when girls with nice skin feel the need to cake on foundation, or girls that feel the need to clump on mascara and/or eyeliner to be pretty.

But what about people who have bad skin (I dont mean a spot or two, or a bit of pigmentation here or there, but 'terrible' skin which cant be fixed with skincare)should they leave it natural for the world to see? I dont know... I would like to hear your honest opinion?
Kate said…
I never thought I wore that much makeup, but this has made me change my mind! I'm more interested in taking care of my skin, but I do wear powder, blusher, eyeliner, brown pencil an mascara. I'm on the verge of leaving university and heading into the world of work, and I think makeup helps me feel a bit more professional and like a grown-uP!
Alexandra said…
I like to keep it simple. I drink 2 litres of water a day and cleanse religiously with evelom cleanser which is as good as they say & I try to use a moisturiser with an SPF. I'll maybe do a face mask once a month. Makeup is pretty minimal, concealer under my eyes and round my nose, a dash of blusher and some lucas pawpaw ointment on my lips. I do like to add a dash of brown eyeliner to define my eyes and mascara and then i'm good to go.
Like Amanda said, the worst is when people cake on the foundation, it just makes you look matte! If i need that extra coverage I'd opt for a tinted moisturiser.
Anonymous said…
To anonymous: I was plagued by mild acne last year, and because I felt so insecure about it I didnt leave the house without lots of (non-comedogenic) concealer and foundation. When you have 'terrible' skin, like you say, it simply becomes a necessity. And when your make-up starts to cake you don't care because it's the lesser of two evils.

Luckily, the acne is gone, and while I have far from perfect skin I don't feel like I have to 'hide' something anymore. My skincare products are all from La Roche Posay, my makeup routine consists of a thin layer of foundation on my nose and chin, some powder and mascara.

Great post btw!
Olivia said…
I've always been wary of getting used to too much make up. I have a dancing teacher who (I kid you not) looks like a totally different person without her make up on. I guess because she was always on the stage she became used to applying stage make up and seeing herself so fully made up.
I love products so I have quite a few in my daily routine - but like you, I enjoy the skin care part so much more than applying make up. I remove my make up with just normal make up wipes, cleanse, tone and moisturise. I then have a primer, tinted moisturiser (never foundation - too heavy) a light power to fix, blush and a flick of liquid eyeliner. I don't think (and hope!) I don't look overly made up with a painted face, just natural and clean with added polish would do! I'd hate having so much make up on that I hide my actual skin - I like seeing my freckles peeping through!
I think because I have a fringe I need to define my eyes or they get lost, so thats where my make-up attention is mostly focused.
Your products look lovely - love Jo Malone fragrance and anything Kiehl's always works so well.
miss sophie said…
hilarious story, but slightly unnerving nonetheless, no? like many of the commenters i focus on skincare and for me it has taken over a decade (with the help of my amazing dermatologist, finally!) for me to get my skin where i've always wanted it to be. so these days i'm just grateful that i wake up with 'good skin' and keep it simple but quality with the skincare stuff i use. for me, that's the holy grail already and everything else is just extra. i'll do a bold lip now and then or lipgloss, but that's about it. it really helps to simplify packing as well - i can't imagine how some women have to schlep an entire bathroom's worth of products whenever they have to travel somewhere!
Funny story! No makeup for me either. I've never been good at doing things with my hands so I don't bother. Plus, I'm too into the clothes, so if I added makeup to the mix I'd NEVER get my foot out the door. I just use shisedio sunscreen on my face with drugstore sunscreen lotion on my neck, lipbalm, and eyelash curler. I use Purpose cleanser and I should start using an under eye cream. I guess I'm lucky that I don't have "bad" skin. I also don't smoke or drink, so that must do something for me.
son said…
interesting story but i sympathise. my size tends to make ppl think im younger than i am, which, at my work, is a bit of a disadvantage when i need to be taken seriously.

that said, i dont try very hard to pile on the years! my philosphy is "look like me but better" when it comes to makeup, so a bit of concealer, eye liner and blush helps.
skincare-wise, a proper makeup remover, cleanser and moisturiser are the only things i will use. probably dont use as much spf as i should!
Ammu said…
That is a sad story!
I am like you, skincare is key, especially a good sunscreen and a decent cleanser.
As for makeup, I always wear blush, tinted lip balm, and mascara, and occasionally I wear a red lipstick or a little bit of kohl. Any more make-up and I am itching to take it off within minutes!
Garderoben said…
I hardly wear any make up, sometimes I use mineral powder foundation and some blush. I dye my eyelashes instead of using mascara, it's so much easier. I'm also more interested in skincare, and swear by Dermalogica products, they are quite expensive but last for a long time.
luka said…
actually i quite like how i look right after i wake up, especially if it's a long and sound sleep, i look in the mirror and there's always a tint of radiance there, bare face. the effect is so natural that no blush can ever create.
but i do like a tiny bit makeup. basically a very subtle layer of liquid foundation that contains sun block, as a layer to combat with environmental damage. i don't trust the air during the day enough to go out with bare face. i need some protection, that's it. so my issue with bare face has more to do with my concern with air pollution. however nowadays i'm not bothered to apply mascara or anything like that. but i do like a slight pouty lip look, and burt's bees lip shimmer is a life saver. it's a lip balm and a shimmer. way better than lipstick, the look is so natural, subtle and lovely and make my lip looks fuller, and it's also just so nourishing. i guess i'm really into lips, ha.
i think as long as you keep the makeup minimum, it won't make that kind of dramatic difference. at least not with me.
btw, i hate those contacts trend in asia, it makes people look like dead dolls, plain scary.
luka said…
ps: my lip is def still mine (unlike those fake contacts) with the lip shimmer, just better. i guess that's my whole philosophy when it comes to beauty routine.
Ginta said…
Good skin is fundamental! For last 2 years I've been finally acne-free but for many years I had been straggling with my skin. Hence more make up. Very stupid as you actually don't hide anything just bring more attention to your problematic skin! I tend to wear less makeup in summers as in winter I feel that foundation is actually like a filter against freezing winds and snow storms. But in summer when my freckles are in full bloom I tend to use only mascara (it was first product I used and now can't live without it) and lipstick and that's it.
Fleurette said…
Oh, I adore posts on beauty.. intothegloss.com is one of my most visited booksmarks as of late. I try to lessen my makeup usage but it requires baby steps because I'd totally look like a different person if I stopped wearing makeup all at once. From 10th grade till the first semester of 3rd grade, no one would ever see me without liquid eyeliner. I managed to stop wearing it and became comfortable without wearing liquid eyeliner.

