Written by Ashley Davies


Crappy slapping

Are face-painting trends getting out of hand, asks makeup addict Ashley Davies.

girl wearing facepaint
A few months ago a high-street chain popular for selling sexy, itchy underwear and what used to be called ‘marital aids’ announced that it would be holding a live Facebook seminar on ‘vaginal contouring’. And I thought: oh, hairy Mary, here we go:  not content with pressurising us into using makeup to change the shape of our faces, retailers are now trying to get us to use different shades of makeup on our privates to make them look different.

I was wrong in this instance, because it turns out vaginal contouring is just a newish invention in the sex toy world. But I wasn’t the only one who incorrectly made that assumption because it’s starting to feel like cosmetics companies don’t think any part of our bodies should be left unadorned, unaltered or unhighlighted. After all, a few years ago there was a short-lived product called My New Pink Button, a temporary dye designed to make your most intimate areas look rosier. FFS.

I love makeup. Love, love, LOVE it. As a feminist, I am dead comfortable with it, but totally respect other women’s choices if they don’t fancy it. I adore watching other women putting their slap on, and I’m grateful that it exists to (largely) prevent me from looking like a knackered person who wants to kill everyone while crying silently.

Over the years I’ve probably spent enough money on makeup to pay for Rachel Weisz’s face to be transplanted onto mine. (Oh, come on – don’t act like you haven’t thought about it too.)

But sometimes it feels like it’s getting out of hand, doesn’t it? Pretty much every time I log on to social media my eye is caught by a variation on a particular style of promoted post: a close-up, beautifully lit video of a gorgeous woman expertly painting one of her eyebrows into a Kardashianesque shape and tone.

Then she dabs at the eyebrow with her long-nailed finger, then proudly flashes her clean fingertip at us to prove that this stuff doesn’t come off (yikes, lady – wouldn’t you want it to come off?), then tilts her head (also, can someone please explain this head tilt craze), blinks blankly and pouts, triumphant.

I have never bought or ‘liked’ any of these eyebrow products online, but these hypnotic films keep appearing on my timeline, and when they do I can’t look away. It sends me into a sort of trance.

“Ear makeup is quite the thing now. It usually involves painting the outer or lower part of the ear with metallic paint, which leaves people looking like gravity got the better of them during a craft workshop.”

The sheer volume of products being churned out and marketed for eyebrows is bewildering. Or ‘brows’, as they’re known in the beauty business. (Or indeed ‘brow’, as the glossy magazine world inexplicably prefers the singular noun – see also a leather ‘trouser’; a red ‘lip’; a stone-me-this-is-uncomfortable ‘heel’.)

The British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology said that two years ago British women were spending an average of £200 on their eyebrows per year. HOW?

But now I’m told that the pressure to paint your eyebrows on will soon be abating, and cosmetic manufacturers have other plans to encourage us to part with our money.

Ear makeup is quite the thing now. It usually involves painting the outer or lower part of the ear with metallic paint, which leaves people looking like gravity got the better of them during a craft workshop.

I’ve also spotted a new trend in manicures that involves painting a thin, dark line around the cuticles. So that’s time, money and effort spent on looking grubby. “Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe she’s been gardening.” A lot of the effort put into decorating nails is a mystery to me. I like a good manicure, but, cripes, you must go through a lot of tights with those scary talons. What are they even for?

And although this is slightly less ridiculous, collarbone contouring is very big right now, no doubt thanks to picture-led social media; just search for #collarbones on Instagram.

Ironically, those women most likely to spend hours in front of the mirror rubbing and brushing different shades onto their bodies and faces are probably those who have no idea how enviable their fresh, youthful, natural beauty is. Again, I’m not telling them not to do it because it’s totally their own business, and as the owner of a visage that’s shaped like something you’d play with on a beach, I totally get facial contouring. But, you know, there’s a lot to be said for moderation.

However, as anyone who knew me as a teenager will attest, I am in no position to judge. I was no stranger to thick orange foundation that stopped abruptly at the jaw-line, and bright blue eyeshadow that made me look like an exotic lizard, and I still go a bit (a LOT) overboard with the old eyeliner. Fourteen-year-old me once brushed blusher all over my arms in a bid to look like I had a better tan, resulting in worried looks from friends’ parents.

And overall, I’m glad makeup – and all its ridiculous crappiness – exists. But it’s bloody weird, isn’t it?


  • googleplus
  • linkedin
  • rss
  • pinterest

Written by Ashley Davies

Ashley Davies is an Edinburgh-based writer and editor and the human behind animal satire website thelabreport.co.uk.