I Was A Teenage Alien: Beauty Lessons From My 13-Year Old Self

Makeup helped me find my identity as a kid. Join me as I recreate one of my more “interesting” late-'90s looks, and modernise it for today.
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Makeup helped me find my identity as a kid. Join me as I recreate one of my more “interesting” late-'90s looks, and modernise it for today.

This may shock some of you, but I was not always good at makeup.

I know. HARD TO BELIEVE. But applying makeup is a skill, and like any skill, it takes time to learn and practice to master it.

I started wearing makeup when I was in eighth grade (this is the first year of high school in Australia). My mum took me to the Clinique counter, and a very nice lady in a white coat answered my MANY, MANY QUESTIONS and showed me how to apply everything.

I walked away with a tinted moisturiser, brown mascara, sheer white eyeshadow, the palest apricot blush, some light concealer and, most glamorously of all, a pressed powder compact with a mirror inside. I wasn’t allowed to wear lipstick except on very special occasions, but I was happy with my shimmery Bonne Bell Strawberry-Kiwifruit Lip Smacker, so it didn’t matter much.

It didn’t take much time to figure out that I LOVED playing with makeup, but there’s only so much that you can do with six basic products. From then on, most of my allowance went to cosmetics, and my parents were generally OK with this. There were rules about when I could wear it and what I could have (the “no red lipstick until you are 16” rule was very strictly enforced), but many of these relaxed with time and my constant boundary-testing.

Which is why, for almost two straight years, I went to school looking like a very shiny silver alien.

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Take me to your leader! Actually, can we stop at Sephora on the way?

It’s easy to look back and laugh at beauty missteps like this one, poking fun at your clueless teenage self from the relatively safe harbour of adulthood. It’s much harder to remember why you made them in the first place.

Me, I was trying to carve out an identity for myself by any means necessary. Makeup was the ultimate tool for that, a way to show who I was--or who I wanted to be--right there on my face.

I needed that. At the time, it was dawning on me that I was not pretty; worse, that I was positively odd-looking. So I decided that if I couldn’t be pretty, I would be something else. I’d be a bizarre-looking alien with masses of braided blonde hair and practically no eyebrows, and so the identity that I carved out for myself was “the weird one.” Secretly, I rejoiced in that; it was something I had created with brushes and creams, and I felt like I had made MYSELF.

Now I realise that what I had actually created was a persona--a protective suit of armour for a lonely, anxious girl to hide inside. But I didn’t draw such fine distinctions back then.

I’m going to show you how I put this look together, and also how I’ve updated it for my adult life. Let’s get into it!

Teenage Alien Alle

Here’s what you’ll need:

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Yes, that's a glue stick.

·Silver eyeshadow. The original silver I had was by Maybelline, so it’s fitting that I’m using a Maybelline product again.

.Silver pencil eyeliner. The more metallic, the better.

·Silver glitter. Because I’m putting this around my eyes, I’m using the silver Urban Decay Heavy Metal glitter liner, because the glitter won’t scratch my eyeballs.

·White mascara. The lengthening end of a double-tube will work, too.

·Shimmer powder. At the time I was using a Revlon one, but I’ve since upgraded to MAC.

·Chapstick or other clear lip balm.

·Pale-blue eyeshadow.

·A glue stick and heavy concealer.

·An eyebrow pencil or light brown powder to redraw your brows with.

·Lightweight foundation, concealer and powder in the appropriate colour for your skin.

Here are the swatches so you can see what I’m working with:

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From left to right: Maybelline Colour Tattoo Metals eyeshadow in Silver Strike, Isadora Eye Kohl in Silver, MAC Iridescent Powder in Silver Dusk, the blue shade from the NYX Love In Rio palette in Sway with Lola.

To begin, we hide our brows. I plucked out almost all of my eyebrows before I turned 13, because I thought--entirely correctly--that this would give me a really extreme look. I am not going to do this in real life, so instead I am going to cover them up using Tiye’s excellent glue stick tutorial and then redraw my ultra-skinny brows with light brown eyeshadow and an angled brush.