But as much as I'd love to be makeup free, makeup also emphasizes features I thought I didn't have like high cheekbones. I just discovered them two weeks ago and I feel much prettier with a bit of blush/bronzer. Haha. But I'm eager to invest in good skin products and get perfect skin so I can release myself from mineral powder and concealer. Now I sound like someone who wears a lot of makeup, in reality yes I wear a lot but it doesn't look like I'm wearing anything.. and I find it annoying that I have to put stuff on my face to look natural, haha.
asha said…
I have really, really fair skin with freckles, and I have quite large sun spots underneath my eyes that I'm considering getting lazered. I don't generally go outside without at least concealer.

When I don't wear some form of eye makeup (even just mascara) and cover up my sunspots, without fail someone will ask me if I'm either sick or hungover. I'd love to be able to go out without makeup on, but being asked that each time is just depressing, really.
danica said…
ha - that story is hilariously good! i don't wear a lot of make-up - usually just a bit of foundation, mascara and lip balm. so little, in fact, that people have been surprised when i say that i am wearing cosmetics.
Anonymous said…
well, i was raised being lectured that makeup=dirt on your face, so it has taken me...a while to overcome that obstacle. recently i've gotten more and more white hairs, and they change my coloring enough, shift everything just enough that suddenly i'm a little open to playing with makeup, and taking advantage of that tool to add something extra. it probably just means i'm a little nervous about transitioning to a middle-aged grownup (not.there.yet, i hasten to add!!!), so i'm looking for ways to convey...something, claim...something, through makeup. i've tried a very bold red lip and got very strong responses to that, favorable, but then of course i don't want to be dependent on it (by the way, great post, i should mention, and i totally relate to everything you said), and i was a little worried about raising the bar in terms of expectations of how i would look every day. i tried to explore a darkly lined-eye, with a neutral lip. i liked that, personally, but it certainly did not get the same enthusiastic response as that red lip did.
once every few months i might apply nail polish. it's rare.
nothing goes on my skin except for moisturize. i keep it very basic - cleanse, bi-weekly scrub and mask, toner, spot treatment as needed, then cetaphil moisturizer, aquaphor on the eyes. no makeup besides lips and eyes.
i like a good-smelling shampoo and conditioner.
Meri said…
Make up is always an interesting topic I think. I love a natural look on a lot of people and on myself in the summer when I have a bit of a tan. In the winter I tend to wear more make up to bring more colour to my face and to so that I don't look like a ghost. On nights out I tend to wear a lot more eye make up, party because I enjoy trying on new things and it is a good excuse to put a lot of eye make up on. I also think more make up will look better in pictures. Very vain but I'm not too bothered about it.
I have recently started using less make up on daily basis, I've switched foundation to a tinted moisturiser and I use less eye liner. I have always had a good skin, a bit dry in the winter but nothing extreme. I am probably the worst person to talk about skin care, I remove the make up and moisturise in the evening and after the shower but I forget about everything else. I will use a cleansing mask every now and then, whenever I remember its existence.
lin said…
asha: That does sound depressing. I think I get away with looking tired (eye circles run in the family) because I wear glasses.

danica: You must apply it very artfully and effectively then!

editor: Thanks! I do think my attitude towards make-up will change over the years, it will be interesting. And I know what you mean by raising the bar; my sister often says she can't see her colleagues without make-up know, because she would look so drab in comparison - we spoil people with our efforts, it seems!

I've only recently started to appreciate good shampoo and conditioner, after I received Christmas gift - I've always been lazy since I have short hair and anything unhealthy just gets snipped off anyway. But a good one feels really good to use!

Meri: I feel so helpless with make-up that I wouldn't know what to do even if I wanted to add colour to my face, haha. My sisters love make-up, so I suppose I can always turn to them for help!
Anonymous said…
definitely the luxury of haircare in the shower is the aromatherapy first and foremost. i have short hair too. i love catching a whiff of my conditioner though, during the day, or the thought of someone else smelling it. ;)
yes, that bar is a tricky thing. raising it increases flattery but also expectations, and therefore effort. it's a bit of an evil cycle.

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