The Feminist Beauty Project


makeup as self-care

BEAUTY, FEMINISM, EDUCATIONElizabeth Nichin2 Comments

I had no idea what self-care was until I got to graduate school. And thank goodness someone explained it to me then, because I found myself turning to self-care strategies constantly throughout the two years in my grad school program. If I have learned anything, it's that self-care is NECESSARY.


If you've never heard this term or if you aren't sure what self-care is, it might be helpful to think about what makes you feel better at the end of a long day. What helps you feel good, rested, energized and hopeful? What makes you feel valuable and whole? Whatever is coming to your mind: that is self-care.

Self-care is often a deeply personal and embodied act of political resistance towards systems of domination that are not invested in the survival of marginalized people. Through self-care, we survive; we own our right not just to live, but also to love and value ourselves, to care for our bodies and spirits.

Self-care is different for everyone: some people like to watch a lot of Netflix, some people like a nice warm cup of tea. This post isn't meant to tell you what YOUR self-care should look like. Self-care is very personal and depends completely on what each unique individual needs and finds works for them.

The most important thing to remember is that self-care is whatever you want and need it to be, and no one else gets to decide that for you.

I'll give you a few ideas of what self-care looks like for me:

  • online shopping (not always purchasing)
  • taking a nap
  • going for a walk
  • organizing my makeup collection
  • doing my makeup
  • drinking an iced latte
  • watching YouTube videos
  • remembering to take my medications daily
  • blogging and designing for my website
  • doing a face mask or face scrub
  • giving myself a pedicure

So how is makeup a form of self-care?


Makeup use is complex, and there are many people who don't enjoy wearing or putting on makeup at all. Others feel that wearing makeup reinforces dominant patriarchal ideologies. I truly believe that makeup can be feminist, and makeup is, for me, a form of self-care.

And here is why.

Makeup helps me feel good, confident and happy. I don't NEED makeup to feel those things, but when I am feeling stressed I like to sit down at my vanity. Sometimes I like to clean out and organize my makeup collection. Sometimes playing with an eye shadow look can help me relax, focus on myself, and it also helps me to connect with my body.

When I do my makeup, I am making the conscious decision to sit down and spend time with myself. I spend time with my skin, with my lips, with my eyes. I nurture myself. I am taking care of myself. I spend time on myself for myself. Because I don't put my makeup on for anyone but me.

I like to do my makeup in silence, because it is calming to me--anything that calms me I view as self-care. I know many people who like to play music and put their makeup on, and that is their self-care because that relaxes them. When I do my makeup I am spending quality time with myself and no one else. I am valuing embodiment and I am fully present with myself. I can escape from whatever stress I have in my life and focus on me. I can have fun with myself. And I finish feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world. And for me, there is no better kind of self-care than the kind that makes me feel fierce and confident.

How do you practice self-care?

in lipstick & solidarity,