No Makeup Days

No Make-Up Week

As I mentioned yesterday, No More Dirty Looks is hosting a No Makeup Challenge this week. Turns out it’s part of a whole big No Makeup Week originated by Rabbit Write here in blogland, so obviously, I had to get in on that action. (Hi fellow bloggers! Thanks for letting me play!)

What’s funny is that, before Beauty U, this would have been so not a thing for me. I was pretty straight-up no makeup. (Just ask my friend K, who did my makeup for my wedding and had to talk me into the whole concept of concealer.) I work from home and usually only leave the house for yoga or chocolate, yes, but even back in my office days, all I ever wore was some lip gloss. I wasn’t anti-makeup, exactly — I could get way into some fake eyelashes or red lipstick for dress-up fun and I was pretty well addicted to that lip gloss. But it was more of a “whee, aren’t we pretty!” thing than a “time to get my game face on” thing.

It wasn’t that, like Kate on Eat the Damn Cake, I was afraid of makeup or had missed being initiated into the makeup thing — I worked in women’s magazines with huge beauty departments brimming in free samples, for goodness sake. I knew what it was all about. I honestly just didn’t think I needed to wear makeup, at least not on a daily basis. I knew I had under-eye circles and the odd pimple that could be covered up, but they just weren’t the parts of my body that stressed me out in that way.

And this will make me sound naive, but I honestly did not realize, until the first night we did makeup at Beauty U, how many women do not leave the house without something on. Maybe not a lot. Just concealer, maybe. Or you just do your brows and swipe on some mascara. But something. Always something. And it’s because of some individual-to-everyone ratio of “this makes me feel pretty” and “the world cannot see what I look like without this.”

I didn’t become a makeup girl at Beauty U, exactly. Despite all the emphasis on dress codes and looking the part and promoting beauty  and all that jazz, we got pretty slacker-ish over there about grooming, especially on weeks when there weren’t any clients and we were just sitting around the spa working on each other. Why bother with makeup (or real pants) when you’re just going to have to take it all off for a seaweed wrap anyway?

But whenever I would bother to take it up a notch and wear some shimmery eyeshadow (because we all scored some on one of the Sephora field trips) or straighten my hair, everyone at Beauty U noticed. Because we were in the business to notice that kind of thing.

And some kind of subtle shift did happen, so that I’m continuing to notice now, that ever since I actually learned how to put on eyeliner and such, I’m a lot more likely to think I should do it before I Go Somewhere. And by “Somewhere,” I don’t just mean Prom-level Somewheres. I’d say it’s up to pretty much any social event, from a work lunch to a dinner party, where I want to feel Dressed, as opposed to just “by the way, I got dressed.”

I’m not sure there’s anything wrong with this. It’s fun to feel Dressed, because it breaks up the tedium that is me yet again in jeans-tank-Birks (yes, those Birks. I love them now, I wear them all the time, this is my unofficial work uniform these days). And I’ve always been an outfit-y person.

But it does bother me that I used to feel Dressed without even thinking about makeup — and now I don’t quite feel Dressed until I contemplate that step too. And it does feel more “game face” than “ooh, pretty!” I’ve realized that yes, I have nice eyelashes, but they look even longer and curlier with mascara and eyeliner. Or okay, that pimple isn’t all that bad, but there is this thing called concealer which means the world doesn’t have to see it. And I don’t love that.

So, this weekend, I will be going no makeup wherever I go, no matter how Dressed I otherwise want to be. (I won’t wear makeup the rest of the week either, but I have to wait for the weekend so I can follow the “you must leave your house” rule of the challenge, since again, I work from home.) And I’ll post pictures and let you know how it feels — can I return to the old, pre-Beauty U me? Or, once you’re in the business of noticing, will you always see what the beauty industry thinks is missing?

And now, of course, it’s your turn: What’s your makeup routine like and how do you feel about a no makeup day or week?

[Photo via Rabbit Writes]



Filed under beauty standards, Makeup

16 responses to “No Makeup Days

  1. gumbygoogoo

    I LOVE this. To this day, I am exactly how you describe your former self. Lip balm addict – nothing else. Not only do I feel I don’t need it, I feel it strongly on principle as well. If men don’t need to hide (er, sorry……accent/enhance) their faces, then I don’t need to either. WTF.

  2. Jodi

    I rarely wear makeup; I have a mascara and a blush for special occasions. I quit wearing it in my 20s as a poor college student, and found I liked the ease of not taking all that time. Plus it feels fake to me (although I don’t consider people who do wear it to be fake…it’s just fake for me).

    My mom didn’t ever wear makeup, so I also had that role model.

  3. This will be no surprise to you since you know me – I’m in the no makeup camp (lip balm, yes! but I see that as more of a preventative measure – SPF and no chapped lips). Never really learned anything beyond mascara either. There are times I wish I knew how to do stuff like eyeliner (maybe you can give me a lesson), but then it also seems like that is one more thing to get done before heading out the door and one more thing to spend money on.

