Last week I introduced my experiment: a week of wearing no make-up.
My feelings were mixed throughout. Despite having a smattering of spots across my forehead (gotta love stress breakouts) it was the lack of eyebrows that concerned me most.
I wrote down my thoughts at the end of each day, so read on to find out how my week without make-up went.
I’m panicking about leaving the house sans brows. Even if I can’t be bothered to put on any other make-up, I fill in my eyebrows, but both pencil and powder are banned. I want to cry. It’s probably not as noticeable as I think, but I feel like they’ve fallen off my face. I feel naked.
I’ve also woken up with three spots in the centre of my forehead. Normally I’d pat some concealer over them, but instead I slather the unholy trinity with tea tree oil and hope for the best.
It’s an easy start, however, since my day consists of doing laundry and then going to the library to work on a piece of travel writing. Everyone else is too concerned with their own projects to care and I get on with my work.
Yesterday wasn’t too bad because I kept myself to myself. Today, though, I have four hours at university and I’m workshopping one of my pieces (the travel writing). This means I have to read it out in front of everyone so they can critique it. You’re in discussion with the class, so there’s a fair chance someone will look at my face. On the plus side, no make-up means I can set my alarm later.
“You look different,” my friend Holly says. I brace myself. “It’s coz you’ve got your hair scraped back.” I breathe out; I’m sporting third-day hair, so it’s been shoved into a trusty top-knot. I tell her about my experiment. “Do you feel like a different person?” “No, I just miss my eyebrows.” Holly says they look fine as they are, what a babe.
Today I need to submit two essays and then I’m off to have a meeting with my society. There’s about ten of us, but today it’s only me, Steph and Collette, the editing and submissions team of the uni’s creative writing anthology.
I barely think about make-up, or the lack of it, as the day goes by. I’m far too busy having fun as we plan the order of the book, organise the launch party, and decide what we’re going to wear. Being busy, it seems, is the best distraction, and not just in this situation. Not needing to remember to touch-up your face throughout the day is a bonus, too. (Oh, who am I kidding? I never do this anyway.)
Scrolling through Instagram is a mistake. The majority of the people I follow are bloggers, so most of my feed showcases flawless make-up.
And as much as I love sleeping, I’m starting to miss my morning routine, even though it’s a bit of a faff. My mum equates putting on make-up with putting on armour and I think I finally fully understand what this means. Make-up makes me feel like I’ve made an effort and I’m ready for the day ahead; a bare face makes me feel more vulnerable. On the plus side, my skin looks a bit clearer.
A quick trip to the campus Starbucks is followed by another afternoon in the library. (I spend a lot of time there; words don’t write themselves.) I barely think about make-up today, although as I catch sight of my badly-chipped pedicure while I’m in the shower I wish I could give my nails the makeover they need. I settle for a quick trim and remove the leftover polish, resolving to paint them at the next available opportunity.
I’m missing the fun part of my routine — the choices I get to make. There are so many different options when you wear make-up and although a bare face is less hassle, it’s the same thing every single day.
I catch sight of my face in the mirror just as I leave the library. I look tired and drawn. Mainly because I’m sleepy, but it doesn’t feel me with confidence and I walk home as quickly as possible to have an early night.
Happy Galentines Day! I go to the pub with the girls to watch England’s rugby game and then Giulia and I cook dinner. I’m way too engrossed in the game to care what my face looks like, but afterwards I notice the bags under my eyes.
I do my best to forget about it and enjoy making dinner instead. We try a vegetable lasagne made with layers of courgettes, mozzarella, tomato cream and pesto. It’s delicious, especially when followed with chocolate and vanilla cheesecakes from Gu.
I’m excited today is the last day. Not to be dramatic or anything, but I’ve missed make-up.
Today’s a quiet one, catching up on budgeting for the week and ordering my food shopping. I do spend a few hours in the library but no one is there and I don’t worry. All I can think about by this point is how much I’m looking forward to getting ready tomorrow.
The most important thing I discovered is that make-up can affect my state of mind. It helps me feel prepared and put-together. But I was happy when I realised my self-esteem isn’t solely dependent on how my face looks — when I workshopped my writing on the second day I was more worried about the piece itself than my appearance.
That said, I don’t like having a make-up-free face when I’m tired and rundown. A little bit of concealer, some highlighter and a good mascara can perk you up and I use that to my advantage.
I enjoyed the extra sleep I got and I’m happy my skin has cleared up, so I’ll still be having some bare-faced days (no one in the library gives a damn). It’s all about balance.
I’m excited to start using all my products again now and I’ve already planned tomorrow’s look: bold brows and berry lips. Bring it on.
Did any of my findings surprise you? Would you ever go for a week without wearing make-up? Let me know in the comments.
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Beth, 26, South East England.
Lover of books, dogs, yoga, travelling, and gin.
I write about ethical & eco-friendly living, minimalism, and mental health, as I muddle through one step at a time. Enjoy!