Beauty Improv

Lucy Porter 1

What did stand-up Lucy Porter do when she had a sell-out gig to perform and zero make-up to wear? Ad lib, of course.

Here’s a quick story about a make-up emergency:


Last Saturday, I got the train to Newport in South Wales to perform my one-woman stand-up show. I arrived at the theatre, unpacked my stuff and realised that I’d forgotten to bring my make-up bag.


This might sound pathetic, but I genuinely considered canceling the gig. I hadn’t got round to putting any make-up on that day. I’d had a 6am start, was red-eyed and drippy-nosed from hayfever, and covered in pre-menstrual spots. I was worried the audience would be too busy recoiling in horror to laugh.


The (entirely male) stage crew was desperate to be helpful, but all the shops in town had closed for the day. The only place open was a Tesco Express. I nipped over there more in hope than expectation, and sure enough there was no cosmetics section. I was about to leave when I had a bright idea. I went to the magazine rack and grabbed everything I could find with a free gift on the cover.


Despite the fact that I’d never heard of some of the titles I was buying – I don’t think I’m the target demographic for We Heart Pop – I was delighted with my haul.

Lucy P haul

I bagged a Rodial fake tan (thank you Elle), Elemis beauty flash balm (cheers, Red), blusher (big shout out to Shout), lip crayon, lip gloss, two nail varnishes, mascara (luckily they had two different editions of We Heart Pop), and a ‘glam eye kit’ consisting of: mini black kohl pencil, false eyelashes, eye shimmer powder and some diamante-style eye jewels (Bliss, I shall be forever in your debt). I paid just shy of sixteen quid for all this. Plus I got six magazines and a book of teen romance stories to read.


I wouldn’t say that what I created was the best look ever. I could have done with some foundation, as the fake-tan didn’t really develop until the second half of the show. I didn’t use the false lashes or the eye jewels, the kohl pencil was a bit harsh, and although I put on quite a lot of the eye shimmer powder it seemed to have no discernible effect.


I wouldn’t normally team a coral blusher with bubblegum pink lipgloss and blue nails. In truth, I think the aesthetic effect was less important than the psychological boost I got from having some cosmetic cover. I found it interesting that I couldn’t face an audience bare-faced. Maybe I’ll try it one day. You know, that day when my skin is flawless, my eyes are like limpid pools and I’m 100% well rested. Yeah, I’ll do it that day.


Lucy P faceMy makeshift make-up kit served me very well, and allowed the show to go on. The only product I wouldn’t use again was the mascara. Turns out it really has no staying power when you’re bawling your heart out over a teen romance story.














Lucy Porter is a stand up comedian. She is currently on tour and will be appearing at the Edinburgh Festival throughout August. For dates and tickets, visit


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