Whether you're a drag queen or a doctor, everybody's makeup bag has a story to tell. Compact Report takes a look inside people's cosmetic toolkits to see what they say about our lives—broken palettes and all. This week, 19-year-old college student Fabliha Anbar from New York City takes us inside her makeup bag.
I got my main makeup bag from a thrift store for like $7. I like it because it’s big and quite sturdy. I actually have another makeup bag at home which is full of my face powders and foundations and another one just for eyeliners, but this is the one I carry about with me every day. I only tend to carry my cheaper makeup out and about in case I lose it. My mom recently bought me a Marc Jacobs lipstick, and I wouldn't ever carry that around with me, because it's expensive. I never carry foundation either, because I once had a really traumatic experience when my brand-new foundation from Benefit exploded in my bag when I was at high school. I was so sad because it was my first high-end foundation and I bought it with my own money.
I’m really into my Sephora Collection Long-Lasting 12 HR Wear liquid eyeliner in Fancy Blue ($12). When I was in high school, I wasn’t allowed to wear much makeup. My mom is Bengali, and she’d always say to me, “School is for studying! It’s not a fashion show.” When I went to college, I really saw that as a shift into adulthood. I thought, I’m going to start understanding who I am and what I like. I’d stay up late at night watching fashion runway shows and looking at makeup editorials online, and I got really inspired by bright colors.
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I feel like this eyeliner reflects my personality. No one really sees South Asian women as creative—they just think we study all the time! So wearing this eyeliner on my lids expresses me creatively. It’s my way of redefining what a South Asian woman can be and is capable of. Plus, when I put on blue eyeliner, even if I’m having a shitty day, at least my face has some color to it. Even my mom likes the blue now—although she was quite weirded out by it when I started wearing it.
My eyebrows are pretty thin, so I use Glossier Boy Brow ($16). I think this a good product, but I have some problems with Glossier in general. I don’t like how they’ve created this hierarchy where if you have clear skin you’re just prettier, you know? Especially because I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, which means that I have darkness and uneven skin tone around my mouth, and I’m insecure about it.
Wet n Wild MegaSlim Skinny Tip Eyeliner in Black ($5) was the first liquid eyeliner I ever got into. It’s so cheap, but really good for doing that winged eyeliner look. I tend to wear it when I go to Bengali weddings. Black eyeliner is such a staple in Bengali culture! I grew up watching my mom and cousins always wearing black eyeliner and a red Bindi. It’s such a part of South Asian identity. I’ve also got an Eyeko London Skinny Liquid Eyeliner in Black ($22). It’s not that special—I prefer the Wet n Wild one.
I don’t really wear my Sephora Colorful Contour Eyeliner Pencil in Peacock Blue ($10) very much. It’s like a shimmer pencil. I think I just threw this in my makeup bag one day. I’m not really sure why it’s here.
I use Benefit’s Benetint Tinted Lip and Cheek Stain in Rose ($30) every day. I just throw this on and then some lip-gloss on top and it makes me look more lively. I’ve been using it everyday since high school actually. It’s the product that unites my high school and adult selves.
I probably wouldn’t repurchase this Glossier lip gloss ($13). I used it all up, but it’s quite expensive, and I could get a similar lip gloss from NYX that would do the same thing, but be cheaper. I think I just got caught up in all the Glossier hype. I tend to do that a lot whenever there’s a hyped new makeup trend, like contour. At high school, I decided I wanted to be an Instagram baddie and wear contour and fake lashes every day. I did it for a few days, and I just didn’t feel like myself at all. I felt bad for wasting all my money on some dumb trend. Now, rather than getting caught up in trends, I’m just going to do things I genuinely like.
When the Fenty beauty line came out, I was so excited. I bought the Gloss Bomb in Fenty Glow ($18) because I’m a lip gloss addict. I thought, I don’t care how much it is, I just need to have it, because I love Rihanna. I’m really happy with the product overall, although I only wear it for special occasions, like going out with my friends, or taking pictures I want to look really good in. I also have Burt's Bees Tinted Lip Balm in Red Dahlia ($5). Because Burt’s Bees is an ethically minded company, it makes me feel better about myself.
I’m really bad at splurging on makeup when I’m having a shitty day. Recently I had a fight with my best friend and I went to Sephora and bought the Sephora Collection Colorful Shadow and Liner in Gold ($14). I like the product, but I think, Did I really need to buy that? It didn’t exactly solve all my problems. I’m trying to stop spending money on makeup when I’m having a bad day, rather than actually addressing all the problems in my life.
Makeup is a big part of my life. It’s really helped me massively with my self-esteem. When I was at middle school, I was the only nonwhite person, and everyone was really rich. They’d all come to school with Gucci bags and Tommy Hilfiger shirts. Then I went to a really religious Muslim high school, and I didn’t fit in spiritually or physically there either. Makeup has helped me to get out of my comfort zone and like myself more. If I do an unconventional look, like glossy lids, I feel like: Yeah! Who gives a fuck.