For some of the women I spoke to, discovering the trend made them feel less “alone” in their want to wear makeup for the birth of their baby. As Emma Goldberg said: “Finding the birthing makeup trend on TikTok made me feel like my instinct to want to put makeup on after the birth of my daughter was normal, that I wasn’t extraordinarily vain or self-involved, I was just a human being who wanted to feel at her best after what I believed would likely be a grueling experience.”
While others actively searched for it on the app because they wanted to find easy routines that they could apply themselves, others happened upon the trend. “I didn’t wear any makeup when I gave birth to my first child, but now I can’t bear to look at those photos because I look so broken and drained in them,” Sherma, a mother of two says. “It was such a happy experience, but the photos of the moment don’t show that at all. So, for my second birth, I decided I was going to wear some makeup but wasn’t sure how I could given that I was having a planned C-section and so wouldn’t be particularly mobile and probably limited to one hand. I searched online and came across the birthing makeup trend on TikTok, I found the product recommendations really useful and really treasure the photos I now have from the birth of my son.”
And several women hadn’t come across the trend at all ahead of giving birth but felt strongly that their own birthing makeup experience should be one that was ultimately empowering, one that gave them control in a scenario where we must so often relinquish it.
“For me, putting on foundation, bronzer, mascara, and lipstick brought me back to feeling myself after I’d given birth,” Jenen Unac tells me. “For 10 months I felt totally out of control of my body as I grew my baby and even less in control when I went into labor and my initial birth plan went awry. I hadn’t necessarily planned on putting makeup on, but I did bring a few bits in my bag and found the process of putting it on really soothing.
“Everything was new and alien,” she continues. “Being in hospital, being a brand-new mum in, what felt like, a brand-new body, but applying makeup made me feel normal; it provided me with a link back to those mundane everyday tasks that made up my life prior to this moment.”
Of course, there is another side of birthing makeup, one that Keira Knightley once, in part, pointed out when discussing the photos of Kate Middleton that we’ve all seen in the press, of her on the steps of the Lindo Wing in heels, with a shiny blow-dry and soft, natural makeup.
In an essay for Scarlett Curtis’s book Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and Other Lies, back in 2018, the Love Actually actor focused on the fact that Middleton was “out of hospital seven hours [after birth] with her face made up and high heels on,” saying that this plays into the idea of the “the face the world wants to see,” the face that feels more palatable: “Hide. Hide our pain, our bodies splitting, our breasts leaking, our hormones raging. Look beautiful, look stylish, don’t show your battleground, Kate.”