It's hard going out in the world with no make up. Honestly, it kind of feels like our whole life needs a photo filter.. Something to hide all of our imperfections and hard days from everyone. I mean, wouldn't that be great? We could just deny all of our bad feelings and qualities and only accept the good, insta-worthy parts of ourselves! But no. It's unhealthy. It's extremely mentally and sometimes physically unhealthy to deny our imperfections.
This is why, for the past year, I have not worn make up.
It wasn’t a very intentional choice. I didn’t declare I was going to stop wearing make up forever. I just kind of woke up one day and decided I didn’t feel like it. I decided to brave the world bare faced and, sort of, proud.
This step was a big one for me. Before my impromptu make-up ban, I wouldn’t wear tons of make up. I always tried to keep it as “natural” as possible while still hiding what I hated and accentuating what I loved.
The moment I realized I needed a break was when I noticed how I felt on the inside. I’d be caking up my face to make myself look pretty, but I'd be crying on the inside because I didn't believe I was pretty without it.
That's not to say make up was the problem, but my reason for using it was a huge problem.
I've been wearing make up since I was 13. At first, it was just a fun thing to go way overboard with (like five layers of blue eyeliner on the reg). But somewhere along the line, it became a necessity. I'd struggled with acne problems and self-esteem issues and, at some point along the line, I couldn't face going in public without my makeup on. It was a very sad time to be me.
So one day, as I was struggling with some eye liner and messing up putting lipstick on (because I was very bad at applying make up, even though I did it everyday), I had a thought:
Why am I doing this thing that makes me feel so bad?
Why was I being so cruel to myself? It's not cruel to put make up on in general. Really, it can be a fun thing to get into. But when you're putting it on while thinking of all the reasons you’re ugly without it, you are being cruel.
So I decided not to. I just stopped. I made a vow that no matter what I was not going to wear make up for a day. Now, it's a year later and I am more confident than ever. I’ve learned to be comfortable in my own skin and to own my imperfections. Any issues I had that were valid (acne, frizzy hair, health related stuff, etc.), I was able to pinpoint the route of the issue and actually solve it.
WHAT I LEARNED IN MY YEAR OF NO MAKE UP
IT GIVES YOUR SKIN A MINUTE TO BREATHE
And your skin will thank you! It's too easy to forget about your skin. We all love that natural glow of healthy skin and yet, when thinking through our beauty routine. It's easier to just cover up unhealthy skin than it is to nurture it.
When I finally gave up make up, I was forced to expose my acne, dry skin, and blotchy face to the world. At first, it was tough. I knew without a doubt that you could see all those red dots filling my face and it was my main focus anytime I was around anyone. Carrying on a normal conversation was difficult because most of my mind was consumed with the idea that whoever I was talking to thought I was gross because of how bad my acne was.
So finally, I was forced to figure out why my acne was so bad and how to fix it. I researched all the different tricks to fight acne, tried all kinds of routines, and finally found what works for me.
When I finally stopped clogging my pores with toxic, cheap make up, my face could finally breathe. It could take in some fresh air and begin to heal from all the years of saying it wasn’t good enough.
YOU LEARN TO APPRECIATE YOUR NATURAL BEAUTY
Maybe your eyebrows aren't as thick or your eyelashes aren't as full, but that's all compared to fake beauty. This concept took me so long to understand.
When you’re looking at photos of perfectly done up faces in the right lighting with the best filter, obviously you’re going to feel pretty ugly in comparison. But it’s not real. It’s not a real face with real features. It’s like comparing a high definition photo of a perfect flower bouquet to a regular field of flowers on the side of the highway.
Really, they’re both beautiful, but they’re not the same thing at all. One was curated to purposefully bring the best things together to create something beautiful. The other is a naturally occurring beauty that doesn’t scream in your face. It’s not blatantly obvious. But when you notice it, when you learn to appreciate it, you really can’t beat it.
