I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s turned to the contents of my make-up bag in recent months
as a way of lifting my spirits. In a world where it can feel like we’re being fenced in with ever-changing social restrictions, having the freedom to be creative – even if it’s just with the colour of eyeliner I choose to wear – can feel liberating.
When I chatted to independent nurse prescriber and lifestyle consultant Natali Kelly (who specialises in non-surgical aesthetics and cosmetic dermatology), she explained that right now we’re craving escapism more than ever (and who could blame us, with all the travel bans and overseas adventures on hold). “It feels like we have a lot of rules and discipline within our world currently,” says Kelly. “Applying make-up allows us to use the right side of our brain to be creative.
It can be fun, give a confidence boost, allow us escapism from reality and, overall, be beneficial for our mental health.”
But, for me, the desire to play with make-up isn’t just a backlash against feeling confined to my tiny onebedroom flat. When our world was flipped upside down in early 2020, we began to experience a new way of living. “Lockdown has given so many people the time and opportunity to play with make-up and find what they love and what suits them,” says Bobbi Brown pro make-up artist Zara Findlay. “It feels like people are using this time for themselves, to learn about and enjoy make-up instead of it being something that they rush to apply in the morning on their commute.”
Scrolling through Instagram, I notice that my feed swings from fresh faces with just a touch of tinted moisturiser to full-on, artfully applied glam, which, funnily enough, feels reflective of my approach. On a Monday morning, I’ll go through the motions of cleansing, applying SPF, dabbing concealer under my eyes and adding mascara. It’s not much, but it makes me feel more comfortable when I dial into my first Zoom call of the day. At the weekend, I’ll take the time to apply a full face of make-up, blending together four different shades of neutral eyeshadow, knowing that I’ll feel good when I head out for dinner with my boyfriend.
When I chat to Dr Emily MacGregor, one of the founders of London aesthetic clinic Story, she explains that the comfort I’m feeling is likely just as much from the routine of application as the brighter under-eyes or smoky lids. “People like habits and rituals to maintain a sense of order and self. When things are uncertain, we want to maintain a sense of self more than ever, and our appearance, rightly or wrongly, is a huge part of our sense of who we are. Maintaining this amid chaos can only help.” ›
“Applying make-up allows us escapism”