‘In the Beauty Bag’ is a series at The Mancunion in which Manchester students reveal the contents of their beauty bag and share their top beauty secrets. Dive into the beauty routines of your peers to inspire your own!
For our tenth edition, Managing Editor Erin Botten gives us a rundown on achieving the sharpest liner and longest lashes.
Degree: History & Sociology, Year 2
Is there a skin routine you stick to?
“I have had a rough routine since I was 12 after getting acne pretty young. For years, it has been a battle, usually resorting to the cheapest things I could find. I have upgraded a little now, moving away from my Clean and Clear moisturiser to The Ordinary.
I get my routine from asking the experts, aka Boots. They’re really useful for listening to what you need as well as your budget. After coming back from working in the US, my skin was really dry, textured, and sun damaged. At the same time, I knew my Southern skin would be stripped raw from the Mancunian winter, so I needed a lot of moisture to fix both those issues. The best thing I got was No 7 Early Defence Day Cream (gives a glass skin effect), Nivea Recharging Night Cream, along with Farmacy’s Deep Sweep toner.
Either way, my routine is pretty basic. Toner in the morning (to avoid stripping my skin with brittle water), apply a serum either with caffeine or for texture, vitamin C lotion, acne treatment, and moisturiser. By evening, I just use face wash and moisturiser.”
Is there anything in particular you splurge on?
“I’m very careful with money because I know a few makeup products can rack up quickly, so any costly items I ask for at Christmas. My one splurge is maybe makeup brushes.
After learning to contour and buying Real Technique’s Sculpting Brush (RT 401), I noticed how much easier it was to apply makeup. Over time I saved up gift vouchers and Boots points to buy RT brush kits and sponges. Both for eyes and face, the brushes are amazing. I feel like I’m in a Vogue Beauty Secrets video when I use them, and I already know they’re going to outlast my old plastic brushes.”
How did you learn to do makeup?
“I really don’t know, because at the beginning it wasn’t good. In Brownies, I used to wear my Claire’s purple lipstick every week. Little did I know the lipstick lasted about an hour before it started to separate, with the Brownie leaders telling me bluntly, “I don’t understand why you girls wear makeup, you look like you’ve sucked a pen.”
From then on, I would be self-conscious about wearing makeup beyond the weekend. I knew it could easily go wrong and I was already picked on for looking ‘masculine’ in school. Finally, I worked up the courage to wear foundation to school to cover my acne. I still remember walking into the tutor in Year 10 worrying that I looked daft. By Year 11, I ventured to highlighter and mascara.
To be honest, my self-consciousness was right. At times, I look back and realised how back it looked… The Instagram eyebrows phase was an unspoken curse among us and I fell victim. Thank god I didn’t wear heavy makeup to school! I would’ve died.
Overall, I learnt from Health & Beauty, Cosmopolitan, Instagram, and YouTube. Glow Up is also a useful show. I practised over time, all those years on the weekend and in my room, growing my confidence and figuring it what works for my face, not Instagram’s.”
What are your favourite makeup products?
For eyes, Kylie Cosmetics (controversial I know) Kendall eyeshadow palette with Rimmel London’s Scandaleyes Volume On Demand mascara. Both are buildable, with the Kylie palette having gorgeous shades and packaging. Plus, to keep my lashes long, I coat them in Sunny Isle’s Eyelash & Eyebrow Growth Serum. Trust me, as you sleep, it works wonders.”
Do you have a beauty secret?
I have two: Firstly, liner. Sharp, perfectly angled liner is my life. If it’s wonky or shorter on one side, it stresses me out. I don’t like the tape method because it doesn’t work well for my eye shape. Instead, for a clean cut and the perfect shape, I use cotton buds. I dip them in water (not drenched, but enough to remove product), and then sculpt. I avoid using makeup remover so I layer product on top later – remover creates a barrier preventing the product from sinking into the skin.
Second: Baking. It was super popular a few years ago, especially in the drag community. I use it to control my contouring, dialling down the intensity to create a smother blend. After applying my creme blush, creme contour, bronzer, and powered blush, I use a powder puff to carve out my cheeks. I leave it on for a while whilst I do the rest of my face, and then brush it off and set with spray.”
What inspires your makeup?
“I go for pretty big liner and warm checks most of the time, so it might be fair to say I’m still influenced by Instagram. A lot of the people I follow on there are who I get inspiration from, especially stemming back to my emo era.
My favourite makeup artist is Bailey Sarian, and her series Murder Mystery and Makeup Mondays. Her makeup is quite big and bold but somehow works without looking over the top. You just get to watch her transform as she recites true crime cases — very therapeutic.
Celebrity-wise, I take inspo from Halsey, Hayley Williams, Kylie Jenner, and Florence Pugh. They do a mixture of ‘clean’ girl makeup mixed with soft cheeks or eyeshadows. I aspire to get the clean girl style every time but never succeed — too committed to the liner life.”