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.
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.