Barefaced Cheek: Seven Irish celebrities dare to go bare
Seven Irish women strip back to barefaced, they explain what make-up means to them, how they feel without it, and how men don't notice either way.
Among the thousands of make-up tutorials to be found online, there is a surprising new genre to be found.
It's delivered in the same cheery, kinda-Californian style - "So, for the crease, I'm gonna use this really cute cerulean . . ." - but the amateur make-up artist is a child. The 'looks' she's working on with her enormous palette of multi-coloured make-up are those of Anna and Elsa from the film Frozen, and she's pretty good. Then again, why wouldn't she be?
There's a chicken-and-egg quality to the modern phenomenon of the online make-up tutorial. It's hard to tell whether young women got better at their make-up thanks to this abundance of amateur-expert advice, or if the amateur-expert advice exists because young women have become so clued-in to cosmetics.
Today's Irish woman under 30 seems able for everything from false eyelashes to five-colour eye-shadow effects to Kardashian-style contouring, but it's all a million miles away from the barefaced wholesomeness of our grandmothers or the panstick (often in the wrong shade) that our mothers presented as, literally, a mask to the world.
For decades, Irish women have been fond of putting on their faces, but how and why, where and when have changed with time.
Gone are the days when we were wedded to foundation shades better suited to Mediterranean skin tones. These days, we are enamoured of the near ubiquitous big-night-out 'smoky eye', but we know just as well how to cosmetically create a no-make-up look. Either way, we love make-up. A consultant for one of the international cosmetic giants told me once that young Irish women want it all - the eyelashes, the contouring, the smoky eye and the dramatic mouth, and the more-is-more mentality is more marked at their Cork counter than it is in Dublin.
What is apparent from the women who stripped back for these pictures, and talked about their relationship with make-up, is the fact that the notion of putting on your face is fluid and changes with time and age.
Your face changes, your feelings about your face change, and the face you wish to present is altered by time and circumstances. And, most importantly, it is obvious that feeling at ease with your stripped-back face, as much as your made-up one, is what matters.
On No Frontiers, for years, I wore very little of anything, never mind make-up. It was a bikini top and shorts and very little make-up. But I was in my 20s then. Now, I'm in my mid-30s and they have this horrendous thing in TV called high-definition and there's nothing hidden whatsoever, so I wouldn't dream of going barefaced on TV.
I feel bad on Operation Transformation, because the leaders have to come out in their boob tubes and whatever, and they're not even allowed to paint their nails or have a pedicure, because of the close-up of their feet on the scales. They can just about wash their hair, and there's me, in Spanx and the full make-up and the clip-in hair and I feel bad.
I thought the idea of this shoot was interesting. I refused to do the no-make-up selfies [last year] because I thought it was all a bit self-indulgent, especially because people quite clearly had concealer and stuff on, so I was keen that this was really no make-up.
I don't wear a whole lot of make-up day to day, but going out I would. Day to day, it would be a bit of concealer, a bit of mascara, a bit of lip gloss. I'm not big on lipstick. I think it makes me look like a drag queen. It's always concealer, though, because, over the years, make-up artists have told me I have dark circles. So give me concealer and mascara and I'm happy out.
My boyfriend thinks I look better without make-up. When I come home from a shoot and I still have it on, he always does a little start. Or if he comes to see me on The Voice, he always gets a fright. He doesn't think it looks better when I'm going to an event and I pay to have it done. Men are programmed to say that, though, aren't they?
When I come in from work, the make-up comes off and I have a shower and put on the moisturiser and that's it, I feel like I'm finished. I love to get my make-up on for a night out, but I'm not great at taking it off. I'm more keen on a smoky eye than a lipstick look, so the pillow is the Shroud of Turin in the morning.
I suppose your attitude to make-up changes as you get older. I need more than I did even five years ago. But I've learnt a lot, too. I've got good at doing my own make-up after watching the make-up artists, but I'm still brutal at the hair.
I'm grand about doing a picture like this because I'm used to wearing no make-up. I never do, when I'm not working. I put on moisturiser and that's it. I have two older sisters and they taught me, if you could call it that, to put on make-up. I'd say I was 13 when they first started on me. I wore it then, and I probably wore too much and probably all the wrong stuff. It wasn't so much putting on make-up as painting my face.
