Whether you are a girl or a guy, the first hour of the day probably consists of prepping yourself to go out into the world. Some care more about what people think when they see them than others. There are also those who don’t give a damn what impression they bestow on others, and create a certain look just for their own confidence. There is a whole scale ranging from those who roll out of bed and plunge right into their day, to the people who spend time making sure they have a balanced bronzer-highlighter ratio. This article is for those who really do care and are questioning why that is.
Sometime ago, I woke up feeling pretty fed up with my pimples. I came up with the idea of abandoning my makeup products for a month, with the hope that my skin would clear up. I was going to run the idea by a friend, but before I did, the topic of self esteem came up in conversation. Then the idea was born. I decided to kill two birds with one stone by prohibiting myself from using makeup products and heat tools with the hope of ending up with improved hair, skin, and mentality.
I am someone who from day one took pride in my appearance. My mom has told me that I always wanted to pick my own outfits and dress myself as a kid. One can imagine what could go wrong with a four year old dressing herself. Nonetheless, mini-me was very opinionated and relentless. Anyway, this attitude continued throughout my life and into my teenage years when the godsend of makeup and hair tools were introduced into the equation. Like most people my age lacking confidence in my physical appearance, I latched onto these things and they became part of my routine that I did not question. It felt good that my appearance was something that I was in control of. Most people have fun trying out new looks, palettes, curls, etc. It sounds corny, but making yourself up provides the opportunity to express yourself. I tried out the liners, the eyeshadows, the lipsticks, the curls, the waves, and whatever else seemed flattering. Eventually, I found what suited my preferences and what I liked. In all honesty, it was not until recently that I questioned why I spent this time doing this.
It seemed interesting to see what would happen, if me–the person who usually looks put together and enjoys it and all, just stopped caring. The first day in public without makeup and my hair done, I felt pretty insecure and could feel myself walking with less confidence. I began to realize that my confidence had become dependent on how I looked. That revelation made my stomach drop. Upon considering this habit, the gross feeling of vanity and self absorption almost made me sick, giving me more interest in completing the challenge. I wondered, maybe it’s the generation that I have grown up in with the me me me attitude or if it was a normal teenage phenomena.
It just so happened that I ran out of contacts a few days after I started the challenge, so I was stuck wearing glasses. Contrary to what one may think, after not wearing makeup for a few days, my skin broke out. I was blessed by the gods of complexion with oily skin and pimples–it was exactly what I needed then.
Here I was, my face full of pimples and my glasses completed the look. At night I wear a retainer and recently started using an acne medication, so it was an interesting sight to see. For some reason, I did not feel embarrassed; those feelings were present the first few days. Maybe I was embracing my raw and unfiltered self.
I stopped doing these entries after the first week, but stayed committed to the challenge. There were a couple days in the beginning that I did cheat, but then made up those days. Why did I cheat? One of those days was picture day for my team, so I convinced myself that I needed to look good for the sake of the yearbook. At the end of the day though, quite literally, I remember looking in the mirror thinking, “I look exactly the same as I did without makeup” and that it was not worth messing up my little challenge. The other day that I cheated, I had just gotten the most beautiful new mascara and I really wanted to try it out. Distracted by the awesomeness of the mascara, I went to school with it on, and my best friend called me out. To my surprise, she gasped and said “Sara you’re wearing makeup. Cheater!”. Then she jokingly said, “You’re only hurting yourself.”
She was right. I was only lying to myself, and I desperately wanted to prove that I could go a month without makeup and heat. From then on, I went on with my mission and business went on as usual for a seemingly long month.
Throughout the thirty day period, I did get a few comments. However, aside from my closer friends, no one really noticed that I stopped wearing makeup, so I rolled with it. Most people just complimented my natural hair. I came to the conclusion, that most of my insecurity is just in my head. I asked my mom if I looked any different one day in a car ride home from track practice. Looking at the road, she simply said “no, I mean you look pretty much the same.” I asked “seriously, mom, you don’t notice any difference?”. She proceeded to look at me with confusion, and the conversation switched to dinner.
I had written that I felt less confident at first. After the first fifteen days, I was becoming pretty comfortable with how I looked. My pimples disappeared, and whether anyone noticed or not, my skin looked better than it had in awhile. I started to get used to my eyes being less defined and my hair not being in “perfect” curls. One day someone even commented that they never noticed I had freckles, which may or may not have made my day.
If you care enough to wonder if I just rolled out of bed looking like a hobo everyday, the answer is a big no. The challenge guidelines were no makeup and no heat. I used neither, but I am guilty of some loopholes. According to my friend’s justification, these loopholes did not fracture the integrity of the challenge. I must confess; I did curl my lashes. I also slept in braids, to keep my hair from becoming a frizzy mess. I kept up with a skin routine with night cream, exfoliant, and my regular day moisturizer. Other than that, I promise that I am innocent. It is true, that by doing these things, I was still tending to my appearance. Makeup and heat are things that you apply to yourself with the goal of changing your appearance. What I did, just made myself look presentable and did not change my look as drastically. Though I settled with that excuse, this point did make me doubt the purpose of those endeavors and whether doing so fractured the intention of the challenge. The fact that I simply could not go without doing those things was something to reflect on.
What changed this month?
One thing for sure that I learned is that people don’t care as much as you think. I was probably just blinded by a cloud of self absorption to realize that no one gives a fuck (excuse my language). That’s the thing. Everyone is caught up in their own problems and other important things to really analyze what you look like. It was a combination of that and the fact that no matter what, I still have the same face. With or without makeup, I am the exact same person. If nothing else, my skin looks healthier.
Everyone can relate to the great feeling that a great makeup look or perfectly composed outfit can bring. It can truly transform how you approach your day. One might say that it is vain to spend time tending to your appearance, but I say the opposite. Look at it this way. Your time is an investment. It is valuable to spend your time on a routine that will make you feel confident and be the best version of yourself that you can be. If spending an extra few minutes on your hair or choosing an ensemble will ultimately give you the boost you need to feel like a boss, then go on and do it!
It is okay to care about what you look like. It is fine if you want to look a certain way. What matters is that you are comfortable with yourself without those things so your confidence does not become dependent on it. My intention is not to end this article with this lesson figuratively wrapped in a box tied with a bow. In saying that, I mean that this month really was meaningful and is something that can truly be understood by doing the month without makeup.
When you go out into the world and feel comfortable, it truly shows in how you carry yourself and makes a difference in how you go about your day. Do not abandon the eyeshadows and concealer. Don’t throw out your irons and brushes. Most certainly, do not trash the over priced foundations and highlighters. As long as you are comfortable with yourself without those things, it is okay and healthy to want to enhance your features. This experience was unexpectedly eye-opening for me, and I hope that it might encourage others to consider going on a beauty detox too.