Are You Wearing Makeup At Home?


I’ve been trying to check in with my grandparents each day since we’ve been social distancing. It’s just a quick FaceTime, and I never really have much to update them on, but it’s nice. Every afternoon, without fail, the beginning of the conversation with my paternal grandmother goes like this:

Me: Hi Grandma!
[Some shuffling, as she rotates the phone, takes off her readers, pushes her bangs off of her forehead, and then…]
Her: Oh, if I had known you were going to call I would have put on some makeup!

It’s almost as if she thinks I don’t know what her real face looks like. Like I haven’t slept at her house and watched her cook me raisin bread French toast in her house shoes, hair still messy with bedhead. I always thought that maybe she was saying it to keep decorum. But the other day, when I called her via telephone to let her know that, in five minutes, I would be calling her back with video as my dad blew out his birthday candles, do you know what she did? She went and put on eyeshadow! To appear in a six-by-three inch blurry iPhone screen!

Or maybe this behavior makes perfect sense to you, because you’ve been waking up each morning for the past few weeks and putting on makeup. I don’t know! I, on for one, have not been wearing any. My reasons include:

  1. The only makeup I brought with me to my parents’ house is one concealer and five lip oils (which, ???????)
  2. I’ve been sitting outside a lot, and it’s hot here, so my face sweats
  3. I am taking this time to give my skin a break from coverage, and
  4. Makeup just doesn’t feel essential to me when I’m working from home—I, too, have shut down all my non-essential business

My morning routine still starts with a trip to the bathroom. I still wash my face, apply my skincare, lotion up, brush my teeth, brush my hair. I walk to the kitchen, pour myself a cup of coffee and a glass of water, settle into “my desk” (the artist formerly known as the dining room table) and then I get to work in my pajamas. If I need a beauty pick-me-up, I’ll take a minute to rub some cuticle oil into my nail beds, or open up a new lipstick or blush. I don’t use it, I just look at it—looking at a beautiful color hasn’t stopped making my heart quicken.

I keep wondering if most people are like me, or if they’re waking up and putting on a full face to feel special, or simply keeping up their daily makeup routine for a semblance of normalcy in the midst of unprecedented strangeness. But because it’s too late to add a question to the census, I’ll just ask here: what are you doing right now? Is makeup essential business?

—Ali Oshinsky

Photo via ITG