All That Glitters Isn’t Gold

This is going to be the longest, the realest, the most important, and very possibly the last post I ever make here but I need to get all of this out.

I don’t really know where to start so let’s just start at the beginning.

Once upon a time, I was just a girl who really liked makeup. Now makeup, like most things, requires practice to do well so despite the fact that I loved makeup, I simply wasn’t very good at it. I soon discovered /r/makeupaddiction on Reddit and it totally fed my interest. I knew I wasn’t great at makeup but I really wanted to improve so I began posting pictures of my makeup and asking for constructive criticism. Initially it was kind of hard to hear how so many things you’re doing to your face are wrong but I wanted to improve so I took all the suggestions to heart and would remember them each time I did a new look. I started posting pretty frequently, always looking for more suggestions on how to improve, and before long I could really see a difference. Super!

I kept posting and at some point I started getting fewer suggestions and more praise and requests for tutorials and reviews and such. After making a few review/tutorial posts, I found out that I really enjoyed it so I decided to create this blog to host it all.

On Reddit, I always made it a point to try to respond to as many comments and questions as possible. I figure that if someone takes a moment out of their day to compliment my makeup or to ask me a question, it’s only common courtesy to respond. Being around so many people who also loved makeup just made me fall deeper and deeper in love with it.

Then it got to a point where nearly every post I’d make would make it to the top of /r/makeupaddiction. I suppose many people really enjoyed what I was doing but I guess others were getting sick of seeing my face. I started getting pissy comments and private messages frequently. And heaven forbid anything I post would actually make it to the front page of Reddit because then the flood gates would really open up. Now I like to think I have pretty thick skin so I never really took any of this personally, but it often just left me wondering why. Just why take time out of your day to be an asshole to a perfect stranger who’s doing something they love? Still beats me.

I’m not going to get into details because it just doesn’t really matter but at some point I started getting a lot of shit. People would accuse me of doing things I wasn’t doing, saying things I wasn’t say, whatever. Then I’d see my name around other areas of Reddit and occasionally on other parts of the internet. It was weird. One part of me was like “Oh, well I guess this means I’m doing something right” but another part of me was still left wondering why people just wanted to be assholes for no good reason. I eventually stopped posting on Reddit all together, just like many other girls I know.

Now before I knew it, my blog and Instagram account really starting growing. I started receiving emails from companies asking if I would like to try out their products. Well, of course I would! I could only spend so much of my own money purchasing the hottest new makeup dropping each month for reviews/looks. Receiving free products allowed me to make more posts and gain more experience! Win/win, right?!

Well, all that glitters isn’t gold.

Being a beauty blogger/YouTuber/Instagrammer looks so easy from the outside. All you need to do is slap on some makeup and take a few pictures, right? Wrong. It’s infinitely more time consuming than I could have ever imagined.

You spend 1-2 hours on the daily doing makeup that’s ready to be photographed with a macro lens. Then you rig up your expensive camera equipment and lighting that you’ve bought just for this purpose and spend a whole lot of time trying to get the perfect shots while melting under the hot lights and dabbing the sweat off of your upper lip between photos.

Next you need to edit your photos. Now I don’t know how many of you have looked at hundreds of high quality pictures of your face a week but eventually it starts to be a real fucking bummer. You see every detail, every flaw, every pore, every line, every mistake and it’s mentally exhausting. You don’t see your pictures the way others do, or at least I didn’t.

Okay, now that you’ve got your pictures ready, you need to make a blog post and then share the picture all over social media, being sure to tag every company you’re wearing on your face because much of it has been sent to you for free for this exact reason. You’re gonna want to share on social media at different times throughout the day to hit the most people so this isn’t a “once and done” type deal.

Alright, now you have comments and questions everywhere. Your blog, IG, FB, Twitter, Reddit, all over. I never felt right about just ignoring all these nice comments from people so I always tried to respond as much as I could. This takes up a lot of time. At this point, you might need to send out emails to a couple of companies to let them know you’ve used/shared/reviewed the product(s) they’ve sent you.

