I usually wear a little makeup to class every day. Primer, mascara and sometimes an eyebrow pencil are a few of my everyday essentials. But, most importantly, I dab on some foundation to erase pesky blemishes, cover any scarring and conceal the purple under my eyes.
When I decided to forgo all my complexion products for a week, I assumed it would be easy and empowering. If the Alicia Keys’ of the world have taught us anything, it is that the no-makeup look is meant to be clean, fresh and invigorating. I thought that while I might find myself indulging in a couple of moments of insecurity throughout the week, these thoughts would quickly flit away.
However, as I contemplated meeting people knowing that the hyperpigmentation left by previous pimples would be fully exposed, I became increasingly nervous. I realized I had become accustomed to presenting myself with blemishless skin. I was afraid that by going makeup-free, I was exposing myself as a fraud.
Therefore, when the week began, I was already conscious of my skin. As I sat awkwardly in a lecture room nervously anticipating the start of a new semester, I realized that while I should have been thinking about my courses and my new professors, I was instead contemplating how others were perceiving me. I was overly conscious of the fact that their first impressions of me might be clouded by an unadulterated view of my red scars, new pimples and the purple bags under my eyes that don’t even disappear after a full night’s rest.
To my surprise, no one seemed to notice. None of my friends said I looked tired, and no one new recoiled at the sight of me. It finally registered that the real impediment to my makeup-free week of freedom was my own self-image.
I also found that by wearing no foundation, I gave myself a precious gift: time. As a result, I began sleeping in a bit more. And instead of buying products to cover my skin, I began taking the time to genuinely looking after it. I drank more water, moisturized for the polar vortex and started thinking about trying some cheaper home remedies, including a turmeric mask.
As the week ended, I still had moments of self-consciousness. Particularly on day five, when a crop of new pimples decided to make an appearance on my forehead. But overall, I found that relieving myself of the duties of applying makeup, touching it up and thinking about the shininess of my skin was fully worth it.
And while I don’t think that this week has made me a sworn no-makeup convert — I still need to support Fenty Beauty — I definitely plan on spending more time makeup-free in the future.
Email Mehhma Malhi at [email protected]