I had a revelation this year- putting makeup on takes time. Time which can often be better spent in bed. This might not seem particularly ground breaking, but it was a bit of life changer for me. My bare-face bravery began in Madrid when I was forced into early starts for 8am classes. I realised that I could get ready much quicker if I didn’t get my makeup bag out, and I didn’t have anybody to impress anyway, so I stopped bothering most days.
It was never some deep, psychological stand on femininity on beauty, but it did get me thinking about whether some of my self-esteem is rooted in makeup.
Makeup is seen as a grown-up essential, which is why most of us cringe at baby beauty pageants and Alicia Keys made numerous headlines for going against the celebrity status quo and ditching it.
But facing the world fresh-faced on days when I just can’t be bothered has been my biggest leap in maturity yet.
I began putting on makeup, badly, in high school. It was around the time that people thought putting blue eye shadow on your eyes and concealer on your lips was a good look.
I had a revelation this year- putting makeup on takes time. Time which can often be better spent in bed.
Seeing the small transformation that a coat of mascara and a layer of foundation could make to my face meant I never left the house without it. I became a convert to the eyeliner flick and it was my statement look throughout sixth form. It also had quite a role in my confidence. That black line seemingly made all the difference to my face-or, at least it did in my head. It acted as a mask, a defence from my low self-esteem.
“With this pore-clogging muck on my face, I look OK!”.
Understanding this reliance on something which was evidence of a confidence crisis, has been part of the reason that, even now I’m back in the UK where 9am starts are more achievable, I still go without makeup some days.
Makeup is seen as a grown-up essential, but facing the world fresh-faced on days when I just can’t be bothered has been my biggest leap in maturity yet.
Being a busy third year, I also want to get out of the house as quickly as possible (admittedly because I tend to wake up too late), but having the ability to see friends and face the real world with my naked lashes and blemishes on show, is quite a big step.
I won’t pretend it’s waved a magic wand and made me feel like Beyoncé. I still think I like like a young boy in the morning. I still feel slightly uncomfortable in public when my blackheads are on full display and would prefer to avoid eye contact.
I don’t want to dwell too much on whether this is the fault of societal expectations, beauty standards and gender roles, though. I don’t want to get too caught up in why it’s not simple for women to peacefully do what they please with their faces.
Because I’m not going to makeup headlines, so for me it’s more about a shift in priorities- mainly moving sleep to the top spot- and accepting that my face is the way it is and there’s not anything I can change about it. That’s the most grown-up thing I’ve done since buying a chilli plant.
It has given me freedom. I know now that the majority of people won’t really notice the difference. Some days I really feel like attempting a full face; and this could either be when I need more confidence or days where I feel more positive and relaxed.
Makeup should be fun; like a grown-up version of rooting through your mother’s No7 or wearing fruity lip gloss which meant your hair got stuck all over your lips when the wind blew.
In my teenage years, and certainly for the generations gone and still to come, girls were under so much pressure to look a certain way. Pressure from media, from family, friends, boys who taunt them and even other girls. (Side note here- we really need to stop telling boys to be mean to girls they like. I shaved my ‘moustache’ off when I was nine after a boy told me I had one).
This pressure materialises as an obsession with beauty, something that can only come through changing our face to look, simply, more than what it does naturally.
Makeup should be fun; like a grown-up version of rooting through your mother’s No7 or wearing fruity lipgloss which meant your hair got stuck all over your lips when the wind blew. I want people to use it to be creative, play with colours, enhance features or just give them that confidence boost when they need it.
Having makeup free days has definitely taught me that I have wasted a lot of time doing it over the years, on days where it won’t cover the dark circles anyway. Shockingly- people don’t react to me differently and I actually don’t get comments of “you look tired” when I’m au naturel.
Mostly though, I now appreciate makeup more; both the act of doing it and how I look with it on. It’s got me thinking about why I wear makeup in the first place and what it does to my confidence. I want it to be an aid, rather than a shield.
Or maybe I’ve just gotten lazier?
What’s your relationship like with makeup? Let me know in the comments below!