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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Face value: Why, for me, make-up is much more than just skin-deep

In the first of a series of columns, our self confessed beauty junkie explains why make-up has long been important to her sense of identity

Playing with colour creates an identity and self-worth. Getty
Playing with colour creates an identity and self-worth. Getty

There are few things that make me happier than a sealed product ­brimming with possibilities. I am a self-confessed beauty addict and was constantly buying and trying new releases.

It all began because I struggled to find things that fit me and my image in the world of fashion. Growing up in the 1990s, my main sources of information were the lifestyle magazines that my mother subscribed to. I would stare at the beautiful models for hours – struck by their painted faces and imagining myself in their incredible outfits.

But, back then, no one made beautiful clothes for girls who were plus size – on shopping trips, my mother would pick out outfit after outfit for me to try, but nothing ever seemed to fit just right. Clothes-shopping became my biggest nightmare.

The thing is, make-up didn’t judge or discriminate by size, and that’s why my obsession with it began. I would sneak my mother’s eyeshadow palette and lipsticks into my room, and create – in hindsight questionable – colour combinations. They never looked quite right, but the time spent making myself feel beautiful, and like one of those glossy cover girls, made me immensely happy. I still remember my first-ever beauty purchase at the age of 13: I saved up for a Gala London roll-on clear lip gloss, which I treasured until the tube was completely empty.

Yes, I have fallen prey to questionable trends. Remember how in the 1990s and early noughties, lining your lips a darker colour and then filling them in with a super-pale shade was the coolest thing possible? Guilty. It’s safe to say that pictures of me from that era will never make it onto my Instagram account.

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I also had long, ridiculously thick and curly hair (think pre-makeover Anne Hathaway in The Princess Diaries) that I absolutely hated. Not one to shy away from trying anything I could afford with my meagre pocket money, I gave myself chunky, uneven orange highlights from a box, matched with a nice little self-cut fringe. And while I may have looked ridiculous for months afterwards, the freedom that came from not being restricted by a number – either my weight or my dress size – was utterly liberating.

So, beauty products are about more than surface to me – they allowed me, as I came of age, to experiment with fashion and colours and learn more about my identity and self-worth. And I hope to share some of the knowledge that I have gathered in a series of columns looking at beauty trends, products, fads and myths.

I have a lot to talk about: even with my addiction fuelled by stints as a beauty writer for various publications, and the perks that come with that, my financial contribution to the industry has been immense. I already own enough products to last me a few lifetimes, but walking past a Sephora without entering it remains, for me, the ultimate exercise in self-control.