Why a “fussy” makeup and skincare routine can serve as lockdown self-care

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Have you ever actually done your makeup in the back of a taxi, taking your lipstick from ‘boardroom to bar’ while jerry-rigging a makeshift smoky eye with a single eyeshadow stick? I might have done it once. Still, Big Beauty is convinced that I need a toner that’ll take the place of my serum, moisturiser and essence, a pot that’ll serve as a lipstick, blush and colour corrector, and a hair spray that’ll cut my drying time in half.

A couple of years ago, I bought a multi-use stain that was housed in a mini tube and had a round shape that fit both the contours of my mouth and the shape of my cheeks. It was for “girls who do their makeup quick”. You didn’t need a brush, a blender or even a mirror. The payoff was sheer enough for that back-of-the-car touch-up, and if you wanted to just use the one product for fear of nothing else fitting in your tiny handbag, could triple-up as an eyeshadow too. It’s become a millennial product mainstay—products that are “fuss-free”, “easy-to-use” and perfect for those “on-the-go”. This translates into two-minute makeup routines and skincare repertoires perfect for when you need to be out the door in a flash. It means that so many products are formulated to be used on different parts of the face and have buildable payoff to cater to a wide variety of occasions and needs, so everything is playing double-duty. Even K-beauty brands, that were once extolling the joy of a multi-step (even upto 10!) routine, are now going the abbreviated route, combining multiple products into one.

Now that I’ve had time to think about the (slow) speed at which I’m plowing through my routines due the pandemic, I’ve got a lot of thoughts. Is a mirror really that fussy? Are brushes that much a pain to use? Or when I’m really overthinking, am I just not busy enough?

I happen to be the kind of person that enjoys testing and swatching my way through the beauty aisles, and mixing and matching three foundation shades to reach my perfect colour. This is especially so now, when I’ve been enjoying doing a full beat to go to the living room for dinner, working on filling in my brows and practising my contouring skills. As I pick a product, how many different uses it has is low on my list of determining factors, which is why I find it strange when brands slow-play the strength of the formula in lieu of shouting out how easy it can be used in an airplane bathroom.

It might be the implication that spending time on the routine is uncool that may be alienating; the idea that the millennial woman is too busy to take the time the time to wield a brush or wet a sponge, when finger application is the quickest way to get it done. While that might be true for some (more power to you if you can blend in your eyeshadow with your pinky), I’m still sticking to mine—it might be less utilitarian, but it’s definitely more fun.

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