Okay, here’s where it really starts to get under my skin. I can’t lie to people who are looking to me for the truth. I don’t have it in me, I’m just not that person. So if a product isn’t great, I’m going to say so. Now you’re getting backhanded compliments from companies saying things like “Oh, thanks for your review. We definitely appreciate your honesty.” when you know damn well they don’t.

Products work differently for everyone and some people are going to love things others don’t. But let’s be real. Some products are just garbage all the way around. I frequently started seeing girls raving about products that I knew were absolute crap all for the PR brownie points, fans, likes, cash, whatever. I could never do this. Everything about it felt wrong to me, because it was. I couldn’t lie to my followers for a pat on the back from PR or a few bucks. Well, honesty definitely isn’t the quickest route to the top in the beauty industry.

Now don’t take this wrong. There are tons of honest beauty bloggers/YouTubers/IG’s out there but for every honest one, there’s probably five others who aren’t.

It might look like beauty bloggers are making a lot of money off of their blogs but the truth is, unless you’re way high up on the totem pole, your blog is probably making chump change. Sure, you might be receiving a ton of free products and that’s nice and all but this isn’t exactly a great way to earn cash. Despite this, I kept at it because I simply loved makeup and loved doing this. I never intended to get this deep into the beauty industry, it just all sort of happened.

I don’t know how many of you know this about me because I’ve only touched briefly on the topic once or twice before but I struggle with depression and anxiety and have for most of my life. I started having issues with my mental health when I was only nine years old and it’s been a bumpy ride since then.

I always tried to to hide it. I didn’t want people to view me as weak or to think that I was just using my illness as a crutch. I didn’t want to need help. Well, hiding mental illness definitely won’t make it go away. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs and have been on and off medication many times but at some point, about 3 years ago, my mental health was getting SO bad that I was truly scared for myself.

I was miserable, utterly and completely miserable, nearly every single day. The kind of miserable where all you want to do is lie in bed all day and cry. The kind of miserable where you only go grocery shopping at 2am because your anxiety is so bad that you don’t want to be around anyone, period. The kind of miserable where a crowded store could send you into a full blown panic attack, complete with leaving everything and running out the door crying and trying to catch your breath. The kind of miserable where something as simple as walking the dog absolutely drained you. The kind of miserable where you have no idea who you are anymore. The kind of miserable where you truly feel hopeless and all but completely dead inside.

I was losing control of myself and my emotions. I was really afraid of what was going to happen to me so eventually I had to break and agree to seek help. I found some great doctors. I started back on my medication. Then my dose was upped. And upped again. And upped yet again. Now I’m on the highest dose of my antidepressant that you can have as an outpatient plus a separate medication for my anxiety. I honestly feel like it’s saved my life. I know how utterly hopeless mental illness can make one feel but if you struggle with mental illness, please seek help. There’s no shame in it. You can be “fixed”. You can regain control of your life. You can be happy. You might still have bad days here and there but life can be worth living again, I promise. If any of you want to talk about mental illness, mine or yours or both, you are more than welcome to reach out to me at anytime. Sometimes just having someone to talk to can help and I’m always available.

Well, as you may imagine, the beauty industry is even harder for those with mental illness. It is absolutely mentally exhausting to wake up everyday, spend hours looking at yourself in the mirror and in photographs, and then trying to convince the world how beautiful you are that day. It is completely draining to have nearly all of your success weigh totally on your appearance. It’s just flat out brutal.

I felt like the beauty industry was literally eating away at my soul, slowly but surely. Many days it all but killed me to complete a look and write a blog post. Mental health aside, I started getting really sick of all of the lies and fake bullshit I was seeing on the daily that was just completely over saturating the industry. I was losing interest in being a part of this.

