The XXY Team Discuss, What Does Makeup Mean to You?

The XXY Team Discuss, What Does Makeup Mean to You?

“Casper Coloured”

Makeup has such varied personal meanings to me. Unfortunately I was very young when I first encountered the problems that arise with teenage acne, I was around 7-8 when my first spots began to appear. In primary school I was bullied for having acne simply because none of my peers had it as we were so young, therefore they didn’t fully understand. I remember the first time my mother let me wear makeup, my first year of secondary school. It was a blessing as I could somewhat cover my painful acne. As time went on, I became more self-conscious about my acne and the coverage became heavier and heavier, almost a mask between myself and the world, a heavy layer of protection. As a young adolescent I also had many people tell me I “wasn’t pretty without makeup” or “looked tired” so the more my confidence was knocked, the more makeup I applied.

Progress to around 15 and, thank god, the acne began to clear. But I had another battle to face: I am incredibly pale. In fact, I’m casper coloured. I still struggle to find foundation pale enough. I mean, you’re about to think, surely porcelain? I’m afraid even ‘transparent’ powder can still be too dark. I’ve definitely got some strong Irish DNA. Many of my peers in Ireland use fake tan, which is fine. I tried for a while but honestly, it was too high maintenance. So I turned to role models I could relate to, burlesque dancers. For years, I sported a pale powdered face and a heavy cat flick eyeliner just like the people I was looking up to.

I’ll admit that was still me pretending to be a character, I was doing my makeup like someone else to replicate their appearance. I was also still wearing makeup everyday, even sitting in the house. That’s such an important factor in this discussion. It doesn’t matter what culture, class or creed you are, what’s important is, is what you’re portraying on the outside reflecting the you on the inside? Whether that be a sparkly highlighted glazed doughnut or a casual carefree clean face.

Fast-forward to 2016 where my confidence began to flourish along with my makeup skills. Now I’m comfortable with and without makeup. My pale skin, freckles and bushy eyebrows are now a blessing. I’m much more focused on enhancing my features rather than covering them, ditching the eyeliner apart from special occasions. Now I wear makeup  purely for fun, putting my signature three dots on my right cheekbone (still drawing inspiration from burlesque) or drawing random lines on top of my eyeshadow. People, mostly namely my father, still ask me “is that meant to be there?” Yes, I’ll have you know, it’s a way of openly expressing myself on the daily.

Roisin O’Hare, Editorial Assistant


“Makeup is expression”

I first started wearing makeup to achieve the sort of, “complete” look I saw people creating in magazines and on TV. I wanted to look flawless, ready for an imaginary close up 24/7. Powder and black eyeliner have always been my staples, however after going to art college and exploring a slightly more eccentric style of clothing, I became more interested in experimenting with shadows, colours and clown tears. Nowadays you won’t see me without black eyeliner wings and clown tears – I feel quite incomplete without them.

I wouldn’t consider myself reliant on makeup any more than I am my clothes, but, the crazier my outfits, the thicker my eyeliner, the redder my lips: the more I feel like ‘me.’ If it’s impractical that day to wear 5” platforms or I’m going to be eating pizza and can’t be bothered to wear lipstick, then I can give it up pretty casually. The only thing I am somewhat reliant on is concealer and powder as I actually suffer from acute adult acne and therefore can have quite extreme flare ups if I mess up my strict routine of tablets and topical lotions. I know this will continue as my treatments cause my skin to change, however I look forward to one day not feeling like I need to cover my often three-dimensional facescape.

I think it’s important to remember makeup is for us; no matter who you are, don’t feel you can’t conceal spots if you want to, enhance your eyes with kohl, or go full face of contour and red lips – or not wear anything at all. Makeup is expression, it’s comfort; no different to how we wear clothes that make us feel comfortable. Makeup shouldn’t be something you feel forced to do because of your assigned gender or your peer group; but it also should be something that anyone can explore to whatever extent they desire.

