My Six Months of No Make-Up & What I Learned

As a twenty-something mom of three, I go through periods of self discovery, like every human in their twenties is entitled to. Trying to lay claim to our identities is a never-ending journey for some, and a task I am sensitive to put perimeters around.

When I turned 27 last year, I bought all "earth-friendly" organic, gluten free, vegan, hippy dippy make-up in hopes that it would be better for my skin. I've never used powder, concealer, or foundation (because texture. ew.) but I was going through some horrible breakouts and feeling crummy about the way my natural skin looked.

While, I don't normally wear a lot of make-up (some eye-shadow, eye-liner, mascara, and maybe some lips) by the end of the summer, I decided to do a little experiment and cut out the make-up all together. Just to see. What would happen to me, how would people respond?

I recently chopped off all my hair (again, I know... I know..) and my insecurities tend to boil over after a new do. I pulled out the make-up again after my (totally innocent, no harm meaning) children kept saying I looked like daddy (whyyyyy?!) and the reaction that I received when I started going out with "my face on" solidfied some things that I have observed for the last few months.

So, to start off, for the exception of a handful of times (eyeliner when I taught at Click Away in Seattle, the fancy dress up reception at Click Away, a holiday dinner, and some teaching videos I did for my group breakout) I've had no make up since September. Here are a few of the many things I noticed in this time.

  1.  I look tired. We all kinda do.
    I noticed that one of the main reasons so many of us are using make-up is to conceal how tired we are! Instead of acknowledging the way our lifestyle is effecting our rest cycles, we're covering it up with paint and powder. There is a shame to have the evidence that a sweet, pudgy, colicy baby has kept you up - not just all night last night, but for weeks on end. There's a need to hide the fact that the degree you're working on is leaving you looking weary, even though you should be proud of turning in that paper and still pulling a double shift three nights last week. And then (raises hands widely in the air) there's the hope that maybe if we cover up this tiredness on our faces, these bags under our eyes, wrinkles in our foreheads, scars from nervously picking at blemishes on our faces... we won't have to address the enormous amount of anxiety we're dealing with. Some of it, self-imposed by taking on way. too. much. Ouch and Ouch.
  2. Make-Up is "for" someone else.
    At least, that's what everyone started telling me when I wore it a few times. In fact, I showed up at the gym after recording a few videos (and, ahem, feeling like, "sh*t, maybe if I wear lipstick no-one will think I'm a dude) to the reaction of "Who are YOU all dressed up for?!" Um. Me? AND THAT WASN'T EVEN AN ACCEPTABLE ANSWER! I felt the need to say "Oh, well, my students..." blah blah blah. Or "Well I had a meeting..." blah blah blah as to sound like, surely, I couldn't have worn make-up just to make me feel good? Or, really, just to try and cover up the fact that I wasn't really feeling good. I was a cutter for 7 years, displacing pain comes very natural to me. Moving around internal conflict is as easy as breathing, so my make-up rarely is "for" anyone other than myself - a tiny, shiny bandaid. But, this conversation did point out, lots of us ladies, we're slapping on that face "for" someone. If that rings true for you, I'd love for you to ask "For who? And why?"
  3. Make-Up. Means. Nothing.
    I went into this experiment with a very judgmental mindset that "Women who wear make-up are shallow and insecure. I want to show my girls what a confident, strong, naturally beautiful woman looks like." AND PLEASE HEAR ME WHEN I SAY- I've changed my mind. Some great things did happen when I stopped wearing make-up. I began to become really comfortable with what I look like - what I REALLY look like. I stopped grabbing little glimpses of myself in reflective surfaces (mirrors, store windows, the glass doors in the refrigerated section at the grocery store.) I knew what was gonna be there when I looked, no need to be constantly obsessing. It also takes like... zero time for me to get ready when we go out. But, about going out- that's when I hit on something. I was in this hard and fast "No make-up. Ever. Nope." frame of mind (because I am a very black and white person. If you know nothing about me, at least know that.) So when I went out on a fancy datenight with my husband, I really wanted to wear make-up, like... really wanted to. And not for the wrong reasons! Not because I was feeling poopy, but because I wanted to express myself! But if I did that, I'd be breaking my commitment to this Ban on Make-Up, and what kind of hippy/feminist/pot stirrer/judgy jerk would that make me?! A hypocritical one, that's what. And that's when the lesson of moderation, balance, having a healthy mind in the middle ground, started to click in my pea-brain.

I will continue to wear, or not wear make-up as I see fit. Not for you, or you, or the part of me that is insecure, but because I want to, not need to. If you want to know where your motives lie for this little part of your life, I would encourage you to go a week, or a month, or whatever! without putting on that mask. Masks can be beautiful, and totally appropriate in certain social situations, but the intrigue of the mask for everyone viewing it is finding out what's underneath.

Thanks for reading today! If you haven't had a chance to take a look around the new site, please do! Thank you, Lauren Sanderson for all the help! Find out more about me, what cities I'll be traveling to for photography, and more about how/when/who I teach <3

Thanks for reading today! If you haven't had a chance to take a look around the new site, please do! Thank you, Lauren Sanderson for all the help! Find out more about me, what cities I'll be traveling to for photography, and more about how/when/who I teach <3