Yesterday morning, I spent around an hour tending to my face.
I cleansed, I applied a serum, I moisturised, then added a layer of sun screen formula; followed by a little bit of primer, foundation, and concealer. This was topped off by some brow gel, and a swoosh of mascara.
Not a lot of makeup or effort as far as many women are concerned, but a lot compared to what I’ve been used to over the past four years.
Four years ago I quit my job as a fashion designer, to see if I could make a living as a writer.
Up until that point, I had been waking up earlier each morning (at least an hour) so I could apply my makeup, before heading into the office.
I’ve never been a woman who wears much of it. Mostly because I either don’t know how to apply it properly, or I just don’t feel like I need it. But for me, foundation, lots of concealer, and mascara were always a must-have before I walked out the door; and I would have to be wearing contact lenses, and not my glasses.
I remember one morning I forgot to put mascara on, and I really did feel naked without it. On my lunch break, I rushed to the drug store to apply one of the tester mascaras onto my lashes, and instantly felt at ease.
Another time, the morning after the Christmas party, I was so hungover that I’d slept in as long as I could without being late; and didn’t have the energy to do anything apart from shove my glasses on and head out the door. I felt awful, and to be honest, I felt ugly the entire day.
Makeup gave me an extra boost of confidence and self-esteem, that I had come to rely on to leave the house, and make it through the day.
But since I started working for myself from home, this all went out the window.
I immediately stopped putting my contact lenses in and applying makeup, because it felt like a total waste of time. And I could be using that time to write another article, or find another client.
There would always be the odd day where I felt like making an effort, just for me, and I would. But I no longer felt like I had to.
Shortly after, I moved to Bali, where I lived for the next year; followed by Sri Lanka, then Thailand. And of course, it was far too hot to bother applying much makeup, when it would instantly melt off as you walked out the door. So my no/minimal makeup routine continued.
And now, it has become my new normal.
I’m always thinking of the time I’m saving by not styling my hair, carefully co-ordinating an outfit, or applying makeup in the mirror. My time has become far more precious to me in the years that have passed. I think that happens when you work for yourself. Everything is on your shoulders.
Four years ago, I was wearing makeup partly for me, but mostly because of how I thought other people were seeing me and judging me. I didn’t want people to think I was unattractive. I wanted to look pretty, and I was desperate to feel pretty; and makeup seemed like a great way to fast-track myself there.
Then I’d wipe it off before going to bed, and feel like a different person.
That confidence and prettiness I felt, quickly faded. I was left with my nakedness. And I wanted to love her. I wanted to feel comfortable and confident in my own skin. I was tired of feeling like I had to wear a mask and edit myself before walking out the door each day.
It should be my choice, and it didn’t feel like it was. Not really.
But as each makeup free day passed, I learned to feel more at home in my nakedness.
I embraced my glasses, and now wear them most days instead of contacts. I only do my makeup about once a week; and that’s more just to force myself to make a bit of an effort, and get out of the daily routine I’ve comfortably slipped into.
It’s no longer for them, it’s for me. I feel no pressure to look or be a certain way. because the me without makeup is the real me. I’ve come to realise that if I don’t learn to love her, then nobody else will.
I don’t think makeup is evil, or believe that you have to boycott it entirely before you get to call yourself empowered. It’s actually a wonderful way to express yourself, the same way that fashion is. And it can be really fun.
I mean, how many of us prefer the getting ready phase of a night out with our friends, to the actual night out? It make sense, because as women, we have a natural tendency to enjoy the ritual of glamming up, and transforming into our most sparkly self for a night; kind of like Cinderella at the ball.
I think it just comes down to how you feel when the ballgown comes off, you’ve lost your glass slippers; and you’re back as your ordinary self, standing alone in front of your bathroom mirror.
Because you deserve to feel good, to feel worthy, and confident, and beautiful then, too.