Make-up lessons – the best gift I ever gave myself

Before I begin this article, I’d like to write a little disclaimer. You are beautiful. You don’t need make up to be gorgeous, and this won’t be for everyone. This is a very personal post based on my own feelings and experience, and in no way should you feel like you need to start wearing lots of make up if it’s not something you enjoy or agree with.


Why I decided to have a make-up lesson

In February 2013, I lost my father. I won’t go into details here, it was a difficult illness and I, along with other family members, gave up my work for a period of time to look after him. The process was devastating and stressful, and it had one completely unexpected consequence.

Mourning was heavy and unbearable – and in addition to the many ways it affected me, which I won’t go into here, the toll it took on my face was astounding. Looking at pictures from my wedding day, two weeks after his diagnosis, and looking in the mirror one year on last August, I felt like I had aged about ten years. My skin was dry and blotchy in places, greasy and clogged in others. My eyes were constantly slightly puffy and watering, my forehead was playing host to some rather pronounced fine wrinkles, and there were angry red lines between my eyebrows from frowning in my sleep. Yes, you can frown in your sleep.

I’m not a particularly looks-focused person. I’d always been happy just to dash on a bit of mascara or lip gloss when I went out, but suddenly I didn’t want to show my face anywhere. It wasn’t just because I felt less attractive, it was because the grief on my face was palpable. Strangers would come and ask me if I was OK, people always thought I was scowling at them. I felt utterly contorted and, after a year of wearing this mask of grief, I decided enough was enough. This is a really hard picture for me to post, because it’s from a time when I felt (and felt I looked) that awful, but here is the “before” picture of me with a bare, just-cleaned face.


What the lesson involves

I rang up an industry contact, Clare Pinkney, a make-up artist with a brilliant portfolio and reputation, and booked in a two-hour make-up and skincare lesson. Maybe I felt sad, but I didn’t have to wear it on my skin for everybody to see.

Clare sat me down and asked me what my concerns were. I told her about the changes my skin had been through in the last year given my circumstances, she was just wonderful. She started with skincare, talking me through products and routines that would help slowly bring my skin back into line!

We then went through how to apply the make up itself. I was worried I’d forget it all the minute I got home, but Clare handily had a sheet, complete with a diagram of a face, on which she recorded everything we used and how to replicate it at home.

At the end of the lesson, I felt like a different person was staring back at me in the mirror. I’d come in feeling deflated and vulnerable, I left feeling confident again.


Told you wear too much make up? You’re choosing the wrong products

I decided to go out and invest in the products that had worked for me, and since then, prepping my skin and doing my make up has become my morning ritual. It helps to centre me and prepare me for the day, and knowing that I’ve done my make up properly and haven’t got a horrible foundation line around my face or clumped up mascara means I can relax and focus on whatever goals I’ve set.

As I said earlier, make up isn’t for everyone. I certainly don’t think anyone should be pressured into it and many people genuinely look better without. I will say that if you do like to wear make up and it does help you with your confidence, then learning how to do it properly is essential.


I hear so many people say that someone they know wears “too much make up” – I think it’s more the case that they’re wearing colours and products that aren’t compatible with their skin type. If it looks like too much, it’s probably just the wrong stuff.

So if you love to dress up and need a little boost, I’d highly recommend investing in a make up lesson and good kit – you’ll never look back!

8 Comments on Make-up lessons – the best gift I ever gave myself

  1. Emma
    November 15, 2013 at 9:08 am (6 years ago)

    This is a fantastic post Sara. I love make-up but don’t spend too much time on it, and often when I get into work and am confronted by 360 mirrors in the lift all I can see is the dark circles under my eyes and tired skin. It has been something that has been getting me down for a while and I have been thinking about make-up lessons. This has definitely given me the push I need to look into it more seriously. Thank you lovely :) xx

    • Sara - Darling Lovely Life editor
      November 15, 2013 at 9:17 am (6 years ago)

      thanks honey – I can tell you you look beautiful till the cows come home but sometimes a little help makes us FEEL it when we’re not feeling 100% xxxx

  2. Nicola Russill
    November 15, 2013 at 9:08 am (6 years ago)

    Great post Sara, my i happen to think you look so beautiful in the ‘Before’ photo, you of course look beautiful in the ‘After’ photo as well. I wish i looked as gorgeous as you with no make-up on.

  3. Chloe @ The Loveliest Food
    November 15, 2013 at 12:18 pm (6 years ago)

    Great idea to have a lesson, I’m definitely in need of some make-up inspiration! I use the same five products every day (plus a tiny bit of darker eyeshadow for my ‘evening look’)… I’d love new ideas that work for me but allow me to play around with my look!

    Maybe a make-up artist could do a guest series about different looks or colours to suit your hair & skin colourings? x

  4. Jo @ SO-Jewellery
    November 15, 2013 at 4:18 pm (6 years ago)

    What a great idea sometimes you need something to brighten you physically to feel lifted mentally. If ever I feel a bit yuck I slick on a bright red lipstick and it perks me up

  5. Jules Bridal Jewellery
    November 18, 2013 at 8:36 pm (6 years ago)

    I found softly defining my light brown eyebrows using eye shadow helped lift my face and created a more polished look without any obvious make-up ! Great post btw.


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