Now to sort of jump to another topic, my Papaw passed away unexpectedly a bit over two months ago. We were really close my whole life. He meant the world to me and his death hit me hard. I took an unplanned hiatus from all of this to mourn and try to cope with my loss. I had every intention of coming back but I started to realize that being away from the beauty industry made me a happier person. The longer I stayed away, the more my mental health improved, the happier I became. Soon I realized I completely wanted out.

By this point, I had already invested an awful lot of time and energy into the blog and my IG account, not to mention quite a bit of money on Ash Noir Cosmetics. I almost felt like I had to stay. Hell, we had moved to a bigger and more expensive apartment to give me more space for Ash Noir cosmetics. I was afraid my husband would be upset if I told him that I wanted out but luckily, I happen to be married to an amazing man who’s main concern is my happiness and well being. He told me he understood and that it would all be okay. So after both my husband and my therapist confirmed to me that I’m not crazy for dropping out at this point, I officially decided that I’m done. I’m out! Woo!

Life changes, people change, situations change. What I once really, really wanted, I no longer want. I want to focus on myself, my family and my happiness. I want to spent my little bit of time on this earth being happy, not focusing damn near every bit of my time and energy on my appearance and trying to claw my way to the top of a superficial totem pole. I’ll always love makeup but it’s just not the future that I want to pursue.

I feel truly honored to have had this opportunity and infinitely grateful for all of the amazing people that I’ve met along the way. I have so many amazing followers who have supported me from the beginning and it’s meant so much to me! I recognize usernames and pictures; I see many of you following me and supporting me on various platforms and I can’t thank you enough for all of the continued love and encouragement. I’ve had the chance to work with so many wonderful companies, most of whom have been nothing but incredible, and I am so extremely thankful for all of the doors that have been opened to me. Seriously, thank you all so much! <3

So this very lengthy post has pretty much summed up what I wanted to say. I’ll be leaving the blog up for a while. I’m not sure how long but probably at least a few months. I doubt I’ll be posting again but never say never, eh?

In the meantime, I’ve been focusing my time on another love of mine, vintage goodies! I’ve always loved treasure hunting but I can only bring so many things into my own home so I decided to create my Etsy shop, Retro Suburbia, to share my goodies with the world! It makes me happy in a way the beauty industry never could. So yeah, if you’re wondering where I’ll be, now you know! 😉

My emails will still be open and checked so if you ever want to reach out to me privately, for whatever reason, feel free! I’ll see it and I’ll respond!

This is really bittersweet for me. Saying goodbye to one chapter of your life and hello to another is never easy but I know that I’m doing the right thing for myself and I’m excited for my future.

Thank you again for all of the love and support that you guys have given me. It’s truly been a wonderful experience; it’s just time for me to move on.

Best wishes and so much love,

Ashley

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23 thoughts on “All That Glitters Isn’t Gold

  1. Thank you for being so real and honest with yourself, your family and your fans! Your happiness and health is worth so much more than being unhappy. I am so sorry for your loss. My sincerest condolences to you and your family. As your fan, I am so proud of you and will truly miss you! You are a unique beauty inside and out! Wishing you all the best and good luck on Etsy! You are a strong beautiful woman and are super inspiring. Take care Ashley! Love from Alberta, Canada xoxo 🙂

  2. I’ve been following you since you started to post on reddit and I always looked forward your posts. You truly are one of my biggest makeup inspirations and I’m really gonna miss you! Your happiness is what matters the most, I wish you all the best, take care of you! 🙂

  3. Wow, it takes a tremendous amount of courage to talk about personal issues like you just did. I’m glad I stumbled upon your blog. I think you are so lovely and I’ve always enjoyed your posts. I am even more excited about your new vintage adventure as I am obsessed with vintage too! I am happy for you and hope this new venture in your life makes you complete. Thank you for sharing and good luck😊

  4. Ashley I am so proud of you. You did the right thing, looking after yourself. I have anxiety and have had depression so I know the feeling of just being scared for yourself if something doesn’t change. You’re my favourite reddit MUA and always will be, your make up is frigging perfect and you’re truly an inspiration to me and I’m sure many many others. I’m sorry that people felt that they had the right to be twats to you. I will be following your Etsy shop too and admiring from afar as I don’t think you ship to England (although I could be wrong haha). ANYWAY not to turn this into a huge rant: you do you girl. Fuck errybody else and keep rocking.

