“Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin. That, or a kick-ass red lipstick.” In non-Goop mode, Gwyneth Paltrow actually speaks a lot of sense. A dollop of well-applied concealer can transform you from flat to fresh after a sleepless night, while a slick of cheery-coloured lipstick can betray a foul mood. We even feel like we work more efficiently with painted nails.
Cosmetics make us feel good. So good, in fact, that a London College of Fashion study found that 85% of women believe that wearing make-up lifts their mood on a bad day, while 67% feel they’re treated better by others when they’ve got their face on.
“Make-up has been around since Egyptian times when women – and men – tattooed their skin to enhance their looks. It’s steeped in our cultural ideals of beauty,” says clinical psychologist Dr Helen Nightingale. “We use it to get attention – like the peacock displaying his feathers to attract a female – and also as a metaphorical mask. Whether you put on a bit of mascara for work or you do the full works for a Saturday night out, it can make us abandon inhibitions. It’s a preparation ritual, it’s about building up to a particular situation.”
So how can we use our make-up bag to influence our mood? We asked Mac senior make-up artist Lynsey Alexander for her tips.
“Whether you put on a bit of mascara for work or you do the full works for a Saturday night out, make-up can make us abandon inhibitions”
“Nothing says ‘confidence’ like a red lip. It suggests strength so wear it when you want to make an impact at work,” says Alexander. “Wear with minimal eye make-up – just curled lashes and mascara – and choose an opaque, bold colour. Apply straight from the lipstick bullet rather than using a lip brush, and if you’re using a lip liner, fill in your lips completely so you’re not left with an outline when the lipstick wears off.”
Woken up feeling ill, hungover or in a right old huff? Bypass the Pat Butcher eyeshadow and concentrate on making your skin look brilliant. “Go for a product like Strobe Liquid (£22.50, Mac) containing iridescent pigments which leave you looking healthy and vibrant. Use all over the face. And use a highlighter or illuminser on the ‘high’ points of your face including your brow, cheek and collar bones,” says Alexander.
THE EYES HAVE IT
“Eyes and lips are the focal points in our make-up routines. In comparative psychology, think of the newborn baby who can’t yet focus on the world. The very first things she focuses on are the eyes and lips of adults. It’s how we learn to communicate,” says Dr Nightingale. Mac’s Lynsey Alexander reckons a smokey eye is ideal for creating a confidence. “Use a dark-coloured eye pencil – dark browns and greys are brilliant – all over your eye and blend right up to the socket line so there are no hard edges. Curl your lashes and finish with black mascara,” she says.