Makeup has always been my weapon of choice – having a down day? I’d reach for the red lippy. Got a hot date? Smokey eyes it is.
It’s a way of expressing myself, of feeling groomed and ‘finished’ for professional purposes, of presenting my best possible face to the world. If I feel like I look good, my confidence is boosted and never mind the fact that it’s just fun to play with!
Skincare is my indulgence. A ritual at the end of the day, little pots and potions, delicious smells, relaxation, a ‘wake me up’ in the morning to feel fresh and clean.
As a stylist and blogger, both makeup and skincare have kind of become part of my identity.
So, you may understand that I’ve been slightly knocked for six by having both things pretty much taken away from me recently!
First it was the lipstick – I’ve been suffering from dermatitis for nearly a year now, particularly on/around my lips, and I’m in an ongoing process to try and find out what on earth is the issue. Although I can stand to wear some lipstick for short periods of time when my lips are in a reasonably good state, it’s now something I have to ration out (“No lippy today because I need to wear it on Sunday when I have a big styling event coming up”) once every week or so, rather than a no-brainer part of my routine every day.
Then it was the skincare. A visit to the dermatologist a couple of weeks ago saw me being prescribed a large pot of something that I can only describe as vaseline-like, and told to use this, and only this, to wash and moisturise my face and body until my patch testing appointment comes through. (And who knows how long that will be? I was initially referred by my GP in March). “What? No anti aging serums?” I asked with horror, “Ah,” the kind dermatologist replied, “You don’t need anti ageing products!” All I could think was ‘that’s because I’ve been using anti ageing products!”
Then, this week, it was eye makeup. Saturday morning I woke up all sleepy, rubbed my eyes, and managed to poke myself in the eye with my finger. It hurt a little, but to be honest I didn’t really think much more of it and carried on as usual. (Which, unfortunately, also meant wearing contact lenses for a few hours on both Saturday and Sunday). On Sunday evening my eye became increasingly uncomfortable – I had to get Dan to stop the car at a service station as we were driving home from visiting friends so I could take my lenses out and pop on my glasses. I noticed my eye was really pink and sore looking, and there was a mark at the bottom of it. ‘Great’, I thought, ‘I’ve scratched my eye’, and when we got home gave the NHS advice line a call (111 – a brilliant service if you’re ever not sure about whether you should be going to A&E, going to the docs, going to the pharmacy or just waiting something out) and they asked me a few questions and suggested that I get an opticians appointment the next day to get it checked out, which I did. I think I knew there was something pretty wrong at the point where the optician called another, more experienced colleague in to look at my eye, and then sat me in a corner whilst they phoned Birmingham Eye Hospital, and dispatched me straight to their emergency department. Long story short? I hadn’t just scratched my eye, I’d actually poked a hole in it (eeeewwwww!) and it had got infected over the rest of the weekend, resulting in a small ulcer. So I’m now in for a series of follow up appointments at the hospital (already had one, and fingers crossed it’s looking a little better), lots of antibiotics, no contact lenses for 6 weeks, and, of course, absolutely no mascara and very limited eye makeup. (When I explained what I did for a living the specialist said I could wear a little shadow/liner for public events etc. but to try and steer clear whenever I can.)
So I’m now 5 days into wearing no makeup at all – I think the longest I’ve been for a very long time when I haven’t been ill in bed! It’s been amazing the effect that it’s had on me to be honest. I’m fully aware that in reality this is a very minor thing, that everything could be a lot worse, that I’m basically being a bit of a baby, and that 100s of women wear no makeup on a day to day basis (I meet lots of them through styling!) But I think it’s been no coincidence that I’ve pretty much stayed inside this week, working from home, only venturing out to the hospital or to do yoga (which I wouldn’t wear makeup for anyway!) or to pop to the local shops (again, which I would happily do without makeup anyway!) I haven’t filmed planned you-tube videos, my selfies have been limited to one post hot yoga showing off my tomato-red face!
As the weekend approaches I’ll have to end my self-imposed exile – I have plans with friends and a public styling event to do on Sunday. I can, at least, still wear some foundation/concealer to cover up blemishes, but am a little concerned that this will look even worse, like a feature-less mask. Or maybe I could just make up one eye and go for a clockwork orange-inspired look?!
You see I’m not one of those people who is frightened to show their bare face – All of my friends and family will have seen me without makeup, and on the blog / youtube I’m happy to do before and afters, but my gosh I love being able to reach for the ‘after’ when I want to!
It’s going to be an interesting experience, this, being a beauty blogger with very limited makeup and skincare for a few weeks! (And please just everyone keep your fingers crossed for me that I’m not told I’m allergic to wearing colourful clothes in the next couple of weeks as I honestly don’t think I could take it! 😉 )
In circumstances like this*, I find it’s always best to turn to Buffy…
No makeup, no skincare, take that away and what’s left?
*Well, any circumstances to be honest.