Via, Charlotte Grainger
I can’t remember heading to the drugstore to buy my very first beauty product around the age of 15, but I do recall hauling up in the bathroom in an attempt to paint my face for the very first time. I remember the struggles of finding the right foundation and learning how to use eyeliner. It was tricky, but also a thrill. When I was done, I looked like a whole new person; a re-imagined version of myself.
That was 12 years ago, give or take, and since then I’ve worn makeup almost every day, and always if I’m heading out of the house. I’d never thought of it as a major issue until recently. With the rise in female celebs going “makeup free” with pride, I started to question how much I really needed the stuff. Could I really go without it? Should I try? Inspired by the likes of Alicia Keys and others who have followed in her footsteps, I decided to give it a go. I set myself a challenge —30 days, no makeup at all.
It shouldn’t be a big deal. At least, that’s what I told myself on day one of this experiment. Going a month without wearing makeup should be a cinch. I couldn’t be that reliant on these silly little beauty products, could I? Surely, I wasn’t that shallow. While all of the above was flitting around my mind, my stomach was turning with dread. But despite my fears, I went makeup-free for 30 days. Here’s what I found:
I realized the importance of skin care
Despite the fact that I’ve always loved makeup, I’ve never taken a deep interest in skin care. Perhaps I should have. When I quit wearing makeup, I saw my real skin and all its flaws, bumps, and imperfections in their shining glory. It was a mess of a sight to behold.
Since I’m relatively pale (OK, I’m a ghost!), every red mark or blemish stood out tenfold. Rather than lamenting my terrible skin-care choices of the past, I decided to do something about it. I headed to a nearby department store to talk to a skin specialist. The woman at the counter was extremely helpful and I ended up buying some anti-red moisturizer and cleanser. She also offered me the foundation from the same range, but I politely declined.
Armed with my new skin-care regime, I felt a little more secure. Sure, I knew that my face wouldn’t be perfect overnight, but it felt like a step in the right direction. I vowed to stick to the routine and see how much I improved. While, right now, I’m no cover model, my skin is better than before; smoother and less “angry”.
People genuinely thought I was ill
This was what I was afraid of all along. As I’ve already mentioned, I’m extremely fair; my foundation tone is almost always the lowest on the chart. With that in mind, the fear that people would mistake my natural color for illness was terrifying. And then, it happened.
Now, I had to give people some grace here; they were used to seeing me caked full of makeup so they weren’t to know. It first happened on day six, when I was working in a shared office space. “Are you OK, Charlotte? You look a little off,” a well-meaning colleague asked. This was quickly followed by the chimes of others agreeing that I looked sick. It was a well-meaning question but I was somehow offended. I got defensive; too defensive and angrily explained I was taking part in an experiment.
People were confused by my rage. It was awkward for everyone involved—but mainly for me. I’m not generally a snappy person so my outburst was uncharacteristic. I apologized to the group and learned from that mistake fast. Later, when my dad asked me if I was sick, I was much cooler about the whole thing.
My boyfriend was the most supportive
Before I delve into this, you need a little background. Now, I’ve been with my boyfriend for close to six years. In that time, I’ve been a habitual makeup-wearer. It’s just who I am. But, of course, he’s seen me makeup-free many times—we live together, after all.
Hear me when I say this. During the 30-day experiment, he was the more supportive than I ever imagined he could be. There were times when I genuinely got down by my lack of products. I’m not ashamed to say it; being makeup-free was a struggle. For example, I got invited on a ‘girly night out’ and walking out the door sans my usual getup was harder than I thought. I was scared. In fact, I almost didn’t go at all.
While I was having an internal crisis, my partner helped me. He didn’t tell me I was being silly, as I knew I was. Instead, he said all the right things. He told me he liked me without makeup; that I was pretty without it. Judge if you will, but his little confidence-boosting pep talk was enough to get me out the door.
I got used to the look of my face
In my 27 years on this planet, I don’t think I’ve spent particularly long gazing at my bare naked face. Not long enough anyhow. One of the major things that I noticed while doing this experiment was how my face truly looks. I’d been so preoccupied with covering it up and “accentuating my good features” before now, that I’d never properly looked.
Looking at my face over the last 30 days, I’ve come to get used to it. It doesn’t appear so odd to me now. I know that I have freckles over my cheeks and nose; I don’t normally see them, but they are there. I know that my eyes are smaller than I’d like; I can’t hide that. I also know that my lips are full; I love that. I see all the imperfections and flaws, but I also see things I like about my appearance. It’s no big deal or revelation—it’s all just me and I’m not sure why I was hiding it.
I genuinely felt ‘cleaner’ than ever
Of all the things that happened, this was the one I never considered. I had no idea that piling on foundation each morning was making me feel so very unclean. It was so ingrained as a fundamental part of my life that I just had no clue how much it was actually affecting me on a day to day basis.
As soon as I stripped the makeup back and starting going au naturale, something changed in the way I felt. It was as though my skin could breathe for once. I had no idea how much I was suffocating it with all that expensive gunk. I’m not saying I’m going to stop wearing makeup now, but maybe, just maybe I’ll start wearing a little less. (And I’ll definitely try these ways to make my skin look better in a day.) Watch this space. Oh sorry, I mean, watch this face.