How I Learnt to Em­brace Prac­ti­cal Beauty

It may look ba­sic, but that’s pre­cisely why it’s prac­ti­cal – and trust me when I say you’ll look (and feel) your pret­ti­est with it.

Herworld (Singapore) - - HOW TO BE A BETTER HUMAN BEING -

The big blow came when a close friend told me, while tipsy, that he’d al­ways had the urge to “wipe clean” my makeup. I re­mem­ber laugh­ing ner­vously be­fore com­ing up with an ex­cuse to head for the wash­room.

I had to check my face. Were my thick, cat-eye wings smudg­ing? Was my full-cov­er­age foun­da­tion melt­ing? Was my high­lighter still beam­ing – be­cause if you were “into makeup”, as I was, it couldn’t be not-blind­ing and not-OTT.

There wasn’t any­thing wrong with my makeup. The truth about my friend’s (iron­i­cally) sober­ing com­ment was that what I had on my face was ex­ces­sive.

That was when I was 19, and didn’t know much about makeup. But I was an ex­pert at this: fall­ing into the rab­bit hole of the beauty “ex­plore” page on In­sta­gram. Div­ing in, I’d spot­ted the sim­i­lar­i­ties quickly: the It beauty girls all had that “win­ning” look. They all had The Face. It was their def­i­ni­tion of “pretty” – and I wanted to look like them.

The Face looks like this: flaw­less, photo-per­fect skin, chis­elled and con­toured cheek­bones, pinched noses, wide al­mond-shaped eyes, strong arched brows, a blind­ing high­light and a full, pouty lip. The idea is to look as doll-like as pos­si­ble.

It doesn’t mat­ter if you aren’t a nat­u­ral beauty like An­gelina Jolie, or don’t have the moolah to look as dropdead gor­geous as Kylie Jen­ner. This is the #powerof­makeup – it has the abil­ity to turn you into their dop­pel­gangers.

For me, all it took was a quick tap of that hash­tag on IG, and I was trans­ported to a world of minute-long tu­to­ri­als that showed me how I could use makeup to in­stantly trans­form my­self into the It beauty girl.

The videos may have been 60 sec­onds long, but in re­al­ity, it took me two hours every morn­ing to, in IG lingo, “get on a full beat”. That long, yes, and 17 dif­fer­ent prod­ucts on my face.

I had on full-cov­er­age foun­da­tion – no “real” skin was al­lowed to peek through. And that meant ap­ply­ing two ex­tra con­ceal­ers on top of it. Then, two types of set­ting pow­ders to “bake” the creases away. And be­cause a sculpted face was the It look, two bronz­ers for the most “life­like” shad­ows.

It was drain­ing. It was driv­ing me crazy. That “per­fect” look made me anx­ious. I was wor­ried, al­most every minute, about ruin­ing the per­fec­tion.

Not only was the per­fec­tion hard­won (two hours!), it took ev­ery­thing to main­tain. Not sup­posed to sweat, can’t scratch an itch, touch­ing up every other hour. Any and every hu­man im­per­fec­tion had to be hid­den from the world.

It was eat­ing at me. Soon, it wasn’t just about what was wrong with my makeup any­more – I started wor­ry­ing about what was wrong with me.

So imag­ine my shock when my drunk friend said he wanted to clean my face of makeup. Clearly, I had a prob­lem. The Face just wasn’t prac­ti­cal in real life; it was a face cre­ated for the screens. And as they say, drunk talk is real talk. I de­cided once and for all to scale back on my makeup rou­tine. (We’re still friends, if you’re won­der­ing.)

Here’s what changed for me. First, I had a new rule: less is more. Now, I’m not one to cham­pion the barefaced beauty move­ment – makeup helps to el­e­vate your looks, so you look more put-to­gether. But ap­pear­ing put-to­gether doesn’t mean need­ing a gazil­lion prod­ucts.

I went from 17 prod­ucts to just five, and from two hours to 30 min­utes, tops, on slow days.

Did I re­ally need such a thick base? Away went the fuller-than-full-cov­er­age foun­da­tion; a good con­cealer that cov­ered blem­ishes well was enough.

The eas­i­est way to look ra­di­ant? By rosy-ing up the cheeks with blusher. Brows? Mine looked best when filled in neatly, and nat­u­rally. Eyes? No need for thick eye­liner wings every day. A mas­cara would de­fine my lashes and lash line. The fi­nal touch – lip colour to match the oc­ca­sion.

I stopped look­ing like an It beauty girl. I sim­ply looked like me, and it’s been two years now.

The point of makeup, I’ve re­alised, isn’t to look like some­one else or fit into a vir­tual mould. You shouldn’t com­pro­mise your au­then­tic and in­di­vid­ual self – and no sin­gle look, IG or not, is one-size-fits-all.

Makeup should help you look and feel like a bet­ter ver­sion of your­self, and be used in a way that’s unique to you. There shouldn’t be any pres­sure to “look per­fect” be­cause, in the famed (and cheesy) words of Bruno Mars: You’re amaz­ing, just the way you are.

Trust me when I say that the sense of lib­er­a­tion is real. I feel pret­tier in my own skin than I ever did – and that’s re­ally how the true #powerof­makeup should make you feel.

Tami Lai, 27, dig­i­tal me­dia man­ager

Nad­hi­rah Is­mail, 24, creative ex­ec­u­tive

Ng Ping Ching, 37, mar­ket­ing direc­tor

Doris Lim, 47, sales co­or­di­na­tor

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