Lessons from 15 months makeup free

Lessons from 15 months makeup free

22nd January 2019

Somehow accidently, or at least without the intention to, I’ve not worn a scratch of makeup for the last 15 months. For some people this may seem a little crazy (and others not at all), so I wanted to share the main lessons that I’ve learnt during this time.

Before I get into it, I just want to make it really clear that this post isn’t in anyway a judgement on those who enjoy wearing makeup or those who wear it a lot of the time. Makeup is a great tool which helps so many people feel more confident, beautiful, sexy and express themself, which of course is wonderful.

Instead this post is about the experiences I’ve had since ditching make-up towards the end of 2017, and to maybe help one or two of you to feel more confident and go a few more days bare faced. Or not, it’s up to you 🙂

Ditching the makeup

I didn’t at any point make a conscious decision to stop wearing makeup, it just kinda happened! Like a lot of people, I used to wear make-up to the office every single day, chuck a bit more on for an evening out and maybe have one day on the weekend with a bare face, if I was having a day at home, doing the food shopping and cleaning. I think for a 28-year-old London dweller, this is pretty normal.

The thought of going to my job within the fashion industry with no make-up on was a complete no-no. I already wore jeans and vegan Dr Martens most days (because I prioritise comfort over everything else!) so felt like I had to make some kind of an effort with my take on a “classic daytime” makeup look (a scrawl of eyeliner, plenty of mascara, filled in eyebrows and occasionally when I felt like it, a bright lipstick).

But this all changed when I went travelling for 6 months, the last day I wore make-up being at a little bon voyage get together my boyfriend and I had with some friends and family. As I said before, I didn’t make a decision to stop wearing makeup, I carried my makeup and toiletries bag filled to the brim all around SE Asia (it was the second heaviest thing I had with me, after my yoga mat). But after deciding that I didn’t need to scrub up for jungle trekking and camping during our first week, and it being so humid and sweaty the majority of the time, I just got out of the habit of wearing it.

Returning to London I assumed I would again start my days de-shining my face and trying to make my eyes look less squinty, but part of me just could not be bothered. And I had gotten used to how my face actually looked as it is – how weird is that?! As the days, weeks and months went by (I returned from my travels 9 months ago as I write this) I found that I had lost all interest in wearing makeup. Granted I don’t have the pressure of being made-up for an office job but I’ve gone out for dinners, parties, met up with old friends, taught yoga, had meetings, met new people, all make-up free.

The night before I got my photos taken for my yoga teaching websites I thought I should probably make myself look as together and professional as I could, so I put on a little makeup to remind myself how to do it for the following morning. And you know what? Myself and my boyfriend thought I looked really strange! So I washed it off and didn’t bother the next day.

What I’ve learnt from not wearing makeup

Here are a few key things which I’ve found since I stopped wearing make-up, which I thought may be interesting to some of you guys too…..

The beauty industry tells us so many non-truths
As I said before, I totally understand that many of us feel amaaazing wearing makeup and I’m not dismissing this at all. But the beauty industry also feeds off our natural insecurities to sell us things we don’t actually need. The beauty industry send us messages like the following all the time, which just aren’t true, and aren’t useful:

  • “If you want to feel good you need the latest *insert product here*”
  • “You should strive to look younger than you actually are”
  • “It’s shameful to have a blemish / wrinkle / grey hair, you need to cover that up”
  • “No one will think you’re attractive unless you use this thing”

I also understand that these kind of messages just seem like the norm because they are so imbedded in us from an early age, and form such a huge part of our culture.

I feel more comfortable and accepting of myself
This is a practice and I’ve still got a long way to go with it but I feel the most comfortable in my own skin that I ever have. I’ve never been a ‘natural beauty’ and I could roll off a whole list of things that over the years I’ve learnt not to like about my appearance. However I can see now that this is what I have, this is who I am and the quicker I can accept that, the less I have to beat myself up about it and spent time, effort and money trying to change what is.

My self-esteem has actually gone up
Relating to the previous point, self-esteem is a psychological need, not a physical need and therefore building our worth on our physical appearance isn’t going to be the strongest foundation. I’ve always had pretty low self-esteem but by having more acceptance of my appearance and moving on with it, I’ve had more energy to build my self-esteem in ways that matter more to me, such as developing compassion, kindness, thoughtfulness, etc.

I feel more free
I used to spend at least 10 minutes a day doing my makeup so I now have this time back to add to my yoga, breath or meditation practices, to read, take a walk, to call my boyfriend, or to spend more time over breakfast. In a world where we have so much to get through each day and there’s “just never enough time” I feel like this has made a definite difference to me. When I go out all I need to do is get dressed, give my hair a quick brush and I’m good to go.

Wearing makeup can also take me out of flow, feeling I have to check it all the time. I have the most watery eyes (seriously!) so my eyeliner would always run, and as much as I loved how lipstick looked, I found keeping it on my lips a task in itself!

I’ve saved a lot of money
The cost of each piece of makeup really does add up, especially if you’re buying from more conscious or premium brands. The worst thing would be when two or three ‘essentials’ would run out at the same time, meaning I’d have less money to spend on meeting friends for dinner, going to gigs and putting aside for travel. Looking made-up just doesn’t compare to any of these things anymore!

Just taking a quick look online at the products I used to buy, I’ve saved myself about £514 since the end of October 2017 in make-up alone, not even considering lotions and potions (see next point). This is the price of a nice little holiday in Europe or two years worth of Glastonbury tickets, my favourite summer event.

It’s helped me to reduce my plastic and other waste
Where there are slowly becoming more options in the world of packaging free cosmetics, most make-up comes in packaging so by using less, I’ve had less waste going into landfill. Not wearing makeup also means that I’m able to wash my face with warm water only, and moisturise it with a homemade moisturiser, saving on plenty of bottles of facewash, toner, exfoliators and moisturisers which I’ve discovered make absolutely no difference to my skin!

Will I continue to go without?

The answer to this is yes but also no. For the most part, I can’t see makeup becoming part of my everyday routine / appearance again, at least not for a while. However I totally acknowledge that it’s fun to play with such things. Occasionally I might want to add a little mascara and lippy to my look and that’s okay! I think by going a while without, I’m at a point where I can now take it or leave it and know that I won’t be mortified if I bump into someone I know, and don’t have ‘my face on’ 😉

Anyway, this whole things has been a kind of revelation for me but I’ll leave it here for now.  

I’m a little apprehensive about putting this online so please do comment below and let me know what you think! I’m also really curious to know what your relationship with make-up is like so do tell me…… Do you enjoy wearing it or is it a bit of a chore? What do you like about wearing it best? Have you done a period of time without it? How did that feel?

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Showing 2 comments
  • Laura

    Totally appreciate this Lucy – I have had periods with no make up and generally wear very little so most people probably wouldn’t notice whether I was wearing it or not. I like the freedom this gives me to not ‘have to’ but I also appreciate the little help that it gives when I do feel I need a pick me up or to make myself look a little more awake. We are lucky to feel this way and to have the option!

    • Lucy

      Yes Laura, love what you said about the “freedom this gives me to not ‘have to’”. That’s so true ❤️

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