I put my own makeup on for the first time – and saw my face in a whole new light


I’ve always taken the view with makeup that it’s a bit like football refereeing: if you notice it, that’s a sure sign a bad job’s being made of it. By that measure, the many television makeup artists who have worked their magic on me over the years have done a fine job, because I’ve never really seen any difference. Sometimes they ask me what I “normally have” – a question for which I never have an answer. My only advice to them is to not bother doing anything with my hair, all attempts to adjust it being in vain.

This week, in the interests of Covid-compliant TV production, I lost my makeup-applying virginity. I had all the gear – the brushes, the tubes, the mirror with the lights around it – and I even had a nice masked and visored makeup artist. But she was only allowed to supervise; no touching permitted.

It was a whole new experience: I saw my face in a different light. She squidged some moisturiser into my hand and told me to apply it. For some reason this was the first time in my life that I noticed things are getting a bit baggy under my left eye, so I focused on that area. Then there was some stuff for my lips. I did the rolling-them-against-each-other thing that I used to watch my mum doing, in some wonder, when I was little.

Then some foundation was squeezed on to my index finger, which I was told to dab on my face. “Dab, don’t rub,” she said severely. I surveyed the creamy spots on my ample cheeks. They didn’t look right to me; I couldn’t go on camera like this. But then she produced a big soft brush with which she wafted the air in front of me to demonstrate the required action. As she did so, she reached for the right word to describe what she wanted from me. And what a word she found. “Make sort of, er, gestures with it, across your face,” she said. Gestures – how perfect. Poetic, even. I loved that so much. And by God I looked good. I may ask Santa for a brush of my own.