beauty

EXCLUSIVE: It's taken beauty influencer Lauren Curtis 10 years to realise she matters without makeup.

“It’s taken me 10 years to fully realise me with makeup and me without makeup are both the same person. Same values and beliefs. Same morals. Same personality. They both have the same worth and value and they’re both really good people. So why did I spend so many years hiding one and embracing the other?”

When an 18-year-old Lauren Curtis started uploading makeup tutorials on YouTube back in 2011, she didn’t need makeup.

Long before James Charles and Kylie Jenner were breaking the internet, before #sponcon and beauty influencing were really a thing, the Perth vlogger’s channel was just videos of a regular Aussie teenager playing with cool beauty products. In front of millions of people.

Over the last decade, Lauren has built a career and a nearly eight million-strong following on doing flawless foundation and fake tan better than anyone else, and in her own honest, candid way.

You can watch one of Lauren Curtis’ OG beauty YouTube tutorials in the video below, post continues after video.

Video via Lauren Curtis

But, as she told Mamamia, it’s taken Lauren nearly 10 years to understand that the version of herself without makeup is just as worthy, valuable and important as the version with plumped lips and massive lashes. Because at the height of her fame, she felt like she didn’t matter without makeup.

“There was a time in my life when I would completely ignore the version of me without makeup and only post photos in full glam that portrayed me in the ‘best possible light’. I never felt confident enough to share the version of me I’m confident enough to show the people I love, but not the rest of the world,” the 27-year-old said.

“One [version of me] might have longer eyelashes, an even skin tone and bigger lips, but does that really justify the shame I felt when showing the one that didn’t? Back then it was, but it’s absolutely not anymore.”

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If she thinks right back, even further before YouTube, Lauren doesn’t remember ever caring much about makeup in high school. She never wore it – “except for my mum’s foundation” – but more than that, she just didn’t care what she looked like. But the older she got, the more she realised wearing makeup made her feel better about herself. This was the start of the divide between fresh-face Lauren and made-up Lauren. One got attention. The other didn’t.

“I felt much safer wearing makeup and I got more attention. Whether it was good or bad, it was attention and it filled a void,” she said.

“Makeup went from being something I didn’t need to something I needed. I used it as a mask, like a security blanket. Obviously, I love makeup and the creative part of it, but back then, that wasn’t the only reason I was always wearing makeup, fake tan and glam lashes.

“I felt like, without it, I wasn’t good enough. Without makeup, I was less than. Little things we tell ourselves trap you into a toxic mindset and it’s not until you can look at it objectively that you think, ‘this isn’t healthy’.”

 

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For Lauren, this feeling of shame and worthlessness without makeup stemmed from an inherent shyness and need to please people. Having found fame and success online from looking a certain way played into it, too. Comments on her YouTube videos about her being prettier with makeup fueled one of her biggest concerns: if I show people what I look like without makeup, will they still care about me?

“Not to discredit myself, but back then, I thought I’d built something based only on how I looked, so if I changed how I looked, people would be like ‘ugh, who is this’. Back when my YouTube channel was really big, people would make remarks in the comments about how I looked like two different people with and without makeup, so what do you do? You put on more makeup.

“That’s fine for a little while, but it gets to a point when you need a break. I took a break from YouTube and dropped off a bit because I needed time for my mental health, to find out who I am and reevaluate things. It’s been a process of unlearning over the past few years, understanding that how I look doesn’t really have any bearing on the kind of person I am, what I can offer and how I affect others.

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“Makeup is fun, but it’s a bonus. It’s decoration, not the foundation.”

 

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Those who’ve been following Lauren right from the beginning of her career in beauty will have seen a huge shift in the type of content she creates in recent years. She says a lot of that comes with being older – “I’m only 27 but it’s been a big shift recently, learning nothing is as important as you think it is” – but also being aware of the influence she has over her followers.

“It got to a stage where I thought, if I have this platform, I’m going to make sure I’m using it the right way. That’s what I’m trying to achieve with my platform now, to make people feel better about themselves.

“There’s a difference between the beauty posts I used to do and what I do now. Now, they have a purpose, whether it be a cool tip or a new product that’s amazing. It’s not just to appease other people or do what I thought people wanted. Now when I post something, I think: will this make someone feel better or worse about themselves?”

This is exactly the kind of lens Lauren would advise her 18-year-old self to view beauty through if she could go back to when she was first starting out. But to be honest, she doesn’t think her younger self would’ve really listened.

“If I were to tell my younger self, ‘you don’t need all of this, you’re good enough as you are, you don’t need to please other people’, she’d be like yeah OK. The only reason I know better now is because I had to learn the hard way.”

You can hear more from Lauren Curtis on her Instagram @lozcurtis and YouTube Channel, and by listening to her podcast Mental Makeover. Feature image: Instagram/@lozcurtis.

How has your relationship with makeup changed over the years? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below.

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