From The Straits Times    |

Credit: taylorswift/Instagram

For the better part of a decade, I’ve been lucky enough to have a backstage pass to the beauty industry. A huge part of my job involves getting a sneak peek of products even before they’ve hit the shelves, interviewing celebrity makeup artists to glean industry secrets and – the best of all – receiving more makeup than a person could ever use in their lifetime.

Over the years, I’ve amassed a veritable treasure trove of the most covet-worthy beauty products, along with a wealth of insider info on makeup tips and upcoming trends. One might assume that I’d use this arsenal of tools to constantly reinvent myself and try out new looks daily. The twist? Despite all the tools I have at my disposal, I literally wear the same look to work every day.

Before you call me boring or uninspired, I should admit that I’ve had my fair share of wild makeup days (or years, let’s be honest). Every time a new trend emerged, I was game to give it a go. I’ve braved rush-hour MRT rides to work in bright blue lipstick, and sat in 9am meetings with a full face of Euphoria-esque glitter makeup.

I even tried to keep it up when Covid-19 struck and we all shifted to Zoom calls and virtual catchups. Eager to keep my spirits up amidst the pandemic and give myself something to look forward to every morning, I would try out varying makeup looks for my online meetings, depending on how I was feeling that day. Unfortunately (and understandably), my enthusiasm fizzled out after a month and a half, when I realised that the pandemic would probably last way longer than expected. I soon found myself paring down my makeup for work calls to the bare minimum: a bit of concealer and lip balm.

Almost two years later, when it was time to return to the office, I found that my makeup style had evolved into something more personal, and one that felt more “me”. In a way, it was almost like starting my beauty journey all over again. I was so used to wearing little or no makeup over the pandemic that when it came to “rebuilding” my look, I was much more intentional about it.

Instead of trying to chase after the latest trend, I found myself focusing on the best ways to accentuate my natural features. Now, I feel like I’ve found the perfect formula in a simple daily routine: concealer, a bit of pink blush, rosy-brown lipstick and a natural-finish face powder.

My decision to wear the same look everyday has definitely helped me hone my makeup skills and perfect my “signature look”. To top that off, being able to go on auto-pilot while getting ready eases my mental load and allows me to focus and plan ahead for any important meetings or events planned for that day.

Psychologist at ThoughtFull Chat, Karyen Chai, explains, “Routines can be comforting and they reduce decision fatigue. There are so many things that modern people have to contend with every day, and we may barely have the time to try something new.” She adds, “Coming up with new things to do is adding on to that cognitive workload that we may not have the capacity for.”

Besides providing relief to cognitive workloads, sticking to a familiar makeup routine can also help one build up a distinctive style and enable self-expression. Think of iconic figures such as Taylor Swift, whose trademark scarlet pout is instantly recognisable, or Jenna Ortega, whose goth chic persona sets her apart in the crowded entertainment landscape.

Plus, opting to wear the same makeup look to work daily actually makes sense for most of us. “The image that we need to portray at the workplace remains largely the same from day to day, which means we don’t need to change our makeup,” noted Karyen, candidly sharing that she herself sticks to a similar makeup routine as well as a limited range of outfits for work.

Beauty expert and celebrity makeup artist Larry Yeo shares a different perspective: “The choice to wear the exact same look every day could stem from a fear of changing things up, or even from a sense of insecurity. People who do so may think that they appear their best in a particular look, and that any alteration could easily disrupt their image.”

When it comes down to it, there’s really no right or wrong way to approach your daily makeup routine, as it should ultimately align with your individual preferences. While adhering to a consistent routine can offer practical benefits – saving time and creating a professional image – it could also, over time, invite monotony and stifle creative evolution. After all, it’s only natural that our self-expression and style evolves and grows with us over time.

So, if you’re torn between sticking with what you know works well or bravely trying out new, daring looks on a regular basis, I’d say the most important thing is to follow your own unique style and personal preferences.