I didn’t wear makeup for over one month. That’s right. No powder, no lipstick, no mascara — nothing.
My routine had previously been at maximum capacity with liquid foundation, powder, blush, eye shadow, eyebrows filled in, eyeliner, mascara, lipstick and lip gloss. I never left the house without at least my eyebrows done and some foundation on.
I just turned 25. I’m no old maid, but I’m certainly not getting any younger. In a society that tells us youth is beautiful, hitting your mid-20s is like a warning signal for your impending expiration date.
Age is like the Antichrist for the female millenial generation. 21-year-olds are getting Botox, and we are obsessed with what we look like. I personally have anxiety about a wrinkle in between my eyebrows, have fine lines creeping in from smiling and my eyes definitely aren’t as bright as they were a few years ago.
I began to notice that when wearing makeup, it sunk into the lines of my skin and just made things worse, especially in the sunlight. I kept thinking to myself that if I were a guy I wouldn’t have to deal with it.
Then it dawned on me … I don’t have to deal with it. I began to question my decision to wear makeup every day and examined how I had enslaved myself to it for the better part of 10 years. Instead of getting an extra 20 minutes of sleep each morning, I was putting on makeup like I was headed to a photoshoot.
I made a commitment to myself to break up with makeup for at least 30 days. I made it 37.
I ran the idea over to a few friends before I took the purge. My guy friends all told me to go for it. The females, with some exceptions, had a different outlook.
“It just makes you look more put together,” my best friend Jazmin Mercer said. “You’re smart to do it now before you get into the professional world.”
Her statement alone proved to me that it was a necessity to do this experiment. It’s a testament to our society’s treatment of women when we feel ashamed to go without makeup for fear that we won’t be perceived as professionals, while men go bare-faced every day and are never criticized for the bags under their eyes in the same way that women are.
Gender issues aside, within two weeks my skin was clearer, and I looked more well-rested than I had in a long time. I didn’t change my typical skin care routine; I use a cleanser and moisturizer and I exfoliate once a week. However, ditching the makeup made a world of difference.
On day 37, when I decided to wear a full face of makeup again, I looked at myself in the mirror and didn’t recognize the girl looking back at me. I felt like a clown. I couldn’t believe that I had previously worn so much makeup every single day, thinking it was a necessity. It wasn’t.
When I went to work that day, the reactions were intense. I felt embarrassed and so uncomfortable to have some of the men I work with compliment me with things like “You look really beautiful today,” or “Lookin’ good, Sam,” or, my favorite, “WHOA! Hellooo, Samantha.”
Did I really look that different? I felt sexualized, devalued as a person and totally objectified. Some of the compliments I know were genuine, and some of them were downright raunchy. The women I work with, however, got it. Most of them didn’t even notice. I realized then that wearing makeup was only really for the sake of drawing attention, and I hated it.
Now, I have found a happy medium between not wearing any makeup at all and putting on a pound of it. I save it for special occasions and use it very sparingly, opting for a natural look rather than that of a beauty queen.
Cosmetic companies rake in billions of dollars a year on makeup, pouring chemicals into their products and perceived ideas of beauty into the minds of women and men all over the world. And for what? My advice is to try this experiment for yourself.
We don’t need makeup. We don’t need it to survive, and we definitely don’t need it to validate our true beauty which comes from within. I challenge readers to try this experiment for themselves. Go a month, a week or even a day without it, and at the very least, do your skin a favor and break up with makeup.