  4. Michele

    Nada. I eschew any sort of makeup & use only a bit of moisturizer on my face in the morning so it doesn’t feel like my face is cracking when I smile. When I was in my 20s I used mascara, lipstick, foundation, blush, eyeliner, eyeshadow (god, so long ago & there was so much crap put on a face that was gorgeous sans makeup!). In my 30s I stopped using anything except when I was going to social events. In my 40s, I’ve completely given up to the extent that I don’t think I’d know how to use it anymore. And, worse, think I’d look ridiculous since I only knew how to “dress” my 20 year old face & my 40 yo face is soooo much different! I say it’s cuz I’m fundamentally lazy and, since I don’t have to look at my face all day, I really don’t care. But I’d like to believe that a part of me simply doesn’t feel the need to try & fit in anymore. And after while without it, when you do go back, it simply doesn’t feel right.

    • Shae

      Gosh Michelle, this is my exact history and my exact rationale for it.

      Ironically I think makeup looks better on 20 year-olds than on over-40-year-olds because as I get older it’s more likely to soak into the wrinkles or the dry skin weird. As a 20 year old, I felt like I had a perfect palette for face art.

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  6. Elizabeth

    I enjoyed reading your take on this, Virginia, and the comments as well. My relationship with make-up has gone back and forth (perhaps ‘in circles’ is a better metaphor) over the years. If memory serves, I wore a full face of it my junior year in college, but had given it up completely by graduation (except for lip balm), then rarely wore it in grad school. In my 30s and into early 40s I admitted that enjoyed the sparkly stuff, and wore eye makeup (love the MAC colors!) and lipstick.

    Some might find it strange for a women’s studies professor, but I think of it as one of my little bargains with patriarchy – students are willing to accept more radical concepts from me because I look so femme.

    But now in my mid-40s, my eyes have developed ‘dry eye syndrome’ – I’m sure there’s a more technical term, but that’s what my opthamalogist calls it. It’s severe enough that I must use prescription eye drops daily, and all those sparkly powder are supremely irritating when microscopic bits get in my eyes. So I rarely wear any make-up anymore, except a bit of foundation to even out skin tone (what were once new freckles every summer are now age spots) and of course, lipstick. And I’ve taken to curling my eyelashes to replace mascara. (Can you believe I never owned an eyelash curler until my 40s?)

  7. Well said. And thanks for the mention!

  8. Shae

    >But it was more of a “whee, aren’t we pretty!” thing than a “okay, gotta get my game face on” thing.<

    I love this. I feel the same way about makeup, heels, and certain other grooming habits. I think it's healthy and a good compromise between a really prissy gotta-have-it attitude and a really radical feminist it's-never-ok kinda thing.

  9. “Or, once you’re in the business of noticing, will you always see what needs to be there?”

    Maybe this would be better stated as: Or, once you’re in the business of noticing, will you always see what the industry has trained you to believe needs to be there?

    I’ve taken to wearing eye makeup to help my eyes stand out a bit more behind my glasses, but I really hardly wear anything else other than lip gloss because I don’t like going through a normal day worrying that I might rub part of my face off on my sleeve by accident.

  10. I have come to like makeup much more as an esthetician, probably because I learned lots of fun tricks. But I do hate the feeling that I need or am self-conscious without it. I often skip it on the weekends when I’m just running about town, but if I’m going to see friends I put a face on: powder, blush, bronzer, mascara, a little shadow sometimes on the brows or eyes, depending on how I’m feeling, and maybe eyeliner, again depending on how I’m feeling, plus some kind of lip gloss or balm. I like the idea of not needing or wanting it, but I don’t know if I could get there. I’m envious of people who don’t wear it, although honestly, I like putting it on, I have fun with it, and knowing it isn’t harmful helps, so finding better natural makeup is always a quest. This challenge has definitely got me thinking…

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  12. Samantha C

    This is all so foreign to me. It really is. My life is a no-make-up-life. It wouldn’t be strange for me to do a no-make-up-year. To me, make-up is what I wear if I’m performing on-stage. I don’t wear it otherwise – I don’t know if I just got conditioned this way, but I feel very much overdressed even in the dressiest situations if i have stuff all over my face. make-up is for being a performer, and I have such a strong association between “putting on make-up” and “getting into character” that I feel odd going around with it in any other place.

    I find this blog really fascinating, and I do enjoy reading it, and honestly it helped me out to hear you talk about having not been a big make-up person to begin with. I always have this niggling feeling that I don’t quite belong in a space like this because I’m not part of the Beauty world in that way. I don’t wear lip gloss even. maybe some chapstick if I need it. And no one’s ever given me a hard time about it or anything.

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  15. Kathryn

    I can honesty say that I have never once gone out of the house without some sort of makeup on. I am a natural blond with a hint of red (very light strawberry blond) but have bleach blond eyebrows and eye lashes. I can remember the day I found out about eyebrow pencils, I was probably around 12 years old and thought it was the best thing ever! I am 26 now and do not feel like I NEED to use a brow tint (although I still prefer it most of the time) but mascara is still a must for me.

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