I Stopped Wearing Makeup For Two Weeks But It Didn’t Make Me Love Myself More

I’m always intrigued by those makeup-free challenges on social media and stories about women who ditch mascara and find their inner zen, so I recently put a makeup ban on myself for two weeks. Here’s what happened and what I learned from it.

  1. No one gave a crap. I’ve been wearing makeup every day for years and none of my friends have ever seen me without it, so I was kinda scared of what they’d think or if they’d run and hide. Honestly, some didn’t even notice and the ones that did were just like, “Oh, you look younger.” That was a plus, but it really wasn’t a big deal to step out into the world. No one applauded or berated me. I was just me without all the layers of foundation. Big deal.
  2. I experienced self-consciousness. I’d been so worried about what other people would say about my makeup-free face that I didn’t really take into account what I might feel, and I was incredibly self-conscious. Yes, even though everyone didn’t think it was a big deal. I just didn’t feel like I was myself. I was missing how makeup accentuated my best assets and hid some features that I don’t like. I missed how eyeliner and mascara made my eyes look bigger and how foundation masked my rosy cheeks.
  3. My first impression was shot. Being around loved ones was fine, but meeting new people was nerve-wracking. It’s not because I usually hide behind makeup because I really don’t wear that much of it, but makeup makes me feel more put-together. I feel calmer and confident, like I’m wearing my war paint so I can go out there and dazzle people.
  4. Science backs me up on this. I’m not the only one who feels better with makeup on. A study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science found that when women had to imagine going out into the world with makeup on and that without, they felt more sociable and self-confident when they had makeup on.
  5. I stopped giving a damn about what other people thought about my makeup. In the past, when people said they’d never seen me without makeup on, they’d often called me high-maintenance. It didn’t make me stop wearing makeup, but it did make me feel guilty or ashamed for wearing it sometimes. Not wearing any makeup for two weeks made me see that I don’t want to live my life according to other people’s ideas. If people think that wearing makeup somehow makes me high-maintenance, that’s their problem!
  6. Makeup makes me accept myself more. My two-week makeup ban didn’t make me feel I should love myself and accept myself more. In fact, it made me realize how much makeup actually helps me to love myself! It makes me feel prettier, more confident (which makes me prettier), and makes me smile more, which everyone knows is the most beautiful thing.
  7. Makeup makes me feel powerful. Makeup is also a way for me to be artistic with my appearance, and to bring beauty to dull skin, short lashes, and the like. When I can totally transform myself in the mirror, I feel invigorated, like I can do anything. It’s a great way to start the morning on a confident foot.
  8. It’s a way to express myself. I’m an introvert, which means that I’m not that outgoing and I feel anxious in many social situations. Wearing makeup isn’t a way to hide, which is what some assume, but rather it’s a way for me to express my personality when I’m too shy to speak. It’s exactly like wearing unique clothing that reflects my personality without me having to say a word.
  9. Makeup gives me some cool benefits. I’m not just talking about greater self-confidence. The act of applying makeup in the morning is like my daily meditation. Ever since I was a kid, I used to love playing around with makeup and when I do this, it gives me a chance to clear my head and de-stress. Without having that half-hour a day to do my makeup, I felt like something was missing.
  10. My skin looked the same. Not wearing makeup for 14 days was supposed to give me amazing glowing skin, or so I’d been made to believe by all the reports out there of women who skipped makeup and gained skin worthy of awards. Um, no. There might’ve been some changes, but I honestly didn’t notice them. In fact, my skin glowed more when I was wearing nutrient-rich organic makeup I didn’t want to leave the house without.
  11. I can feel beautiful without makeup but I don’t want to. It can be empowering to stop wearing makeup. I totally get that it’s a nice feeling to look at my natural face in the mirror and see what makes me beautiful. There’s a power in that, but just because I appreciate my natural beauty and uniqueness doesn’t mean I don’t want to feel a goddess every day with bright red lipstick or lustrous lashes. Life’s a performance and I want to look and feel like the star, so why the hell not?
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.