The makeup that rules Instagram
Social media has enabled makeup enthusiasts to create experimental looks. What really goes behind curating one? We find out
In her bestselling book Face Paint: The Story of Makeup, Lisa Eldridge writes that makeup, as we know it, has been in existence only for the past 100 years. This obviously begs a question - what substituted as makeup for generations before the last century? The answers, Eldridge discovers, are fascinating. Did you know that women in Greece would apply a mixture of burned cork and soot on their eyebrows to thicken them? Or that it was common for French women in the sixteenth century to hide their facial imperfections with mouches?
Clearly, every generation has discovered - and rediscovered - its own ritual of makeup. A reason why tracing the history of what is now known as creative or avant-garde makeup is a more ambiguous exercise than what it is imagined to be. Today, it sums up an idea that goes beyond the standard definition of makeup to encapsulate an aesthetic that revolves around using the tools of makeup to create art on the face. The results are dramatic. In high fashion, creative makeup has been used time and again to make edgy fashion statements. Outside of it, you will find these looks being donned for special occasions, festivals, fashion shoots and performances. It's not makeup that you would wear to the most glamorous party in town, and until a few years ago, it would have sufficed to say that it is a niche.
That is until Instagram and YouTube entered the picture.
Today, social media has been the singularly the biggest game changer in the beauty business. It is fairly common to spot makeup artists and bloggers routinely experimenting with makeup to create dramatic looks that instantly go viral. How then does one determine a good work of creative makeup from a bad one? Award-winning fashion photographer, and founder of Lipstick Makeup Institute, Yasmin Hussain says, "The trend in the UAE is to give makeup artists carte blanche to really explore their creativity and encourage them to push their limits. You see it in fashion shows like the Arab Fashion Week. Where a lot of people do go wrong is that they think they will pick up a makeup brush and then ideas will just flow. That may work for a more generic makeup, but not when you are striving to be unique. So even though it may seem spontaneous, you need to have a direction, or it can get messy." The reason creative makeup thrives on social media, as the UAE-based fashion and beauty writer Aishwarya Tyagi points out, is because of its uniqueness and accessibility. "Instagram, with its one-minute long videos, gave makeup enthusiasts from all over the world an amazing platform to experiment and showcase their avant-garde talents. Creative makeup thrives on social media because these young innovators can reach millions from the comfort of their home. The reason why experimental genre of makeup will never make its way to mainstream sensibilities because that's not the intent. It's meant to be a viral sensation, not a daily quick fix."
The virality of one-minute videos make the effort seem deceptively simple. To find out how creative makeup is done, we decided to visit the Lipstick Makeup Institute, a Dubai Media City-based institute that offers courses on creative makeup and has even started offering hairstyling courses having teamed up with the famous hairstylists Jamilla Paul and Cyril Morgan. At the venue, makeup artist Chaliya Thomson is carefully instructing a student, Zouha Dalloul, on how to perfect a creative makeup look as hairstylist Cyril Morgan patiently works on the model's curls. The end result is nothing short of fabulous. Here is a brief tutorial on how to achieve a basic creative makeup look!