How to Expand Your Makeup Comfort Zone

In a previous series of posts titled Summer School @ Sephora and False Lashes for the Lash Challenged I mentioned that I have been on a mission this past year to step up my makeup game and expand or increase my comfort zone as well as my confidence. I think it is important to periodically examine what we are doing when it comes to hair, makeup skincare, and fashion to keep our look fresh, up to date, and appropriate as we …ahem… mature.

Let’s take a minute to be sure we’re on the same page.  According to Webster’s comfort zone is defined as a place, situation, or level where someone feels confident and comfortable.  If we translate this definition to the world of makeup, it really means what is the “look” (or what are the looks) that you can create with makeup where you are at your most confident?   Where you can go into a given situation without worrying about how you look   and confident that your look is appropriate for the situation.  Whether it is a job interview, a first date, or meeting someone new where you want to make a good impression.  These are just a few examples, I’m sure you can come up with more.  We can stretch or expand our comfort zones by trying new things that we may not be comfortable to start with, and this my friends is how we grow and evolve over time.  Learning and growth are important to us in every aspect of our lives.

One other thought I’d like to make clear — I am not looking to be judgemental or to over-emphasize the importance of physical appearance.  We all need to decide for ourselves as individuals what we are most comfortable with, but with the recognition that we do make an impression through our appearance.  We just want that impression to be a positive one.

My original idea for this post was to write about my favorite red lipsticks and the reasons for its popularity.  For the sake of this discussion, I am not including lip glosses, but I did include liquid lipsticks and lip stains. In order to write the post, I needed to inventory my collection of red lipsticks. The findings were enlightening – like cleaning out your closet and wondering why did I buy this [insert garment description of your choice here]? Or how did I end up with ten pairs of black pumps?


Image from Dior website

What I really discovered was that although I like red, I didn’t really have many reds (and how many do I really need anyway?).  In fact, I only had four in my lipstick wardrobe – four out of 39 total or roughly 10%.   There are a number of lipsticks that I own two tubes of as a matter of convenience, but the largest number of colors were in the wine or burgundy family. nmc23qd_buAnd oh, by the way, I did not own a single matte red until this last month when I fell in love with Dior’s signature red known as 999 (second from the top in the Dior image) which was recently released in a matte formula known as Dior Rouge Extreme. If you’re interested, here is a nice review from By Georgia Grace. As I thought about it, I realized that two of the four reds pictured were purchased in the last few months. Writing about my favorite reds as originally conceived really didn’t make sense because although I like the color I didn’t have many, nor did I wear it on a regular basis.

Before I get to the point about my comfort zone, let me digress and explain why I was thinking about red lipsticks in the first place.  I came across several interesting articles which referenced an eye-opening data point.  An article from Huffington Post cites a 2013 study in France which found waitresses who wore red lipstick on the job received tips from male customers more frequently — 50% of the time for the red lipstick wearers versus 30% for all other colors.  In my mind this clearly means these women had increased income since in France “service compris”  which means “tip included” is the norm.  Said another way, the tip is already included in your bill, but these men chose to pay an additional tip.  This confirms what we’ve intuitively known — red lipstick does get you noticed by the opposite sex.

Red lipstick is classic — it is always in style and studies show that it tends to make the wearer feel more confident.  It is also a way to “fake it till you make it”.  Indeed, according to Gwyneth Paltrow “Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin. That, or a kick-ass red lipstick.”  Having a selection of reds to choose from is also key.  Per Poppy King, founder of Lipstick Queen, “Versatility is what makes red lipstick so endlessly alluring.”

So, what is the point of all this, and how does it relate to expanding our comfort zone with makeup? I would say that until embarking on my “up my game” adventure I was stuck in a makeup rut – only wearing colors and formulas that I was already comfortable with. As it turns out, red wasn’t really one of them.  It did take me a while to come to this realization, but this exercise provided additional proof. To my credit, I did begin to branch out and try new formulas and colors this past year which is a good thing.  I also went out and bought a few new reds.  My three biggest lipstick related changes which stretched my lipstick comfort zone were:

  • Experimenting with matte lipsticks – in addition to the Dior 999 I have bought several of Charlotte Tilbury’s Matte Revolution lipsticks.  I have also picked up a more diverse range of colors in the matte formula. I like her matte formula and my Tilbury faves are Birkin Brown, Hel’s Bells, and Salma’s Secret. These have become a regular part of my lipstick wardrobe.  By the way, before pushing the publish button on this post I bought one more matte lipstick.  I picked up the By Terry Rouge-Expert Click Stick in 14 which is a matte orange.  I wanted to try these but wasn’t able to find the testers until last week.  I like this formula as it feels very moisturizing and I ordered a second stick during the Beautylish sale.
  • Expanding my horizons with liquid lipsticks. Until this year my only “liquid lipsticks” were the Dior Addict type which according to The Violet Files Beauty Lessons: A Lesson on Lips are really a lip stain. I hadn’t thought about more opaque liquid lipsticks until recently, and I really hadn’t thought about matte liquid lippies until I tried the Anastasia Beverly Hills liquid lipstick in Vintage.
  • Finally finding my perfect nude — I have always wanted to wear a nude lipstick but could never find one that really worked for me. That is until I found Kevyn Aucoin’s The Expert Lip Color in Dantrice which is the perfect nude for me. My practice of buying two paid off with this one since it was recently discontinued. At some point, I will need to find another, but for now, Dantrice is my favored nude.  Milani’s Teddy Bare is my second choice for a nude.


So you know the saying that the first step to solving a problem is to see and acknowledge it.  I think to do that, a thoughtful assessment of where you are is a good first step. The red lipstick post idea was the trigger for me to think about this, but of course, lipstick is just one makeup element. If you’ve been following on my blog, you’ll know about some of the other steps I’ve taken….if not, you can catch up at the links provided above.

I will say that thinking your current makeup habits through, assessing where you are and where you’d like to make changes, and getting trusted feedback will help prevent trips to the makeup counter where you buy a bunch of products but don’t really achieve the results you would like so take some time on this.  If you’re stuck, think about what is holding you back? How can you let whatever that is go?  This is the perfect time to give it some thought – the new year will be upon us shortly and with this work already done you can implement the changes you’ve decided on and get off to a fast start!

If you’re in a bit of a makeup rut (or any other rut that impacts your self-confidence or self-image) and thinking about where to make changes, I’d love to hear what you’d like to change, and how you plan to go about it. What support or resources do you need, and how will you get them?  If you’ve made changes this past year, what were they and how are they working out for you?


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