Why Makeup Is my Therapy
We all have talents and my gifts happen to be makeup and listening. I’ve always known this but the journey of life doesn’t always take us in a linear direction, in fact my path to get here looks more like a Cadbury’s Twirly Whirly.
This post is about my journey to becoming a makeup artist, but also self-belief and having the conviction to do what you love and what excites you.
I love makeup and it has driven me to make changes in my life for the better, helped me overcome my own limitations and strive for things I thought were out of reach. Being brave enough to do what I love has been a big life lesson and my ultimate kind of therapy.
Lipstick and incredibly big heels
My obsession with makeup started at a young age, I would sit on my mother’s bed and riffle through her makeup bag, experimenting with whatever she had available. I remember tottering about in front of the mirror with my sister in our mum’s heels and necklaces, bright red lipstick crayoned across our cheeks and lips. Applying red lipstick still sparks those playful memories.
More of this experimenting ensued, though I fitted into my mum’s shoes a bit better and I like to think my makeup skills improved. So, by the age of 15 I thought I was set, I wanted to do makeup. But I didn’t know a great deal about the world and I soon wobbled in my resolve. My dad worried that makeup wasn’t a recognised or lucrative enough profession and encouraged me to take a different career path, and with experience on his side I took his advice.
Instead of makeup I tried my hand at a respectable job, or several. I didn’t necessarily know I was moving in the wrong direction, I was just busy trying to get on with things and work my way up the ladder. In retrospect it’s easy to tell something was missing.
My attraction to makeup was shaken up again when I had the opportunity to do some modelling and instead found myself much more interested in what the makeup artist was doing: watching her work with all her different products had my sole attention.
So why didn’t I go for it?
I saw the makeup industry as extrovert, but I certainly wasn’t and my lack of self-confidence kept tripping me up.
As a child I was painfully shy and hated school, I was socially awkward and never spoke to anyone. Because of this I had a tough time establishing friendships, and ally-less I was a prime target for bullying.
Thankfully secondary school was better and I had made some friends. I was still quite shy and reserved though and perhaps like most teenagers I was also incredibly self-conscious. I had really bad acne and this compounded the situation ten-fold.
Then, at twelve years old I had my first panic attack. I remember how frightened I was. I suffered with them for a while at sixteen but I seemed to grow out of them. I didn’t know why I was getting them but at twenty-nine they came back with a vengeance.
They were pretty debilitating. They starting happening a couple times a week and then a couple of times a day before my everyday was consumed by these paralysing attacks. I had to strop driving and because of sheer embarrassment I stopped doing basic things like using public transport and doing the food shopping. I was in constant fear of an attack and became agoraphobic, feeling I was only safe if I stayed home.
This continued for years until I woke up one day and decided I had to help myself. I was at the lowest I’d ever been and something had to change.
Tapping into the spiritual and becoming a counsellor
I have always been interested in spirituality. My mother is a very positive person, she’s a holistic therapist and has practiced meditation as part of her daily routine for years. It was my mum who introduced me to mediation and EFT (emotional freedom tapping) therapy and this is what really helped the panic attacks stop. I was still scared to go out in public so I started having counselling and then took a conscious decision to integrate myself back into society, kind of like exposure therapy.
So I’d go into Sainsbury’s and buy something small and use the self-checkouts. I did this for a while and then my next step was walking around the supermarket. I built up my confidence till I felt ready to go food shopping again. I applied the same tactics to driving, going out and using public transport.
In time my anxiety went and I got my life back on track. Counselling was really empowering for me, it helped me to better understand myself as a person and to address the good as well as the bad. And that gave me strength. I wanted to help others in the same way and so I trained to be a counsellor.
I’ve counselled young adults and children for six years, and one thing I know more now than ever is the world is full of people who struggle with self-confidence and body-image, which I can relate to. There are so many expectations and ‘ideals’ levied at us, men as well as women, and it’s without a doubt one of the biggest reasons we have so many hang-ups about ourselves.
Combining my loves
Counselling was a move in the right direction, but I still wanted to get into makeup. You just know what makes your heart sing. Playing with makeup and putting it on has always made me feel infinitely better about myself and the day ahead. I knew makeup had the power to empower and I needed to work out a way to share that with others.
Having grown and learnt a lot, I finally began my career in makeup, but with a twist. ‘Makeup is Therapy’ is my business’s mantra, I specialise in bridal, personal branding and fashion but when my clients come to me they also know they can offload their day, talk about their insecurities, whether it be about skincare, body image or other issues, in a strictly confidential setting. I also help my clients build their confidence in the application of makeup and I’m training as a mentor in self-help.
I have continued to develop myself as a person. I don’t think you can ever stop working on yourself and why I actively sought a mentor who could help me enhance my makeup skills, teach me business and improve my mindset even further.
One of my biggest fears was to stand up in front of people and speak and now I teach airbrush makeup application to colleges and at academies.
My mentor encouraged me to face my fears to achieve my goals and this has helped me attract makeup jobs I didn’t think I’d have the opportunity to do. But my passion for makeup itself has been the underlining driving force, it makes me so happy and I know I wouldn’t have pushed myself nearly as hard without that. I now have the confidence to do live videos on social media and to be proud at what I’m good at. I think I’ve even surprised myself. I truly believe that anything is possible if you have the right mindset and go after what you love.
I still have my off days, we all do, but I now know how to cope. Simply picking up my brushes is like medicine, it fills me with so many possibilities. That’s why makeup is my therapy.
I now share my passion for makeup with others and my everyday goal to inspire confidence in women, especially those who have low self-esteem like I did. As long as I’m achieving this I know I’m right where I need to be.