Recently I went to get my UK visa photo taken, and while I was at it I had them make Canadian passport-sized copies as well. My passport will expire while I’m the in the UK, and it seems like a bad plan to be living abroad with an expired passport.
Recently the Canadian government has given us the option of a ten-year passport, which is convenient and cost-effective. I joked that I’d decide whether to get a five-year or ten-year one based on how my photo turned out. Wait, that totally wasn’t a joke.
The last time I applied for a UK visa I ended up having the photo taken last minute. I showed up for my appointment at the application center with copies of my passport photo, which were too old to be used. (Generally I thoroughly read through all instructional materials at my disposal, but somehow I missed the photo eligibility information…) I was sent a few doors down to a man who took the best ID picture I have ever had in my life. I mistakenly believed that I had developed an ability to take good ID pictures; my American passport and driver’s license photos, both taken subsequently, thoroughly disprove this theory. I was left with only two logical conclusions: that the photo was a fluke, or that the guy who had taken my picture was a wizard.
I chose not to believe that I had simply been lucky once, and went considerably out of my way to return to the same guy for this latest round of photos.
In my last visa photo, I didn’t do my makeup for the camera since I hadn’t known I would be photographed. I wore very simple makeup that I hoped would make me look like a young lady who deserved a study visa to whoever was processing my application and taking scans of my retinas. (I still find it freaky that the UK government has my eyeballs on file. Very Big Brother!) This time around, I did my makeup specifically with the knowledge that I would be photographed. Here’s how it turned out:
Not too bad, if I do say so myself! I wish I’d tied my hair back, but I can live with this for a decade, probably. I think the most important thing I did right this time was to pick the right lip colour. I wore NARS Brigitte in my driver’s license photo, but the bright lights really washed me out and my lips look super pale. (I’m not going to post that picture because it’s terrible, so you will have to take my word for it.) This time around I went for my YSL Rouge Volupté in 17, which is a beautiful mid-toned pink berry. It added enough colour to my lips to really show up in the picture while still being something neutral that I will hopefully not be embarrassed about when I’m 33. I also went a bit heavier with my blush than usual (and, of course, used Hourglass Mood Exposure). For my eyes, I defined the crease with a neutral brown eyeshadow and then used black liner as close to my lashline as possible for further definition. And I used my MUFE Ultra HD foundation because it was made to photograph beautifully!
Old vs. new! In my last passport picture I was wearing thick black eyeliner, mascara, and undereye concealer – this was about six months before I started getting into makeup. Obviously I would not be caught dead in an ID photo without lipstick now, but that was out of the question back then. My lips look so pale! And I totally overdid it with the eyeliner. Oh well, I was 18, what did I know about anything? All in all, I’d say it’s an improvement.
(Fun fact: I am semi-smirking in the old photo because immediately before the picture was taken the photographer told me I looked like Tiffany, which I found bizarre.)
(Second fun fact: I have had issues travelling on this passport multiple times because various border agents find it impossible to imagine that I could be the same person when my hair is different. When I was trying to leave Brussels in 2014 three different people had to assess my passport before deciding that I was me, and that I had had a haircut and a bleach job. I was like, “The rest of my face is the same, why is this so hard!!!!!”)
If my ID photos have taught me anything, it’s that smart makeup choices can be the difference between “meh” and “good”. And that I can easily look like I want to murder you:
I’m stuck with this for another eight and a half years. Also, how is this even real? I can’t use this as ID anywhere because nobody on the planet would believe that a nation would issue something so ridiculous-looking as ID. Incidentally, I wore the same YSL lipstick in this photo, but the black-and-white thing really does no favours for someone with fair, low-contrast colouring.
This post is going to begin with one of my trademark rambles, so if you’d like to scroll past the text and onto the pictures I won’t blame you.
As I’ve mentioned before, my undergraduate major was Cultural Studies, which Wikipedia helpfully defines as “a field of theoretically, politically, and empirically engaged cultural analysis that concentrates upon the political dynamics of contemporary culture, its historical foundations, defining traits, and conflicts.” There’s a large emphasis on the three-way relationship between text, producer, and consumer, and it’s a field which is constantly changing and growing with new technological and cultural developments. During my undergrad I took quite a wide variety of classes, covering topics like Marxist cultural theory, semiotics, 20th century Italian cinema, and even Netflix. Yes, I got to watch House of Cards for school. It was fun.
At my university, Cultural Studies was part of the English department, which also comprised Theatre Studies and Literature, and Cultural Studies majors always felt that we got shafted in our department. Though I did get to take some truly cool classes, essentially what I have is a film degree with a few random theory and lit classes that I was tricked into taking. (Seriously: my last semester of my undergrad I signed up for a class called “Special topics in Canadian cultural studies”, which turned out to be a lit class. It was full of fourth-year lit students who knew a lot of terms that I didn’t because, although I love to read, the only lit class I’d taken prior to this was Intro to Shakespeare in my first year. I believe I used the term “bait and switch” in my course evaluation.) When I studied abroad for a year, it was in the Film and Television department. And I’ll be going to grad school for Film and Television in September. So, basically, I accidentally became a film major and then decided to just run with it.
(I’m planning on focusing on television during grad school as I’ve only seen like 12 movies in my life.)
I’ve written on this blog before that, despite my status as an accidental film student and my reluctance to accept this identity, it turns out that I really enjoy artsy foreign films. My favourite in this vague genre (and perhaps of all time) is Věra Chytilová’s daring, inventive, and visually stunning Sedmikrásky, or Daisies, which came out in 1966. I love the film for so many reasons: its iconoclasm, its stylization, its deployment of alternatingly bratty and strangely innocent heroines, its destruction of femininity and subsequent construction of a femininity that is not placed within the limits of corporeality. It’s a feminist film and a critique of the political climate of Czechoslovakia in the mid 1960s, and it has a decidedly lesbian subtext. All in all, it’s pretty great. The makeup is really a very small reason of why I love it, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love the graphic sixties makeup that the protagonists wear throughout the film. (I’ve written two papers about Daisies and don’t believe I mentioned the makeup in either, although the first paper was about the destruction and subsequent reconstruction of an alternate femininity in the film.)
Many moons ago my good friend Aisling suggested that I do some sort of series on my blog marrying film with makeup. This was probably at least a year ago, and so it figures that I’m only now getting around to it. I’m not sure if this will be a series or not, but it does seem fitting to do a Daisies-inspired makeup look for my blog.
The protagonists (or perhaps anti-heroines?) of the film are two young women named Marie who wreak havoc in their city. This havoc generally involves excessive consumption, wasting food, stealing, and going on dates with men for free food only to ditch them later. They wear a lot of bold black gel eyeliner (and there’s even a scene where they apply it in a public bathroom before making off with the cleaning lady’s money) with little else on their faces. The eyeliner does seem to get a bit bolder as the Maries continue on their destructive ways.
I’ve always been more of a fan of the fair-haired Marie #2; Marie #1 is crueller to me (at least to her friend; they’re equally as terrible to men), so I decided to model my overall look off hers. She tends to wear a peachy lipstick and blush low down on the cheeks, with flowers in her hair. The look in the penultimate image above is in a particularly vulnerable scene, and you can see it’s just a run-of-the-mill bold winged liner.
I decided to do something in between Marie #2’s little date night look and the very graphic, squared-off liner she sports at the end of the film. Actually, I suppose my finished result is closer to Marie #1’s, as she tends to stick with a classic liner shape – albeit exaggerated. Hers takes up the entire lid, unlike Marie #2’s regular flick above.
I did think NARS Brigitte was a particularly apt lipstick to finish this look off, not just because the colour was pretty true to Marie #2’s peach but because Brigitte Bardot was, of course, an icon of the 1960s femininity that the film pushes back against.
Ever since I did my “Life On Mars?” look back in March, I’ve wanted to do it again. The eyebrows were a weak spot that I wanted to improve, and I was an eager for an excuse to go all-out with the outfit and hair rather than just the makeup. So, of course, I decided to be “Life On Mars?” Bowie for Halloween. (Or, rather, for October 29, since Saturday was obviously when all the adult Halloween festivities happened!)
This time I did manage to much more successfully conceal my eyebrows. I built up four layers of glue and made sure every single hair was covered. I then used a peach colour corrector by NYX to try to cancel out some of the dark pigmentation of my brows (a trick learned from various drag queens on YouTube, who are as great a resource for makeup as scene kids are for hair). Finally, I used Dermablend Cover Creme in Pale Ivory to pack on even more coverage. (This stuff is heavy-duty, people. If you want something that’s beyond high coverage, check it out.) This worked out much better than my last attempt! I’m not at drag queen-level brow concealing yet, but I was happy with the effect this gave.