Just because make up can bring out features you don't naturally have and hides features you wish you didn't have doesn't mean it makes you feel better about yourself. Really, it doesn’t mean that it’s making you any more beautiful than you already are.
When you force yourself to go out in the world as you are, you realize that other people like seeing the real you. As long as you are taking care of yourself and keeping yourself relatively clean, people don’t notice that your eyebrows aren’t as thick and your eyelashes aren’t as long.
Eventually, you stop noticing too. At some point, you’ll look in the mirror and see yourself. Your imperfections will become a part of who you are and your favorite qualities will be perfect all on their own.
YOU GET EXTRA TIME
Obviously, you just roll out of bed and you're ready. On top of that, you'll avoid starting the day with looking at all your flaws. Just brush your teeth, wash your face and you're out! You skip the spending minutes to hours of covering yourself up. You skip the negative thoughts and touch ups throughout the day.
The time I spend on my face now a days is when I’m taking care of it. My beauty routine has become one of my favorite parts of my day because I know everything that’s going on my face is to care for it. The enhancement I make are permanent and all naturally occurring. My days are spent full of self care and giving real problems real, permanent fixes.
YOU'LL WANT TO TAKE BETTER CARE OF YOURSELF
This is a big thing that happened for me. As someone who was once a pizza face that couldn't rid herself of the greasy pepperonis, I can now say that I've been mostly acne free for a while now (besides the hormonal flair ups I just can’t seem to a void)! And it's all thanks to my make up hiatus.
How you think of yourself and how you take care of yourself go hand in hand. They both have a lot of influence on what you think you’re worth.
When you feel ugly and ashamed of yourself, you’re not super motivated to actually care for yourself. What you eat doesn’t matter because you’re going to have acne anyway. What you put on your face doesn’t matter cause you can just cover up all the things you hate.
When I stopped wearing make up, I couldn’t treat myself that way anymore. Every little acne on my face was a symbol of how little I felt I was worth. How little I cared for my body and myself. I had to start facing the fact that I needed to eat better to change, not only how I looked on the outside, but how I felt on the inside. I realized that if I didn’t take care of myself, things would never get better. Not my looks for sure, but more importantly, not my outlook on life. Not my feelings of inadequacy.
If I didn’t start caring for myself better, I’d never have the life I wanted. I finally started taking the steps to treat myself like someone who was worthy of care and really, worthy of happiness.
I LEARNED HOW TO FACE MY PROBLEMS HEAD ON
I would say that letting go of make up was one of the biggest changes I’ve made for myself. I’ve always been okay at dealing with my problems, but mostly I like to just ignore them or hide them. Maybe on a personal level I can face the issues in my life, but when it comes to being honest about them and confiding in people, I’ve not been great at that.
That’s why make up was so important. I could hide my acne, hide my stress, and pretend I was perfect. I could hide the fact that I was sad and had no faith in myself. I could hide the fact that I felt hopeless when it came to my abilities.
When I stopped wearing make up, I really did have to face facts. I had to talk about my acne problems and self esteem issues. I had to face how I viewed myself and I finally had to talk about it.
Now that I’ve been make up free for a while, I can actually see the transformation my life has taken. I can feel the change in my confidence, I can see the change in my circumstances, and I’m living the change in my values.
So will I ever wear make up again?
Honestly, I do miss it at times. I miss being able to go and buy a new make up item and play with it and try it on. I miss being able to take part in conversations about different brands. I love seeing all the clean beauty trends going on and there’s a big part of me that wants to start engaging again.
So we’ll see. For now, I’m still working on getting my skin 100% stable and to the place I’d like it to be. Once I feel good about it, I may start dabbling in the make up world again.
Mostly, I hope this inspires you to give yourself a break, cut yourself some slack, and start loving yourself a little more. Even if it’s just for a day, I encourage you to try going make up free. See what kind of feelings arise when you show the world the real you.