Mirrors get a bad rap. Namely, they’re quick to blame for inciting self-criticism and the occasional blackhead witch hunt. Fair. But they’re also a channel for positive self-reflection, feeling fierce, and ultimately developing a lifelong relationship with ourselves. From rehearsing for work meetings to dishing out pre-date pep talks to dreaming up purple-lipstick-wearing alter egos, the mirror makes our moi-to-moi dialogue possible. Furthermore, it lets us communicate with a single glance that we are powerful and look damn good.
This is what we call the mirror face — and if you’ve ever caught your reflection in a shiny object and liked what you saw (we’re betting yes), you have one, too. It may seem like a small thing, but that quick look can have a big impact — instantly projecting confidence and an I got this attitude to yourself and into the world. So to celebrate the power of this expression, we partnered with NARS to reveal the meaning and history behind five R29ers’ mirror faces. Then we captured their honest reactions to their own reflections when wearing the brand's new Natural Radiant Longwear Foundation — a long-lasting, lightweight formula that comes in 33 shades and leaves a natural glow — exploring how makeup can be a medium for expressing your truest self. Check out their faces and feelings below, and don’t forget to own yours the next time you walk by a store window.
Nicole, 32, AP Manager
When you look in the mirror, who do you see staring back at you?
"I see someone who is sometimes unsure of herself but somehow fearless at the same time. Someone who is bold but also holds back. Someone with a lot of potential to take on the world, to teach, and to inspire others."
How would you describe your mirror face?
"My mirror face is all about looking fierce! It's a straight-on stare with a slight pout — almost sensual. It says that I am a force to be reckoned with and that I am ready for whatever challenges the world throws my way."
On set, we saw your stare turn into a megawatt smile. Where did that come from?
"I felt amazing and powerful. I have never seen myself in such a light, where my makeup — especially the NARS Natural Radiant Longwear Foundation — was so subtle yet still totally enhanced my features. I've always viewed makeup as my way to really glam myself up, but this look made me feel that I am enough and that what I have to offer is enough. It was one of the most incredible feelings in the world."
How much does makeup play a role in how confident you feel?
"Oddly enough, I started wearing makeup every single day when I was 22 because people always confused me for a teenager. I wanted to be taken seriously and look more mature. Eventually that developed into wanting a certain look and maintaining a certain appearance. For a long while, I would want to do the whole shebang — blush, mascara, lipstick, you name it. I still love wearing makeup, but I've finally developed a level of confidence to allow myself not to wear it at times."
What's your go-to beauty product?
"I love foundation. When executed properly, you can create the illusion that you aren’t wearing any makeup at all. It's my secret to feeling incredibly confident in a room full of people."
Allie F., 27, Luxury Sales Director
What's the first thing you do when you look in the mirror each morning?
"I get a temperature check on how I'm feeling on the inside. If my eyes are puffy, I'm usually exhausted or sad or dehydrated (or I stayed up too late watching nature documentaries). If I'm smiling and my tooth brushing has that extra vigor, I know it's going to be a killer day."
What kind of face do you make?
"I'm always smiling. I wore headgear growing up (late bloomer) and was pre-dental in college — so I'm obsessed with teeth. I give myself the biggest toothy smile right before heading out the door."
What does this say about the kind of person you are?
"It took me a bit, but I feel so confident and comfortable with who I am. I love to be happy, to have fun, and to project positive energy and kindness out into the world. Giving myself a big smile ensures not only that I'm ready to go put good vibes out into the universe but also that I'm bringing them right back to home base."
What is typically going through your head? Do you give yourself a pep talk?
"I talk to myself. It's something I've always done. I run through everything I need to do that day out loud — as I stare directly at myself."
What about makeup? Tell us about your routine.
"I feel so insecure with a lot of makeup on because my skin just never looks fresh. A dab of concealer or light foundation, brow gel, and a swipe of mascara is all I need for most days. If I want a bit of drama or am heading out at night, I love to play up my eyes. They're this really unique greenish-gold color, and with a smudge of liner they pop."
How did you feel in the makeup on set?
"I always thought that liquid foundation wasn't for me, but it was so light. I really couldn't believe how smoothly it went on and how perfectly it matched my skin tone. I had glowy, dewy, Insta-worthy skin without the pretty filter. My makeup look on set was all about amplifying the features I already love and celebrating my natural beauty, versus making me look like someone I'm not."
Crystal, 35, Experiential Producer
When you look in the mirror, who do you see looking back at you?