I did my eyes pretty much the same way as the last time: I used Maybelline Color Tattoo in Tenacious Teal for the bulk of the shadow, and brought in a bit of silver on the inner corners. I used a black pencil in my waterline and mascara on my top and bottom lashes.
A lot of the images from the video are quite colourized, so last time I ended up opting for a bright pink blush and lipstick. This time I went off slightly differently-coloured images, which made Bowie’s blush and lipstick appear more in the salmon/coral family:
For my cheeks I used a mixture of the matte blushes in Sleek’s Blush by 3 Lace palette, a true orange and a warm coral-red. I placed the blush in the hollows of my cheeks and brought it up to my temples for that 70s look. For my lips, I used my Tony Moly Cat Chu Wink lipstick, which I bought several years ago and have never used because I don’t actually like the colour. It’s just, you know…
For my outfit, I thrifted a tie and powder blue suit from Value Village. The suit is very large on me and doesn’t give quite the same slim fit Bowie had in the video, but beggars can’t be choosers and finding a powder blue suit on the cheap isn’t easy!
I debated spraying my hair with one of those temporary dyes and faking a mullet by pinning the sides back, but I was worried that it would stain my very light hair. Instead, I bought an auburn wig and cut it into a mullet with feathered bangs. It’s not perfect, but the point comes across. (The wig was really low quality and cheap; there was only so much I could do!)
I didn’t have anything approximating the black and white heeled shoes from the video, so I improvised with my Zara glitter boots, which I felt had a general Bowie vibe.
My mom and I spent a long time freeze-framing the video to see what he had on his nails and concluded that the answer was “nothing”. I’m not a “nothing on the nails” kind of person, so I decided to use my Glam My Mani nail stickers and gold glitter to create a lightning bolt pattern that pays homage to Aladdin Sane, easily Bowie’s most famous look.
I think the gold is a bit low-contrast with my actual nail colour. Next time if I were more patient I’d make the lightning bolt black, but I didn’t have time to paint my nails black, let them fully dry, and then apply the sticker and another layer of nail polish.
Here’s everything I used for my David Bowie “Life On Mars?” look:
Foundation: Dermablend Cover Creme in Pale Ivory Concealer: NYX Colour Correcting Palette Eye Primer: NARS Pro-Prime Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base Eyeshadow: Maybelline Colour Tattoo in Tenacious Teal all over the lid; theBalm Metal-ica (from the Balm Jovi palette) on the inner corners Eyeliner: Clarins Waterproof Eye Pencil Mascara: Lancôme Hypnôse Star Blush: A mixture of Crochet and Chantilly from the Sleek Blush by 3 palette in Lace Lips: Tony Moly Cat Chu Wink lipstick in Salmon Pink
On Monday, I opened the store and had no desire to wake up early enough to do any sort of involved Halloween makeup (such as concealing my brows, a process that takes about 45 minutes). I opted to be a half-assed witch with a green glittery hat. (Thanks, dollar store!) I went for very defined and sharp brows, black lips and eyes, and lots of mascara on the top and bottom lashes. I decided not to put anything on my cheeks because I wanted my pale self to shine through to make my eyes and lips even more high-contrast.
I got a lot of compliments from customers, including one who liked that I had a green hat and black makeup instead of a green face and a black hat. I wish I could say that was purposeful, but really the dollar store was out of regular black witch hats. There were also quite a few kids in the store who liked my costume – and, of course, I had some lovely, adorable, and polite trick-or-treaters (but not so many that I don’t have candy left to enjoy myself).
Foundation: Make Up For Ever Ultra HD in R210 Concealer: Maybelline Master Conceal in Fair Eye Primer: NARS Pro-Prime Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base Eyeshadow: LORAC Black (from the Pro palette) Eyeliner: Clarins Waterproof Eye Pencil Mascara: Lancôme Hypnôse Star Eyebrows: Maybelline Colour Tattoo in Tough as Taupe Lips: Barry M Matte Lip Paint in Black
I hope you all had enjoyable Halloween festivities if that’s your kind of thing!
I'm a Canadian grad student in Scotland who previously worked in cosmetics for three years. I started this blog when I realized that instead of wishing for the makeup blog of my dreams, I could create it myself. My aim is to write thorough, well-researched posts and to never lose sight of my feminist perspective and my own (rambly) voice. In addition to makeup, I love catchy pop songs, flowers, and every cat in the world. More ›