For the last few years, I took comfort in the idea of change without actually changing anything. I clung onto cat eyes and an abundance of liner, opting out of every lipstick shade other than red, and spent most of my twenties declaring myself experimental because of how obvious my makeup was (but not because of how many risks I was taking).
That’s because straying from my norm was intimidating and straight-up scary. For years, I’d hid behind dramatic eyes and a classic lip tone, declaring them my signature aesthetic, while in reality I was a little too nervous to try anything different. But then I was forced to. Because I’m lazy and assumed I was exempt from needing to clean my makeup brushes or replace my eyeliner (because in my head, I am special), I developed an allergy to my go-to eye makeup and was forced to — pause for dramatic effect — adapt.
From January to last night when I put glitter in my hair, I learned a thing or two. So here are five of the big beauty lessons I’m taking into 2016, black eyeliner be damned.
1. You really don’t need that much eyeliner
I mean, maybe you do. Maybe that really is your thing and you look fantastic in black eyeliner, and you think you need it to live. If that’s the case, ignore everything I’m about to say and take solace in knowing I spend my days jealous of you.
But if you’re me? You really don’t. Your eyes will still stand out with shadow and mascara. Or if you fill in your brows! You’re no less dressy without a cat eye, and if you roll with a cat eye, take your makeup before you go to bed. Your eyes beg of you. (And so does your pillowcase. And you cat who will feign a look of concern upon seeing you in the morning.)
2. You were totally right in elementary school: glitter is for everyone
Here’s the thing about glitter: you’re never too old for it. Who were these people who said we were? What were they trying to prove? Why did we listen to them? I mean, no, we don’t need to cake ourselves in glitter gel ala Anne T. Donahue at a grade nine school dance (shout-out to that Tommy Girl glitter gel, though), but glitter roots, glitter nails, glitter eyes, and glitter lips — maybe not at the same time, but hey — work with “grown-up clothes” just fine. Besides, this isn’t Working Girl, and our day-to-day wear isn’t defined by shoulder pads and sensible shoes.
Also, nothing dresses up a black t-shirt like an abundance of gold glitter, so file that under “hot tip.”
3. Treat yourself (at least nail-wise)
For the majority of my twenties, I was a nail snob. I wrote manicures off as a waste of time and money, and dismissed nail art as a passing trend I was above. (Why? Because I was the worst, you guys. I also dyed my hair black and cut it into a bob by myself, so obviously I wasn’t in a terrific place.) But this year I went for it. I replaced a dinner out or shirt I didn’t need with a manicure every couple of weeks and treated myself like a Parks and Recreation character. Why? Because I have to stare at my hands on a keyboard all day, and I’m ready to look like I have my shit together. (And nothing alludes to a together-type-of-life like reasonable nails.) 2016? The year I attempt nail art.
4. All lip colours are great lip colours
Here’s the thing about red lipstick: it’s a wonderful colour, but it certainly isn’t the only one. So this year, I kind of abandoned it. Instead, I tried orange, black, purple, pink, gold, bronze, and whatever else looked appealing if I was in the market for more lipstick. And I get it: bright lipstick feels like a call-back to the worst parts of the 1990s. (Like, who wants to be an Amber when you can be a Cher, you know?) But lipstick only reflects your attitude while wearing it. If you show up in M.A.C Cyber, looking and feeling like Jessica Chastain in A Most Violent Year (read: a boss), you will be treated as such. Also, the only person who will ever make a derogatory remark about your lip shade is a person you’d be best to excommunicate forever anyway, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how many awful people avoid you when you’re channeling Rihanna.
5. Just try the trend, already
I spent a long time avoiding beauty trends because I thought I was too old/too cool/too over it/etc., and living that way was the least fun thing ever. There is no way to escape looking back at our pasts and cringing at things we tried or looks that we thought were cool, and no amount of “trademarks” or playing it safe will avoid that inevitability. So instead, I started having actual fun. I dyed my hair red. I splurged on fun makeup. For two weeks I had gems on my nails and I felt like a goddamn queen. Will I look back and regret any of it? Who cares! Considering we’re pining over our 1998 vibes in 2015, it’ll be only a matter of time before we circle back and re-adopt the looks we love now, so run with it.
Even though, for the record, maybe no more flash tattoos.