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Which One Are You?

posted by Wendy August 31, 2016 0 comments

I’ve been in the UK for most of the summer – all over the country, in cities and towns and villages, observing women and girls of all ages and from all walks of life. It seems to be that their make-up styles can be categorised into five groups, which is perhaps a generalisation but that is, after all, what people do when they observe other people.


The Carefree or Couldn’t Care Less

They are makeup-less, or carefree or both. Neither caring nor wanting to present themselves in a certain way. I do not judge them, but it is pointless spending too much time on them for my purposes here. I do wish them well. And think of all the money they’ll save! Although research has shown that they may miss out on other things financial and may even not earn as much long-term as those that present themselves in a more polished way at work. True.

The Clueless  They might be in the above category but maybe they don’t attempt much because they don’t know how to. I meet more of these women (and girls and boys) in my non-working makeup life than any of the others. They ask a lot of questions and have a great interest but not much confidence. Yet.

She's found her look and it's fab

She’s found her look and it’s fab

The Lucky Ones

The ones that have found their best look, perhaps by helpful intervention at some point in their lives, or are self-taught. They use makeup to their advantage, presenting the best version of themselves, without hiding  behind it.

The Eccentrics  The really independently British girls and women who wear originality on their faces and on their bodies, displaying a certain flair that I find essentially British but that has nothing to do with race – again of all ages and places and so interesting. They make me happy to think about the confidence they have or are developing and the music and fashion choices that will ultimately make up the whole picture of their lives. They are not stuck in one particular style – they might be the retro girls, the glams, or the new punks – but are claiming it for their own. Their look will probably morphe many times in their lives as their stories progress. This group is really my favourite, for all those reasons and because it’s like looking back into my own 80’s youth and seeing the fun we had with makeup and what it could mean to us in our tribalistic tendencies (then it was New Romantic, Soul Girl, Mod, post-punk, office girl, not necessarily in that order or independent of one another). I think it’s a very British phenomenon. I don’t see it anywhere else.

kateb youngviv

Zandra Rhodes, then

Zandra Rhodes, then

adamantZandra Rhodes, Adam Ant, Siouxie Sioux, Isabella Blow, Kate Bush, Toyah Wilcox and the grandmother of them all, Vivienne Westwood, all used make-up to tell their stories in a wonderfully eccentric but beautiful way. Not necessarily how you want to look but I admire their strength and how they use their image to create it. There is a new breed of these women, thankfully. The torch has been passed and some interesting women are running with it…

Florence Welsh, one of the fabulous new Eccentrics

Florence Welsh, one of the fabulous new Eccentrics

crazycontourThe Dolls  This final group is the most worrying to me, and the most boring at the same time. The super-contoured, mega-highlighted, lip-lined, false-eyelashed dollface girl with the perfect (but not) eyebrows of massive proportion. I see loads of white shiny pencil trails all over these girls. And sigh. Because I can’t see where the real girl, and so her real beauty starts, only where it ends. I wonder what each one look likes Underneath It All (cue song) because there is such a conformity in their faces that the individual is lost. It’s a terrible shame, and a dangerous one; call me a feminist makeup artist. For me makeup has always been about finding the best -looking version of ourselves, not about putting masks on women and telling them to look the same. Obviously this happens to some extent in the beauty and cosmetics industry, we follow trends or emulate women we admire. Film stars, musicians and sometimes princesses have been the modern beauty trend-setters but I find the new breed of beauty queens (you know who they are) strangely disturbing and anti-individuailstic. Anyone can go online to see how to disappear themselves behind mega-makeup applications.  I saw one recently which was about how to contour your nose with a FORK. I kid you not. And it’s really ugly. It’s a look reliant on wearing enormous quantities of makeup, (lots of it very shiny) which inevitably breeds strong makeup dependency issues, and I wonder what will happen as these girls and young women grow up and grow older? Will the day come when they get rid of it all and opt for none or a pretty, natural look?  Or will they go on wearing the lashes and contour into their old age.

Whatever Happened to…too much makeup?

Whatever Happened to…too much makeup?


I’m waiting for some serious makeup rehab issues in about four years when, fingers crossed, everyone will tire of the hideousness. I’m going to set up a help line.

1 800 266 8687 (CON TOUR)

MakeUp Moments

MakeUp Moments

posted by Wendy November 21, 2015 0 comments

I call my Debbie Harry memory one of my makeup moments.  I’ve had many more, as I am sure many of you have, and funnily enough, since I’ve been referring to them as that, I’ve found out that other people do too. Can you remember a moment or memory that has shaped how you feel about makeup, good or bad? Would love to hear about them.

Here’s some more that spring to mind:

  • Buying my first ever Chanel quad eyeshadow at duty-free even though I was a university student on a tight tight budget. The palette contained white, grey, pink and black matte shadows, tres chic, and saw me through more than a year of sophisticated studying, i.e., going down the pub with some books. I wore the shadows with a pink Chanel lipstick, which probably cost me a whole day’s wages from my part-time job, but I was looking gooooood haha. The look went better with my pink Converse then the oxblood Dr Martens and SWP pamphlets. I still have the compact.

the classic Chanel compact

  • Watching my mum apply lipstick; the faces she pulled to do so and copying her, much to her irritation; funnily enough I am quite sure I now make the same faces myself. There’s something about putting your eyeliner on that calls for a really monstrous facial expression!    My mum wore a beautiful creamy beige Revlon lipstick. I wish they still made it.
  • Choosing my wedding makeup. A rite of passage in western culture that otherwise has very few ceremonial landmarks for women.
  • Being told by my very glamourous Auntie Cynthia, who was a huge inspiration to me in terms of her personal style: “never let them see you without it” and she never did, waking up earlier then her husband to make sure she “had her eyes on”. Not exactly how I live, but she was quite fabulous and I appreciate her ethic.

The reason I think these makeup moments are important is because they are significant and personal and may or may not point us in certain directions.  I went through a period when I believed that using makeup and thinking about how we looked or wanted to look was a frivolous thing that didn’t matter and shouldn’t play a part in my life.  I was becoming a feminist (I still am one) and had personal appearance tied up with gender inequality.  It took a return from a six month journey through India to change my mindset about that, to see it for what it is; a means of enjoyment, adornment and even empowerment, that has existed in civilizations for eons, for both men and women. It represents us both physically and culturally, it is informed by where we are in our lives and where we are in the world, and that’s why it’s still around and we love it.  It’s a way of reaching our femininity, and so let’s celebrate it. I think makeup is part of The Art of the Female.  I think that makeup is a tool.  So use it, whatever your reasons.

MakeUp Moments

And So It Began….

posted by Wendy November 21, 2015 0 comments

I went to a strict, but fantastic, girls school in suburban London. Makeup verboten! But try stopping teenage girls of the ’80’s from experimenting with makeup. Impossible. The mascara would go on on the way to school. And you’d be in trouble if any teacher noticed you wearing it. But everyone needs mascara, right? I still feel that way, it would be my desert island necessity (along with a an enormous pair of sunglasses and loads of sunscreen). I feel blessed to have grown up in a time in London when inspiration was incredible and all around me, and though makeup wasn’t in any way the most important thing about my life, it became a pretty great aspect of it as I grew up.

My real adventures in makeup started before my teenage years ….and I would have to say my first significant makeup moment was on a Thursday in 1979 when something quite amazing happened. Thursday was Top Of The Pops night, and you just couldn’t miss it, it was brilliant and most importantly, you had to know who was going to be Number One in the pop charts; this was something to really look forward to, believe me!

So on this Thursday night, a vibrant, unbelievably gorgeously urbane girl appeared on the screen. The incomparable Debbie Harry and Blondie. She was not perfect, but beautiful and so unlike any of those Hollywood stars because she appeared to be real, which meant her look was attainableto me and my friends. She blew our minds. And led to my first cosmetics must-have. A red roller-ball lipgloss. Readers, I nicked it, not because that was my usual behaviour but because we didn’t have much money and I didn’t get pocket money, but I had to have that lipgloss. Do not try this at home. I got caught, which to this day I am grateful for, and into enormous trouble.

The lipgloss was not allowed at school or even at home but I did wear it secretly whilst dancing round my room to “Heart of Glass”. And so it began. Not the shoplifting, which I never tried again, but my love of makeup and all it could do.