The No Makeup Challenge – My Experience Going Naked (My Face, That Is)
Beauty products do not make you beautiful. In actual fact, they do the opposite. In my opinion, they make you become reliant upon them. It is only when you wear them that you feel beautiful. This state of affairs can hardly be called empowering. I have worn makeup since I was thirteen years old. I suffered from the combination of pale skin and acne. I became obsessive about covering my face up. I used: foundation, concealer, powder, eyeliner, mascara, lipstick, and lipgloss. I recall that I hated seeing my face without makeup on. I could barely look at myself in the mirror. I felt ugly.
I remember having sleepovers with my first boyfriend and I wondered how I could best apply my makeup quickly, and discreetly, without him seeing. I wanted him to think that I was always beautiful. That meant that he could not be permitted to see my naked face. When I stayed over at his place, I made sure that the bedroom was dark in the morning and I used to take my makeup into the bathroom with me. I would shower and then do my makeup quickly, even though the room was steamed up.
When I had no makeup on, I could barely make eye-contact with anyone. I imagined that they were looking at my face disapprovingly. I used to wear full makeup when I went to work. Sometimes, at the weekend, I would go without it and venture out to the supermarket wearing my hoodie and jogging bottoms. One time, I remember seeing someone I knew in a far aisle. I looked down at my trainers and pretended that I had not seen him because I was so ashamed that he might see my naked face. But, he recognised me anyway and made his way over to me. When he greeted me, the very first thing I did I was to apologise for not wearing makeup. All of this seems ridiculous in retrospect. That absurdity is magnified now because I have embraced the no makeup challenge.
I am not anti-makeup. But, by the same token, I am just not as pro-makeup as I used to be. The simple fact is that now I go most days without putting any on at all. This has happened gradually. I began working from home 8 years ago, so wearing makeup every day seemed pointless. The great thing about this was that every time I looked at myself in the mirror, I got more and more comfortable with my naked face. I remember that, before this, I used to think that my eyes looked too small without the help of eyeliner. Now, however, I do not believe that at all. I used to try and hide my freckles, make my eyes look bigger, work on my face to make it appear even whiter and have fuller, red lips. Now, I have adopted a minimalist approach to makeup. I like to wear eyeliner, mascara, foundation and lipstick. And that is all. I can do my full makeup with just six different products.
Now, the thing that I find particularly empowering is the freedom, and confidence that going without makeup has given me. Now I can publish a #NoMakeupSelfie without a second thought. This is something that I was not able to do a few years ago, especially without using filter effects. This fact is more liberating than the beneficial effects that any cosmetic claims to have. Now, I go out into the street and some people even find me beautiful, even without makeup. That still feels strange to me.
The most disempowering experience I had with makeup was with contouring. Ironically, this cosmetic phenomenon is highly fashionable now. Usually, at a professional shoot, the makeup takes about an hour to finesse. This particular time, however, with a contouring expert, it took three hours. Even the photographer began getting tired of the delay and she began to take photos of the makeup process instead of the planned theme that the client was expecting. I started to wonder what the problem was with my face that it needed so much work to make it presentable. Why would I want the makeup artist to create an optical illusion so that my facial features conformed to a more generic form of beauty? I did not want to look like everyone else did instead of celebrating the very characteristics that defined me as an individual. Needless to say, I didn’t hire her again.
I still use makeup, of course, but the no makeup challenge has made me feel better than any professional makeup job could ever do. In fact, the more you go without makeup, the less of a challenge it becomes.