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Glow On: Feel the fear and wear the red lip anyway

As we reopen our makeup bags, Louise McSharry will hold your hand to readjusting to a made up face and embracing the looks you’ve been scared of before…


At this point it seems absolutely trite to even acknowledge it, but we are truly living in strange times. Somehow, returning to more normal patterns of life only seem to emphasise the fact that things are not normal at all. Sure, it’s nice to be able to get a pint again or go to Penneys for a browse, but it’s not really the same, is it? It’s a bit like living in a simulation of your life in which you recognize the moving parts but the whole thing just feels slightly off. I do not like the simulation.

The fact of the matter is, though, that we are where we are. We have no choice but to put on a brave face and move through this utterly bizarre phase of our lives, and for many of us that means opening our wardrobes and our makeup bags for the first time in a long time and heading out into the world. It’s a process which can feel a little intimidating. I have truly forgotten how to get properly dressed, or even why I would bother when I could be wearing tracksuit bottoms and a wireless bra (Marks and Spencer Flexifit Crop Top Bralette – you’re welcome.). The makeup bag, though, there I am at home. As I’ve said here before there is something about the beauty ritual which I find incredibly relaxing. I know, though, that that’s not the case for everyone. Today I’d like to help anyone who finds it a struggle.

If you’re not used to wearing makeup, or have been wearing the same makeup for a long time, the idea of changing things up can be jarring. Often I hear from women who want to do something different, but they can’t seem to get there. I totally understand this. Doing something bold or new with your face can be intimidating. I think a lot of Irish women, in particular, are concerned about appearing to have notions about themselves. These women often say things to me like ‘Oh well you can wear bright colours, I could never pull that off.’ I’m the wrong person to say that to though, because I always fight back.

The first thing to remember, when trying something new, or for the first time in a long time, is that you’re not used to it. Yes, I realise I’m being Captain Obvious here, but honestly, it’s crucial to factor this in. If you’ve been wearing no makeup for months and then you lash on a red lipstick, it will probably look a little jarring. If you’re not used to looking at something it will almost always look wrong, initially. This goes for lots of things in life, from our bodies to our skin, and of course lipstick. So, if you’re trying to feel comfortable with something, you’re going to have to be brave and push through that initial fear. That ‘terrible photo’ with the ‘bad angle’? Print it out and stick it on the wall. Look at it often. Get to know it. The reason we prefer our faces and bodies straight on is because we’re used to seeing them that way. Get used to other angles. The reason you think you can’t wear red lipstick anymore, or at all, is that you’re not used to it. Push through.

It’s obviously a little scary to leave the house with something on if you feel like it’s a lot. The first time I walked down the street with my big red glasses on, I felt certain everyone was staring at me. Of course, they were not. People are absorbed in their own lives most of the time, and I’m sure the people who did admire my glasses never questioned whether or not I ‘could pull them off’, but simply assumed I was the kind of cool person who wore bold frames. Now, I don’t even think about them when I have them on. Now, I am a cool person who wears bold frames. What I’m saying is, leave the house.

If you’re really concerned that whatever new look you’re trying is ‘too much’ (no such thing) or somehow wrong on your face, ask someone you really trust. If they say you look good, believe them. Do the thing three times, and see how you feel on the third go. If it still doesn’t feel right, that’s ok! You don’t owe anyone a red lip or a full face. Makeup should be for you, so if it doesn’t feel that way then don’t do it. But life is far too short to avoid something you’re tempted by because you ‘could never pull it off’. You can absolutely pull it off.

So, as you’re dusting off that makeup bag, try to face it with an open mind. It might feel strange, but the more we do the things we haven’t been over the last four crazy months the less strange they’ll feel. Maybe, eventually, we’ll even get out of the simulation.

I’m loving…

Armani Beauty Neo Nude Glow Foundation (€39)

Look, if you write ‘true-to-skin natural glow’ on the box of any foundation, I’m going to be excited. However, I’ve been burned by false box promises before. Fortunately, this time the product does what it says on the tin. I love this new foundation from Armani Beauty which delivers light to medium coverage with a skin-like finish. A beautiful, grown-up foundation.

Stila Convertible Colour (€22.50)

Do not adjust your devices, yes, I’m talking about the old school little compacts which were all the rage about 20 years ago. Cream blush is having a moment with lots of brands releasing new products, but I’ve been using the OG in Illium and it’s absolutely gorgeous. It’s easy to apply with a tap of the fingers and the result is fresh and pretty.

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Serum Crystal Elixir

Charlotte is extremely enthusiastic about her products, if you listened to her talking about literally any of her products you would be convinced that they are literally transformative. Some of them are, in fairness, but I try to be measured when I try new products from her rather than being swept away by her contagious enthusiasm (not always easy). On this occasion, I believe her passion is warranted. I genuinely feel I’ve seen a difference in my complexion since I started using the product a couple of months ago. It looks more even, I believe my pores are less pronounced, and I’m moving on to a second bottle. It is pricey (€72), and she recommends you use five to six drops, so it’s something which will need to be regularly replaced, but if you can afford it, I’d give it a go.

Photo by Haley Lawrence on Unsplash