Power Up

Lucy Mangan on make-up’s ability to remind you who you are.

lucy_manganI went to my first make-up lesson basically in a fugue state. It was about nine months after I’d had a very big baby, my sister was getting married in a few weeks’ time and she’d booked us in at Bobbi Brown to get some ideas for her wedding make-up. So I dragged my sore and weary arse along.

In all honesty, I can’t remember exactly what George, the woman who ‘did’ us, did. I do remember my sister chatting semi-knowledgeably with her about cleansers, moisturisers, concealers, highlighters, eye creams and so on and watching a new, intensified, more glamorously-shaded version of my sister’s face emerge under George’s swift and practised hand and thinking the not-very-clever-in-retrospect thought, “That’s why they call them make up ARTISTS!”

Then it was my turn. How did I want to look at the wedding? “Human,” I croaked. Like myself again, I meant, and George seemed to understand.

It’s a very strange experience to place yourself in someone else’s hands when you’ve spent the previous nine months doing nothing but be entirely responsible for another. Suddenly to have someone looking after you – working out what’s best for your skin, what colours most suit you, showing you how to apply things so you can do it yourself at home – when all you normally do is look after someone else. I nearly cried, except it would’ve ruined my Smokey Eye mascara (great stuff – still use it. Just not waterproof).

In a way, I think that’s how beauty stuff works every day. For most of my life I’ve found getting ready to go out a chore – changing clothes, cleaning my teeth, putting my face on. God, I’d rather not go. But now I find myself putting on lipstick ‘n’ that even (sometimes) when I’m staying in. It cheers me up. It feels like taking care of myself. I hate the word “empowering” with a passion it is beyond my ability to convey, but that’s what the process is, just a little bit.

Of course, you can take it too far – if you feel like you CAN’T or MUSTN’T go out without full slap on, then you’ve got some insecurities you need to work on, girlfriend – but it can and should work as a booster, as a reminder that whatever other roles life piles onto you, you are still you. That lipstick still suits you. That palette still lifts you. And you still feel better crying in waterproof mascara than without it. Happy International Women’s Day everyone.


Pot Rouge PPII


If you’d like to help other women feel better about themselves, Bobbi Brown are launching a new Pretty Powerful Pot Rouge on IWD in a limited edition shade, Pretty Powerful II, whose full RRP (less VAT) of £19 will be donated to Smart Works, a charity which helps women get back to work by providing suitable clothes, styling advice and interview training.

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