It all began when I was 16. I walked into my new school common room where it seemed I was the only bare faced girl there. The next day I made sure l put on some eyeliner, which was the only make up I wore at the time. As the year went on I gradually started wearing mascara then I made a new friend. Previously I’d attended a predominately white school so when I saw this girl, she was the most beautiful black girl I’d ever known in real life, she had flawless dark brown skin and her make up was always done perfectly . I asked her how she did her eyeshadow and made her eyeliner look so neat, to which she responded by suggesting I watch make up videos on ‘YouTube’. That day after school l decided to visit ‘Superdrug’ to get started up on my journey. I bought my very first eyeshadow palette.
From then on I started watching different girls do their makeup on YouTube. I also started buying more products and constantly practising on myself even when I wasn’t leaving the house. Initially, the results were horrendous as you can imagine – it was like learning to draw on paper or paint on the wall. The difference was that l wad doing the artwork on my face.
I simply wanted to hide what I thought was an ugly face. With this as my driving force I quickly perfected the art.
Initially my main motivation for being made up wasn’t only to fit in, but l simply wanted to hide what I thought was an ugly face. With this as my driving force I quickly perfected the art. I did not understand the meaning of being fearfully and wonderfully made. I kept it simple by not changing anything else but my face. It was always made up. When I turned 18, l wouldn’t go anywhere without make up or earrings on. I also wore a long weave that covered most of my forehead and other parts of me I felt insecure about.
My mum noticed how insecure I had become since moving schools. She tried as much as she could to reassure me but that did not help. I didn’t trust her judgement or believe her reassuring words because l thought her generation wouldn’t understand my generation. I always saw her as confident so I found it difficult to confide in her. I kept my feelings to myself. In church they would always encouraged us to know who we were in Christ but that meant nothing to me. I did not understand, l had no clue what that meant.
I spoke to myself in the mirror
Fast forward to 19 years of age, I started going to university up in Scotland where there were, once again, very few black people. Much to my surprise I got a lot more attention from boys and girls alike, who would tell me how beautiful they thought I looked. In my head I still believed this was because I was wearing make up and they didn’t know what was hidden beneath. Then it dawned on me that l should start accepting myself for who l was. I took on the compliments and my mums’ advice about speaking to myself in the mirror and started to tell myself I was beautiful. I read books and quotes about self love and self confidence which led me to faking confidence until one day, I realised, I was actually becoming confident.
“I faked it until l made it”.
My luck suddenly changed about 8 months before my 21st birthday, it started as a small rash on my forehead then two weeks later it was full blown adult acne, on my cheeks and forehead. I was mortified. I tried everything, antibiotics, facial cleansers and scrubs, home remedies I found online, prayed about it, drank loads of water and nothing seemed to work. It got so bad that wearing skin make up was just detrimental to my recovery process so, very unwillingly, I had to stop wearing it.
After 2 years my skin completely cleared up. In hindsight, having adult acne was the best thing that happened to me. During that time I started to care more about how I was as a person and not just my appearance.
Dont leave home without one
Presently my beauty product best friend per se is my eyebrow pencil, from being a girl who couldn’t leave the house without a full face on to spending most days with nothing on except my eyebrow pencil, may not be that significant but for me, it really is.
I’ve learned what exactly it means to know who we are in Christ: that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, that he made us perfectly in his image. Although I wouldn’t say I’m the most confident person but my appearance isn’t the reason I wouldn’t be confident in myself.
Now, make up has become a hobby/talent I’m developing instead of a tool to cover up. I’ve been doing other people’s make up for about 2 years now. People always ask how I do my own. My answer is “it has been developing from age 16”. I have another cash cow at university. It is doing people’s hair. Although I also do make up, l rarely charge because I do it for fun. I even had the privilege of doing Aunty Monica’s make up for her book and magazine launch then gave her advice on maintaining a beauty routine based on what I’d done for her.
My humble tips to people interested in the beauty industry or wearing make up in general:
- Adapt whatever you see on TV or elsewhere to yourself or whoever you’re making up, because makeup suits people in different ways and different people have different features which stand out.
- Never allow society to define beauty for you, one thing I’ve learnt is, it can be extremely subjective.
- Try out different products and application methods, practice does make perfect and make up is an art so even if you feel like you’re not very good, you’ll always enjoy it.
- Use make up to enhance your features and appreciate what you have, don’t hide behind it.
- As a black woman I would say “look at your beauty without the lens of your colonised mind”
- Lastly, never compare yourself to anyone else; one of my favourite quotes is “another woman’s beauty is not the absence of your own”