“There’s Joy In Beauty”: How Muslim Women Use Makeup To Celebrate Eid

Thinking back to when we could get ready with others ahead of a big event feels like a dream. The buzzy atmosphere, music and chatter, unbridled excitement. It's sad to reminisce about our lives pre-pandemic, but even more so for me and my sisters on Eid day.
Eid is an Islamic celebration at the end of the month of Ramadan; I'd call it our version of Christmas. For as long as I can remember, Eid has always consisted of early mornings as we prepare for Eid prayer at the mosque, followed by enthusiastic Eid greetings (yes, involving hugging) and finally, a big get-together with my sisters as we prepare for our Eid lunch. Last year, however, in the midst of the global pandemic, Eid was alien to me. There was absolutely none of the above and things felt off. It was almost like any other ordinary day in lockdown. So this year, I've promised myself that it'll be special. How? I'm going to use makeup as a way of ensuring it is just as magical as every single Eid before the pandemic took hold.
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The writer Zeynab and her sister Aisha modelling their Eid makeup looks and photographed over Zoom
Beauty, in particular makeup, is often deemed trivial or frivolous, but it means something to many Muslim women, especially on Eid. It is a time of celebration, of looking your best and putting on your most glamorous outfits. A study by Harvard Medical School found that women who wear makeup experience a confidence boost, suggesting our relationship with beauty runs deeper than we think — and I couldn't agree more. Personally, even something as simple as a coat of mascara or eyebrow gel has brought me a sense of comfort and normality during the various lockdowns, and I've come to realize that this is even more true for festivities. Not only does makeup hold the power to influence mood, but through colour, sparkle, and the simple ritual of application, it brings back the essence of honouring Eid.
Lately, our beauty rituals have taken on a greater meaning, whether that's a Sunday facial routine or getting ready for a celebratory occasion via Zoom. My cousin Fadumo agrees. "Last year in lockdown, I put on a full face of makeup for Eid, red lipstick and everything," she told me as we spoke about our upcoming Eid plans for May 13. "Why not?" She's absolutely right. The ceremonial act of getting ready has previously required a physical end goal: a destination or an in-person get-together. There may be much less of that this Eid as we wait for things to open up fully, but it’s my mission to engage in that ritual at home as a way of immersing myself in the celebration. The makeup will be entirely for me to enjoy, but it'll remind me of Eid's important impact.
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Speaking to friends and family proves I'm not the only one who has lost endless hours to makeup tutorials or Pinterest ahead of Eid, though none of us have big plans. I have my go-to makeup artists and beauty influencers: Katie Jane Hughes always comes through with bold, creative looks, and you can trust her to steer you in a magical direction. Muslim makeup artist Hani is the one to take creative direction from when only a fully glamorous look will suffice, while makeup artist Yasmin provides a constant stream of glorious looks fit for Eid day. Her "Eid inspo series" on Instagram has racked up thousands of likes and comments as Muslim women take inspiration from her expertly curated cut creases, winged liner, and fluffy false lashes.
A makeup cliche perhaps, but a classic red lip never fails to empower me on Eid. My go-tos are Charlotte Tilbury Red Carpet Red and Fenty Beauty Stunna Lip Paint in Uncensored. Wearing bright, bold colours like these isn't just skin deep, though: It provides escapism and a release from reality, which is especially important when we're spending Eid at home. Fadumo agrees and says makeup is a "catalyst for a more cheerful day" on Eid. And it's not just my family. Salma tells me that throughout the pandemic, she has frequently turned to makeup to feel more like herself and often uses it to reignite the sense of fun of joyous occasions, which has become lost lately. Maymona describes her ongoing interaction with beauty throughout the pandemic in a similar way. Wearing makeup at virtual birthdays, bridal showers, and close-knit religious occasions such as Eid has only emphasized the happiness she feels.
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I ask my sister Aisha about her makeup plans for Eid this year and she tells me she will most definitely go all out. The way she speaks about beauty is infectious, and suddenly I’m giddy with delight at getting ready for Eid. She’s as much of a beauty enthusiast as I am. "It’s not so much about physical appearance," Aisha says, "but feeling good about looking good. There is both individual and collective joy that comes with beauty, makeup and getting ready in this way. For me, it's pretty magic." Before we know it, we’re both surrounded by makeup products as we discuss our stay-at-home Eid looks, swatching and applying a dozen shades of daring lipstick and glittery eyeshadow. We do this for hours until finally we have our looks together, using MAC Cosmetics and Anastasia Beverly Hills. The choices are limitless and exciting.
From choosing a look to sourcing the products and then applying them, getting ready for Eid is my favorite part of the celebrations. In that moment, I'm on a high and only good awaits me. The pandemic has felt like one continuous blur so we must recapture these moments of joy; makeup helps me and plenty of other Muslim women to do that. Personally, it's the small details: a wash of playful eyeshadow, like Glossier Lidstar in Lily, or a bright bold orange lip. These colors, textures, and finishes evoke a sense of celebration in themselves.
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It’s taken me a while to realize that the ritual of getting ready goes deeper than surface level, especially when it comes to festivities such as Eid. Makeup has become synonymous with the observance and is a big part of our day. Of course, it is so much more than simply products. It’s the emotion, the vibe, and how it brings Muslim women together. Going all out with my makeup on Eid will help me differentiate it from the pandemic's mundane days and mark the occasion as one of great joy, serving as a reminder that there will always be moments to look forward to. For me and many others, the pandemic will no longer be the thief of Eid happiness — not as long as we can dip into our bursting makeup collections, anyway.
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