Monday 20 November 2017

Four of Ireland's most beautiful women go from full-faced to makeup-free - and explain what confidence means to them

Four of Ireland’s most beautiful women go make-up free and tell our reporter about their relationship with the slap

Thalia Heffernan, Holly Carpenter, Aoibhin Garrihy and Celia Holman Lee in full makeup. Photos: Kip Carroll
Thalia Heffernan, Holly Carpenter, Aoibhin Garrihy and Celia Holman Lee in full makeup. Photos: Kip Carroll
Aoibhin Garrihy with make-up. Photo: Kip Carroll
Thalia Heffernan with make-up. Photo: Kip Carroll.
With make-up: Thalia Heffernan. Photo: Kip Carroll.
Holly Carpenter with make-up. Photo: Kip Carroll
Holly Carpenter without make-up
Celia Holman Lee with make-up
Celia Holman-Lee without make-up
Aoibhin Garrihy without make-up

Lia Hynes

Starting to wear make-up is a rite of passage in most women's lives, but it used to be one that didn't begin in earnest until their late school days. Before that, it mostly involved tinkering around as a young teenager with Pound Shop panstick, Juicy Tubes lip gloss, high-shimmer eyeshadows and, no matter what your colouring, heavy black eyeliner. All kinds of mistakes involving fake tan, smoky eyes, and dodgy foundation lines would be made - the kinds of things endless YouTube make-up tutorials now educate even the youngest make-up fans against.

Nowadays, most young teenagers can contour like a Kardashian, and many wouldn't dream of leaving the house without some sort of 'face' on. For some, make-up is a method of expression, a chance to get creative. For others, it's a form of armour, a layer of protection between oneself and the world at large.

The women on these pages wear make-up all the time for work; they are models, TV presenters, actresses. As a woman, to work in the public eye is to be constantly judged, and to have the minutiae of one's appearance regularly torn asunder - thank you, Twitter trolls and online commentors.

Like many of us, some of these women never leave the house without some sort of make-up on. For others, learning to do so was a huge personal milestone. So agreeing to go without make-up for our shoot was somewhat nerve-wracking. But also brave, and empowering. Two things all these women could claim to be.

Aoibhin Garrihy

Aoibhin Garrihy without make-up

I was in the Gaeltacht, and I remember arriving down and - shock, horror - all the girls had make-up and I had none. So I sent my mom a letter and she sent me down a little eyeshadow palette, lip gloss, a black eyeliner and clear mascara. Sure I didn't have a clue what I was doing, but I was delighted with myself. It was after first year, so I would have been about 13.

Make-up wasn't allowed in school. There were girls who tried it, but I was really sporty in school and I just never wore it. It was only in the latter years that we started doing fake tan, if it was Wesley disco on the Friday night. It was before Facebook - I guess we just didn't have the same pressure. The Kardashian age hadn't kicked in. At college, for me, make-up wasn't really allowed. I did acting in college, and we had to be kind of blank canvases. I didn't even know how to properly apply make-up until I started working. I was in Fair City for several years. It's great, because you have make-up artists and you're learning from them.

Aoibhin Garrihy with make-up. Photo: Kip Carroll

Now, there are things on my face that I've become more aware of that I wasn't before. It begins to creep up on you - that's age. There are fine lines and stuff that you feel like you have to hide. That's not something that I had to worry about years ago; I'm 30 this year.

I certainly like to wear make-up in order to feel confident, but it's not caked on. There are areas where I would always have concealer, and I wouldn't go without mascara. Generally, though, I'm happy to go without foundation, [enhancing my] brows, and even eyeshadow.

Getting older doesn't bother me. I have never felt more comfortable in myself. I think I'm more confident in my skin than I was when I was younger. As an actress, it's a more exciting time. The roles are more complex and they're more interesting.

Celia Holman-Lee

Celia Holman Lee with make-up

I was 16 when I started wearing make-up heavily. I'm a child of the 1960s, when there were double fake-eyelashes, top and bottom.

I never saw my mother with a screed of make-up in my life. Nivea and Astral cream were all I ever saw on her dressing table. As an older teenager, I used to plaster myself with panstick. But it was modelling that really introduced me to make-up. I did a TV commercial, they did the make-up, and I remember seeing my face. I couldn't believe it was me.

I look at the young kids of today, wearing so much make-up, but we did the same. We used to wear tons of hairpieces as well. Hair extensions probably evolved from hairpieces. The eyelashes - I used to use them. Everyone was screaming about the Kardashians and contouring four years ago; we were doing that with nearly white chalk. So they think it's very new, but I've seen it all before.

I would have worn make-up outside modelling jobs when I started out. First of all, I was always so keen to be on trend. Secondly, I hadn't the confidence to go without it.

Celia Holman-Lee without make-up

I'm 66. There's no way I could wear make-up like the Kardashians - my skin couldn't take it. It sits into the wrinkles. So I was cute enough to watch make-up artists work, and learn myself. I moved to a softer make-up; a lighter foundation. If you're over 45, everything contributes to the lines and textures in your face - sickness, getting upset, getting depressed, loss of life in the family, people dying.

