The Painter in Me is Obsessed with Makeup Tutorials

The Painter in Me is Obsessed with Makeup Tutorials

The latest content consumption hole I’ve fallen down is watching makeup tutorials on YouTube. If you’ve never seen one, they usually go like this: A beautiful woman will say, “Hello, today we’re going to do this look,” and then proceed to completely transform her face until she looks like a mermaid goddess and/or Kylie Jenner.

I have liked makeup since I was a little kid growing up in a houseful of women. I would take an every-color eyeshadow palette and paint my face like a vampire. I also would use my sister’s pink eyeshadow on my eyes to hide that I’d been crying (didn’t work). Putting makeup on my own face was fun in the same way that drawing faces was.

Imagine my delight when I wandered onto YouTube a few months ago and saw that people were doing makeup in completely different ways than I had ever heard of. For example, did you know that you can “cook” your makeup by leaving powder on it for 10 minutes and then brushing it in?

Magazines, I saw for the hundredth time in my life, were full of lies. They tell you to sprinkle on a dash of this, add a little blush here and boom, you’ll look just like Blake Lively. NO. That is not real. If you want to actually look like a celebrity, watch one of the makeup artists on YouTube sculpt her face in such an elaborate way that she’s basically earned an MFA in painting in the process. This is where the real advice has been hiding. These people completely understand the curves of their own faces, and they know how to work with light and color in a way that is transfixing.

I had an art teacher in school tell me that artists always draw people to look like themselves. He told me I gave all my drawings mouths and ears like mine, which maybe I do. Even though I draw portraits all the time, it wasn’t until I did a couple other people’s makeup for a wedding that I realized how different all of our facial structures were. (Some people do not need gobs of concealer under their eyes, for one.)

It took me physically touching and adding color to someone else’s face to truly see how they looked. Now when I paint, I try to take a minute to think about what I’d do if I was putting makeup on their face. Do they have really high cheekbones? Are their eyes deeper set than mine? This makes me more able to draw them how they actually look, and not the way I am used to thinking about my own face. Seems like a no-brainer, but it took that for me to truly see.

These makeup artists on YouTube are indeed artists. There’s something empowering about all these people putting something so intimate as going from bare-faced to made-up online for us all to see. It helps us see how elaborate beauty is, and how much work it really takes to look like Kylie Jenner. But it also shows us just how creative we all can be using the canvas that’s closest to us. That’s beautiful to me.

Becky Lang