Makeup has existed since the first Dynasty of Egypt. It has been used for thousands of years to enhance natural beauty and make people feel more confident within themselves. There is no doubt that the role of makeup has only become more prominent in the 21st century, gaining extreme popularity amongst teenage girls, particularly on social media platforms such as Instagram and YouTube. But makeup isn’t only for young girls in their bedrooms – it is used by many women spanning all ages. I spoke to a few women to find out how makeup has played a large role in their lives.
In the 21st century, makeup is so much more than a tool for beauty. The rise of digital technologies and social media has allowed women across the world to grow their careers and gain influence. A prime example of these women are the Instagram beauty gurus who sport new trendy makeup looks on their platforms, such as the 2016 ‘baddie makeup’ trend, which gained viral levels of popularity. Alice T, who is known as ‘AlXCET’ on Instagram and YouTube, is a beauty influencer who started creating makeup content when she was studying Bio-Medical Sciences at King’s College London. Since then, she has gained more popularity for her content, all whilst balancing her beauty career with her education.
Outside the realm of Instagram beauty influencers, makeup is also a way for women to grow themselves financially. For example, Huda Beauty, a beauty guru and businesswoman of Iraqi Arab descent, has made a whopping 510 million US Dollars through the launch of her makeup brand, which is used and loved a by other makeup enthusiasts across the world. Closer to home, countless women have made their living by pursuing makeup as a career. I had the chance to speak to Afra, a beautician who works in a local beauty salon called Truly Yours, asking her what inspired her to pursue makeup as a full-time job. She said “I loved doing hair and beauty treatments as a teenager back home, so when I moved here, I decided to become a beautician instead of studying. I would rather do something I love for the rest of my life than do a job I won’t like”.
Not only is makeup a tool in the professional world, for many women, it brings families and generations together. All the women in my family are very passionate about makeup: when my mum was in her early twenties, she would do bright colourful eyeshadow looks with a brown lip which was a trendy look in the late 1990s and early 2000s. From the age of six, my Mum would buy me makeup gift sets for Christmas, inspiring my passion for makeup. My younger sister became interested in beauty by watching me do my own looks: when I started doing Kylie Jenner inspired looks, she would observe and ask me to do the same look on her. To gain a perspective from the younger generation, I asked my sister what she liked most about makeup and how it made her feel about herself. She said “I love getting my makeup done like celebrities like you because you do my makeup like professional makeup artists. Makeup makes me feel more empowered and confident, and I can step out of my house feeling better about myself”
Makeup is a powerful tool across women of all ages – it can completely transform the way someone looks and most importantly how they feel about themselves – but it can also be used as a tool for influence and financial gain. Where does makeup fall into your life?