This challenge has been doing the rounds on Youtube and Instagram recently. I love seeing that even people who have fantastic makeup skills had to start somewhere. Mostly, we all started at the same pathetic place and it makes me feel better about my failed cosmetics adventures as a youth.
I went to a fairly strict Catholic senior school and we weren’t allowed to wear make up at all (but by the time we were in Year 11, they didn’t care too much) so pretty much all of my looks were outside of school time.
Back in the day, no one knew about high-end makeup. You got your products from a market stall or from Superdrug. No one had Boots money, that was for rich kids. This explains plenty of my bad choices as we didn’t really have many options. And if there were any, I sure as hell didn’t know about them. There were no Youtube tutorials or Pinterest boards to help back in 2001. You had to learn that shit yoursel or copy celebrity looks Shout magazine. I had one book that told me how to layer eyeshadows and apply lipliner that I took a look at, thought “Nah” and did my own thing. Probably should have paid attention.
I also managed to find a few photos for comparison but in my mid teens, I refused to have my photo taken. There’s a big gap missing from 11 to 16 but that’s fine. I would like to remind everyone that eyebrows were not a ‘thing’ for me until the last 2 or 3 years. So they were all but invisible.
To all those in the photos, I am so sorry!
1999/2000: Age 11
My face was a make up-free zone. I didn’t care about it. My hair was always a wavy mess and I constantly wore a black plastic trench coat, black trousers, black t-shirts and black shoes. I wanted to be Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer but didn’t know how to pull it off. Let’s just say I was a weird child. Thank god we didn’t take photos like we do now.
I was 10 or 11 in this photo. Hence the era appropriate baggy white jeans and my brother in his Manchester United top in the background. I remember loving that outfit. So fetch.
2001: Age 12
By the time I hit high school I’d stopped dressing like a tacky shadow. In came boot cut jeans, slogan t-shirts from Tammy Girl and trainers. My hair was either blow-dried with one of those clamp straightening brushes, or plaited when wet so that I’d have crazy waves the next morning. I kinda looked like a crap Hermione from The Philosophers Stone.
I’d never cared about make up, or even worn any. The one day, out of the blue, I sat down and started putting some on eyeshadow that I’d got for Christmas. I didn’t know how the hell to use anything so I pat it on with one of those terrible foam applicators. The little cheap ones that I continued to use until I was TWENTY THREE. My favourite eyeshadow was an Avon bright white and silver shimmer shade that I literally pressed on, layer after layer. I didn’t wear mascara with it, oh no, that was ‘too much’. I didn’t know what fall out was either so I had little silver blotches on my cheeks where I’d just left it to sit there for most of the day.
This was how I smiled in every photo. I hated my teeth and didn’t want to appear too eager in life, apparently.
2002: Age 13
As the teen years hit, my fashion sense went from bad to worse. I constantly wore jeans, which in the early 00s was considered fashion suicide. The trend was these hideous matching tracksuits and people used to talk shit about me for not wearing them. I mean, please.
I started to explore make up a little. And in came the spider leg lashes. Everyone had them because no one knew what the fuck to do with mascara. I experimented with eyeshadow shades, the more glitter and shimmer the better, and also eyeliner. For some reason, I would only wear this on my waterline and after 10 minutes it would have drifted down under my lashes, giving me the panda eye effect. Most of the time it would glob up in the corner of the eye and I’d find a gross satisfaction in pulling out a watery string of eyeliner. Eugh. I firmly believe that doing this for years is the reason I have such sensitive eyes now.
With and without flash for the full effect. Also this was my exact hair style for about 9 months. The two framing chunks of hair were super trendy.
I also had my first dalliance foundation. It was a little orange at best. I thought I was so sophisticated and grown up. I didn’t know what blending was, so I had an orange face and ghost white neck. Why my mum ever let me wear it out of the house, I do not know. I couldn’t find one that was much too dark so I put about 9 layers of Max Factor Miracle Touch on instead. I wore it every non-school day with the shimmer shadows, bad eyeliner and clumpy mascara.
2003: Age 14
By 14, I was a mascara pro and my mum bought our first hair straighteners. They were the Remington wide plates and the first time we used them I was going to the school Christmas disco. My hair looked ahmazing. Avril Lavigne had just released Complicated and I legit wanted to be her. I had the netted vest tops in black and white (check me out), baggy cargo pants (I actually miss them. They were the most comfortable things on the planet) and wore my hair super straight, covering my eyes. Thank god that phase passed quickly.
I still hadn’t managed to figure out why my eyeliner never stayed put, but that didn’t stop me from wearing it. It was only a few years ago that I realised it was because I was wearing 99p liner by brands I can’t even remember. I always wore tons of eyeliner on the lower lash line, mascara, foundation and literally nothing else. My face was so orange and had no dimension to it, but that was the look I was going for. I thought I was so edgy.
2004: Age 15
Foundation still wasn’t my thing at 15. It took me until my mid-20s to find a shade that actually matched, yet I still wore it every day and never once blended the edges in. I started wearing it for school around this time as I was getting close to finishing and the teachers stopped caring too much. My school look was foundation, translucent powder (I’ve always used the Rimmel Clear Complexion Transparent Powder, its brilliant), a beige/orangey shimmer eyeshadow, mascara and clear roller ball, candyfloss scented lip gloss. I don’t know who I thought I was kidding with all that on my face. In hindsight, it wasn’t that bad of a look!
After school, I’d usually apply about 19 layers of eyeliner in the corners and on the waterline, and top up my mascara. Done. Bam. On weekends I had a little eyeshadow and maybe some blush. This was when I started matching my eyeshadow to my clothes. CRINGE. There were some awful combinations.
I experimented with clothes, mostly how low-cut a top I could get away with and made some terrible mistakes. Such as WHITE UNICORN JEANS and SHIMMERY WHITE EYESHADOW. Smh.
2005: Age 16
This year I finished high school and went off to the local college where I thought I could “reinvent” myself as some quirky/edgy girl. Sure, Jan. All I did was straighten my hair to death, layer loads of tops and ruin the bottoms of all my jeans by wearing them super low on my hips. This was around the time that hipster jeans were coming into fashion and everyone had the whale tail thing going on.I had these pair of baggy jeans with suspenders on them and I wore them until they literally fell apart. The bottoms of them were so worn away you could see the tops of my checkerboard vans (red, not black, I was super alternative. Hair flick). Or, I went total quirky Joe Browns-esq without ever once shopping there. See the limp haired monstrosity below.
My make up didn’t change too much – I kept the same base but found a new foundation. Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse was launched and I loved it – it was terrible. I had oily skin so after about half an hour it had slid off my face. I wore a shit-ton of eye make up then too. I still mostly outfit matched. Cringe again. But emo had become a thing and, for a while, I decided I wanted emo eyes. Heavily inspired by the Ash Envy single CD cover.
The “look” was to apply badly blended red eyeshadow and then line your entire eye in about an inch of black khol. Admittedly, I never had a red shadow this pigmented but it was the closest match. This was never a good look on anyone but I have small eyes and it made them look even smaller. To cap it off, I didn’t wear any lip product so I looked like an idiot.
2007: Age 17/18
By 2007 I’d started going out “round town” drinking with my friends and out came even more eyeliner. And no, I didn’t know how to do the cat eye, I just used an incredibly bright eyeshadow and lined my entire eye with layer after layer of khol. I started going nuts with the eyeshadow and there was literally no blending involved. Not a bit. I troweled it on with perfect, oval-shaped precision. My favourite colour was a crazy bright glittery green by L’Oreal. I wore it everywhere, even to my job. I didn’t know liquid eyeliner existed until this year, during a night out, and had a friend paint it on me in some club’s toilets. It was not a good look. The crazy green eyes were my fave though.
I still pretty much dressed the same, except skinny jeans had become a thing so I was avoiding buying into the trend by wearing the most loose-fitting, flared ones I could find. Extreme comfort, bad choices. I had a pair of flared jeans that were these cheap, stretchy 70s-esq monstrosities and I lived in them.
2008: Age 19
My last teen year did not bring any better decisions. I eventually bought into skinny jeans and lived in them, with a lot of striped tops, for some reason. I tried hair curling and ended up channelling Foxy Cleopatra for a while. For the most part, it was pretty tame.
I laid off the eyeliner a little, relegating it to my bottom lash line only – but thickened and extended out to try to make my eyes look bigger. It didn’t work. It pretty much looked the same as it did when I was 15. Why no one told me that was a stupid thing to do, I don’t know. I got my first full-time job so eventually started wearing less and less, then none at all for a very long time.
While my make up wasn’t crazy, it wasn’t anywhere in the vicinity of good either. My foundation matches also weren’t as bad as I remember them being! Teen years are for experimenting and make up is a big part of that. I wouldn’t go back and change anything, as I now know what works for me and what doesn’t. It’s a right of passage that I’m incredibly glad I didn’t miss out on.
Now I’m going to wash off this make up and treat me and my four remaining eyelashes to a bath. Later x