If you thought acing your contour and cutting your crease was all it took to ace makeup, think again – around the world, makeup mavens are embracing their makeup palette and their arsenal of brushes and sponges with new gusto amidst the lockdown. Unlike past makeup trends that accentuated strengths and minimised weaknesses and blemishes (keeping in mind conventional definitions of wholesome attractiveness), this new interpretation of beauty is bolder and more unapologetic. In many ways, modern makeup lovers are moving away from using their tools and skill to conform and as a medium of self-expression. And, as with all things 21st century, this format of makeup has earned itself a social media moniker – Ugly Beauty.
Writer and beauty editor, Alle Connell explains, “Ugly beauty is about using makeup to express your creativity and artistry, rather than trying to adhere to exclusionary standards of attractiveness. People are waking up to the reality that there are many ways to be beautiful. When I was a child, I truly thought that you had to look like a model or an actor to be considered pretty, because that was the only message I got from the culture around me. Social media and digital-first style sites have changed the game. Today, you can open your social media platforms and see countless people across the world taking amazing photos of themselves, showcasing their creativity and skills. The sense of community, across borders, is inspiring.”
Speaking about the rise in popularity of ugly makeup during the lockdown, she adds, “In troubled times, creativity becomes more important than ever. I think people are discovering (or re-discovering) that makeup can be fun! For me, staying at home during the pandemic has given me the space and time to explore what I really like, how I want to present myself to the world and why. It is creatively and emotionally fulfilling. It’s also great to have an artistic outlet, and a space to play.”
Makeup artist and hairdresser Magen Fernandes says that the abundance of time is one of the biggest factors inspiring makeup lovers to push the envelope. “Even before the pandemic, the growing influence of celebrities and the easy availability of a wider range of makeup products meant that makeup enthusiasts were willing to take a few more risks. During lockdown, we finally have all the time we need to commit to avant-garde makeup looks. Today, you can stay up late experimenting all you want, until you are happy with the result,” she adds. And the proof, as they say, is in the pudding – from eyelids that literally look like clouds, to smeared gashes of colour that are more reminiscent of a Van Gogh painting than the precise lines of yore, to gluing on pieces that definitely don’t belong in your vanity case on to your face, there no rules to what you can create using your face as your canvas.
Fernandes says that in addition to makeup, she has also been experimenting with body paint and using the lockdown as a means of honing her brush skills. “My husband is an artist and he and I often sit together and paint in the evenings. One day, I’d run out of paper but really wanted to recreate Vincent Van Gogh’s famous Starry Night painting. So, I decided to use my body as a canvas and, as it turns out, I was very happy with the results!” Her more recent looks have been inspired by the MET Gala and even traditional Rajasthani blankets that she observed a woman selling by the side of the street.
Makeup artist Sneh Sharma says that with face masks becoming compulsory during the pandemic, the focus of makeup looks has gravitated towards the eyes. “Bright eyelids, abstract eyeliner shapes and fluttery lashes are becoming more popular. These work best when paired with nude lips. Similarly, with more time to focus on skincare, many makeup lovers are eschewing very heavy base makeup and switching to flushed cheeks and dewy faces,” she says.
YouTuber Chandni Dialani says that colouring outside the lines during the pandemic has had the unintended consequence of making her more accepting of her features. “There’s far less pressure to cover and conceal. Instead, I’m beginning to understand how my face is the perfect canvas for my vision. I’ve learned to appreciate myself more and be gentler in terms of my understanding of and relationship with makeup. I’ve come to understand that the larger purpose of ugly makeup is to shock us from our perceptions of normal and initiate conversations about topics or themes that we hold dear. For once, makeup isn’t about pleasing others. It’s about doing what feels right to the wearer and makes him/her happy,” she says.
Recent government relaxations are allowing e-commerce sites to deliver makeup and other beauty essentials to your door, making it remarkably for you to get your hands dirty (and colourful) during the lockdown. Here’s what you need to get started:
A bright eyeshadow palette: Be selective about choosing pigmented shadows if you want the colours to really pop, says Fernandes. If you don’t have brushes, you can use your fingertips instead.
Eyeliner: Swap your regular eyeliner with a coloured one. Watch some videos about application techniques and try them out yourself, says Connell.
Base: While a good primer and foundation can help you to achieve more adventurous looks, a BB or CC cream will work in a pinch if you’ve been paying attention to your skincare, says Fernandes
Mascara: Two coats of mascara will make your eye stand out, Fernandes says.
CTM: Remember to always cleanse, tone and moisturise your skin before and after makeup. Also, never go to bed with your makeup still on.