Growing up female is getting increasingly difficult. There are the things we are all expected to deal with: acne, hormonal mood swings, training bras, mean girls, and menstruation. However, as society progresses, so do its expectations.
Society preaches to girls and young women that they have to wear a mask in order to be beautiful, and this is wrong. Don’t misunderstand: there is nothing wrong with the simple act of wearing makeup, but the insecurities that typically go hand in hand with it can be crippling to a formative young woman.
A few months back, I couldn’t stop myself from thinking about makeup and asking myself why I was really wearing it: because I genuinely liked to wear it, or for some form of validation? This is what brought me to take on an experiment that would make most women cringe: I stopped wearing makeup.
In order to work up the courage to step out the front door with a naked face, I told myself it was just one day. If I hated it, I’d never have to do it again. With this mentality, it wasn’t so bad after all. No—scratch that. It was still initially terrifying.
I felt the same way you feel when you have a massive zit on your forehead or recently trimmed bangs that just aren’t working out—completely vulnerable. I felt as though everyone were stopping in their tracks to stare at me. I felt like I had a giant flashing red sign attached to my body screaming: “Look at the ugly girl without her contour! Look at her!”
I spent time with my best friend, went to class with about 40 other college students, and ran a few errands. Although I was completely self-conscious at first, I noticed something peculiar: no one was noticing me. Or at least, no more or less than usual. Even my best friend, who sees me at least three times a week, didn’t utter a single word about it. At the end of the day, I studied my face in the mirror: Are you really not hideous without $150 worth of product on your face? If you step out into the world without your makeup, does it actually keep turning?
A few days went by and I began to notice a change. My skin seemed brighter and less prone to become oily by the end of the day. My lashes were somehow longer, my cheeks naturally blushed, and my eyebrows were still somewhat on fleek without Anastasia’s assistance.
The only change I didn’t notice was the one change I was expecting the most: a change in people’s reaction to me. If anything, I started to get more compliments than ever: “You look so well rested and radiant!” “Your skin is so beautiful!” “You look just like Gigi Hadid!” (Okay, the last one might not have happened).
The next week I began working at a new job and now I was stuck: part of me wanted to go back to makeup to see how it felt, but a bigger part of me thought I would look like I was up to something weird if I all of a sudden started wearing makeup with this new group of people who only knew me as a baby face.
Each week I had a new excuse as to why I couldn’t start wearing makeup again: I was out of mascara, I was off work and wasn’t going to see anyone, I felt a pimple coming on and didn’t want to irritate it. Eventually, I just had to accept it: I loved not wearing makeup, and I never wanted to go back. Therefore, an experiment I told myself would last a few days, one week tops, ended up turning into a new lifestyle.
It’s been a little over five months since I stopped powdering my face and I’ve never been happier. I have more free time in the morning, my skin feels like it can actually breathe, and I look younger (although I’m not sure how much of a bonus that is considering how I could already have passed for 14). It’s also caused me to be more sensitive to my health and wellbeing. For example, back in the makeup days, if I had stayed up late and missed out on my required 8 hours, it was nothing a few swipes of the brush couldn’t hide. Now, nothing stands between the bags under my eyes and the world, which means I either suck up the fact that I resemble a zombie, or actually make sure to get a decent amount of sleep each night.
In the end, I’m glad I don’t bother with makeup anymore. I was wearing it not because I enjoyed putting it on, but because I thought I couldn’t not put it on. I didn’t see it as an option or a choice, and that was wrong. Now I flash my naked face in the mirror with pride, forcing myself to look at my skin, not my concealer, and love me just the same.