I stopped wearing makeup for two years. For 730 straight days, I abandoned foundation, blush, mascara, brow powder, the works. I kept my brows trimmed and shaped, but I celebrated holidays, went on dates, and took a vacation sans makeup. The choice was an easy one for me to make; I have never been big into makeup. I wore it, but I never really knew what I was doing, and probably still don’t.
As I also shared previously, I have worked from home full time for five years. Not having to present in professional clothing with hair and makeup done five days a week means I can truly decide to wear makeup whenever I want to, and I decided to dip a toe into the ‘no makeup’ movement to see what I would find during this two-year span. Liberation, power, more sex appeal, healthier skin – any and all of them would do.
I got all of the aforementioned. Yes, even the sex appeal. I will get to that in a minute. Not manipulating my hair and face each day meant it flourished un-messed-with. I was able to pay closer attention to correlations between my diet and hydration levels and my skin’s clarity through getting familiar with my skin’s texture and true shade. I was able to greet myself more honestly each time I caught a glimpse of my reflection. At first, I didn’t like what I saw. But over time, I started to love the eyes, nose, brows, and lips that looked back at me.
Fewer pimples and split ends were a bonus, but so was simply looking in the mirror at my unfiltered face for two years. That span of time was similar for me to how all young girls begin to form a sense of identity based on what they look like, in a fun way. I set aside my insecurities in order to just take in who I am, and over two years I got to not only take myself in, but embrace, love, and start appreciating who and what I am. I had always played it safe with makeup, having tricked myself into thinking that colors just weren’t for me. I could wear them on my clothes and shoes, but my face?
Once I mastered that the key to wearing makeup well is to enhance the features one already has with subtlety and nuance, I started to really embrace the tools many women everywhere have been using for decades to create sharper looking brows, soft lips in pretty colors, dazzling eyeshadow combos, and small brushes of color in the right spots to add to the skin’s natural glow. It probably also helps that there are many more options and resources available now than there were in the early 2000s. All of this gave me a renewed sense of patience as I dove back in, anxiously sampling new lip colors and experimenting with blush shades.
Now, having hopped off the ‘no makeup’ bandwagon and onto the ‘glam squad’ one, I carry a better sense of confidence. Reaching for makeup now feels more like a fun ritual rather than one of illusion as I had regarded it before. I know now that I am capable of being attractive with or without my face done up, as the years have shown. I did not receive fewer compliments about my appearance in the two years I went without makeup. Men still showed interest in me.
At parties, on vacation, on dates, and any of the other special engagements I attended makeup-free, I still heard comments about looking beautiful, refreshed, and happy. And all of that signals to me that my true beauty originates from another place. It is not in the lip gloss or shimmer shadows. My skills in seduction are not boosted or halted by what’s on my face, but rather what’s in my heart. My charm and persuasive swagger show up better when I am able to love myself, and breaking up with makeup (we were just on a break) helped me do that.
Antoinette is an online curriculum designer who moonlights as a author, editor, podcaster, and yogini. When she is not designing courses, authoring books, or recording episodes for her podcast, she is enjoying life with her husband and two children. Find her on Instagram @msantoinettechanel.