What was in when I was younger was that horrible thing of overdoing your eye, but having awful eyebrows, which kind of spoiled the whole thing. None of us knew what to do with our eyebrows. I was always good at art, so I was never disastrous, and I was always the one who did my friends' make-up as well as my own. Now, I really only wear make-up when I'm going out.
When I'm arriving on a job, I tend to be as natural as possible. I don't get my eyebrows tinted, or get lash extensions. I tend to still have a bit of colour from whenever I've been away, so I don't need to get a tan, and I make sure my hair is washed and blow-dried, but that's it. I have very little upkeep.
I got lash extensions once, but they don't suit me. They looked too much with make-up on them, and I do so much sport that they weren't practical; with goggles and stuff, they just don't work.
I do my make-up if I'm going out and I don't think of it as a chore. There's no point in putting on nice clothes and having no make-up and looking half undone. But it doesn't have to be over the top.
I don't think [Bressie] even notices if I have make-up on or not. I'd be worried if he did. If I'm wearing a punchy red lip, he'll go, "That's nice", but that's about it.
There's one thing I love and that's a Chanel bronzing mousse. You can put that on and look really healthy. As long as you look healthy and glowing and youthful, that's all that matters.
Make-up ages me. When people meet me without it, they always say, 'Oh, you look so much younger.'
As a young woman I wouldn't ever have worn make-up and now I only wear it when I'm going out. I don't wear make-up going shopping or to the supermarket. For a start, I couldn't be bothered, and it's nice to give skin a rest, because, when I'm working, I wear a good amount, so when I'm not working, I like not to. I have been the recipient of: 'Oh, I wouldn't recognise you.' But I don't care.
If I'm going out for the night or to an event, I always do my own make-up. I've got quite good at it, but that's taken years of getting my make-up done in RTE and asking questions. And now, after a good 30 years, I've finally mastered how to do the eye shadow and all the different layers. Young women now, their eyes are like works of art.
I've never been into make-up, but I'm very serious about my skin and I use all the lotions and potions and have since about the age of 12, when I was given a Yardley set by someone. I take very good care of my skin and I'm into the body lotions and all of that. I remember being in Africa, and sharing very basic accommodation, a shack, and the other girls were amazed that I was doing the cleanse, tone and moisturise in the dark.
I regard wearing make-up as a professional thing. If I'm working or going to an event or out to lunch or dinner, that includes make-up. But it's not part of my day-to-day getting dressed.
You get to my age and it's more important to be healthy, but I don't view people who won't answer the door without make-up as being shallow. That's their comfort zone, and this is mine.
As much as I love make-up and I love the idea of everyone enhancing their features, I think it's important to feel comfortable without it. I don't like the feeling that I need it.
I had acne till I was 18 or 19, and, so, I really did feel like I needed make-up then. If you have acne or bad scarring, you're very self-conscious and I loaded on the concealer and panstick and make-up that was way too orange. It was really bad, but I didn't know then that less is more when you have bad skin."
Back then, I would never have looked at myself as someone who could be a model and I definitely didn't have the confidence, and even now, I think it's a weird thing to be.
At home I'd wear no make-up. Especially with [20-month-old] Ollie now, I don't have time. I'm all about my BB cream, and if I get to throw that on, I'm happy and BB creams are amazing, because it takes only 20 seconds to make a difference to how you look. If I'm going shopping, but not working, I'll put that on. But if I'm just going to the creche or the supermarket, I don't bother with anything.
I don't ask Brian [Ormond] his opinion, but then it's when I have minimal make-up on that he'll say I look lovely, or something. And if he ever sees a girl caked, he'd say she'd ruined herself with make-up.
If I was going out, I'd do my own make-up. I can do the full make-up - foundation, tan, smoky eyes - in half an hour. I used to have a whole going-out ritual, it was nearly a full day, but not any more. Not with Ollie. These days, I wouldn't be bothered with false eyelashes. They're so fake, so five years ago. I used to wear them all the time, but you change, or times change and, these days, the fashionistas I look up to, like Olivia Palermo or Sienna Miller; they're so minimal and it's so much more attractive."
It's about wearing make-up but not being caked. It's something you grow in to.
Doing this shoot was a bit daunting because normally, for shoots, I have the security blanket of a professional doing my make-up, which is even better than doing it yourself. But I think it's important to show what you really look like when you're off duty, so I did it.
I would have started wearing make-up when I was about 15. I started using my mother's Elizabeth Arden panstick, and my skin was actually perfect at the time, so that was far too heavy make-up. Around that age, when I started going to discos and stuff, they were probably my worst years. We were so caked in it, and the smoky eyes and the back-combed hair. As far as me and my friends were concerned, it was the more the better. It's so funny to look back at pictures of us now.
I think it becomes a security blanket quickly, though. As a model, I'm always afraid people will meet me and say, 'She's not as good-looking as her photos', so I kind of feel I have to keep up standards, even though on shoots you have professional make-up artists and great lighting. And there are times I've come home from a shoot and I've loved my make-up so much that I've felt like I just had to go out again. I couldn't just go home and take it all off.
At weekends, I don't wear much make-up. I would go to the shops without any make-up, but if I was tired or hung-over, I'd fill in my eyebrows, use under-eye concealer and put Vaseline on my lips, in case I bumped into anyone.
If I started a relationship with someone I met out, when I had the whole smoky eye, big hair, tan, it would take me a while to let him see me without it. You don't want to give them a fright by looking completely different than when they met you.
But men kind of like the minimalistic look. Going out with the girls, I'd do red lips and a smoky eye, but men find that vampy look a bit intimidating, even though I think it's really sexy. So if I was hoping to meet someone, I'd tone it down.
It's amazing how different you can look without your face. Some girls look so much better without it, but they really feel that it's their security blanket. Yeah, I can feel much more confident with a full face, but I also like the weekends, when I'm just wearing gym gear and no make-up. It's like you have different characters and that's a nice thing women have. As a guy, you can't really do much with yourself - you are what you are.
When I was asked to do this, I thought, 'Oh my God, I'm going to be exposing myself?' But then again, I thought, 'Why not?' There's this concept that we all look better with make-up and the more the better, but it's not always the case. Sometimes we look a fright.
Men don't really like make-up and they don't understand our relationship with it - so we must be wearing it for other women. I don't think Bill [Cullen] ever notices if I'm wearing it or not. But if I was letting standards slip it would be a different story; he'd notice.
I wouldn't go to the shops with no make-up on. I'd always wear some sort of base, but not the full warpaint. Even around the house I would wear a BB cream or something. I wouldn't go around with absolutely nothing. If I got a glimpse of myself in a mirror, I'd get a scare.
But I'm not unhappy with what I see in the mirror. I'd love perfectly clear skin, with no blotches, but there's no point being unhappy. It's a bit of an indulgence looking at yourself all the time and wishing you looked like someone else.
When I was a lot younger, when I cared about what other people thought, I was always running to the bathroom to check the make-up and hair. But you get older and more confident, and you forget about all that.
I prefer to do my make-up myself. I think I do it better myself. And you can't be too careful as you get older. Too much is ageing, not the other way around. So, as you get older, less is more is the way to go.
I'm a realist. You do the best you can, you do your exercise, you eat well, you take supplements and you try and do the best you can, and, after that, forget about it.
When I first heard about this idea, I thought, ‘No problem’. I’m actually quite good with my skin regime and peels and so on, so my skin is quite good and I’m happy to show it. Also, when I’m relaxing and just lounging around, I don’t wear make-up.
I can get away with no make-up or just a bit of tinted moisturiser because my skin is good. I like a bit of tinted moisturiser or, because I never tan my face, a bit of moisturising self-tan. But I have good bone structure and high cheekbones, so I can get away with no blusher, and my lips are good, so I can take or leave lipstick.
God, yeah, I’d absolutely go to the supermarket with no make-up.
Most men aren’t bothered about
make-up, but women, on the other hand, are absolutely obsessed with it. In saying that, society places so much emphasis on what women are supposed to look like and we are expected to look more attractive, in general, than men.
I wouldn’t go to an event or to work without make-up It makes you feel stronger and more confident and happy in yourself. I think it adds to a woman’s overall self-confidence.
I would have started wearing make-up in secondary school. My school was mixed, so there was more pressure on girls to be pretty than in an all-girls school.
I try always to do my make-up myself, even if I’m doing shoots. If someone else does it, I’m a bit reluctant. What are they going to do? What if I don’t like it? Would I do it better myself? But over the years, I have learnt a lot of tricks and tips from professionals on shoots.
With social media now, you can Google how to do a smokey eye and do the perfect brows and so on and that’s amazing. Younger women are definitely more skilled than years ago, because they have so much access. Even my five-year-old niece wants to do her make-up when I’m doing mine. It starts early.