One woman's story of how she painted away the pain of depression.
You’ve heard of retail-therapy, but have you ever considered makeup therapy? Well I have, and I'm here to tell you how it saved my life.
I used to handle stress by bottling up my feelings until I couldn’t hold them in anymore, which usually ending in me bursting out in tears over something insignificant. I can recall a time in college when I had scheduled a session to see an academic counselor but I forgot the time of my appointment. I showed up an hour late to find that I had missed my meeting. Although I needed only to reschedule a new time with the secretary, I instead reacted with my first public meltdown, hyperventilating and sobbing uncontrollably.
Before my meltdown moment, many people would say that I had it all together. What others saw of me was a painted-on smile and lashes coated with mascara in hopes to mislead everyone of the pain I was covering up. I began seeing a therapist when my condition became self destructive and unhealthy. As the tantrums and lashing out incidents became more frequent, I accepted that I needed to channel that energy into a creative outlet. It was then that makeup artistry became my therapy.
It was through makeup that I could paint a picture of how I wanted the world to see me. In my teens, my use of makeup began as a means to desperately cover up acne scars that left blemishes all over my face and body. Throughout high school and college, I would not leave the house before putting on makeup. I was so self-conscious about my appearance that I wouldn’t wear halter tops, tube tops or spaghetti strap shirts without a jacket or sweater to cover up the pimples that were too painful for me to pop. It wasn’t until I got to college that I began to grow out of my acne phase and saw cosmetics as a means to enhance my beauty, but even then, I found it to be more useful as an alternative medicine for my depression.
It was the consciousness of self and reflection of self that made the application of makeup different from my teen years. Applying makeup in deep concentration began to heal me of negative thoughts. With every stroke of my powder brush my spirit was calmed, tension relaxed and stress released.
The more I developed the idea of “makeup therapy” the healthier I became. This later led me to my passion working as a freelance makeup artist. I wanted to help others look good, because when they look good, they feel good and when they feel good, they can be more productive. Using makeup as therapy has given me the understanding that beauty reflects what’s on the inside, therefore my attention to beauty is really attention to my health, both physical and mental.
Amberly R. Carter is a makeup artist and personal care mentor for women of color. As the author of her own beauty blog, Blushing Ambers, she also frequently contributes to causes championing for women's health and beauty. Follow her on Twitter @BlushingAmbers.