Whether you put on makeup every day or don't wear it all, no one can deny the transformative powers of our favorite products. Instantly correcting our flaws, it's hard to withstand from the "confidence in a bottle." But, do the temporary "fixes" to our appearance have a negative impact on our overall sense of beauty? Do we become so used to a made-up face that our own face feels foreign?
Viola Davis and Alicia Keys have publicly questioned our cultural dependence on made-up faces and its impact on women. Viola made history and won an Emmy after she took off her makeup on How To Get Away With Murder. Similarly, the singer-songwriter and The Voice coach has been makeup free for most of 2016, inspiring many women to cease their makeup regime. Before the unfortunate burglary, Kim Kardashian also went fresh faced during Paris Fashion Week and took to Twitter to announce how much she enjoyed not having to go through her intensive beauty routine.
It wasn't that simple for me.
After consecutive days of appearing depressed, I decided that I needed to figure out what was heightening my allergies and bringing me to literal tears. Was it my beloved makeup? The only way I could know for sure was to stop wearing makeup and see if my symptoms improved.
I went makeup-free for seven days. What I thought would be a physical cleanse ended up being a test of confidence and self-acceptance. Here are the lessons I learned.
During the first few days, I spent a lot of energy thinking about all of my "flaws"—and how others may be judging them. On day 4, I was still feeling self-conscious about the scars on my face and expressed this to my co-worker, to which she replied, "I had no idea that you didn't have on makeup. Honestly, I can't tell." In that moment, I realized just how unnecessarily critical I had been.
I was surprised by my need to cover my face in the first few days of being makeup free. I didn't leave the house without sunglasses and/or a hat. For example, on day 2, I asked my friends if we could have brunch outside, which would give me an excuse to wear my sunglasses. I simply didn't feel comfortable bare, which is odd, because I consider myself a confident woman.
Lesson 3: Social Media Makes a Difference
Picture this: Bae Facetimes me, and in the five seconds that I'm supposed to pick up, I'm running around the house trying to find the perfect lighting. Once I answer (in semi-decent lighting), I spend the next 10 minutes trying to find the perfect angle. Swinging my arm in the air and titling my head at odd angles, I realize that I have no idea what he's talking about, and he's probably dizzy for all of my camera movement. Fail.
On the flip side, there is a reason ladies love Snapchat. Those filters make anyone look flawless. But, once again, does covering our flaws help us become more comfortable ourselves?
On day 3, I had plans to have a dinner with a guy that I started dating a couple of weeks prior. I was terrified. On our first and second date, my makeup was flawless, and it appeared as though I woke up like that. But soon, he would realize that I actually woke up with scars from pimples past and slightly bushy, unshaped eyebrows. I thought about canceling. Then I thought, "You're not going to go out with him because you're afraid to look like...you?" Then the Sasha Fierce voice in my head continued with, "Girl, he better take you as you are, or he does not deserve you. You are a beautiful goddess with or without makeup." And with that, I went on the date.
I'm sad to admit that I was terribly self-conscious with no makeup on. It was hard to look him in the face, so I spent a considerable amount of time looking elsewhere. Once the conversation took off, I started to forget that my eyelashes weren't curled to perfection, and my cheeks weren't rosy. Finally toward the end of the meal, I had forgotten. Until there was a moment of silence, when I looked up and he was looking intently at me. As I blushed, he said, "You are very beautiful." All these years, I thought makeup made me more attractive...but...maybe I was wrong.
My skin cleared up after a couple of days, and my allergies became less problematic. Rather than spending time on doing my makeup, I gave myself facials and moisturized multiple times a day. I realized that I was in a negative feedback loop. The continuous use of makeup was clogging my pores, causing pimples, which made me put on more. Taking a break from products helped me end this cycle.
Lesson 7: Feel Good About Your Natural Beauty
On the morning of day 7, I looked in the mirror and loved what I saw. Although I couldn't wait to get back to my favorite beauty products, I knew that I didn't need makeup. I didn't need to cover up. I was OK with just being me, flaws and all. And, I promised to go makeup free at least once a month to remind myself. It felt like freedom.