Why I Quit Makeup

Why I Quit Makeup

My experience with my no makeup challenge.

The first day that my parents finally let me put on foundation was a glorious moment. It was the night of my 10th grade homecoming dance, and I felt like Cinderella when her fairy godmother raised her magic wand and transformed her into a princess. Except my magic wand was a mascara wand, and this magic didn’t end at midnight.

12 years later and I was no longer the raggedly clothed Cinderella, but the Godmother herself. I had mastered the art of the winged liner and unearthed the secrets of the perfect red lip. And then I did what everyone least expected me to do, I stopped wearing makeup.

I locked away my heavily filled makeup bag and challenged myself to a week of no makeup. This was by far the hardest challenge I have ever given myself. Throughout the week I had people come up and ask why I put myself through a week of no makeup. Some people were inspired, some were confused, and there were the others who thought it was the most ridiculous thing they had ever heard.

“Why a no makeup challenge?”, you may ask. Well, this is why.

1. My makeup was becoming the root of my confidence.

This is the main reason I started this whole personal challenge.

By time I was in college, I was wearing makeup every single day. I would run late for work because I needed to make sure that my eye-liner had just the right angle to it. There were times when my outfit wouldn’t feel complete if I didn’t have a layer of foundation on, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable in a crowd if I didn’t have a solid set of products on my face. I wasn’t myself without it.

I eventually realized that my makeup was becoming the sole source of my confidence. It was the only thing I identified myself through, and I knew I was so much more than that. I knew I could be defined by so many other words than just, “pretty”, “beautiful”, or “sexy”, because I know that I am more than just my physical appearance.

I want to be admired for my persistence in life, not by whether my foundation matches my skin tone, and I want someone to fall in love with my mind not just my appearance.

I noticed that my life had begun to revolve around the physical aspects of my identity. In my mind, people were more concerned about how pretty I was before how interesting I was.

Right before I decided to take on this challenge, I took a step back. Did I care about appearances when it came to other people? Wasn’t I the person to be attracted to a person’s witty and sarcastic sense of humor, to be drawn in by their selfless personality before anything else?

I wanted to have people love me for the same reasons I loved them. And for that to happen, the first step was to remove the mask that I had been hiding behind, and allow them to get to know the real me.

2. It was taking away my time — and money.

Being a recent graduate I already had little money to my name, and the impending doom of loan payments always leered over me. One trip to Ulta or Sephora would knock me back a good $60 — and that was just on the days when I didn’t actually need anything. After calculating it out I was spending well over $100 on makeup each month. (After checking my Mint account I found out I was spending about $154 a month on makeup).

To put it into perspective, that’s 10 glasses of wine I could’ve bought at the bar, a month’s payment of utility bills, five pedicures I could have enjoyed for myself, or a weekend road trip. Better yet, it was $154 I could have had in my savings account for when my loan payments came back in. In all honesty, it was money that I didn’t have the luxury of spending.

As far as time goes, I set a clock for how long it would take me to do my makeup. A full-face of eyeliner, concealer, foundation, and a half-way rushed contour job would still take me 25 minutes to complete. I didn’t even time the nights when I was going out and wanted to be real glamorous. 25 minutes may not seem like much, but add that up every single day for a week and it becomes a lot. The worst part, doing my makeup was a lot like brushing my teeth — I couldn’t skip it even if I wanted to. That’s how important doing my make-up was to me, and that started to scare me.

3. Skincare.

I have been very lucky that I have always been blessed with fairly clear skin. Minus the initial puberty burst of ’07, I rarely had acne. However, the older I became the more I committed to a daily makeup routine, and the more damage I was doing to my skin. Of course I didn’t notice this damage immediately, but now years later I’m starting to see evidence; the dry skin, the clogged pores, and yes, even the faint lines of future crow’s feet. The wear and tear of rubbing on and wiping of makeup every day clearly wasn’t doing anything beneficial to my skin, so I wanted to give my skin a chance to have its first real break in 10 years.

Spending less time on my makeup routine left me with some time to work on a healthy skincare routine. I even put together a personal mixture of oils for my sensitive and fickle skin. Just within the first few days there was an immediate difference. My skin, which normally became dry and flaky midway through the day, kept its hydrated glow. The small blackheads that speckled my nose were disappearing since I wasn’t clogging my pores up daily with makeup. By the end of the week, my skin was the healthiest it had looked in years.

