Are you wearing make-up while you work from home? Why / why not?
Nothing feels emptier at the moment than writing about beauty products. Telling you that a primer will make your make-up last all day, what the best new eyeshadow palettes are or the importance of using heat protection on your hair, at this moment in time, feels flat and vapid.
It’s a strange time for everything, but an especially strange time for beauty routines.
When the realisation kicked in a few days ago that we all might be spending a very long time working from our kitchens, beds and couches, the full-time work-from-home community chimed in to say that it was very important that we all continued to get dressed every day as if we were going to work. “These poor people,” I thought, “with the establishment so ingrained in their psyche that they cannot see the joy in the getting to wear pyjamas all day.” Yet, here I am today, in white pants, seashell earrings and my favourite cardigan. Sure, there are Uggs on my feet but if I could get away with that in the office, you better believe I would wear nothing but Uggs on my feet every day. No bra though, obviously. I’m not a complete psychopath.
My beauty routine though, has been a different story. In some ways, I’ve really amped it up. On the other side, my make-up bag hasn’t been this neglected since I last went on holidays to the sun.
In the last few endless days, I’ve done two hair masks, worn a face mask most days, taken comfort in applying an elaborate skincare routine and inexplicably shaved my legs yesterday, mostly just to kill a few more minutes in the shower. I carefully styled my hair with the new Dyson Corrale this morning, partly out of excitement to use it and partly because, while I can happily go make-up free, messy hair feels a bit like having a messy bedroom – indicative of a messy mind. Styling my hair also makes me feel like I am maintaining a sense of normality. In truth, the majority of these efforts have been pursued for the purpose of killing time. In my non-beauty life, I also baked banana bread from a recipe book, cooked two elaborate, comforting and cheese-packed pasta dishes from YouTube tutorials, broke my body doing a Joe Wicks routine, listened to Call Me By Your Name for the fiftieth time on Audible (Armie Hammer’s voice is very soothing) and completed Netflix.
Make-up, though, feels like a different sort of effort. In one way, it’s a really effective measure to stop me touching my face – something, it transpires, I like to do more than anything else ever. By not wearing make-up for the next two (+?) weeks and committing to a boredom-induced nourishing skincare routine, surely I will emerge post-pandemic with the skin of a toddler. Yet make-up is such a good, soothing mental distraction – it’s a concise routine you have so perfected with your specific items, you could probably manage it with your eyes shut. Applying make-up puts me in what I think is called a state of flow. That mindless concentration that Chinese philosophers called Wu-Wei, or what, I don’t know, footballers call getting “in the zone” ahead of a penalty shoot-out. I’m out of my depth here with sport references, but you know what I mean. My make-up routine puts me into an un-self-conscious state of near meditation and that’s actually all I want to do at the moment. This is also a very good time to find out if I really can pull off yellow eyeliner. And what if I had to work from home forever? Would I ever spend ten minutes delicately brushing my eyebrows upwards so they looked ruffled again?
When I put the question “are you wearing make-up while you work from home? Why or why not?” to my colleagues, I got a flurry of instant responses which I can only put down to having a welcome distraction from having to trudge through life’s normality while everything around feels so abnormal. “I absolutely don’t plan on wearing make-up when I’m working from home unless a Zoom call is planned,” says Sophie Teyssier, IMAGE social media manager. “In that case, I’d definitely pop some bronzer and eyebrows on so I look less alien-like. I am really interested to see how my skin reacts during this no make-up time though. Will it suddenly become really healthy and glowy? Will it just stay the same? Will update post-quarantine.”
Homepage editor Grace McGettigan is also in the skincare-only working-from-home routine. “I’m prone to adult acne (blasted hormones) so I’m taking this as an opportunity to let my skin breathe,” says Grace. “Weirdly, I’m having more breakouts than ever. I’m hoping this is down to Covid-19-stress and not some skin-related version of Murphy’s Law.”
New mum and digital director Dominique McMullan is in the I Love The Routine club. “I am wearing make-up, but only just a bit of CC cream and eyebrow gel,” says Dominique. “The routine of getting up, brushing my hair and putting a bit of make-up on is helping keep me sane. I learned that during maternity leave, to be honest. Even when I felt my lowest, a small bit of make-up could make all the difference to my mood.”
Art director Laura Kenny thinks she’s in the Skincare club, but is really in the I Love Routine club. “I’m taking this opportunity to let my skin breathe and don’t really see the point of a full face make-up if I’m not going anywhere,” she lies. “Saying that though, I have been filling out my brows and adding a dab of Glossier Cloud Paint to my cheeks which makes me feel more ‘dressed’ and a little closer to my regular routine.”
Deputy digital editor Erin Lindsay is grappling with the question, ‘do I wear make-up for myself or others?’ “I’m not a make-up wearer anyway during the week,” she says. “I only wear it when I’m going out somewhere. I think my skin starts to look bad fairly quickly when I wear make-up every day, and also, I can’t be bothered when I’m only looking at myself all day. Definitely defeats the purpose of ‘wearing make-up for yourself and not for others’, but at least I find that, when I do put it on, I’m pleasantly surprised by how much better I can look.”
So we put the question to our readers over on Instagram Stories. From the gas (“couldn’t be arsed”), to the Skincare club (“I’m hoping I can clear up my acne in the next few weeks!”), to enjoying the little moments (“I didn’t wear it last week but I put it on today to pep myself up!”), to the very Irish (“sure who’d be looking at me!”), it seems we’re all having the same conundrum.
Here’s a sample of some of your responses about why/why not you’re wearing make-up while working from home.
Whether you’re happy for the reason to have a diversion from the frenzy or just grateful to no longer have to bother with winged eyeliner, feel free to wear a full face in your pyjamas or use the time off as an opportunity to use that sheet mask you keep meaning to dig out on a lazy Sunday. Sometimes there is no better distraction than an elaborate, time consuming smokey eye.
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