"I see a magical Black woman."
Tell us about your mirror face.
"My go-to mirror face is face to the side, eyes at the mirror. I'm a total goofball, and that face never fails to make me laugh every time I do it — while also making me feel beautiful and powerful."
When do you feel your best, most confident self?
"I'm most confident when I'm surrounded by the people I love, in a really kick-ass outfit, with my brows on point."
Is there a particular makeup look that feels most authentic to you?
"I've never been a 'ChapStick and go' girl, in terms of my makeup, but I am super low-maintenance. With the right foundation, I feel like my best me. I'm biracial, so it's always difficult to find the right shade — I was so excited to find a NARS foundation on set that was a perfect match."
What's your relationship like with your skin?
"I haven't always loved my skin. My mom is much darker than me, and I always thought her skin was so incredibly regal and beautiful. I wanted to feel that way about my skin but didn't. My mom was so integral in teaching me to love the beauties of my skin, and it really changed my relationship with it as I became an adult. Today, I adore it. I'm at the OMG! You're 35?! age, and I couldn't be happier. My skin has been good to me, so I'm good to it back."
Allie R., 23, Account Coordinator
Walk us through your morning routine.
"I would love to say I give myself a pep talk every morning, but every day is different. If I only have a minute, I give myself a quick smize in the mirror and do my hair, but if I have more time to spare, I'll look in the mirror and think about my day to come — looking at it as another opportunity, another page in my book for something to happen. I remind myself to be as ready as I can be for anything the day may throw at me."
When you have that moment with yourself, what does your facial expression typically look like?
"It varies. The majority of the time my mirror face looks like I have gone soul searching; it is definitely a more serious look — a sort of confirmation of my mood and feel. Then there are moments when I am in a particularly snazzy outfit and on my way out for a fun night. In this situation, I add in a smile and throw myself a kiss."
What do you think this sometimes serious, sometimes sassy mirror face say about you?
"The face I make in the mirror is dependent on my mood — some days I'm more reflective, while other days I feel more playful. My serious face says I am confident, capable, and ready for any challenge, while my sassy face says I don't take life too seriously. It is a moment of self-reflection — the only time you see you. I tend to look at myself from the inside out when I look in the mirror, rather than just the exterior."
How has your perception of yourself changed over the years?
"I've definitely grown more confident, as most of us do with time. I would say I am better at pepping myself up now, rather than searching for faults in the mirror — like I used to when I was in my teens."
What do you think influences your confidence level most?
"Taking the time for self-care. I always feel the most confident in my own skin when I wake up feeling good all over. Then, of course, a tad of makeup, a brush of the mane, and a feel-good outfit can make me feel like I can do anything."
Rockie, 27, Photo Editor
How has your relationship with the mirror evolved with age?
"Growing up, I spent a lot more time looking in the mirror than I do now. I was teased a lot for my appearance when I was young. I had glasses and would take them off and try to imagine what I'd look like without them. Now that I'm older, I'm more comfortable in my own skin, so I don't really fret over it too much anymore."
Tell us about your mirror face.
"My mirror face is the same face I usually make in photos, exaggerating all my features by raising my eyebrows and parting my lips a bit. I don't typically pose in front of the mirror. For me, it's more about inspecting my makeup up close and from different angles to see how everything looks."
How does this expression reflect who you are as a person?
"I am a fairly quiet person in general, and I think my mirror face reflects that. I am not really high-energy when out and about, so when I'm looking in the mirror it's not really a performative act but more so an inspection of what I've done and making sure I feel confident in what I've put on."
How did you feel about your beauty look on set?
"I felt confident and glowing on set — which seemed like a miracle as I was sick on the shoot day. The foundation moisturized my extra-dry skin and evened out my complexion without being heavy. I was surprised by how healthy and natural I looked when I saw myself."
What's the one facial feature you love most?
"My cheekbones! They are the feature that I feel stands out with or without makeup, but I do love what a swipe of blush does to liven up my whole face. I also love my freckles. I had a lot more of them when I was young. Now they come out more on my cheeks in the summer, but I wish they were year-round."
Has your career as a photographer and photo editor had an impact on the lens through which you see yourself?
"I started my career in photography by taking a lot of self-portraits. Self-portraits gave me an easy subject that was always available and made it so that I could try things out without worrying about who would let me shoot them. Being in front of the camera definitely helped my self-confidence, plus it helped me direct others. I really love seeing other women post self-portraits; I love seeing their confidence."