I was born in Australia. But by some twist of fate, I’ve ended up spending the past 4 years in each and every one of Scandinavia’s capital cities, and during that time, I have borne witness to the slow but sure stripping down of my daily makeup routine. Before I moved to this cold, yet impossibly chic corner of the planet, I wouldn’t be seen leaving the house most days without an ample serving of one of the many foundations I had on high rotation at the time: a thick layer of cat-eye liner and a hearty sweep of my trusty Nars orgasm blush.
Recently, on returning from a trip back home to a glorious Australian summer, which took me back to a myriad of places I spent during my youth, I found myself asking: what is it exactly that has brought about this change? Perhaps it’s having the pleasure of working in fashion and being surrounded by incredible women, where I more often than not sport a blank canvas at both the office and events. But mostly it’s a Scandinavian thing – and it’s inspired me to strive for a more minimalistic approach to makeup, dressing, decorating my home, arranging my pens, toasting my bread etc etc.
I am, to be completely honest, simply in awe of these impeccably dressed yet barefaced beauties, who would rather opt for adorning themselves with an intriguing scent and unusual nail colour than a perfectly contoured complexion. After all, there’s an ineffable elegance in the combination of an oversized blazer paired with little more than a brushed brow. The Swedish, by the way, even have the perfect word for this kind of balance – Lagom, pronounced ‘car-prom’ – which literally translates to ‘not too much, not too little’.
Long story short, in the years I’ve lived in Scandinavia, I’ve managed to whittle my daily makeup routine down to five or so steps, one of which is spraying on perfume. By taking on the Lagom approach, in true Scandi style, I’ve found that each act forms part of a ritual, each an act of self-care, and I look polished yet effortless at the end of it all. I also have way more time in the morning to focus on other things, such as sitting quietly for a moment, such as running out the door in a mad dash, coffee dripping down my arm (yes, we are all human, after all).
Step One: Skincare for me these days consists of once simple, yet no less luxurious, step – that’s slathering my face in a thick layer of Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream, aka my sub-zero skin saviour and cure to even the harshest of Scandi winters. I then apply Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue all over my face, blending with the warmth of my fingers for glowing, effortless skin.
Step Two: Which just so happens to be my favourite, is to brush and define my brows with Shiseido’s Eyebrow Pencil.
Step Three: Curl eyelashes with Shiseido’s iconic eyelash curler.
Step Four: Apply a small amount of cream blush (or lipstick) to apples of cheeks.
Step Five: Always apply your signature scent. Mine is Santal 33 which was mixed on premises at my local Le Labo store around the corner from my apartment here in Sodermalm, Stockholm.
Don’t get me wrong I’ve always loved experimenting with makeup and a strong red lip is still very much present in my makeup arsenal (most often appearing as my go-to hangover cure paired, when needed, with a cheeky bloody mary). There is, however, something incredibly freeing and modern about this effortless approach, so nonchalantly displayed by the women of the Nordics that has me hooked. Not to mention it makes both traveling and getting ready in the mornings a breeze.
Words, Alice Betts.