I successfully lasted a solid week without make up. Mind you, it wasn’t easy. There were melt downs in front of the mirror. There were awkward strangers coming up asking if I was “okay” — your girl here has some serious dark circles. Not every moment this week was easy. But, I started to experience the moments that helped me realize why I did this. The friends who hardly took notice I wasn’t wearing any make up at all. The day that I looked in the mirror and felt so happy with what I looked back at. And finally, the day that I hardly looked in the mirror at all.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Women Shouldn't Have To Ruin Their Hair Just To Have A Career

It's high time for this corporate tradition to go.


"What will you be doing after graduation?"

"I actually accepted a full-time job."

"Wow, congrats! Bet you'll miss your hair though!"

I wish I could say I was surprised that someone would assume I'll be getting a short haircut just because I have accepted a full-time job in corporate America. But ever since I was in high school, older women have been warning me I need to cut my hair to shoulder length or shorter when I get hired. I am not sure where this idea comes from, but I suspect it may partially take its roots from the idea that men are more competent and to be considered competent, women have to look like men. Obviously, the base assumption there is wrong.

Our parents' generation is more the source of the idea that professional women need to have short hair, which means that mercifully, that idea is retiring. Millennials are, in general, more okay with long hair, but they always include the stipulation "as long as it's well-groomed." However, I don't always agree with their definitions of long, which are stuff like "four inches below the shoulder" and "approaching the back bra strap." My hair is usually around 12 inches below the shoulder and that's how I like it.

It is moreover my concern that "well-groomed" entails more than clean and combed and is code for "meticulously polished, uniform, and perfect at all times." But that's not how all human hair behaves, especially hair that is not naturally straight and blonde.

Too many women of color, African American women, in particular, are pressured or feel pressured to soak their hair in chemicals to obtain a more "white" texture. This is sick and wrong. As with all creation, God made African American women's hair and declared it very good. The underlying assumption here may be that white people are more competent and to be considered competent, African Americans must stylistically emulate white people. That assumption is wrong too. Chemical relaxers can be very damaging, and while of course, it is any woman's prerogative to do what she likes with her hair, no woman should ever experience any pressure, implicit or explicit, to use them.

In a similar way, I have felt pressured in the past to highlight my hair. Coloring one's hair and maintaining it is seen as a sign of caring about one's appearance, and to not do so is considered "granola" or "plain", especially if you don't wear makeup, which I don't. I happen to like my natural hair color (a nice, neutral dark brown) and I don't want to create extra work for myself by fixing something that ain't broken and then having to maintain the roots every two weeks just to show I have time, money, and care enough to do so. Not only that, but hair dye is extremely drying and dulling and I find that it makes my hair much more brittle and less shiny. The reality is that almost no women are really blonde, but it seems that blonde hair has become a status symbol, a way of displaying wealth. I would want no part of that even if I could pull off blonde hair, which I can't.

Do I want to schlepp around the workplace with my hair a frizzy, unkempt mess? Of course not. I always get regular trims, cannot stand having dead or split or stringy ends, and use either frizz-taming or curl sculpting cream. However, I am aware that most workplaces would expect me to heat-style my hair daily if I want to keep it this length. Heat-styling my hair is extremely time-consuming, and if that wasn't enough, it is just as damaging as hair dye.

And even if I did, I would still run the risk of appearing high maintenance. It is likely I will just end up wearing my hair in different buns or my go-to high ponytail every day once I start working, not because I agree, but because I want to be successful.

This needs to change. The fact that employers are not okay with all women wearing their hair long, as women have for thousands of years, and refraining from damaging relaxers, dyes, and heat styling is discriminatory, misogynist, and racist (insofar as women of color are concerned.) It is unfair to expect women to spend hundreds of dollars to damage their hair just to look "professional." The assumption that men and white people are competent and women and people of color aren't is flat out wrong.

Yes, women should always keep their hair clean and combed (if applicable) and should maintain their ends, but asking any more than that is asking too much. I hope that we millennials become the generation that finally started evaluating women's competence based on their job performance, intelligence, and skills, not based on how willing they were to ruin their hair.

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