I remember the first time I wore makeup. I was in middle school when the boy who sat in front of me got on the bus, stared really hard at my face the entirety of the time he walked down the aisle, and then sat down in front of me, where I heard him whisper with his gross breath which I imagined was hot and smelled like Cheetos, "Look at Lauren." His seat mate, with no level of discrepancy, sat on his knees, turned his entire body around in the seat, full on looked me in the face and said "Oh! She's wearing makeup!" loud enough for the whole bus to hear. Everyone turned, I acted real chill, people nodded at my ability to shake off these silly immature boys, and the bus ride continued after a quick kick to the seat in front of me where I heard a satisfying yelp of pain.
Just a few months earlier I had seen my mom applying makeup and I asked her why she thought makeup was worth it. She sighed like I was being annoying (I was/am) and said "I don't know, maybe you'll understand one day." #classicmom
Would I understand one day? Wanting to be wise beyond my years I soon warmed up to the idea that "one day" would be "one day soon." Then, I did it. I asked my mom for some of her old makeup, and for the first time, I experimented. My mom was chill with me wearing the makeup so the next day my experiment began.
At school I was known as a tomboy. I took Karate and wore t-shirts with skulls, goosebumps shirts, and a shirt with a stick figure pulling at his hair screaming "I can't take it anymore!" I wore that one on days when my parents really pissed me off. But makeup? That was a bold choice for me. People noticed. I got recognition from the popular girls, and that revealed a world of drama I never knew existed. I got attention from guys which made me suspicious and uncomfortable because they had never noticed me before. All of the girls I was closest with in school offered to share makeup and teach me some tricks, while the boys I was closest with teased me in the way only your best friends can get away with over why I was suddenly acting like a girl.
I began wearing makeup more consistently and remained intrigued yet unsure of what to do with all of this weird, new attention. Then I started performing more consistently. I made myself very busy at school and the community performing in theater whenever I could, and that meant wearing a pretty thick amount of stage makeup for extended periods of time. Eventually I grew to hate the feeling of stuff clogging my pores. I disliked waking up with droopy raccoon eyes no matter how much it felt like I washed my face, and I realized I would much rather sleep for an extra 20 minutes than put makeup on, especially since I never really felt confident in my ability to apply it.
It takes skill to be able to draw on skin in a way that flatters and/or alters all the quirks and charms of that person's features. Skills that I don't have. I know when I go to get my headshots I will need a makeup artist there for me. If a film doesn't have a makeup artist, then you'll most likely find me only wearing mascara and some lip stain.
Going to auditions or job interviews, I rarely wear makeup. I'd rather be seen as more of a blank slate, even if it means I do appear a little more tired than the next actor. If I have some kind of blemish, I'll try to cover it up, but I'm also not too worried about it. Everyone gets blemishes and it's too exhausting trying to paint yourself perfect all the time. I don't want to alter any of my features either because they are what make me distinctly me. I would love to highlight my features, but when I see myself on playback wearing makeup that I applied myself, I rarely like the way it looks. Besides, if dudes aren't expected to wear makeup for an audition, why the hell should I? Serious double standard for anyone who finds it unacceptable for a girl to not wear makeup to a job interview. Of course it's also totally ok for girls and guys to wear makeup, if that's the look that makes them feel most confident.
Fun recent on-set story: I was playing a character called "Lonely Soul" for a short film from CongestedCat Productions, when Matt, the Assistant Director, came to check on the actors. I hadn't had anything done makeup-wise, I was simply in costume with my hair in pin curls. Matt took one look at me and said "Great, Lauren's good to go." In case you didn't catch it from my characters name, I was playing a pale dead ghost chick. So it's not that my freakishly pale Irish/German skin doesn't NEED makeup, I just feel less confident wearing it for reasons outside of performing.
Makeup and costume is a key factor for me in solidifying a character. That can be tough on set because you don't see yourself all done up until moments before you're about to shoot, and that's cutting it pretty close in finishing my character homework. But auditions? Look, I'll dress the part, I'll put my hair a certain way, but no I don't want to paint my face for you. It's just not me, and that's part of what you have to show when you're looking for people you want to work with your next endeavor. Kudos to Jennifer Aniston for her recent role in "Cake" where she was makeup free, but that's just proof we have a ways to go before we can start applauding women for more important things.