No Makeup Challenge

When I was little, I remember telling my older sisters that I would never wear makeup because it was like lying to the people around you about what you looked like. I held strong to this belief until I hit middle school and the pressure to look like everyone else became overwhelming.

So I digressed.

Seventh grade marked the beginning of a new life. It was the first time that I believed that I needed to change how I looked to not only like myself, but to have others like me as well.

To be pretty.

I would go to my locker between class periods to touch up my foundation or mascara.
I would stop by every reflective surface I came across to make sure I looked "okay".
I would wake up early each morning to make sure I had enough time to put on a new face;

A better face that I liked more.

For the past couple of months, I've wanted to do a "no makeup challenge" where you go a week without wearing an ounce of makeup and note the consequences (positive and negative) thereof.

I'll be honest with you, getting myself to commit to this was ridiculously harder than I thought it would be. I don't want to say that I was scared to go without makeup, but it was more like I was uncomfortable with the thought of it. It was an alien concept to me; a different reality that I had forgotten how to live.

I guess my morning routine of putting on makeup had become more than just a habit, it was an addiction.

Anyways, the best instigator for me to actually follow through with my plans was waking up 10 minutes before class started last Monday. In a panicked state, I had to make an instant decision:

Breakfast or makeup?

Given my history of disordered eating, It would have been a contradiction if I had been willing to let myself skip a meal for the sake of my appearance.

(Seriously though. How did I even consider going five hours without food just to have clearer looking skin?)

I ate, changed my clothes, and (literally) ran to class.

Day 1

After I got back from classes that day, I decided to make this experiment official and I typed up all the thoughts that I had felt while being makeup free.

Here are just a few of them:

  • It's liberating--I feel like an elementary kid again.
  • I forgot what it was like to live like this...I can remember being so excited to start wearing makeup in middle school---now it's not something I necessarily want to do, but that I feel that I have to do.
  • I can't describe how this feels--I feel...fresh?? Definitely not the word I was going for...its like my face is saying "ahhhhhh"--Like those actors on a minty gum commercial.
  • I can actually touch my face! AND RUB MY EYES. WHAT IS THIS.
  • Is it normal to feel more confident without makeup?
  • Wait, how long have my eyes been green?
  • I love how everyone assumes that when a girl doesn't wear makeup, it's because she slept in or is sick...even if it's true.
  • I feel like myself...more authentic--Like I'm not trying to hide anything.
  • Is this how it is for guys every morning? They wake up, brush their hair, eat, dress, and go?

Day 2

  • Oh great. I have to give a presentation today and be filmed. Oops.
  • Wait, why am I saying oops?
  • Will anyone notice?
  • Of course they will. You're wearing a different face.
  • I wonder what people are thinking about me...
  • Wait, I shouldn't care about that.
  • I actually think I like this a lot better...
  • Can I really do a whole week of this?

Day 3

  • I look older and younger at the same time.
  • Maybe I could just do foundation but no eye makeup...or tinted lip balm...
  • Is that cheating?
  • Maybe those acne scars aren't as bad as I thought they were.
  • Crap, I hope it's okay if I go to work like this--I can't get fired over something like this, right? 
  • My eyes are HUGE.
  • Do I feel tired because I am or because I've been taught that not wearing makeup means that you're tired?
  • Maybe I could compensate somewhere else on my appearance to distract from this...

Day 4

If you couldn't tell, I was more than a little conflicted over how I felt about going without makeup. However, as the week went on, it became more natural for me to do ("practice makes perfect"). You can even tell in the pictures that I took, that I began to feel more comfortable with this new version of myself the longer that I got to know her, but it definitely took some getting used to.

For the first few days of going without makeup, I would look in the mirror and see a stranger. I felt as if I had missed out on a lifetime of getting to know this person. Whenever I saw her at bedtime or early in the morning, I would avert my eyes until I was done making her over.

I had forgotten what I looked like.

As I went throughout the week, I found myself standing taller and taking larger strides as I walked around campus. I felt more self-assured and capable.

I found a confidence within myself that I had forgotten existed.
Since I spent less time worrying about my face, I was able to spend more time focusing on myself.

At the beginning of the week, I was worried about about what people would think of me without makeup, but by the end of the week I was worried about having to start wearing makeup again.

(I tried to put on makeup the following weekend and it was a hot mess. I didn't realize how quickly my makeup application skills had gotten out of shape!)

Day 5

I know that a lot of women say that makeup is empowering, and I completely agree! Sometimes having a black line around your eyelashes or some color on your lips can make a world of difference with one's confidence.

But, if you have to look in a makeup bag to find your confidence, that's a problem.
Also, if you feel like you have to wear makeup because you're expected to, not because you want to, that's a problem as well.

Women are constantly told by the media and cosmetics companies that their best is never good enough.
They could always look better.
That they'll be better if they look better.

But according to whose standards?

Everyone's entitled to their own opinion, but after this experience, I think I'm going to take a break from makeup for a while. That doesn't mean that I won't ever wear it, bur rather that I probably won't wear as much as I used to.

I mean, what was I really trying to cover up with all of the foundation, concealer, mascara, and blush that I would normally wear?

My insecurities?

You know, I'm really glad that I finally had a reason to start this challenge; it stretched me way outside of my comfort zone and I think I'm a better person now because of it.

A more confident person.
A more self-aware person.
A more self-accepting person.

I know that doing something like this doesn't work for everyone, but if you haven't done it before, I definitely recommend going a week--or even a day, without makeup. It's one of the most empowering things that I have ever done. It was like telling the world that I was okay with who I am and how I look; that I shouldn't have to look perfect to feel perfectly fine about my appearance.

Of course there were times when I felt incredibly self-conscious about how I looked, but the more that I fought those thoughts, the less they occurred.

Maybe for me, wearing makeup wasn't so much about "lying" to the people around me about how I looked, but rather a way of me lying to myself about where I got my confidence from.

I love makeup and I love the way makeup looks,
But now I love the way that I look without makeup even more.


  1. You look beautiful!!! You don't need any makeup. Seriously. I think some people really do need it. (Sorry! Its probably taboo to say that on this blog, but I think it's true). It can draw out beautiful but unnoticeable characteristics and hide zits and other distracting flaws. Anyway, you really look great without it! You are just naturally beautiful.

  2. Your article reminded me of Colbie Caillat's song, Try. I think it's important for everyone to feel confident and beautiful without their makeup on all the time, but I do think it's nice to have makeup to make minor adjustments as I said in my last comment.

  3. I LOVED this article! Way to go! You are beautiful on the inside and out and should be proud of yourself for doing this and for sharing this insight for the rest of us women! Way to go. I'm currently doing this and you are right. It is empowering and natural and does make you focus on your life and positive qualities. LOVE IT! Thanks for taking the time to share.

    1. Thanks! It really is an awesome experience! :)