My first impressions of makeup were formed in the early '90s, which is probably why I'm so afraid of it.
I was too young to understand trends, but old enough to know when a look is too much: a violin teacher with aggressively permed hair gathered in banana clips, a neighbor whose heavy-handed approach to mascara made her eyelashes look like winter trees.
It was a bad era for beauty, at least in the Midwest. Dark blue eyeshadow was big for the better part of a decade, and I assure you it looks good on almost nobody — especially not when it's spackled on from lash line to brow bone. I decided at a tender age that makeup made most people look worse.
Now, I think makeup is great -- on other people. When it comes to my personal routine, however, it's rare you'll find me reaching for brushes, powders or creams to enhance my perfectly-good-enough face.
I own mascara, foundation, highlighters and the whole lot. I happen to know my way around a brow pencil, too. But, most days I leave the house with nothing but a layer of moisturizer and some lipstick. If I'm going out, I might sweep a coat of mascara over my lashes, magnified to great effect by the '80s granny glasses I've been wearing since my teens.
Since I just turned 30 and time is beginning to make me look like a tired mom (even though I don't have kids, WTF), I figured there was no time like the present to try something new. Specifically, a full face of makeup on a normal workday. In the daylight. For all to see.
Brit + Co news editor Kimberly instructed me to bring supplies to the office so she could take on my transformation.
I used to work for a media company that also housed a number of fashion magazines, so I happen to have an decent-sized cosmetics collection made up of industry freebies I don't really know how to use.
Once I arrived at the office, Kim had me wash my hands and apply primer "so that your makeup doesn't slide off your face."
Then, I put on a layer of foundation — also with my hands, since I don't really have appropriate brushes or sponges. Kim washed the two brushes I own (side note: you need to clean makeup brushes?) and had me suck in my cheeks while she applied bronzer to the hollows. Then, she dabbed liquid illuminator and coral blush onto the tops of my cheekbones.
Then, it was time to do my eyes. She drew on cute cat-eye flicks before patting bronze and plummy shadows onto my lids and filling in my brows with powder.
My transformation was complete.
Though my day-to-day look is fairly androgynous, a full face of makeup didn't make me feel as much like a pageant queen as I thought it would.
My friends on Instagram were pleasantly surprised when I selfied my "new" face. Brit + Co associate style editor (and makeup savant) Beth noticed the makeover immediately during our cross-country video conference chat later that day. Later, when I went out on the town to meet a friend for dinner, I didn't even feel self-conscious.
But, it still didn't feel like me.
This might sound weird, but I feel uncomfortable looking "pretty."
The older I get and the more the roundness of my face gives way to sharp angles, the more I realize I feel at home in a kind of beauty that looks less put together and inviting. Less girl, more woman.
I won't deny I photographed better with this makeup look, and I liked looking like I put an effort into my appearance. I don't know whether I have the patience to attempt this kind of maintenance on a regular basis, but I'd be open to trying a similar look for my next big event (hello, wedding season).
Makeup, maybe we can be friends?