A GRADUATE graduate who was so obsessed with make-up that her unhealthy addiction saw her get sectioned, says daring to bare her face has completely changed her life.
Amy Robb, 24, of Belfast, Northern Ireland, regularly got up at 4.15am to put her face on before work.
She never let her boyfriend see her complexion “au naturel,” despite them dating for five years and even slept in make-up – waking early to reapply it, before he saw her.
Amy said: “I’d spend hours doing my make-up. It was an addiction. I just couldn’t stop.
“I wouldn’t let anyone really see me without make-up. I’d go to bed in it if my boyfriend stayed over. But I wouldn’t usually be able to sleep, as I’d be so scared the make-up had rubbed off and he’d see me without it.
“I wore extra-thick foundation, fake eyelashes and dyed my hair peroxide blonde. I looked like a Barbie Doll – slim, with big blonde hair, really tanned and all made-up.”
Amy’s addiction started after her cousin, Melissa Thompson, now 25, first applied some make-up for her when she was 13.
The psychology graduate said: “I thought I looked so much better with make-up on. My natural completion is pale and on top of that I developed acne, so I was desperate to cover my face.
“I tried everything, from creams to strong tablets, like the acne drug Roaccutane, but nothing seemed to help.”
Falling into a dark, depressive spiral, wearing make-up became Amy’s security blanket.
She admitted: “I felt disgusting without it.
“My face was covered in spots, so I felt like people would think I was really ugly without it and was so uncomfortable in my own skin.”
As she moved through her teens, 5ft 4 Amy also battled the eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, and was admitted to hospital, aged 17, weighing five-and-a-half stone, after a suicide attempt.
Amy said: “I don’t know what triggered my anorexia or obsession with make-up, but I remember feeling very depressed and unhappy with the way I was.”
After spending two months in south Belfast’s anorexia treatment centre, the Beechcroft unit, Amy finally managed to gain weight – reaching 6st 2lb, when she was discharged.
But her obsession with make-up continued.
She said: “I was horrified looking at myself without make-up, but with it I felt 100 per cent more confident.”
Working in the bakery at her local Co-op, from the age of 19, she started at 6am, so would get up at 4.15am to apply her slap.
Starting with concealer, she would then layer on extra-thick foundation, bronzer, eye shadow, blusher, five coats of mascara and finally fake eyelashes.
Also addicted to tanning, she continued: “I’d go on sunbeds all the time and even got one in my bedroom, so I could use it for 30 minutes every day.
“I felt so much better with a tan, but I ended up looking like a doll. And when I wasn’t all done up, I felt awful.”
Despite reaching a healthy weight of almost eight stone, Amy’s mental health remained fragile.
Still battling depression, she was hospitalised another two times – in June 2016 and then in November – following suicide attempts.
She recalled: “I was sectioned in November. Altogether, between the June and November stays, I spent eight weeks in hospital.
“I was discharged in December 2016 and finally started to turn my life around.”
Already having beaten her eating disorder, this time it was her addiction to make-up that she overcame.
Swapping foundation for her natural skin, and just one brush of mascara for special occasions, completely altered her outlook.
Amy, who split up with her boyfriend earlier this year, after they grew apart, explained: “I’d been without make-up for such a long time in hospital that something inside me changed.
“I couldn’t be bothered to put make-up on any more. I thought, ‘Why should I wear it to be appreciated?’ All I wanted was to be myself.
“And the more I went without it, the more comfortable I felt in my own skin.
“I put on a dab of concealer and some mascara, and that’s it. I feel so happy now and free.
“I look back at my white blonde hair and orange face and think I looked horrendous.”
Amy, who is now single, is now using her new-found confidence and the insight she has gained into her own addictions, to blog about what she has been through, in a bid to help others.
She said: “I challenge myself every day and have learnt to love myself. I am so grateful to be alive. I have wasted so much time, so now I’m going to make the most of life.”
Clerical assistant Sally Robb, 54, Amy’s mum, says her daughter is a changed woman.
Sally said: “Amy is very well now, thank goodness.
“We are very happy with the way things have gone for her now. She has completely turned her life around and is very happy.”
And last week, this woman says she NEVER lets her partner see her without make-up… even in bed!