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The only thing that I'd add is to wipe your brow area with toner before you apply the glue, because skin oils mean it won't stick so well.

If I were going to do this over, I would have applied one final coat of glue to really vanish my brows, but this was close enough for government work. 

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Marvel at how expressionless your face has become with tiny brows!

Now that the brows are concealed, we can perfect the rest of our skin. Foundation, concealer and LOTS of powder. 

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It was the late '90s. You want to look super-matte.

I had given up on blush at this point, because I didn’t like my sharp cheekbones and squishy cheeks. I would wish every night for a less angular face, but when that didn’t materialise, I thought that putting shimmer powder all over my face like a domino mask and up onto my forehead would fake that round, baby-faced look. I have no idea why I thought this.

Start on your eyelids, then brush it underneath your eyes, down the bridge of your nose and out to your temples. REALLY get it on there; moderation is not your friend.

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I love face maps, so here is one showing where I put the shimmer.

Next, we grab the silver eyeshadow and go to TOWN. I didn’t have any nice brushes when I first worked this look, so I’d use my fingers. And it just so happens that this Maybelline 24 Hour Colour Tattoo shadow (in Silver Strike, naturally) is best when applied with fingers. I don’t always love cream shadows, but this blended incredibly well, gave wonderful colour payoff and didn’t crease up. A+ on your shadow game, Maybelline.

Apply the shadow all over your eyelid, up high almost to your eyebrows. Make sure you get it under your lower lashline, too, and blend it down to cover up the under-eye circles that you have no idea how to conceal yet. Blend it out towards your temples at the sides, too, so that it fades into the shimmer. You want to look like a cross between the Tin Man and the Lone Ranger.

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Hi ho Silver, indeed.

Now, line your bottom waterline with the shiny silver liner. 

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Really get it in there, making sure you smudge it in between your lashes, too.

If you have very light eyelashes, you can skip this step if you want--but I liked to make my blonde eyelashes even blonder with white mascara. Apply a couple coats to your top and bottom lashes.

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Since it's harder to find white mascara today than it was in the late '90s, I used the "lengthening fibers" end of a dual mascara. It worked very similarly.

Next, apply some silver glitter on and around your eyelids. I dabbed Urban Decay Heavy Metal glitter liner onto my finger and then applied it that way, because it’s less messy than dealing with loose stuff, and it adheres by itself.

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I used to blast hairspray in my face afterwards to stick the glitter down, but that's probably not great for your skin.

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The completed eyes.

Back in the late '90s, the look for lips was frosted skin-tone. You didn’t want to see any colour at all--your kisser was meant to be the same shade as the skin around it, and shiny to boot. This was a problem for me because, as you guys have observed, my lips are a fairly dark pink that pops through all but the strongest lip colours.

I countered this by wearing pastel blue frosted lipstick. It really gave me the flesh-coloured lips that I craved, with an unsettling blueish tint that made people wonder if I had recently experienced massive oxygen deprivation. 

My original lipstick was made by Colours of Australis and has long been discontinued, but I mixed up a pretty close dupe with eyeshadow and some Rosebud Salve.

It was tricky to get the right colour. First, I applied the salve to my lips with my finger. Then I rubbed some of my silver cream shadow into the salve on my lips, patting some very light blue eyeshadow overtop for a truly frosty look.

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Glamorous.

Shall we see the entire look?

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Here it is!

To be really authentic, though, my headband would be a detachable bra-strap that I hot glued rhinestones to, and my hair would be in at least three more braids.

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Because style, obviously.

As much fun as it is to walk down memory lane and leave a trail of silver glitter in my wake, I recognise that this is not my most flattering makeup look. So I used it as inspiration for a 60s ice queen look that’s dramatic but glamourous, ie: something I’d want to wear today.

Adult Alien Alle

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Here's what you'll need.

·Silver eyeshadow.

·Light blue eyeshadow.

·Silver glitter, preferably liner.

·Black mascara, thank god.

·Black liquid liner.

·Grey pencil liner.

·Whatever you use to define your brows--for me, this is dark brown matte eyeshadow and an angled brush.