  5. So sad to see you go but after reading your post it seems to be the best step for you in order for you to be happy and healthy. Thank you so much for your brutal honestly and openess to discuss some real personal issues, as someone with a mental illness I appreciate you helping to reduce the stigma and shame associated with it. I hope to see you around on etsy, take care!

  6. I’ve been a ghost follower of you for quite some time now but I think now would be the perfect time to share my thoughts with you. I found your blog while searching for accurate swatches of Indie Flick by Nyx and I ended up going through your whole blog and Ig page because I fell in love not only with your skill, but your personality as well. Seeing you post made me feel like I was talking with a friend and I always tagged my friends and in family on your posts so everyone could see your talent. This post has made me appreciate you even more because of how honest you are. I was hospitalized for my mental illness my freshman year of high school and I couldn’t tell a soul, not even my teachers, and two years later, I’ve finally understood that a mental illness isn’t something to be ashamed of. It doesn’t make one any weaker, and it’s valid despite being unseen. Coming to terms with that and then by extension helping others understand that has grown to mean so much to me and I too have been feeling quite sick of the beauty world considering the amount of competition and hate among a community that I once saw as welcoming. Seeing you post something this honest and truthful is beautiful knowing that you opened up in that way and you’re giving your followers a true reason for leaving the community, not a lie sugarcoated with a fake promise to be back. I love and will miss you but your well-being is way more important than any Instagram or blog post will be, Ashley. I’ve followed you on Etsy and can’t wait to see what great finds you’ll post! Keeping you in my thoughts and wishing you the best of luck and health, Ella <3

  7. I also started having mental health, anxiety, and depression problems when I was 9. It’s exactly how you described it. Thankfully, I’m a lot better now. But not many people understand it and not many people are kind about it. So thanks for making this post and being honest. I needed to hear that I wasn’t alone.
    Aside from that, thank you for everything you’ve shared and done. I really hope you have an easier time now. You deserve a lot of happiness. ♥

  8. I wasn’t very vocal on any of your social media, even here, but I sincerely wish you all the happiness!

  9. Hi Ashley!

    Thank you for this post.

    Thank you for keeping it real and saying it like it is – not only for your own well being, but also to set a few things straight regarding the beauty industry. I love makeup too, but the ideals that are being promoted can be so intense, obsessive and destructive.

    A lot of former /r/muas are going over to /r/makeuprehab now to sort out their finances(!) and emotional issues related to makeup and shopping. I know that this seems extreme and for most people their hobby of makeup doesn’t get that out of control. But it’s important to realize when it’s gone too far and to get help, no matter what the cause is. It’s all buy buy buy and limited editions and palettes and new releases and exclusives and it gets overwhelming really quickly. Not to mention the pressure to look perfect, and all the “holy grail” “must have” products that are showing up and becoming indispensable. It never ends and it’s so easy to get sucked into it. It’s not a healthy industry at all. I really love makeup and lots of contributors on YT, IG, etc. that are now getting plastic surgery (and I mean, do whatever you want to do! I respect that decision) it just seems symptomatic of something deeper. Of all the viscious comments and hate and scrutiny they get as well as their own ruthless introspection… I breaks my heart. Sorry for the rant!

    So. What I wanted to say. You are very talented, not just as a MUA, but as a photographer and writer. You have really worked hard with your online presence and works of art and it shows. So respect to you! Be proud of that!

    I just wanted to say that you will be missed. Thank you for all your wonderful work!

    Good luck with all your endeavours, be happy and healthy!

