Before I went to jail, I never left the house without makeup on. As a grown American woman, makeup is just a part of my routine, like showering and getting dressed. It never occurred to me to go somewhere without makeup.
I don’t need to explain how important cosmetics are to most women in this country, because it’s a multi-billion dollar industry with products that line the shelves of everything from Walmart to Sephora. From enhancing our best facial features to covering blemishes, makeup is a gift from God, and I’ve seen some of my girlfriends spend a lot of money on various products.
But, like I said before, everything changes when you’re in jail. Once you’re incarcerated, you’re not human anymore and it feels like everything has been taken away from you. They don’t care how you look or whether you can wear makeup. So, let’s talk about today’s blog topic: Can you wear makeup in prison?
In this blog post, I will cover the following topics:
- Can I wear makeup in prison?
- How Inmates Get Creative With Makeup
Can I wear makeup in prison?
Believe it or not, most of the kiosks in Women’s Prisons sell cosmetics, but the stock is extremely limited. In the prison where I was held, they sold cheap foundation and tinted moisturizers, mascara and horrible lipsticks.
There are three different shade options for white and Hispanic girls, and two different options for black girls. I should note that the vast majority of inmates at WERDCC are white, which is why they have more shade options.
I’ve heard people ask why the world’s female prisoners need makeup, and the reason is that it helps boost their self-worth. It makes you feel normal. When you’re a prisoner, you have absolutely no control over anything, and if you can maintain your appearance in a certain way, it certainly helps your mental state.
How Inmates Get Creative With Makeup
Since all you can buy in the commissary is foundation, mascara and lipstick, many of the women in prison get very creative with their makeup. They’ll use a sharpie or pencil as eyeliner, or M&M shells soaked in water as lip balm.
You can crush colored pencils and mix them with baby powder, or mix glitter from greeting cards with petroleum jelly to create pretty eye shadows.
beauty magazines like Cosmo Big in prison. Everyone immediately tore off the perfume sample, and the colors on the magazine page can be used for makeup (or painting). The advertised pinks and reds (T-Mobile ad works well) can be used as blush. seriously.
You just dab a little baby powder on your cheeks, then dab the advertised pink or red on your cheekbones for a sheer blush.
Instant coffee grounds also have multiple uses for many female inmates’ beauty regimens. If you can’t afford it at the commissary, you can mix the grounds with lotion for a primer, or you can use the grounds as an exfoliator.
Baby powder can also be used as a dry shampoo and makeup setting powder.
I should mention that it is illegal to use other items as cosmetics. Some officers don’t care, but others make it their mission in life to punish any woman they see with sharp eyeliner. The punishment is usually a CDV (Conduct Violation) or additional duties, but it can be more severe if you regularly break this rule.
Some of these makeup tricks aren’t very safe. Using a pencil as eyeliner is not a good idea, but women do it all the time. They would rub the tip of the pencil against the wall to loosen the lead and thicken the tip, and apply it to the eyelids. Don’t try this at home, it could cause some serious damage.
When I’m locked up, I always buy foundation and mascara. Then, I started buying lipstick because even though it’s an ugly color for my lips, it works great as a shadow on my lids.
However, I’ve been locked up for four years, out of prison, and I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t care about makeup at all. I was lucky to have really good skin with no acne or blemishes, so I started wearing less and less makeup because when it came to my appearance, I had no one to impress, not even myself.
It has been more than two years since I returned to China, and the number of times I have put on makeup after returning to China can be counted with two hands. This is not a normal thing, I can tell you. I am the exception to the rule.
Most women, once they get out of prison, go straight to the store to buy new cosmetics and “make up” so they can feel human again. After four years in prison, I’m still trying to rediscover myself.
It took me longer than most, but I’ll do my best to only tackle it one day at a time.
Do you find it strange that the kiosk in a women’s prison sells cosmetics? Let us know in the comments below.