If you had asked me my freshman year of college if I would consider having naked skin for a year I probably would have laughed and asked if Urban Decay was having some kind of promotion for their new makeup line.
I never would have guessed that I would be the girl to spend an entire year wearing little to no makeup- and I certainly wouldn’t have guessed the emotional rollercoaster the no-makeup look took me on. So whether you’re considering taking a step back from makeup, already don’t feel like you need much to look your best, or enjoy going out every morning with a full Kim K contour, read on to learn the surprising effects my year without makeup had.
Let’s be clear here: not wearing makeup was not a statement for me, it was born almost entirely out of convenience. I moved to Germany to work as an Au Pair and between the general lack of heavy makeup in the European repertoire and the fact that most of my days were spent chasing around a 7 and a 10 year old, makeup took a back-seat and I liked the immediate effects enough that I kept going.
The first few weeks are what either drive you to keep going or break your spirit entirely. For me, there was an immediate difference in the quality of my skin and an even more immediate difference in the speed with which I got ready in the morning. I have always had very red, acne prone skin and giving it even a week without foundation gave my skin the chance to breathe and see the light of day once in a while was a huge benefit.
I was thrilled and decided to pack up what makeup I had brought with me and hide it away- surely I wouldn’t need it again. I was a confident woman with fiercely beautiful skin and I was going to show the world that I didn’t need highlighter to show off cheekbones that could cut glass!
Of course as the thrill of this phase wore off, I found myself finding tiny flaws that I was itching to cover up with a bit of concealer. I wanted to tone down the redness of my skin and use my favorite Anastasia pencil to fill in the sparse edges of my eyebrows. It was at this time, a few months into the process, that I really began to miss my makeup.
In an act of rebellion I would put on a full face of makeup only to take it off five minutes later. I played around with eyeshadows and lipsticks, but I still couldn’t bring myself to go back to them daily. It wasn’t guilt I felt, but more of a feeling of self care- for a few months taking a break from makeup was how I was taking care of myself, now breaking my (admittedly very informal and flimsy) rules was how I pampered myself.
Another advantage I discovered to cutting back my daily makeup routine – take it from someone who hit Sephora’s VIB Rouge the year before this little no-makeup experiment: painting your face is expensive. After half a year without buying any makeup products, I wasn’t just feeling proud of myself, I was feeling like a Queen! I could go out for coffee whenever I wanted. I never felt a twinge of guilt when dipping into my $50 blush. This wild confidence bled into the way I felt about my face and I again felt a rush of confidence every morning when I washed my skin and left it bare.
Through this time, I built a much more positive view of my face than I had ever had before. Sure, I got spots occasionally, but instead of reaching for the concealer, I would put on a skincare serum and leave it alone. I spent less time stressing out about how I looked because I didn’t spend half an hour every morning looking deeply at each of my flaws and trying to fix them.
The last few months of my year I barely touched my makeup bag, big spots didn’t worry me as much and I accepted my dark circles as a sign that I should get some more sleep, not that I should cover myself up. Even now, months and months later, I only reach for makeup if it is a very special occasion and I no longer use it to cover up my flaws, but to accentuate my features that I like.
Of course everyone’s experience is different. There are women whose faces are beautiful canvases that hold the work of art that is their makeup and if you are one of those women you are incredible and I am constantly impressed by your skill and creativity, but sometimes it’s fun to go in the opposite direction- be it for a few days or a year!
Are you interested in taking on the no-makeup challenge? Do you want to change your look? Are you simply looking for a fun way to practice self care? Try these tips to get started:
- Identify one thing you don’t like about your appearance (I know this seems counterintuitive) and plug it into a Pinterest search. Pinterest has a wonderful way of coming up with glamorous shots for every feature that can really boost your confidence. Searching for something like “dark circles” or “pink undertones” will show you celebrities with deep set eyes and a casual rocker look or naturally rosy cheeks that can help you learn to love your features exactly how they are.
- Find a skincare routine that works for you and stick. with. it. There is no miracle product on the market that works as well as consistency does. Makeup gives us a chance to touch our skin with kindness and bringing that mindset into your skincare routine can really alter the relationship you have with your skin. Your face is not your enemy- it is your best friend and the sooner you start taking care of it the better.
- Be inspired by the people around you! Unless you are living on the set of Pretty Little Liars or Gossip Girl, chances are there are beautiful people around you who aren’t wearing a bit of makeup. Find girls whose personality shines through and who light up any room they walk into. People come in all shapes and sizes and it is incredibly easy to find beauty in the faces of those around you.