Have we decided if the ‘lipstick index’ is for real, or not? (That’s the idea that people keep splurging on lipstick in times of recession – little luxuries, yo.)
Well, on a micro level at least, it’s certainly rung true for me of late. I literally never buy makeup except to replace the one lippy I wear. My annual beauty budget is probably under $200, including skincare and haircuts. But some months ago I got a weird fixation with finding this particular shade that I was absolutely convinced I needed in my life. Sort of a dark vampy red, with maybe a bit of a plum/berry twist. Along the lines of Mac Diva, for those who care.
I spent hours online in the name of research, and far too long in stores lurking around counters and fiddling with the testers. Once, a strange man even peered over my shoulder just after I stepped out of a shop – I had probably close to a dozen swatches smeared on the back of my hand and was eyeing them up in the natural light – and hissed ‘they all look the same!’
I wound up buying probably around four (that’s a massive spree for me) and now I actually wear different colours on different days, sometimes. Crazy.
And at the same time, I dug out some stuff that had been sitting around forever (throwbacks to my days of magazine freebies) like amazing pore-blurring primer powder and electric blue eyeliner (turns out to be a nice pop when you have hooded lids, or in my case, one normal and one hooded). For the first time in probably 15 years I started spending downtime at home playing with makeup for no reason other than I wanted to, even watching YouTube tutorials and stalking beauty reddits.
Related, and possibly also a reaction to the whole forced austerity thing, I’ve almost grown a little bit of a shopping addiction – at least by my normal standards. I haven’t bought much – a dress here, a pair of pants there – but I can definitely now understand how people might get out of hand.
I think this probably stems from a deep-seated need for control. Not having it in other areas of my life, having my sphere of influence drastically reduced, has manifested itself in a new obsession with my appearance.
I’ll never ever be the kind of person who puts on a full face every day. (Or any day. My wedding being the one exception, and that wasn’t by my own hand…). Yet there’s something weirdly calming about being alone in front of a mirror, going through the ritual of making yourself feel a little more beautiful.
I always feel so much better and polished when I wear makeup. Or at least eyeliner.
I’ve always been surprised at the power of clothes to help you construct a new version of yourself or reinforce changes you’re making to your life. Obviously it’s a privileged thing to be able to do, but clothing isn’t 100% frivolous (as I’m finally accepting).
Oddly enough, I find myself playing with more makeup in periods of higher stress as well. I don’t really know what to chalk it up to other than sometimes it’s nice to look in the mirror and feel like you look good when everything else feels like it’s falling apart.