  10. Good on you for putting yourself first! I know your posts mostly from r/MUA and I’m super sad to see you go. Honestly, though, you are the only one who you need to be accountable to, and if makeup / the industry isn’t working for you, and it’s also affecting your health, it’s best to let it go. I wish you the very best in the future. I hope you find peace after losing someone close to you. I’ll miss your posts! Take care of yourself!

  11. Thank you for sharing Ashley. I love seeing your work and your highlights are so fun. While I am sad I won’t be seeing your creations around I am so glad you are doing the right thing for yourself. Thank you for sharing your experience and also being strong and choosing what is best for you. Best of luck with your Etsy store and new adventures!
    -Rebecca

  12. Seeing you on Reddit and seeing how far you’d come by the time I started following you was one of the first things that really made me feel like I could improve my own skills (and I have, thankfully 🙂 ). You’ll always hold a very special place in my makeup journey.

    It is unfortunate to see you go because you have a certain style and creativity that is really refreshing in the beauty industry. That being said, the only person that matters at the end of the day is you, and you doing what you need to do is most important. Pushing out photos and blog posts when you’re not well or not yourself is detrimental. It’s what kept me from keeping up with my own blog this past year, after everything got quite flipped upside-down in my life. Why post content that is supposed to be me when I’m not even myself? Why give away what little I have of myself to the open vacuum that is the internet, even if I have supporters and people who care about me out there in it? It’s extremely difficult to ask the small part of you that does feel like yourself to take on the challenges that only your whole self is able to handle.

    I hope you don’t lose that creativity and passion, though, and rather just reserve it for yourself and those immediately around you. I hope you find love again with makeup the way you did before, and nurture that relationship solely between the two of you.

    Best of luck with everything, love <3

  13. Thank you for sharing, Ashley.
    Your story resonates with me. I’ve always loved makeup and love your artistry with it. (Whatever you do, I hope you share your artistic gifts with the world in some way.) Some people have mentioned I should have a blog, but I’ve never wanted to put that much commitment to it. For it to look good I know it takes a lot of work and I don’t feel like dealing with trolls. There’s constructive criticism and then there’s plain cruelty out there, and I think we know who’s the loudest, unfortunately. (And what is it with people who just want to be mean for the sake of it? I don’t get that.)
    Dealing with depression and anxiety, I do get that. I’ve also experienced depression so severe it leaves me curled under a blanket and sobbing and hoping to vanish into the void. I’ve also had anxiety so bad that I’ve felt like I could just die of terror at any moment and often prefer shopping in the evenings on weekdays or in the middle of the night. The right help can make a huge difference and I’m glad you’re seeking it out.
    I’m guessing you’re a very sensitive person and also coping with your grandfather’s death (that can take a while to get over… and in a lot of ways you never will — my dad died when I was 15, and that was more than 20 years ago, and it still hits me from time to time.)
    Thank you again for sharing, and never feel bad for walking away from something that isn’t making you happy or fulfilling you. Once the shock of that decision ends, you’ve opened the door to greater happiness.

  14. Just wanted to drop in to say that you are CRAZY talented, so I hope you at least continue to do beautiful makeup for yourself. I cannot imagine exposing myself to so many people the way you bloggers do, but it’s too bad people are such assholes. Enjoy life!

  15. Thank you for all of the time and energy you’ve put in to this enterprise. While I will absolutely miss your blog, I understand where you’re coming from entirely, and I think it’s wonderful that you’re happy about your decision and you’re getting the support you deserve. Best of luck with all of your future endeavors!

