As a feminist and an inherent lover of the beauty industry, I have often found myself in an internal quandary.
On one side of the coin, I don’t ever want to be made to feel that I have to wear makeup – it’s my choice whether or not to wear it. Just as it’s anyone’s choice how to style their hair or what clothes they choose to put on in the morning.
And I’ve always struggled with the idea that some employers (some previous employers of my own included) constitute makeup as part of their consideration of work wear. I mean, looking professional is one thing, but stipulating that someone has to wear a certain amount of makeup? Count me out on that one. I’m not about that life.
I like the idea that, maybe one day I wake up with glowing skin, absolutely feeling myself, and I want to rock the au naturel look out of choice. Or maybe one day I oversleep and don’t have a spare 5 minutes to shower, let alone think about curling my eyelashes.
Or maybe I stay at my boyfriend’s house and forget to pack my makeup bag (admittedly it’s unlikely – shoutout to all my fellow Type-A personalities out there) – so, unless I’m styling my eyebrows with hair wax, I ain’t got a lot of choice.
Basically, I like the idea that, for whatever reason, if one day I don’t wear makeup to work, that’s absolutely fine.
Putting that into practice, however, is another matter entirely. But I’ll come back to this thought later.
On the flipside, I adore makeup. I love everything about it, from choosing and buying new products to applying and experimenting with it. And I realise that, for many people, it can become a huge part of someone’s identity. And I think that’s perfectly fine – for some people.
But what I personally find difficulty with, is the reliance that can be formed upon makeup, and the anxiety that comes from being seen without it. To be frightened of leaving the house until we’ve put some form of product on our face; to make ourselves look ‘acceptable’ for other people’s eyes.
I know I’ve been guilty of it before but, when I actually sit and think about it, it’s horrifying. Why is our natural, bare face not enough? What is it about the application of this war paint that gives us the confidence to go about our daily lives?
Maybe, if we got used to seeing normal things like dark circles, under-eye bags, acne, discolouration, redness – hell, even normal eyebrows – we wouldn’t feel like they are ugly. Because they aren’t.
Maybe, if we got used to seeing them, we wouldn’t feel the need to cover them up.
But what would happen, if one day you were told that you couldn’t (or shouldn’t) wear makeup?
Well, it wasn’t quite as dramatic as that sounds, but that’s what happened to me last week. A flair up on my skin, a manky eye and a trip to the doctor’s later, I heard the words that no makeup reliant woman ever wants to hear: “I’ll write you a prescription, but it would be best not to put anything on your skin for a while.”
My first thought was to going to work. How in the hell was I going to get through a day of work with everyone looking at my bare face? Let alone worrying whether they’d be thinking “What’s different about her?” or “Wow, she looks rough today”.
But then I had to check myself.
- Why should I care?
- Am I employed for my appearance or for my ability?
- Why would I be so bloody stupid?
Ok, so I was slightly daunted (terrified) about the prospect, and actually wondered if I should just ignore the doctor’s advice. But then I thought better of it. If I could actually go through with it, not only would it be better for my skin, but it would be a personal triumph too.
So, the morning rolled around and I didn’t put any makeup on. I got to work because, as much as I’d wished for it, the ground hadn’t swallowed me up on my drive in. And the most surprising thing happened: nobody cared.
Nobody noticed or, if they did, they didn’t call me ugly or run away laughing. In fact, a couple of people even complimented me.
And, weirdly enough, by Friday, I’d almost completely forgotten that it wasn’t normal to go bare-faced to work. That being said, I’m fairly confident there are a few people in my office that think I’m a little odd – but, to be honest, I’m quietly happy about it.
Anyway, so in a rather long-winded way, that’s why I went bare-faced for a week. There was a medical motive behind it (and actually, my skin felt so much better for it), but more than that, I did it just to prove to myself that I could.
Believe me, I never would have thought before that I could have gone makeup-free to work. The thought had never really crossed my mind. So, the fact that it was something that I enjoyed doing and – dare I say it – will continue to do, is something that really has taken me by surprise.
And, there are some key things that I’ve learnt from the experience, that I don’t think I would have realised, had I not stuck to my guns and pushed through the whole week.
I’d hate for this to be a plot spoiler but, take this as a warning, this won’t be the last you’ll hear of my makeup-free adventures.
Save for later: