I’ve never worn make-up.

Well, this isn’t entirely accurate, but I’m discounting my teenage goth misadventures with black lipstick and I’m hoping you will too because… yeah. No one needs to remember that.

So. I’ve never worn make-up.

This is probably because my mum doesn’t wear it, and never has. I remember when I was about ten or so, she went through a phase of trying to “do make-up.” I went with her to the Big W and watched as she filled up her basket with lipsticks and eyeshadows and mascaras and all kinds of things. We went home, and she tried it out, and… I think maybe she wore it, like, a dozen times after that? I dunno. I definitely remember what she looks like “made-up,” but don’t recall actually seeing her with make-up on for a good few decades. I do remember all the CoverGirl going into the bin, however, and that being the end of that.

Prior to today, there’ve been exactly two times in my life when I’ve worn “full” make-up. Like, not just a half-assed smear of black on my lips or eyes, but actually proper primer-foundation-concealer-powder style stuff. The first time was when I was matron-of-honour at my friend’s wedding, and was applied by her mother. The second was when I got my author bio photos taken, with make-up applied by the photographer’s wife. Other than that… nothing. And I’d never done it myself; I just didn’t know how. I knew it was complicated, and there were all these… things and they all had to go on particular parts in particular orders and whatever, but all that meant was I knew make-up was difficult and had no clue where to even start.

Well. One of the things I decided to do in 2015? Was even start.

Here’s a video. I watched it last night, after Googling “make up for beginners,” because thankfully this is 2015 not 1995, which means learning basically any skill ever in the entire world is just one Google search away. I thought this was a pretty good tutorial, which is why I’m including it here. It’s good because the lady in it, Jen, goes through all the basic Make-Up 101 products and ritual and… actually makes it look pretty easy. Like, not scary at all?1 Actually, it mostly looks like painting which, on the one hand, duh Alis, but on the other, I’ve done art classes before. I can do painting and blending of colours and stuff. That’s not too hard! It’s just the whole “doing it on my own face” and “with my glasses off while everything is blurry” parts that are new.

So… okay. I start back at work on Monday, which seems a perfect time to introduce my new Wearing Make-Up To The Office shtick. (Hopefully everyone will have forgotten what I look like over the past two and a half months, so won’t notice too much.) Which gives me three days to practice not just applying make-up, but, like, wearing it? Because it’s… different? Or something. IDK. Like, if I have make-up on, will I need to start answering my phone differently so I don’t smear concealer all over the screen? Is that a thing I need to worry about now? What happens if my make-up screws up in the middle of the day? What happens if I cry? (Because, like, I cry a lot.) So many questions!

To get answers, I made a shopping list: foundation, concealer, powder, eyebrow pencil, eyeliner pencil, eyeshadow, lip-liner, lipstick. Oh, and a set of makeup brushes, because if there’s one thing I learnt from YouTube, it’s that trying to use the shitty little things they give you in the compacts is ahahahaha no. No, don’t do that. So. Brushes.

Like my mother before me, I took my list and headed off to Big W.

I came back with a  bit of a haul.

I came back with a bit of a haul.

Nothing particularly fancy; mostly L’Oreal and Revlon, because they’re… brands I’ve heard of, I guess? IDK. Seemed like an okay place to start.

Initial impressions of makeup shopping:

  1. Holy mother of beige, Batman! So I’m standing there, in front of the make-up display, trying to pick between six different, nearly-indistinguishable beige liquid foundations. ((Question: Where the hell do black, Indigenous, and dark-skinned Asian women get their makeup from? Because it sure as hell isn’t the Revlon display at Big W…)) Which one is the one for me? Goddamnit I didn’t cover this in the tutorial video! Those were all about applying make-up, not choosing it. Jesus these all look the goddamn same! Okay. Okay, I’ll rub some on the back of my haa-ohmigod that’s way too much. Shit. Shit, where’s a tissue. Oh gods, there isn’t one. Uh… rub it in! All over the hands! Whee! Now the colour. It’s, uh… beige? Is it the right beige? Oh Jesus I don’t know. Maybe it’s too dark? That’s bad, right? Shit. Okay, this one. I’ll just grab this one. What do you mean I have to make this choice like six more times? Jesus.
  2. Make-up is really fucking expensive! The small pile above cost me over $200. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve spent more money on stupider things,2 but… wow. I mean, there are all those feminist articles about why makeup is bad, and how it’s practically non-optional for women whether they like it or not, and, like, here’s me throwing money away because I need a new hobby3 or whatever, but… man. There are a lot of women out there whose employment really is dependent on this expensive bullshit.
  3. All the pretty colours! The flip-side of the million shades of beige foundation are the million shades of pink-red-brown-purple lipsticks and basically-everything-really eyeshadows. My “theme” for the shopping trip was “nude and natural,” because office. And also beginner. Bright and crazy can come later.

So that all took me like half an hour. Then another half an hour to get all the pots and sticks and pencils out of their packaging, because apparently Big W has a problem with shoplifting in the cosmetics aisle, so has decided to combat this with FIVE ROLLS OF TAPE and TWELVE RFID TAGS per item. Awesome.4

The good news, however, was that the “buying” and “unwrapping” part of the expedition was actually the hard part. The actual “applying”? Not so much. Armed with brushes, tutorials, and memories of high school art class, I got to blending.

Fifteen minutes later:

Aa-aa-and done.

Aa-aa-and done. I have a huge zit on my temple and you CAN’T SEE IT (no, that thing you’re looking at is a mole) because concealer is MAGIC!

And there you have it; my very first time applying my own makeup. I think it turned out okay? And not nearly as hard as I thought it was going to be. Just… expensive.

So. Some thoughts:

  1. Applying makeup without glasses on is… interesting. And blurry. Very blurry.
  2. I think I chose the wrong shade of beige. I’m not sure how it’s wrong, exactly, just… wrong.
  3. I definitely chose the wrong shade of blush. I mean, it’s very nude. Like, very nude.
  4. Either that, or I need a different brush to apply it with. Actually, I know I need a different brush to apply it with.
  5. I always thought makeup felt nasty to wear, but… no, as it turns out. I mean, I can definitely feel it. But it’s not gross. Actually, given that my skin is naturally quite oily, and I really hate that feeling, the makeup is actually nicer.
  6. Except the lipstick. I’m not so much a fan of that one.
  7. It’s definitely the wrong colour. And a bit pale for the liner, I think.
  8. I’m not really convinced I need an eyebrow pencil. I don’t really plan on shaping my brows, and they’re already pretty dark. So… whatevs.
  9. I have teeny, tiny eyelashes. No big fluttery lashes for me.
  10. Making up my right eye is way easier than my left, and I need to be careful to keep them even.
  11. Eyeliner is hard.
  12. The brushes definitely helped. A+ endorsement for brushes in general, if not these brushes in particular. I’ll probably get some different ones later.

So… yeah. That was my Exciting Adventure in Adulthood of today, and I now have (the start of) a new Life Skill, and a whole day’s worth of practicing wearing this stuff.

(Note to self: don’t scratch face with fingernails.)


  1. Except for that eyeliner thing. Holy hell I am not trying that one. No way no how my friends. That shit is whack. I can’t even get my eyelid to keep that still, let alone my hand. Jesus… []
  2. CoughFlight Risingcough. []
  3. And an excuse to procrastinate editing Stormbringer. Ahem. []
  4. And now all my little beige tubes are covered in manky sticky-tape sticky. Urgh. Get off. []