  16. Hi Ashley,
    I wanna just say, my friend introduced me to your blog a long time ago and I’ve been totally in love with your make up, honesty, style and uniqueness ever since! I am one of those people who regularly checks your blog, your Instagram, your YouTube, but I VERY rarely comment or reach out to you. But I thought I’d leave a comment to say, thank you. Thank you so much for how long you have spent, the effort and the mental exhaustion you’ve put into this because you truly – even if it’s a small amount – have changed peoples lives. I have terrible acne that reacts to my hormones which, coincidently are constantly all over the place, my skin is oily, and like everyone I have flaws and insecurities with my skin but over time using your recommendations and your advice, I can now say I’m truly happy with my appearance – with or without make up – thanks to you and your skin care/make up posts. You are a complete inspiration and I just want to say thank you and wish you best for the future and whatever it is you want to do with your life!
    Thank you!
    – Lolly
    insta = @dinkleplush
    (I’m not a beauty blog or any kind of thing! just an everyday person)

  17. Hi Ashley!

    I’ve read your blog since its inception and you’ve always been one of my favourites, not just because you are ridiculously talented but because you have always seemed sincere and a genuinely nice person. I always loved your tutorials for your creative use of colour and the fun, interesting looks you put together.

    I’m truly sorry that stupid internet drama and trolls have ruined the experience for you. I also struggle with anxiety and depression…seriously, I got chills reading your description of your anxiety struggles because I know too well what it’s like to have it interfere with ordinary, boring activities like shopping and to live in fear of having another panic attack. I can only imagine how the added stress of maintaining a social media presence and opening yourself up to all sorts of crap from awful people would contribute to that.

    I’ll be sad not to see regular updates from you in my social feeds anymore, but ultimately, you must do what is best for you and it sounds like moving on from this phase of your life is exactly what you need. I hope that you won’t stop doing makeup looks on your own time and for your own enjoyment, because it seems you really love makeup and it’d be a shame to give that up because of all this. And I also hope that maybe one day, you’ll feel ready to share some of those looks with us just for fun; you are truly very talented and I’d be lying if I said I won’t miss seeing your creations!

    I wish you all the joy and happiness in the world and that much more! 🙂

  18. I’ve been following and talking to you since the beginning and it’ll be so sad to see you go but I hope that you are well and that you only get better from here. You have amazing support all around you. I love your art and I will miss it a lot but you need to do what is best for you. I hope we will remain friends outside of the makeup industry. I hope nothing but the best for you!

    Love you Ashley,

    Meagan

  19. Wow. I’m truly so sad to see one of my FAVORITE bloggers go. Your looks are so beautiful and your talent is endless. I’m so bummed that I won’t see any of your looks anymore. I understand completely why you need to step away, and I don’t blame you at all! Making the choice that is best for your mental health and happiness is the right decision. As someone who also struggles with intense depression and anxiety, I feel you completely. I just wanted you to know how much I truly love seeing your looks on my instgram and blog feed. I hope you find a lot more happiness. And, selfishly, I hope that one day the road leads to you posting casual makeup looks again- no need to delve into the whole world again but just simply posting selfies is good enough haha. If you ever want to talk you can email me, I might email you as well so we can chat about mental illness and blogging. I do feel the two are closely entwined.
    All my love! <3 Amber

  20. Until about 10 minutes ago I didn’t have a clue who you were. I stopped by because a friend of a friend posts on a certain website and mentioned you.

    Anyway.

    I’m glad you wrote this post, I’m glad you’re honest and I’m glad that you’re doing what you need *and* want to do to make your own life healthy.

    That’s a breath of fresh air these days, isn’t it?

    Good luck, Ashley.

    Of course now I want to kind of read your blog to see what I’ve missed (which is apparently LOTS!) so … I guess I’m a kind of epic fail there. Oh, and my friend? She loves you. And she’s even more critical than I am 😉

  21. I commend you! You take care of you-we enter the world on our own and we leave on our own, it’s how we spend the time between that matters. Thank you for everything take care😘👍🏻🙌🏻

  22. Oh I have been such a fan from the beginning! Though I’m sad to hear you are stepping away from this, I applaud you for recognizing what makes you happy! I hope you keep the blog up even if it goes inactive, I refer to your tutorials all the time! Thanks for the inspiration.

  23. Thank you for your honest reviews and all the work you put into this blog. You did a great job and I tried a ton of products I love thanks to you. Good luck in your future!! I am sure you will do well.

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