I decided to hold a little bit of a personal experiment over March. As you might know, I had a month’s leave from work across January and February, and as I spent most of the time just relaxing, I didn’t wear make-up for most of the month. My skin seemed to really, really like it, and when I went back to work and started wearing make-up each day again, my skin really wasn’t happy. I broke out lots, the moisture levels changed and I had a flare up of psoriasis across my nose.
Now, I have been wearing a full face of make-up to work now for easily 25 years. I started in my first job just before my 13th birthday, and as it was in a hairdresser’s salon, it was kind of the thing to wear make-up. For many years, probably until I was in my early 30’s, I never left the house without at least some make-up on. I felt that I couldn’t be seen au naturel. For many years, it was a kind of armour, a mask I wore to present to the world. Even once I started to work through the self esteem issues I had in my life, make-up was still, to me, required for work to be “presentable”.
So it’s a pretty big step for me to decide to go without make-up at all for a whole month.
And I did it. The world didn’t end. Nobody screamed “Look at your hideous face! Hide the children!” My skin was far more happy than it normally is. Nobody pulled me aside at work and told me that my appearance was “inappropriate”. I saved a bunch of money (I normally go through a bottle of foundation per month). But most of all, I accepted my face as it is, bare and natural, without feeling the need to hide or disguise it. I even left it uncovered a week ago when I had a terrible allergic reaction to something. In fact, I’m even going to share this rather unflattering photograph here:
I look kind of pissed, don’t I? My poor blotchy nose, cheeks and forehead! My skin was so fragile and tender, and I still haven’t worked out for sure what I was reacting to. I think it might be a tree in flower at the back of my house.
I went out that day, to a social event, with a bunch of people I don’t know also attending, and do you know what? Nobody made fun of my blotchy face. Nobody asked what was wrong with me. And the salty ocean air on my bare skin was a wonderful treatment for the tender, itchy, blotchy skin.
It has been really liberating to just let go of that feeling of needing to cover my face and disguise my skin somehow. I think I’ll even enjoy playing with make-up more now that I know I don’t HAVE to wear it to be seen in public. I’m actually quite looking forward to playing around with the new MAC make-up I bought a couple of weeks ago, and having fun with colour.
But also, I’ve been able to look at the positive things about myself without spending time using make-up to hide the negative things. I am 38 years old and I barely have a wrinkle on me. My skin (when not being all allergic angry or the occasional hormonal zit) is usually good and smooth. Even though my eyes/eyebrows are lopsided, I have long, dark eyelashes that really don’t need mascara. I have some hormonal pigmentation, but I usually have good colour and when I smile, my cheeks are rosy apples. Without make-up, my skin evens out and is not oily or dry.
But even if somebody had carried on about my bare face, and made some negative comment, I’d have been ok. Because I know people’s value is more than just their physical appearance. I know what is important is intellect, humour, kindness, honesty, respect, talent etc.
Do you wear make-up? Do you feel comfortable appearing in public bare-faced? Or do you feel the need to have your “face on” before leaving the house? What does wearing make-up mean to you?