Over recent years the world of social media has opened the door to a new generation of makeup artists. For better or worse Instagram has been flooded with tutorials of a new one look fits all kind of makeup. Instaglam makeup is perfectly adapted to photograph beautifully under a halo light and with a soft blur filter; the thick, full coverage foundation, perfectly contoured, glowing with highlighter and heavy pigmented eyeshadow. For many of the professional makeup artists I know, the move away from traditional editorial makeup (aka Kate Moss on the cover of Vogue) sends a shudder through them. But for many others it’s opened a whole new world of opportunities. The question is: does our own professional opinion matter or should we be recreating what social media dictates? As of yet Instaglam hasn’t found itself featured amongst the fashion elite on the pages of Vogue, where brows are brushed and lightly filled rather then stencilled on, however flick through a gossip magazine of reality TV stars and Instaglam is about all you’ll see.
As a professional makeup artist I work both with celebrities and with brides to be - there is a difference when applying makeup for different situations. TV is filmed under bright and harsh studio lighting so makeup needs to be heavier and thicker to look natural - however a lot of what I do comes nowhere near the thickness or heaviness of Instaglam. Instaglam itself looks amazing on Instagram (hence the name!) yet in person the makeup is obvious. For a wedding most brides I work with want to look amazing and like themselves in the photographs and in person in front of all their guests so a delicate balance between looking made up and the makeup not being obvious is needed. Many of the brides I work with come to us with images of celebrities who advocate the Instaglam look - such as Kylie Jenner - though when I speak to them about what they usually wear it’s often comparatively very little makeup at all. The truth is that Kylie, whatever you think about her, is very popular for her makeup look but many people don’t realise what that sort of look really entails in terms of quite how much makeup they would need to wear and how it would actually look in person, not on social media.
My personal, professional opinion is that there is not one look to suit all faces; makeup should be unique and personal. We should feel empowered and confident once we have applied our makeup but we should not be hiding ourselves behind a mask. Many of the transformation videos on Instagram sadden me - beautiful women with what has been decided is an “imperfection” are covered in thick, full coverage foundation to create a blank canvas that looks like every other wearer of the Instaglam look. Step away from the world of Instagram and in the harsh light of day the Instaglam makeup looks like a another layer on the skin, unnatural and obvious. It shouldn’t be lost on us that many of the techniques favoured in Instaglam tutorials originate from those used in drag makeup where the purpose of the makeup is to cover and completely transform the face.
It seems almost ironic that while there is a big push on positive body image to encourage a younger generation to embrace curvy, skinny, tall or short - that we are not all the same shape or size - we are also buying into such a one look suits all mask of makeup. If healthy and fit is sexy no matter the shape or size, if we should embrace our bodies no matter the imperfections, then shouldn’t we apply the same thought to makeup?
When I thought about writing this blog post I wanted to write a piece that wasn’t one sided - that advocates that beauty is up to the individual and makeup should make you feel confident however that looks. I still believe that but like everyone in the beauty industry I’m caught in the middle of my own opinions and preference and the strong force that is social media. I want to create makeup that makes a person - be it a bride, celebrity on TV or just someone going into the office - feel amazing. I want them to feel that this is the best they’ve ever looked. I want to promote skin that looks like skin, that freckles don’t need to be hidden under full coverage foundation and in fact they’re beautiful, unique and should be embraced. But ultimately it should be down to the individual and if a full coverage foundation applied in multiple layers is what makes you feel the most comfortable and beautiful, I for one am not going to stop you and nor should anyone else.