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Friday, July 29, 2016 by Amanda Charles

Ditching the Makeup: A One-Way Street to Confidence

Ditching the Makeup: A One-Way Street to Confidence

Makeup is the perfect solution for the dark under-eye circles, unwanted freckles and untimely blemishes.  Foundation for uneven skin tone, concealer for dark under-eye circles, mascara when our eyelashes are too short or too thin and eye shadow and liner to make our eyes look brighter or darker, bigger or smaller.  Makeup makes us feel professional and grown-up.  It makes us feel perfect and beautiful.  Right?


For some, makeup is a means of self-expression.  My sister is an artist when it comes to makeup.  Any occasion and she’s got the perfect tools and methods for her craft.  Night on the town? Check.  Holiday gala? Check.  Halloween? Double… wait, triple check.  But for me, make-up was always more about looking my best, or rather, beyond my best.

The problem with makeup comes when you start seeing the person with makeup as the real you.  When you look in the mirror and think “I can fix that with X layers of foundation and concealer” or “I need some blush, so I don’t look like a washed out zombie” or “I can’t go to X event looking like that.”  The problem comes when you start believing that makeup is what makes you beautiful.  Because I promise you, it’s not.

A couple of years ago I started looking hard at the kinds of things I was putting in my body and down my drains.  It was at this time that I really started analyzing the ingredients that were in my family’s food, cleaners and cosmetic products.  My makeup was, admittedly, one of the last things I tackled.  I kept wearing it, albeit uneasily, while I looked for “natural products,” which were either actually not natural at all, really expensive or required a considerable number of ingredients to create myself.   I’m a busy girl.  I like simple.  Like three-ingredients-or-less, simple.  You see the problem?

I’d already gone No-Poo.  Nothing was meeting my criteria, so why not no make-up, too?   Hmmm, well.  I mean.  Yikes.  There were lots of “reasons.”  And by reasons, I mean justifications:

  1. People treat you differently when you aren’t wearing makeup
  2. I have to wear makeup to be professional
  3. I need it for special occasions, at least
  4. I don’t look pretty enough because I have (insert cosmetic problem you fuss over – my big one was dark circles

Even with my justifications fully intact, my concern about the ingredients I could be absorbing through my skin was growing.  I had a head start on getting over a couple of these justifications since I’m a swim teacher and wearing make-up all the time isn’t feasible (well, it is, but it has the wrong effect).  For example, I figured out that people don’t actually treat me differently when I’m not wearing makeup.  I had originally come to this inaccurate conclusion when service-people at stores and clients I was working with were friendlier to me when I was “all made up.”  But the truth is, I was behaving differently. I wasn’t as confident.  When I started behaving like I did when I was wearing makeup, things changed.  Turns out that people weren’t reacting to my makeup.  They were reacting to me.  Imagine that.

I also realized that being professional doesn’t mean wearing the mask.  Okay, maybe a mask of patience, but not of concocted sludge to hide your “imperfections.”  Professionalism is about attitude and I have a mother-in-law who’s been in the banking business for over 35 years that can prove it to you.     

So, I did something brave (ladies, you understand).  I threw my makeup away.  The whole bag.  Including the tattered red and black cherry blossom case my grandma gave me that had carried my lifeline around for nearly a decade… and after a moment of hesitation, I quickly scooped it back out again. Good thing the trash bag was empty.  Sigh.

I still had number 3 and number 4 to grapple with.  So, I hid my make-up under the bathroom sink and started my no make-up journey with my bag as my safety net.  Number 4 was actually a little easier to deal with.  The problem was that after so long I wasn’t used to seeing myself without make-up all the time.  I would pass a mirror or a reflective window and be taken aback by my “sub-par” self.

The solution was time.  As the weeks passed I got to know my face better and eventually I loved it.  I loved me without make-up, imperfections and all.  I felt more me than ever and just being me gave me an unexpected boost in confidence.  Makeup was like a crutch I didn’t know I was using and not wearing it gave me a sense of personal freedom (and also a little extra time in the morning). 

My concern about special occasions was the hardest to get over.  Would people think I’m appropriately prepared?  Would I look formal enough in a gorgeous dress without makeup? Sillier yet, would I be doing the clothes justice if I wasn’t wearing makeup?  I’ll admit those are embarrassing thoughts for someone who considers herself highly independent.  And when I realized that, I threw my make-up away.  The whole bag.  Including the tattered cherry blossom case my grandma gave me that had carried my lifeline around for nearly a decade… for real this time.  And you know what?  People didn’t act differently towards me, I was still treated professionally, special occasions were still just as fancy and I felt more beautiful than ever.  You see, it isn’t the make-up that made me beautiful.  Just like it isn’t the make-up that makes you beautiful.  It is your confidence and grace, your kindness and compassion, your strength.  We hear it all the time.  The trouble is learning to believe it and believing it enough to act on it.

You don't have to leap off the cliff (and yes, for some of us it is a cliff), but try hiding your makeup for a week and don’t touch it no matter how tempting.  I hope you learn something about yourself.  I hope you learn to love yourself and your new confidence and even your dark circles.