Putting on your make-up can be a struggle if the lighting is dim and space on your table is sparse. If not stored properly, lipsticks can go missing, foundation bottles can slip and crash, and brushes can lose their shape.
Hand in hand with the contouring, baking and strobing beauty trends comes the need for a well-organised make-up station, where compacts are colour coordinated and lipsticks stand upright in an orderly formation.
Certain Pinterest images come to mind, where surfaces are topped with a vase of fresh peonies, a vintage fragrance atomiser and a luxury candle. In these images, which are sourced from the social-media feeds of celebrities’ expansive walk-in closets and the bedrooms of elite beauty bloggers, tables are predominantly white, sometimes with rose-gold accents, mirrors are bordered with LED bulbs and plush chairs are draped with faux-fur throws.
But in the real world, women often don’t have the space or budget to accommodate such an elaborate, fairy-tale set-up. Nonetheless, there are essential elements that should be a part of every beauty enthusiast’s vanity table.
If you’re an avid make-up-wearer, and you have the space and budget to accommodate a table just for make-up, that would be ideal. Otherwise, corner off a substantial section of your dressing table and make it exclusively for your beauty needs.
Whatever the case, you shouldn’t be applying your make-up in the bathroom, advises Dubai-based make-up artist and beauty blogger Eljammi Gozalli. While many women make do with the space around their washroom sink, Gozalli warns against this.
“Most bathrooms have yellowish light, and most of the people who do make-up in the bathroom get their foundation colour really wrong,” she says. “Natural daylight is the best light to apply your make-up in.”
Gozalli posts make-up tutorials on Instagram, where she has more than 147,000 followers and her videos get anywhere from 12,000 to 160,000 views. One of the most important things to consider, she says, is the location of your make-up table.
“I prefer it to be near my window, so that when I do my make-up in the daytime, I can really go to the window and check how my make-up looks in the daylight. Sometimes, if you sit in a dark corner of a room, you may think your make-up looks good, but then you go out in the daylight and see that it looks completely different,” she says.
Though many Pinterest images of vanity tables show professional-looking LED bulbs, Gozalli claims that unless you’re an expert, these serve no use beyond nice aesthetics and decoration. Instead, she recommends buying a smaller mirror with built-in lights round its circumference – most make-up enthusiasts keep a smaller, close-up mirror on their tables. “I got mine from Home Centre; it’s good because you can really see the details if there are imperfections in your make-up,” she says
Gozalli, who has lived in the UAE for 10 years but is originally from Baku, Azerbaijan, launched her online make-up site GlamJam (www.glamjamstore.com) about six months ago, and hosts private make-up classes and seminars around the GCC.
Because of her profession, Gozalli has about five times more cosmetics products than your average woman. About 60 brushes, 15 make-up sponges, 40 eye pencils and 80 lipsticks stand on her tabletop – not to mention countless other products, including more than 30 additional lipsticks, inside her drawers.
But Gozalli’s vanity table looks neither cluttered nor disorderly – her cosmetics are all compartmentalised and her table’s surface is kept pristine. She seeks out budget-friendly storage options for her make-up.
“I wouldn’t pay more than Dh200 for a make-up organiser,” she says, explaining that she finds hers at Dragon Mart, Ikea and even Global Village. These acrylic structures are also available at stores such as Lifestyle and Daiso.
Cutlery organisers can serve as a viable alternative, while ice-cube trays work well for storing small eye compacts.
To store larger compacts and palettes, use a small wire basket, or repurpose a toast rack or letter organiser. Gozalli collects shoebox lids and uses them as drawer liners.
For brushes, she advises that make-up users keep face ones separate from eyeshadow brushes.
“If you don’t want to buy a special make-up organiser for brushes, what I would do is just take a big glass from the kitchen and put the brushes in that,” she says.
Mugs or mason jars will also do the trick. These can be filled with marbles, beads or even sand to create more depth and visual interest. It’s also handy to keep a tissue box on your table, along with small sweet jars or trinket boxes filled with Q-tips and cotton wool. Lipsticks, Gozalli says, should be kept inside drawers.
“They get very dusty and if there is dust on top of the packaging, you can be sure the dust will get inside the lipstick, and then if you apply that on your lips it’s not really hygienic – especially with the liquid lipsticks,” she says.
If you find yourself running short on space on tabletops and in drawers, consider using wall space. Ordinary shelves can prove useful, but for a more DIY approach, hang wall planters or kitchen utensil holders, and use these pots for your brushes and products.
Finally, finish with a luxury prop or two, such as a scented candle or small vase of (faux) flowers, standing within a mirrored tray or atop a pile of fashion coffee-table books. Or take a leaf out of Gozalli’s book and display your signature scents on the corner of your table.
“To give that personal touch I always add my favourite perfumes – like three or four, the ones that look pretty,” she says.
In her case, these include Decadence by Marc Jacobs and Mystery Tobacco by Carolina Herrera, but choose your own favourites – the whole point is to create a space that’s comfortable and personalised to your beauty needs.