·Light pink blush.

·Shimmer powder.

·Hello Sailor lip stain by Lipstick Queen.

·Light foundation or BB, concealer and powder in the appropriate shade for your skin.

And here are the swatches:

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From l-r: Maybelline 24 Hour Color Tattoo Metals eyeshadow in Silver Strike, the blue shade from the NYX Love In Rio palette, Urban Decay Heavy Metal Glitter Liner in Silver, MAC Technakohl eyeliner in Greyprint, LORAC Front of the Line PRO Liquid Eyeliner in Black, MAC Blush in Bloom, Lipstick Queen Lipstain in Hello Sailor.

As before, even out your skin with your preferred foundation, conceal any blemishes and then throw some powder overtop. Light hand with the powder now. We don’t want to look TOO matte.

I no longer hate on my angular face. My cheekbones are totally one of my favourite things, and it makes sense that I want to enhance them! So instead of praying them away, I brushed a tiny bit of light pink blush underneath them and then gave the apples of my cheeks the most subtle flush.

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Because now I want to look healthy, not oxygen deprived.

Next I applied my shimmer powder over top of the blush along my cheekbones and down the bridge of my nose, then onto the apples of my cheeks and finished with two gentle swipes over each entire eyelid. I don’t want to look radioactive, just a little shiny, so I used a light hand.

For the eyes, I applied the silver all over my mobile eyelid, tapping to deposit the colour and using very light upward strokes to blend it. I took it all the way up to my crease, but not above.

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This way, you could see a little of it when my eyes were open.

Next, I took the pale blue and applied it in the very outer corner of my lids, blending inwards toward the silver. Because I wanted to recall the very very pale blue of my lipstick from my teenage look, I blended this until it was just a hint of colour atop the silver.

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Left: unblended. Right: blended. Very subtle!

Now for the fun part: glitter! Using Urban Decay Heavy Metal Glitter Liner (which is the best, most useful thing in the sparkle universe), I drew a line from the very inside corner of my lower lashline all the way out to the outside, making sure to get an even amount of glitter all across. A perfectly straight line didn’t look quite right, so I went back and drew a couple very small flicks downwards, so that it was oh-so-slightly uneven and almost faded looking.

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Don't poke yourself in the eye, please.

I used this lower line as a guide for my cat eye on top. Unlike my usual cat eye which is relatively thin across the lid with a long wing, this time I made the line across the lid very thick and only winged it out a little bit. 

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This made my eyes look especially round.

Now, because we already have glitter under our eyes, we’re going to use the grey liner to line our waterlines, something I almost never do. Even as a teenager who delighted in odd makeup, I lined my waterlines with black and immediately went, “Oh god no, not for me.” It made my already rather close-set eyes look like teeny tiny watermelon seeds, and I was not about that.

But grey is far less harsh than black, and I’m nothing if not committed to Sparkle Motion, so go ahead and do it along the bottom. Get it all the way into the corner where your tear duct is.

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There's no way to make this not look creepy.

When you’re done, curl your lashes and apply a couple coats of mascara to the top and bottom. Define your brows however you like!

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Here are the finished eyes!

As far as my mouth goes, I found a really great alternative to the pale blue lips I adored as a teenager (but am less psyched on now). Hello Sailor by Lipstick Queen LOOKS like a dark blue lipstick in the tube, but goes on as a gorgeous sheer berry tone. It feels nice, lasts for ages, and coolest of all--you can actually WATCH it change colours on your skin from blue to berry. 

Teenage Alle would get a huge kick out of the colour in the tube, and Adult Alle likes how it looks on her face.

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It matches my shirt!

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And... the finished look.

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Who says glitter isn't sexy?

So which look is the winner...

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Adult Alien Alle or Teen Alien Alle?

OK, so it isn’t much of a contest. TEEN ALLE IS HOTTEST FOREVER. Waxing off my brows, brb.

And now I ask you: What was your most dramatic makeup look from your younger days, and what did you learn from it? Who else was “the weird one”? If you have any awesome photos of your makeup experimentation, post pictures in the comments!