Regardless of how many tutorials I watch and read, I still can’t quite work out where to put blush and bronzer — and don’t get me started on my failed attempts to ‘contour’ my face.
It’s not that I haven’t tried to learn. I’ve spent many a Saturday afternoon perched in front of the bathroom mirror armed with an eyeshadow quad and a set of instructions, only to wind up looking like a particularly festive raccoon. Raccoons are adorable, but I’m usually aiming for “smokey”.
At 27 years of age, I’m getting a bit frustrated. Shouldn’t I have mastered this makeup thing by now? Did I miss something?
PSA: Makeup is not easy. (Image: iStock)
I was a late bloomer where makeup is concerned — as a teenager I barely wore any, partly from lack of interest, partly from lack of access (there's not a lot of foundation and mascara to play with when you have two brothers).
Then, when I hit my late teens/early 20s, I became more cosmetic-curious. ‘How hard could it be? Everyone else seems to nail it,’ I figured, only to arrive at a rather rude awakening: it was so much harder than it looked. My years of magazine-reading led me to believe putting on ‘a face’ was relatively simple - all it took was a “swipe” of this here, a “dab” of this there. I figured once I put my mind to it, it’d come easily, if not innately.
Alas, it did not. And almost a decade on, I’m still struggling with many of the basics.
Thanks largely to pop culture's portrayal of us, you’d be forgiven for thinking women are all born with the knowledge of where to put highlighter and how to blend foundation into your jawline embedded in their brains. Which is, of course, completely ridiculous (and besides, not every woman enjoys or wants to wear makeup, and nor should they be expected to).
Watch: Actual makeup pro Shev Kelly dispels some foundation myths. (Post continues after video.)
What’s become increasingly clear to me is that makeup is an art form in and of itself — and that's something they don't tell you.
Watch any of the millions of makeup tutorials on Youtube and you’ll notice there’s a considerable amount of artistic skill required to blend three coloured powders across an eyelid without it resembling a bruise, or to subtly create the illusion of cheekbones that are otherwise hidden away. A steady hand, knowing how to use a brush, and having a good grasp on colour, shading and shape goes a long way in makeup — and, incidentally, art.