One week without make-up

I’ve written extensively about my skincare routine and my struggles with rosacea. Suffice to say that while I’m feeling better about my skin these days, going out into the world make-up free is still something I’m not entirely comfortable with. These days I’m all about taking myself out of my comfort zone so I’ve decided to go a week without make-up. I’ll start on Saturday October 7 as I’m getting my monthly rosacea peel and run through until Friday October 13. Each day I’ll document it here and publish this post on the following Sunday. So basically “make-up free” means no foundation, no mascara, no primer, no concealer, no red lipstick (!) – nothing that hides what I’d see as my “flaws” but I can wear moisturiser and sunscreen. And to make sure you guys know I’m not cheating I’ll take photos and post them over on my Instagram and put them here.

Saturday October 7

Day started with yoga and then off to get my monthly rosacea peel. It’s suggested you don’t wear any makeup for about 12 hours after so being make-up free today was fairly easy. I did forget to take a photo – sorry! But I do feel a pimple coming through so that will be interesting.

I am a bit nervous about heading to work without make-up. It sounds so ridiculous but I know people will notice and comment. And I’ll document it all here. Wish me luck!

Sunday October 8

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Again my day started with yoga. Then it was off to the shops to do some odd jobs and get a hair cut. Again, going without make-up wasn’t too bad. I don’t really care if strangers stare at me and I don’t care what they think so this didn’t phase me much. However, my hairdresser did notice – “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you without a face full of make-up” and then later – “It’s so weird seeing you without make-up. Not that you look bad or anything.” Suddenly I was feeling self conscious. As I looked at myself under the harsh fluorescent lights of the salon, I looked tired and terribly pale. Already I feel the keen loss of my mascara and powder. I just didn’t feel “beautiful” or myself if I’m honest. Is my identity so wrapped up in my appearance?! What a terrifying thought.

Monday October 9

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As it happened, I wasn’t feel very well today so I stayed home from work. However I did need to duck out to go to the chemist. I’m beginning to realise that while I’m very aware of not wearing make-up, no else gives a rats ass. Not wearing it though, it does effect my confidence. It’s not even so much my blotchy rosacea redness but not wearing any under eye concealer or mascara really changes the way I look. I look tired and drawn and my very light brown eye lashes disappear. I also really miss my red lipstick!

I will confess that at the start of this experiment I got my eyelashes tinted. So great was my fear of going without mascara! I know that many of you will look at these photos and think I’m some sort of crazy narcissist who looks fine without make-up but 90% of my fear of going make-up free is entirely psychological. Years of bullying at High School because of my rosy cheeks meant I started wearing foundation at 13. That’s 21 years of wearing make-up practically everyday. When I was younger I was terrified that if I didn’t wear make-up people would stare at me and ridicule me because that was my experience. While the 34 year old version of me realises this is not true, it is difficult to shake the stigma of youth. I thought I was completely over it but this experiment is showing me that perhaps I was wrong.

Tuesday October 10

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One huge benefit of going make-up free – I gain an extra 45 minutes of sleep in the morning! I wasn’t sure what I was expecting when I got to work. An alarm to go off as I walked in? People to faint when they saw me? Aside from one colleague asking me if I was feeling ok (probably because I was unwell yesterday) no one said anything. I did feel more exposed at work make-up free than when I was out in the world.

I did yoga at lunch and all that downward dog ensured I was fairly rosy faced afterward. I am noticing that the longer I don’t wear make-up the easier it is. It also meant that when a bug decided to commit suicide by flying into my eye, I didn’t hesitate before drowning it in water. No running mascara issues to contend with. I also ate an apple old school – I didn’t have to cut it up into pieces so as not to ruin my red lipstick. Going without make-up is certainly proving to be simpler!

Wednesday October 11

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3 days to go! Today wasn’t great. I woke up tired and I looked it. With no concealer to hide it, I wasn’t surprised when me colleague mentioned how tired I looked. My rosacea flared up a bit today and it left me feeling exposed and vulnerable. This is going to sound crazy but exposing my real face to the world this week has made me feel as if my emotions are exposed as well. I’ve been withdrawn and even teary today. I’m not sure if this is entirely to do with not wearing make-up or just a reaction to the difficult time I’m having right now but it wouldn’t surprise me if one is feeding the other.

Another colleague made a point of telling me I looked beautiful today. Had someone commented positively on my appearance when I was wearing make-up I would have just said thank you but today, my response was to lament that I don’t feel beautiful. I’m even dressing differently – more sedate and inconspicuous – like I don’t want anyone to notice me. Today was the one day I really wish I’d worn make-up. I missed my mask.

Thursday October 12

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Is this the longest week ever!? While today wasn’t as bad as yesterday I still can’t shake the feeling that I’m not quite myself. It was quite hot today so I was the rosiest I’ve been all week. I’ve also come to realise that I have the worst poker face ever and when I’m not wearing make-up everything I’m feeling shows on my face. This was especially apparent in a meeting I had today where the discussion turned quite serious and all my pent up emotions about it exploded in a haze of red on my face. Worst part is I can totally feel it happening which makes it worse. Perhaps make-up is essential for my work meetings so people don’t know what I’m thinking.

I’m still not entirely comfortable with my natural face and I didn’t realise that so much of my confidence was wrapped up in my appearance. It’s actually a little disappointing.

Friday October 13

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Day 7! I have to admit I’m looking forward to wearing make-up again. Aside from the knock to my overall confidence, not wearing make-up was kind of boring. I enjoy experimenting with colour and seeing what lipstick or eye shadow suits my outfit. Not wearing any colour on my face made me feel blah and it was just boring.

I definitely think that no one cares if I wear make-up, the only person who notices is me, but that didn’t mean I was comfortable with my bare face. I’d love to sit here and tell you that I had a revelation at the end of the week that I don’t need make-up, that I’m suddenly comfortable with my natural appearance and that this was the best thing I’ve ever done for my confidence – but it wasn’t. I was in, what can only be described as a “funk”, all week. Part of that is probably related to other issues occurring in my life right now but I do believe that part of it was connected to feeling so exposed and vulnerable.

I’m perfectly comfortable going make-up free to yoga or out to the shops on the weekend but going to work was hard. I felt as if I was half dressed and everything I felt showed on my face. While some of my colleagues commented on how beautiful I looked, which was very sweet, generally no one said anything. I am aware that so much of my insecurities around this stem from being bullied in High School, and unfortunately that stigma can stay with you forever. I know that my rosacea has vastly improved and that does help my confidence but it doesn’t seem to change the fact that I’m simply not myself without make-up on.

I love make-up. I don’t think there is anything wrong with loving make-up or wearing make-up or admitting that you feel more comfortable when you wear it. I don’t wear make-up to hide my natural features, I hope it enhances them, and if spending 20 minutes every morning reacquainting myself with my face and ensuring I put my best face forward to the world makes me happy than that’s what I’ll do. I admit I felt the pressure this week to “love the skin I’m in” and love my natural appearance. It’s not that I hate my natural face, I just prefer wearing make-up, more so for the confidence it gives me than actually how it makes me look.

So it’s back to wearing make-up and I couldn’t be happier. Really, the whole point at the very heart of it is to love who you are, warts and all – whether that be make-up free of with a full face of make-up – and no one can tell you which version of yourself you should be.

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