¡Adórate! I Use Makeup As An Instrument For Intentional Self-Care And Undeniable Self-Love

credit: Samanta Helou

Women and femmes are told that we’re conceited if we spend too much time looking in the mirror. According to society, we’re full of ourselves and narcissistic for taking several selfies and, to our loved ones, we take too long on our beauty routines and look “better” without it. People feel uncomfortable when we love ourselves loudly. But I have spent many years not loving myself, allowing others to love me badly and being too busy to even notice I was neglecting myself. Through these failed relationships with others and myself, I used the art of makeup as an instrument for intentional self-care and undeniable self-love.

My makeup ritual is how I began to pay attention to myself, and it’s how I honor and adore myself daily.

To start, I sit down at my vanity and repeat my daily affirmations aloud. I prep my skin with my favorite products and repeat: “I am beautiful. I am strong. I am resilient.”

(Photo Credit: Samanta Helou)

I continue by blending my eyeshadow and drawing my winged eyeliner — I’ve gotten the precision down to a science — in perfect symmetry. My eyes are almond-shaped, just like my dad’s, and lining them with black eyeliner brings out their fierceness. My eye shape tells a story that moves beyond my mixed ancestry of latinidad. To accentuate these inherited features, a true mezcla of my Mexican mami and Peruvian papi, I use makeup as a tool of empowerment, reclamation and inspiration.

(Photo Credit: Samanta Helou)

Next is possibly my favorite part of my makeup ritual: contour and highlight. All the women in my family have prominent cheekbones, and contouring and highlighting allows me to accentuate these features. I used to feel really disconnected from my Peruvian heritage, until I lived in Perú and saw all the beautiful carved out cheekbones – a feature I’ve come to love. Of course, there’s many other reasons I’m connected to my peruanidad, but learning to love myself and my identities meant loving the skin I’m in. Now with a greater sense of self, I let the confidence exude through adornment.

(Photo Credit: Samanta Helou)

On any given day, I stick with mauve shades of lipstick for a neutral look. I switch it up with a classic red lip when I need the extra confidence boost. If I have a presentation, a photoshoot or just want to impress myself – I pull out the red because wearing it makes me feel unstoppable.

The art of applying makeup is a personal, intimate ritual of care and adoration of self. Deciding which pair of gold hoops to wear is an act of resilience because adornment isn’t always afforded to women of color. We’re called excessive and tacky when we boldly don acrylic nails, big hoops and a deep lip color.

(Photo Credit: Samanta Helou)

Although the innovative techniques we use to apply makeup are discounted, we create works of art with palettes, bronzers and brushes. We create masterpieces in the comfort of our homes, in our sacred places of rest and leisure. We learn the artistry of armor and war paint and complement each other on what we’ve created. Receiving praise for your makeup from another woman or femme with a sharp-ass wing is like an exchange of love and adoration, an unwritten rule of sisterhood and kinship, whether on the ‘gram or in person.

There’s something about adorning myself with makeup and accessories that feels like worship. I love and honor myself better than anyone else will. The amount of time I dedicate to myself is invaluable so I can blend my foundation and concealer with love and intentions and call it self-care because it is.

(Photo Credit: Samanta Helou)

It’s not frivolous, extra or unnecessary. It’s the armor I wear to deal with day-to-day challenges with extra style and glam.

Makeup is art and ritual that sets the tone for my day. Every day isn’t well balanced and intentional, but at least my winged-liner is on point. At its best, self-care should be sustainable. It should not be an after-thought and practiced only once we’re burnt out. At the very least, I spent 45 minutes applying my favorite lipstick, listening to music and preparing to hustle and get shit done, and I look fly while doing it.

Makeup is a form of artistry that allows me to tell that story and emphasize whatever I want it to. Whether it be with a bold lip, a nude one, false lashes or no makeup at all, I get to decide what makes me feel beautiful. I decide how to adorn myself today.

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