If someone had told me two years ago that in the future I’d be perfectly happy leaving the house without a scrap of make-up on, I wouldn’t have believed them.
At that time I refused to let the general public see me without the whole works — primer, foundation, two types of concealer, brow pencil, eyeshadow, liner, mascara, blush, and lipstick were the minimum. To me, that was toned down.
I had adult acne and I used cosmetics as a distraction. Spotty forehead? Time for a statement plum lip. Breakouts on my chin? Let me blend out a smoky eye. If I was really upset I’d add some false lashes.
(At this interval, I would like to point out that just because someone wears make-up, it doesn’t automatically mean they’re insecure. Yes, it can give you a boost when you’re not feeling 100%, but it doesn’t mean the person wearing it dislikes their face. Make-up is fun! That plum lipstick was a distraction, yes, but it was also pretty and it made me feel like I had my shit together.)
Over time my skin has cleared and I’ve become used to seeing my bare face staring back at me in the mirror. That previously pared-down face of make-up suddenly looks like a lot.
What this has reaffirmed for me is not that one approach is better than the other, and I’m not writing this to tell everyone that they should throw their make-up bags away — women and men should be able to adorn their faces as they damn well please.
Instead, it’s reminded me that the beauty of make-up is the purpose it serves for you. It’s versatile: you decide what works.
I wore my full-coverage foundation and my purple lipstick as if they were armour and they made me feel better about myself. Nowadays I’m more likely to find happiness in some brow pomade and a sheeny highlighter — and that’s enough. I daresay there’ll be a time when I start wearing more make-up again (I can never go for too long without a good eyeliner wing).
My made-up face isn’t better than my bare face, and my bare face isn’t better than my made-up face. They’re just different. I’m sure there’s someone out there who’d do the whole ‘You look so tired‘ thing out of faux concern, but you know what? Fuck’em. I’m happy.
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Beth, 25, South East England.
Lover of books, dogs, yoga, travel, gin, and the Oxford comma.
I write about ethical & eco-friendly living, minimalism, and mental health, as I muddle through one step at a time. Enjoy!