#MakeupMonday – Connecting To Culture Through Cosmetics WOC Guest Post

I am delighted to offer another guest post contributed in response to my recent call for contributions to the blog by black women and other women of color.

If you’d like to submit a post or an idea for a post for consideration, email me at gettenure@gmail.com. I pay $150 for accepted posts. The posts can be anonymous or not, as you prefer.  I welcome content on #MakeupMonday (the initial impetus for this as a Twitter follower expressed a wish for #MakeupMonday posts oriented toward women of color) as well as anything related to the academic and post-academic career.


By Veronica Padilla

After completing a double-major in Spanish and geology at Colgate University, I am now a PhD student at UC Davis. My dissertation work ties together archaeological records and geochemical analyses in order to reconstruct the environmental history of the northeastern Pacific coast. I want to know when humans first began altering the environment. I am a paleontologist and climate scientist, and I also thoroughly enjoy applying make-up, drinking coffee, tending to my indoor plants, and doing pilates!


When I first decided to write this post, I was worried about putting my name on it. I considered submitting anonymously, so that no colleague or employer would find this in the future and write me off as a frivolous woman that should not be taken seriously in academia. I have had this feeling a lot, particularly as a geologist. I have worried about how I present and what my geoscientist colleagues think. It has taken me some time to realize that everyone is allowed, even encouraged, to have hobbies outside of their careers and to do things that make them happy in order to maintain balance in our stressful, hectic lives. Make-up just so happens to be a hobby of mine; it does not make me any less serious about my science than someone who paints or plays piano in their free-time. Make-up doesn’t take away from my science nor does it quell my passion for what I study. In fact, doing my make-up every day allows me to focus on my work for the remainder of my day. It is part of my daily morning ritual, just like getting dressed and brushing my teeth. I don’t see it as a burden, but rather as a critical step in my self-care routine. Once under-eye concealer and eyeliner have been applied, I’m ready. For anything.

Photo of my beautiful mom from the early 1980s in her legendary red lipstick and thin brows. She was and still is my make-up icon!

I’ve always seen make-up as an art form. I remember watching my mom dip a fine-pointed brush into a small vial of water, and then drag it through a black, ink-like cake before applying it in a thin line across her eyelid. She told me my face was the only one that I had, so I had to take good care of it. By the time I was old enough to wear make-up myself, I was well-versed on skincare and make-up basics, thanks to the examples set by my mom.

Photo of me taken August 2018 outside my lab after a morning of field work and an afternoon of office work. I am wearing all the products mentioned in my list.

I began to associate make-up—particularly eyeliner and penciled brows—with Latinidad. My Mexican mother, with her brown skin, dark brows, and red lipstick, was iconic to me. I noticed that this was a recurring look that was popular among Latina women, even among my own family members. (My 88-year-old grandmother still has make-up on almost every time I see her, including the tattooed-on eyebrows she has had for over a decade.) Women of color in general are known for inventing and popularizing make-up and fashion trends (consider thin eyebrows, long acrylic nails, hoop earrings, etc.).

Because I associate make-up so strongly with my mother and my culture, it was not something I wanted to give up in graduate school. The academic lifestyle doesn’t lend itself well to extensive make-up routines, but if something is important to you, you make time for it. I think I’ve found the daily make-up routine that works perfectly for me; I love these products because of their ability to work on brown skin tones, the relatively quick application time, and the long-lasting appeal. (Essentially, I’m telling you that these products are perfect for busy academics of color who like make-up.) I didn’t include face wash, creams, masks, etc., because those are pretty personal and vary on your skin tendencies.

Taken earlier that same day, in the field at Tomales Bay. Notice that the make-up held up all day—no reapplication whatsoever!

Here is my product list (links below):

  1. Origins GinZing SPF 40 Energy-Boosting Tinted Moisturizer—This is colorless when it comes out of the tube, but once you apply it, it matches the color of your skin quite accurately. It won’t look orange, white, yellow, or anything besides a smoother version of your own skin. It won’t even look like you are wearing foundation; it evens out your skin in a very natural and polished way. It also has SPF 40, which is pretty great for a moisturizer.
  2. Tarte Amazonian Clay Waterproof Brow Mousse—This “mousse” is really just a pot of brow cream that perfectly fills in brows. My brows are fairly thick to begin with, but I like them to look evenly full and this is perfect for that. It comes with its own angled brush (my brush has lasted me forever—it’s super well made) for lining or filling. You can apply it as sparingly or liberally as you like. It’s also vegan if that’s your thing!
  3. Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick—I’ve tried a ton of liquid lipsticks, from drugstore to high-end designer brands, and Kat Von D remains my favorite. It is so long-lasting, even after drinking, eating, or wearing it for several hours. Perfect for a full workday since I never reapply once I leave the house. It’s also vegan!
  4. Rimmel London Scandaleyes XX-Treme Mascara—One of the best things about this mascara is that it’s $6. It also works exceptionally well. Despite having thick, dark hair, my eyelashes missed out on the thick and long part. This drugstore mascara packs on length and volume without looking clumpy. Lifesaver. It only comes in “extreme black” so it’s best for those with darker features and hair.
  5. Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer—This is a pricey option, but it’s the best undereye concealer I’ve tried. No matter how much sleep I get, I have a sunken, darkened look going on under my eyes. This concealer covers that up and makes me look wide awake. Seriously. I’m tired all the time, but I don’t think anyone has ever told me I look tired with this on. It comes in 22 shades!
  6. Kat Von D Tattoo Liner—This is self-explanatory. I’m a woman who loves her black eyeliner, and this one just happens to be my favorite. It’s long-lasting, easy to apply, and super highly pigmented. It has never faded or run on me.

I wear these six things pretty much every day. For me, make-up is art. It is a form of resistance. It is a way of staying in touch with my Latinidad. It is something I have always done, and will always do. Happy applying!



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About Karen Kelsky

I am a former tenured professor at two institutions--University of Oregon and University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. I have trained numerous Ph.D. students, now gainfully employed in academia, and handled a number of successful tenure cases as Department Head. I've created this business, The Professor Is In, to guide graduate students and junior faculty through grad school, the job search, and tenure. I am the advisor they should already have, but probably don't.


#MakeupMonday – Connecting To Culture Through Cosmetics WOC Guest Post — 2 Comments

  1. Veronica, I love the tips you give in this post, but even more, I love the way you connect makeup with life and culture. It’s more than just something you put on, but a part of who you are. Thank you for sharing!

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