Ellie Connor-Phillips, Fashion Assistant


“Making up for makeup”

I fiercely remember the first time I wore makeup to school, I was 14. I was never one of the ‘cool’ kids, but when one of the girls in my class came up to me with a sample size bottle of ‘17’ mascara, it was such an exciting thing to a wannabe cool kid like me.  I immediately put it on, only to fall asleep in biology class and wake up with it rubbed around my eyes and down my cheeks. Yet, suddenly the girls started complimenting me and letting me hang out with them, so I took makeup as a status symbol.

For the next 4 years I wouldn’t dare leave the house without makeup. It was my mask. Though my attempt at using heavy kohl eyeliner on only my bottom lash line was disastrous, looking back! It helped me fit in with people who only really cared how I looked.  Moving to university in 2013, I found martial arts, weightlifting and myself. I was hanging out with people who didn’t care how makeup made me look, and upon realising that makeup wasn’t even complimenting my new fitness lifestyle either, I gradually reduced how much I wore.

Fast forward to 2017, I’m a fitness fanatic who has very little time for makeup (I’m going to sweat it off anyway!) so I reserve it for making first impressions (I still care, a little bit!) and the occasional evening out. I count myself lucky that I don’t have bad acne, but I do have very oily skin, so makeup does prefer to slide down my face and cause breakouts if I wear it everyday. I tend to stick to a very simple thin eyeliner flick and mascara, with green moisturiser and concealer for my red cheeks, as I’ve always struggled to find a look that suits me (as my eyes are a weird cross between Korean, double lidded and European) so if I wear too much of anything my eyes look tiny. Less is definitely more nowadays, and I like that me not wearing makeup doesn’t surprise anyone I know or affect how people treat me.

Plus, the less makeup I wear, the better my makeup looks, because when I do wear it, I have the time to make it look good, and to experiment with what looks work for me. It compliments me instead of defining me, and I’m lucky to be surrounded by people who agree (but will still compliment my brows and eyeliner when they’re on point).

Sian Pratley, Marketing and Social Media Assistant


“Fitting in, in order to break out”

Makeup was most definitely used as a barrier for me. Growing up, I felt as if I lacked an identity. I remember relentlessly watching the Disney Channel, obsessed with how perfect every American teens’ sun kissed skin was. I wondered at how they applied just the right amount of pink blusher to the apple of their cheeks. I was amazed by how accurately curled their long flowing locks were. I didn’t understand that they had a professional hair and makeup team preening and primping them to perfection behind the scenes. I thought this was normal, how everyone needed to look if they had any chance of breaking into the ‘popular group’. I thought that if I wanted to be like these teenage TV stars, I first needed to look like them.


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So I returned to high school after the summer holidays with my porcelain skin plastered with a tangerine dream matte mousse foundation; and my strawberry blonde hair now a streaky shade of yellow thanks to the use of dodgy home highlighting kits. For years I tried to squeeze myself into this box of American beauty queen perfection, thinking that was the only way I could move up the social ladder in high school. As a 13 year old going through massive changes to my body and mind anyways, I found I was using my makeup as a mask. All of my friends were naturally tanned and blonde, so I struggled with the fact that it was such a chore for me to keep up this appearance, when it came so naturally to them.

Looking back now, I wish I could tell myself to put down the glittery bronzer and pale pink lip gloss. But at the same time, trying to be the same as everyone else became so frustrating that it actually made me break out of this fake character I had created for myself. As I became more attuned with my inner self and started to listen to alternative music and engage in alternative culture, I began to understand that it’s okay to be distinctive and different, and to not look the same as everyone else. So where am I within my makeup journey now? I paint my winged eyeliner on every morning because I’m inspired by rebellious women such as Amy Winehouse and Kim Gordon; not because I want to fit in.

Nina Burrell, Fashion Assistant


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2 red 4 my own good

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at men's fashion week by @londonfashionbypaul

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"mam can you cut me hair like that woman in blondie's"

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