Maybe I'd become more dependent on makeup than I realized
My first forays into the world of makeup involved a lip and cheek stick from e.l.f. and constant trips to PCX to eye it and question if it was really time for my first makeup “investment.” I remember everything about it: creamy application, minimalist packaging and a shimmery pink shade that didn’t flatter my tan skin in the slightest. I didn’t exactly make good choices—but who does when they’re eleven and painting their facial features for the first time?
From there, I started climbing higher up the proverbial beauty ladder. Started using concealer to cover up the height of my teenage acne. Coughed up the cash for my first MAC foundation. Learned to do my eyebrows (which I didn’t master until just last year, mind you).
I guess I speak for most girls (and some of the boys, too!) my age when I say that my journey with makeup has been a clumsy road of trial and error—but also one that eventually birthed my signature look. Lots of trial, a little triumph. I learned to find comfort in makeup. While I’ve never been the type to pile it on thick or wear it every single day of the week, I’d never go long without it—even after my skin recovered from the worst of its days. There are still insecurities that hide behind the thin layer of foundation, perpetually chapped lips behind that strategic gradient lip. So I straighten my brows. I chisel my jaw. I don’t want to say that I change the way I look, but uh, I guess I kind of do.
Lo and behold, article assignment day. When this article was added to workload for the month, I was sure I didn’t want to include photos in it for reasons previously stated. The world doesn’t need to be subjected to the sight of my uneven skin tone and dark circles, but alas.
The first day was nothing outside of the ordinary. I’d go makeup-free on certain days, anyway (most Mondays, if we’re looking for specifics. Who has time for makeup on Mondays?). It was as normal as normal days go. A little redness here, traces of pimples past there, perpetually chapped lips on full display. In fact, the first day got me considerably hyped because no makeup = no makeup removal. Two minutes of my usual evening routine reclaimed!
I started searching for signs of skin improvement come day three, but I’ll be honest and say that I’d return from closely examining my face in front of my mirror with no positive reports. I looked the same.
The junction between the challenge’s middle and end—right around days four and five—were easily the worst. I felt like I was back in college, right smack in the middle of a hectic finals week. I felt exposed, like I’d been on display for too long. I’d always seen makeup as something I’d do for the fun of it, but this stretch of the challenge made me realize: makeup is a safety blanket for my skin, my ego, and yeah, even my selfies.
The tail end was liberating. I felt like I’d run a marathon without the right gear, and I’d just seen the gorgeous red glimmer of the finish line in the distance. Dramatic? Maybe. It was just a week without makeup, I know—but while I’d never be the type to admit I’m dependent on it, I guess this challenge taught me that over the past few months or years, that’s exactly what I’d become.
I didn’t wear makeup for a whole week and my skin feels… like it isn’t something that needs to be hidden.
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Objectively, there were no drastic improvements over the course of a week. I still bear the same imperfections, have the same little problems I started the challenge with. Regardless, I feel refreshed; I don’t think I need to cover whatever issues my skin might be having under a generous helping of concealer. If the world could survive a week seeing me completely bare-faced, if I could take selfies sans pencil-straightened brows to prove it, then there’s nothing stopping me from walking out the door without a trace of makeup on my face.
Case in point: I’m writing this, bare-faced for the ninth day, in the middle of a cafe. I left my pouch of makeup at home, too—my bag was starting to feel a little heavy anyway.
Art Alexandra Lara