Finding Myself Through Makeup

College always seemed like the place for reinvention. I went to a school far from my hometown, hoping for a fresh start and a new me. However, once I got to my school where I knew nobody, I found myself homesick and lonely. I slept a lot, stayed in most weekends, and rocked sweatpants and a bare face pretty much every day.

I looked for an outlet—some sort of distraction—and found myself on YouTube 24/7. While it began with mostly comedy (I went back to Jenna Marbles, who I found when I was younger, and new hilarious ladies like Grace Helbig and Mamrie Hart) and then I fell down the hole of beauty. I found Zoella, Sprinkle of Glitter, and Tanya Burr (all British, all gorgeous). Then came across Leighann Says and Grav3yard Girl (both from Texas, my home state). And finally, I found Ingrid Nilson, Amelia Liana, and Estee Lalonde (all quirky and silly while still being perpetually clean and put together).

I began watching makeup tutorials as I fell asleep and favorites videos while eating dinner. YouTube became a comfortable place for me to turn. I had found these women, only a few years older than myself, who lived beautiful lives and had beautiful things and wore nice clothes and did their hair and makeup every day. When I left for winter break that year, I had a mission: revamp my wardrobe and learn how to apply my makeup like those girls. I bought sweaters and Clinique foundation and statement necklaces and Covergirl mascara.

I came back to school with a new lease on life—I did my hair and makeup every day and left my sweatpants at home in favor of collared shirts and Oxford shoes. I got an on-campus job and spent most of my paycheck each month at Sephora, following the recommendations my favorite YouTubers gave me. The makeup and the clothes were the distraction I needed. I was still lonely, and I was dealing with new family issues that were debilitating to my mood, so putting my focus into these things was more necessary than ever.

Since my first year of college, my relationship with beauty has changed. What I once saw as simply a distraction, I now recognize as the beginning of my self-care journey. It was the first time I had ever taken time out of every day to focus solely on myself. I still watch beauty gurus on YouTube, and they still help encourage me to better myself and try new things in fashion and beauty. I’ve cooled it with the preppy style and am now intrigued by the fact that ‘90s grunge is having its moment. I don’t necessarily wear makeup every day, nor is my routine nearly as extensive as it once was, but I still make an effort to take time to focus on myself everyday (and I still spend way too much money at Sephora).

I love makeup and fashion. And I love the things that exploring the beauty world has taught me. Through learning to love those art forms, I learned how to take care of myself.

Allison Albitz (She/Her) is part of the Concept: Staff. Learn more about the staff here