This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
Makeup is weirdly personal. There's so much choice – matte finish, dewy finish, satin finish, gloss, sticks, powders, creams, crémes, volumising, lengthening – that each potion you've settled on in some attempt to liven up your flesh prison is probably the end result of years of trial and error. For most, this tends to start with you smearing Dream Matte Mousse and Barry M glitter all over your face – a teenage rite of passage as entrenched as getting profoundly drunk on your mum's Christmas Bailey's and throwing up all over yourself.
The habit of trying out new products continues indefinitely, however, as the world of makeup is ruled by trends. There is, after all, always a new Cucumber Plumping Anti-Wrinkle Metallic product to be hawked to the gullible idiot walking around Boots on their lunch and chucking things in the basket in some sort of trance, before experiencing a minor heart attack at the self-checkout because they have somehow spent £52.
Each person’s makeup bag, therefore, is a specific representation of their style and tastes, and a clue as to how they’d like to be seen by the world. And yes, sure, while you are of course a special baby who is utterly unique and gorgeous, your makeup bag probably falls into at least one of the following categories (just due to a little thing called "the homogeneity fostered by capitalism" x).
ALL GLOSSIER EVERYTHING
You know those lads who wear the little rolled up hats that look like wooly hats, but when you get closer to them you actually slowly and horrifyingly realise they’re made out of cap material? The All Glossier Everything person (AGE) is going out with him.
They own those dangly face earrings from Monki and have accumulated seven separate pairs of black culottes with corresponding pairs of white trainers. They already have great skin but do that thing where, the three times a year they get a spot, they post a zoomy video of it on their Story just to show that they're #authentic and Just Like You, their disgusting serf followers. They probably own their flat.
PINK GLOSSIER POUCH BUT THE LITTLE ZIP THING IS BROKEN AND THERE'S FOUNDATION ALL UP THE SIDES INSIDE
You lot like to give the impression that you're AGEs by, like, owning an Instax mini and houseplants? But the truth is that you haven't bought new film for the camera in over a year, and the plants, well, the plants are dead. Essentially you bought a Boy Brow a year ago using someone’s referral code, and now cart the dribs and drabs of your cosmetics (shoplifted eye pencils and a battered NARS Orgasm) around in the little pink bubble wrap bag, as you believe it gives the impression that you are a put-together young person who actively enjoys salad. In reality, you eat a dinner of nuggets and beans (technically! a vegetable!) in bed most nights and frequently fall asleep pissed in your (non-Glossier) makeup. I love you all.
RED LIPSTICK, BLACK LIQUID EYELINER, EYESHADOW PALETTE WITH, LIKE, A PIN-UP GIRL ON THE FRONT OF IT
The 2000s indie boom was the best period of your life, and you think about it – especially some of those transcendent Maxïmo Park gigs – once a day while you man the desk in a library and wear a load of cardigans. I also feel like you might have a baking blog?
BIG LOAD OF PENCIL EYELINER
You are a goth.
'FUN' EYESHADOWS AND LIPSTICKS
You’re into pottery??
FULL PROFESSIONAL KIT INCL. CLIP ON RING LIGHT FOR YOUR PHONE
You are an artist. Your work should be in museums: the exactitude of the eyebrow is sharp and breathtaking; the painstakingly blended eyeshadow colours call to mind the complex beauty of nature. You understand light, dark, shade, like a painter; your brushes dance across the canvas of the face this way and that. You are disciplined, rising with the very sun every morning in order to give yourself ample time for your craft – you are, after all, only as good as your lewk. You are one with your tools; the fake eyelash and the slanted brush merely extensions of your hands. You are also probably about 15.
NEVER REALLY GOT THAT INTO MAKEUP SO JUST KIND OF WEAR THE SAME BOOTS CRÉME BLUSH AND BOURJOIS LIQUID EYELINER YOU FAVOURED AS A TEEN TO ANY AND ALL FUNCTIONS
You have a job that you have to wear "officewear" to, and don't generally wear very much makeup day-to-day, but you *do* do that thing where you wear trainers on your commute and then change into a pair of heels in the loo. The makeup you do wear – BB cream, mascara, the one bright lipstick you have owned for seven years – is for special occasions only. When you wear it, people always comment that you "look well", which annoys you because it implies that: a) that you look dead the rest of the time, and b) that people only think you look nice when you are done up because women are expected to turn themselves into consumable products, and then you feel weird and get too pissed on white wine. You like Strictly but you don't tell anyone that.
ANALLY-RESEARCHED ALL NATURAL BRANDS
When you haven’t done yoga for more than 24 hours you start going "I haven’t done yoga for more than 24 hours" and telling everyone how unbalanced you feel, genuinely expecting sympathy. You’ve signed up for a kefir subscription box and you took a photo of the first one when it came for Instagram (#happygut #loveyourself), but to be fair you do have really fucking nice organic cotton bedsheets and a lovely handwoven throw. Ultimately, however, you do just have kind of an anti-vaxxer vibe, I’m sorry.
'I DON'T WEAR MAKEUP :) I LIKE TO LET MY SKIN BREATHE :)'
This one is the evil cousin of its predecessor and anyone who says this is invariably getting 1x facial per week and spends over £200 a month on skincare. If this is you, I’d just like to take this opportunity to say: shut up.
FENTY BEAUTY SET YOU BOUGHT ON THE FIRST DAY IT WAS OUT BECAUSE THE LADY AT THE COUNTER PUT IT ON YOU AND MADE YOU LOOK LITERALLY AMAZING WHILE ALSO ASSURING YOU IT'S 'SUPER EASY' TO APPLY YOURSELF (IT IS NOT)
You queued up outside Harvey Nics the day Fenty Beauty went on sale, patiently waiting your turn. You were met by an immaculately made-up woman called Nicole who told you that you had lovely bone structure, and in that moment you wondered if you had ever truly been understood and appreciated the way that Nicole seemed to understand you. She showed you all of the different products, carefully applying them to your face and talking you through each one, her hands gentle and light. After a little while, she showed you your reflection in the little handheld mirror, under the flattering shop floor lights and well… wow?
You still looked like you but just… better. Like the version of you that might win an award or get a promotion. Like the version of you that didn’t get McDonald’s delivered last night (or indeed also three nights previously)?? As you marvelled, turning your head this way and that, checking out your newly enhanced angles, Nicole – sweet Nicole, Nicole who sees the real you – asked if you’d like to take anything she used today? And you, still sucked in by that mirror, you said, “Yes, yes all of it,” and paid a three-figure sum while still in a near-fugue state.
Obviously, most of it is still in the packaging on the side in your room because you’re too scared to try to use it, but you still think fondly sometimes of Nicole.
ESTÉE LAUDER DOUBLE WEAR, THEY'RE REAL MASCARA, HOOLA BRONZER
You are the bedrock of the makeup-wearing community. You stick to the classics because the classics are good. Fish and chips, little black dress, MAC Ruby Woo: they’re go-tos for a reason, you say. You are reliable; the friend who plans every outing, the one people turn to when they need a listening ear or a brunch recommendation. You will live a long life and die peacefully with your family around you :-).
THE KIM KARDASHIAN CONTOUR STICK AND 5X KYLIE LIP KITS
You are heterosexual.