About Face

Growing up a girl, especially in Los Angeles, means I have been subject to hundreds of messages about beauty each day of my life. In my hometown, perfect beauty really meant having smooth, tanned skin. Being tall, but not too tall, and willowy, not "athletic." Prefered hair color is blonde, but brown with well placed high lights would do. You should be thin, and delicate looking, small wrists, and ankles, but be strong enough to surf on occasion, just to prove to the boys you can. You should wear makeup, but not a lot of makeup, just enough to look "natural," and "fresh faced." You should wear whatever is trendy, meaning your body type should be on that can support whatever the current fashion trend is. You should wear bikinis, never one pieces, what, are you a prude, or worse, a child? 

Looking back, I didn't meet a lot of that criteria, and it made me feel bad about myself. I was small and delicate looking, but I had a mouth on me, and didn't know when to not tell someone to "shut their face." I was pale, with no ability to tan, and had pretty boring brown hair. I had high cheekbones I wouldn't appreciate until my 20s, and small almond shaped eyes that got squinty when I smiled. I liked being at the beach, but I liked wearing a speedo, so I could boogie board, or body surf in the waves. I wasn't content to simply lay on the sand and burn myself to a crisp. I didn't have the boobs to fill out a bikini, and even though I was thin, I still had a tiny belly pooch. I wore Airwalk, and Vans, and Chuck Taylors on my feet, I didn't love flip flops enough. I went to the Warped Tour and hung out in the mosh pit for Rancid, and Drop Kick Murphys, screaming obscenities at the top of my lungs. I also liked "bad," music others though I should be ashamed of. I didn't give a shit. I liked Hanson in 1997, and I still like Hanson now, and there's nothing anyone can say that will truly insult me or make me change my mind. I was different, but also the same. Just another white girl in suburbia.
People frequently ask me what drew me to makeup art, and eventually attending school for makeup artistry. Truthfully, I wasn't super into makeup as a young teen, and even in high school, didn't wear a lot of makeup. I had moment where I was firmly in a camp that felt makeup was a bit exploitative. I went to an all girls' school in Los Angeles for middle and high school, and never felt any real need to wear makeup to school on a regular basis. I also felt, for a long time, that because my eyes are small, almond shaped, and hooded, (all things I learned later in life but was acutely aware of in my younger years,) I struggled with following makeup trends, as well as just finding eye makeup in general that flattered my features. Truthfully, I was self conscious about many of my features, as most people are.  I was lucky enough to have pretty good skin, with few breakouts, so I would occasionally wear powder or powdered foundation, but truly, nail polish was more my speed. 

In addition, I always felt like a child or a novice around makeup, and in high school when other girls were being complimented on being beautiful, I was still being categorized as "cute," or "tiny," and the compliments I would get were typically from older women, "You have such a beautiful complexion, wonderful skin." Which, to 14, 15, 16 year old me, meant I was not attractive enough, but at least I had clear skin. 

So, what changed my relationship with makeup and skin care? Theater makeup, and two books by Kevyn Aucoin that changed my life. 

Suddenly, makeup was fun, transformative, but also artistic. It wasn't just about covering up your whole face and "hiding faults," it could be about accentuating features you didn't realize were assets, or having FUN and becoming someone else for a day or night, or the run of a high school musical. When I was wearing stage makeup, I felt like the most powerful version of myself. I was at my best because I chose to be. I wasn't following arcane rules about how to look, I got to choose.  It was around this time as well that my dad got me Kevyn Aucoin's books Making Faces, and Face Forward. I couldn't believe all the cool things you could do with make up!  I began playing more with makeup, and after high school, I ended up moving to San Francisco with my parents. The new friends I made there were always asking me to do their makeup when we went out, and my Irish dance teammates would wait in line for me to do their performance and competition makeup. Eventually, when I was ready to move out of my parents house, I moved back to Los Angeles, and after a few more hiccups, found a makeup school that was a good fit. I took several courses there and spent the better part of a year trying to make a living as an artist.  Sadly, that wasn't the path for me, but I do still love makeup, hair, and skin care. 

I plan to share tips and tricks, as well as reviews and information on my favorite products. If you have questions or specific topics you'd like covered please let me know! 


Popular Posts