Everything affects you, and as you get older, it affects your skin. My mother passed, and then I lost my brother, and I lost my nephew, and a few of my aunts. Life changed completely, so sorrow sets in. That fire you have takes a while to come back. And the skin takes it. For me, it got duller. Listening to the people I'm around in the industry, they advised using illumination, so the skin can shine a little bit.

The industry I'm in, I would rather not go to events, or work situations without make-up. But it's not the end of the world. I forgot my make-up bag for an event in the Four Seasons and I used mascara as eye make-up; I blackened the sides of my eyes a bit.

I've never had any work done. People ask me why I didn't bother. I wish I had a better answer - I just didn't feel that I wanted to go there. It just never appealed.

I'll tell you what bothers me about ageing. It's losing your energy. I want to do everything. And, a lot of the time, I'm not able to do as much as I used to. Wrinkles or lines - that's life. The only thing that bothers me about ageing is that I want to keep going, I am trying to keep going. The rest of me is in God's hands. I'm happy enough with the way I look.

Holly Carpenter

Holly Carpenter with make-up. Photo: Kip Carroll

In second year in school, that was when I started trying to make myself look older using make-up. We weren't allowed make-up in school, so we'd do it on a Friday, afterwards. We'd all go to the bathroom and do our make-up, because we knew we'd be walking past the boys' school. Once my skin started breaking out, I liked to have my make-up on. I was in an all-girls school, I wasn't trying to impress anyone, but I felt better. I used to get in trouble a little bit. The vice principal would go around with baby wipes, and if she saw someone with make-up on, she'd try and get you to take it off. I used to argue it, and then I'd get detention.

To be honest, most days now I will wear make-up, even if I'm going to the gym, because I'm usually meeting someone afterwards. I think make-up is a really personal thing. I've seen a few bloggers write about why you shouldn't wear make-up to the gym, or what lipsticks blondes shouldn't wear, and do you know what? You can't really tell anyone what to do. If I want to wear make-up to the gym because I feel better; no one can judge me. But I try and keep my Instagram as relatable as possible. I would always list the products, and be open about how long it took me to get this look. I'm not going to say I woke up like that.

Holly Carpenter without make-up

When I was Miss Ireland [2011], I felt a bit of pressure if I had no make-up on. I felt like I wanted to look good all the time. Now that I'm 25, I'm more sure of myself. With boyfriends, it takes me a while at the start. But then it's nice when you're at that stage with them where you can wear no make-up. That doesn't mean that you've let yourself go. Or you're too comfortable. I'd still always have my make-up bag with me. I think a lot of men like the natural look, but a lot of them don't know how many products it takes to get the natural look.

One thing I'd have to say is I have eyelash extensions from The Beauty Parlour, and my brows are tinted. It's more for me to take a bit of time off the getting-ready process.

People think if you're a model or on TV that you think you're great because you're doing this stuff. But a lot of the time it's flipped, and you're just as insecure, if not more so, than your viewers.

I've definitely developed more of a thick skin, because I've had to. But I'm not going to lose the fact that I'm a sensitive person, because that's just me.

Thalia Heffernan

Thalia Heffernan with make-up. Photo: Kip Carroll.

When I started wearing make-up, it wasn't really by choice. It was when I started modelling, at 15. People just assume that in that industry your life is easy, that you just go and get your hair and make-up done, pose in front of the camera. For me, what came with that was I had a bit of an identity crisis going through my teens. Because I would go from school straight to work, and I'd be dressed up to portray whatever the client wanted me to look like. So every day was different for me, and I definitely found, as I got older, that I struggled to know what I wanted to look like in my own time. It was a difficult time, but I think now I'm much stronger than I would have been had I not gone through it. Because I know now, at 22, what I want to look like.

I had a phase of not wanting to leave the house without a smoky eye, apart from school and when I was working in Hollister; they're very strict on no make-up. I remember finding that difficult, because I was heavily self-conscious. I think it was both being a teenage girl, and then knowing my face and my body better than anyone my age, because I'd seen every angle of it through imagery. That brought a lot of self-awareness at a very young age. I remember being too embarrassed to sleep over at friends' houses because I'd have to take my make-up off. I've always had quite big lips, and I hated them when I was younger, so I put foundation all over my mouth because I was like, 'I don't look like my friends'.

With make-up: Thalia Heffernan. Photo: Kip Carroll.

I had to learn to walk through town with no make-up on, because I'd be going to work to get it done, so I couldn't arrive with make-up on. You don't want people to know you're insecure. I learnt that people care more about what they look like than what you do. Fact. That was a big moment for me. I think, as you get older, self-acceptance sets in. You realise you can put as much make-up on as you want, but you're not going to change yourself. But that's fine; I'm fine the way I am.

Everyone has bad days. Sometimes you need to put on a little bit of contouring, or stick a brow on, and hope for the best. And that's OK.

Now I don't wear make-up during the day. With my job, I'm a big believer in letting your skin breathe. On my day off, I might wear a pair of sunglasses to hide half my face, and I have the semi-permanent lashes, mainly for work, and then just loads of moisturiser. I think when young girls see people in the media who are starting to accept themselves, that's the most important thing. Because I didn't accept myself. I think relatability has become so hard these days. With apps and Photoshop and editing, it's very hard to look at somebody and go, 'Yeah, we're the same'. And we are all the same. I'm still that self-conscious girl, who's young and naive and a bit scared and wary.

Photography by Kip Carroll

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