It’s time to throw out the rulebook and dust off your makeup bag – something is shifting in the beauty world and it’s set to work wonders for your mental health, too
“When the pandemic is over, I’m going to reinvent myself.” How many times have you uttered this phrase over the last 14 months? “With makeup routines taking a real back seat in these testing times – according to global market research company Mintel, 55 per cent of women have reduced how frequently they wear makeup – it’s no surprise that we’re suddenly rejecting a bare face and rebelling with playful makeup that breaks all the traditional beauty rules. “Coming out of the pandemic, people are becoming much more experimental with makeup as a form of self-expression,” Ben Gorham, founder of Byredo tells MOJEH. “Consumers, especially during this time, are questioning any ideas or constructs that are dictated to them.”
With the recent launch of his sleek yet rebellious makeup line, Gorham is at the forefront of those encouraging us to find joy in creative freedom, and just one scroll of your Instagram feed will see the likes of international makeup artists Celia Burton, Katie-Jane Hughes and Bea Sweet providing bucketloads of inspiration for looks that don’t necessarily fit the mould. “We are living through a time where social media is giving voice to so many diverse interpretations and creative displays of beauty,” adds Gorham. “Our intention with Byredo Makeup was to reject the idea of pre-defined beauty. It has always been very linear – ‘buy this product to achieve this look’. Whereas our approach was to create something instinctive, a collection of products and objects that let people express themselves.” In a time where a lot of people are looking to live life to the fullest and simply have fun, this sense of experimentation and finding our true selves through makeup makes perfect sense. After all, if our jeans and LBDs have edged their way back to our wardrobes after months in hibernation, why shouldn’t our favourite beauty products?
‘Dopamine dressing’, a concept that claims that wearing bright colours can actually boost your mood, has been floating around the fashion industry for quite some time now, and in the era of self-quarantine and social distancing, psychologists agree that the same rule applies to your makeup, too. “It’s not an understatement to say that experimenting with our makeup looks and hairstyles can boost one’s mood,” explains Mai Elsayed, a Dubai-based clinical hypnotherapist and therapeutic-art life coach. “Just like a painter can dive into hypnosis – a state of focused attention – through their artwork, applying makeup can take the artist into a calm state of mind. Additionally, practicing self-care through the act of makeup application releases oxytocin in the brain, which is a hormone that helps us remain calm, feel good and compassionate towards ourselves.”
Dr Saliha Afridi, clinical psychologist and managing director of The LightHouse Arabia, agrees that a daily beauty routine and having fun with your makeup can have a positive impact your overall mood, with the ritual of self-care and its effects profound. “Playful makeup can enhance mood not simply because of the colours, but also because it allows people to express their creativity and playfulness,” she says. “It allows us a sense of control over our appearance, which in turn enhances self-confidence and self-image.” That’s right, the glow-up effect you’ve seen all over Instagram, showing how applying makeup and styling our hair plays an important part of our self-care routine, is well and truly real. Add to that the confidence it allows us while being around our peers – “A recent study found that women who wore makeup were viewed as more prestigious by men and more dominant by women,” Dr Sarah Rasmi, managing director and psychologist at Thrive Wellbeing Centre tells us – and it’s no surprise women are finally getting ready to play with their makeup brushes once more.
While few things feel more freeing than having carte blanche to create makeup looks that are undeniably fresh and unique – be it a carefree brush of powder or a carefully crafted masterpiece – where should you start if you’re still easing yourself back in? As masks look set to remain mandatory for quite some time, the focus for now is really about making the most of your eyes. However, just as we’re rejecting societal norms by wearing sequins during the day and mis-matching prints to our heart’s content, remember that there are no set rules to follow. “Look at the trends and be inspired by them, but we prefer that you just buy a bunch of colour sticks and start playing with them,” explains Ben. “Layer them, mix them, stripe them on your cheeks or dab them with your fingers. You will find your own trend.”
While a neutral palette can always be relied upon, if you’re looking to really get creative, there’s something to be said for the techno-coloured lids seen at the likes of Halpern, Gareth Pugh, Tom Ford and Chromat, where we saw bold eye-gracing hues including shimmery greens, mauves, hot pinks, yellows and turquoise. Always the trailblazer, Ford is certainly in agreement that the time is right for a makeup revival, with makeup artist Beau Nelson taking it one step further with some serious face paint, clashing lips, eyes and cheeks for an overtly joyful finish. Speaking of clashing lips, look to Ashish, where for AW20, Daniel Sallstrom created vibrant two-toned pouts that were almost as bold as the brand’s clothes. Using a wet brush to add any form of pigment to your face will also amplify the colour, so consider this if you’re really looking to make an impact. There’s no need to stop with the face, either – candy-coloured tresses are a similarly unique form of self expression, only this time with added drama. Just check out the lime-green buzz cuts at Gareth Pugh, the minty locks at Valentino and the hot pinks at Matty Bovan.
Whether you choose to team with a pared-down wardrobe and let your makeup do the talking or go all-out with an equally colourful wardrobe (remember, there are no rules), it’s all about letting your personality shine through. Starting from scratch and looking to build a toolkit of basics? MAC’s Art Library Eyeshadow Palette in It’s Designer is a great place to start. Complete with 12 runway-ready colours (10 hyper-pigmented eye-shadow shades including lime green, metallic turquoise, bright gold and a vivid sunshine yellow plus two rosy blush shades for cheeks) having everything in one place will help streamline your style and make for easy application. Diorshow 2021 has just launched, in which creative and image director for Dior Makeup Peter Philips has imagined a new collection of couture-inspired eye colours that create truly show-stopping eyes, incorporating pigments and shimmering particles in an array of playful hues.
Not forgetting the lips, Hourglass’ new Confession refillable lipstick in red is not only cruelty free – it features a 100 per cent vegan formula that presents a special namesake ingredient called Red 0, a replacement for carmine (a dye made from beetles’ wings) – but its highly pigmented, smooth-gliding hue is the ultimate mood and confidence builder. Be it a hyper-bright lip, a slick of blue eyeliner or experimenting with an entirely new look, “now’s the time to get creative with colour and take it wherever you want it to go,” says Ben. If it works wonders for our mental health at the same time, we won’t be arguing with that.