From behind, I suppose it could look like I actually am meditating. On the floor of my bedroom I sit, legs crossed, in front of a mirror that leans against the wall. I hate doing my makeup standing up, where I become distracted by the effort it takes to remain upright, fighting the urge to shift my weight from foot to foot.
I often joke to my boyfriend, friends, and myself that I could start getting ready three hours early and still end up rushing out the door. I’m rarely late, but am constantly about to be late, scrambling to leave the house. Before work, my mornings involve just about anything that can save me time: instant oats, the hottest setting on my hair dryer, and a wardrobe that no longer includes anything that requires ironing. For someone who shaves their legs, I can go weeks without finding the time during my morning shower to do so, and when I finally do, it’s always a dodgy rush job.
My beauty routine, however, is something I cannot hurry through. It begins with syrupy golden jojoba oil that takes minutes to properly massage into my skin, and ends with the application of mascara — a separate mini-routine I’ve perfected over the years, swiping the wand across the ends of my lashes, then zigzagging from root to tip again and again until the perfect fan has formed. My morning makeup routine is when I am most focused, most mindful. I don’t need an adult coloring book when I can fill in my eyebrows.
If you don’t wear makeup, I get how easy it would be to misunderstand my love for it. You might assume that being caught barefaced is the nightmare that motivates me to paint my face with products that cost more money than I care to admit. In reality, I’m comfortable with the way I look without makeup, but on days I don’t wear it, I don’t feel like myself. I feel as though something is off, like I forgot to put underwear on before leaving the house.
People often think of makeup as a kind of mask, used to cover up or hide, embellish or enhance. But for me, my makeup routine is a process that allows me to start my day with a clear mind. Even the simplest of makeup routines take time, and no matter how haphazardly you swipe on your daily BB cream, that process will always come with a moment of concentration followed by a moment of reflection.
YouTube is home to thousands of beauty tutorials, many with millions of views. And though it may seem as though every teen and twentysomething on Instagram has agreed on a universal beauty look that must be replicated by all, I’m certain that not everyone who’s spent hours watching GRWM videos literally got ready with them. Instead, I put the popularity of these videos down to their mesmerizing ability to calm with a dab dab dab of a signature pink Beautyblender.
Makeup tutorials are the modern-day version of Bob Ross’s The Joy of Painting, showing someone making art that I’m supposed to be inspired to replicate, but never will. Much like Bob’s wiry paintbrush scratching over canvas, a blogger blending their eyeshadow soothes me while I wait to see the end result.
A few Decembers ago, I was on the phone with one of my oldest friends. As goes with a lot of conversations that happen around this time of year, we were swapping resolutions. I can’t recall what mine was — I can only assume it was something I did not achieve — but I can remember hers. “I just want to floss every morning,” she said from the other side of the country. Before you confuse this resolution for one without ambition, know that my friend is a badass full-time activist — and it’s for this reason that this goal of hers felt so important. “I figure if I can do that every day, I can do anything,” she told me. I understood. She doesn’t wear makeup often, and those few minutes of flossing would be her time to stop, focus, and check that box of “I did something for myself today.” It was a resolution to be more mindful.
I’m no stranger to the benefits of meditation; I’ve written about gray matter, the hippocampus, and the way our brain can literally change if we do it on a regular basis. And one day I hope to make “real” meditation part of my morning routine, but until then, I’m thankful for what I have — an allocated block of time each morning to focus on myself without thinking about anything else, at the very serious risk of coming to work with one brow thicker than the other.