“I Took a Break from Make Up” Club

I wouldn’t call myself a “girly girl” (I’m sure feminists would love a diatribe on the phrase alone), but I love makeup. I’m not a shopper, couldn’t care less about purses or shoes, but I’ve always looked at my face as a canvas I can perfect upon. I have always firmly believed everyone looks better with makeup and I never leave the house without it – and if I do, I am very insecure about it.

I grew up studying my mother apply makeup in the mirror. She wore a full face whenever she stepped outside the house. I watched her putting on mascara, mouth agape, carefully applying layer after layer on her long black lashes and then using a needle to separate her newly created sticky creations. In junior high school, I quickly learned from the girls who used their lunch hours to meticulously fix their eyeliner (blue, green, purple was in style) and mascara (many coats of any color) and touch up their dark brown lined, frosted pink lips. Thank you for your cosmetics inspiration, 1986.

Throughout my 13-year corporate career, I wore makeup every day but when I started working from home, I wouldn’t wear any unless I knew I would see someone. It seems pathetic how I was wearing make up for someone else (who?!) since I didn’t bother to put it on while I worked from home all day.

When my 6-year-old daughter watches me put on makeup, she has one of two reactions. If I’m delaying her, she sighs heavily and proclaims annoyingly, “Why do you ALWAYS need to put on makeup?” On the other hand, if she’s procrastinating or it’s a special occasion, she’ll happily join in on the application and ask for eyeshadow, blush and lip gloss – all of which I’ll hand over because I don’t think wearing makeup has anything to do with her becoming a potential whore when she grows up.

My answer to her as to why I wear makeup has always been “because I like it” and while it’s partially true, the truer, more revealing answer is “because I think it makes me prettier.” (I won’t say that to her, though.)

With makeup, I walk with my head held higher, I hold eye contact longer and I linger in a conversation more confidently. Ironically, the makeup I wear does not create a look dramatically different from my natural one. Yet I feel much more comfortable when I have the opportunity to “beautify” my face: even out my freckled face with a tinted moisturizer, accent my cheeks with some bronzer, pink blush and lastly, basic black mascara (which I don’t coat on heavily) to accentuate my eyes. It’s not much, but it takes time.

I stare at myself in the mirror with a clean face. A month’s worth of sun tan has given me a perfect color and my stress-induced adult acne has been dormant (knock on wood) and my eyebrows are plucked. This is as good as a blank canvas as I’ll ever get.

“You’re a natural beauty,” my husband gushes, “you look gorgeous without a stitch of makeup. You don’t need any of it.”

“But I look better with it,” I rebut.

“More polished, maybe, but not better necessarily.”

For our two week vacation on the beach, I packed my small travel makeup bag with enough to give me anything from a natural beach look to a smokey eye going out at night look. Our days were spent sun-drenched, saturated in lotion and after I showered the sand from my body and combed out the salt infused frizzy hair, the last thing I wanted to do was apply a face of makeup. I moisturized and moved on – even out to dinner!

I spent over a month without wearing makeup. Getting ready seemed so much easier and faster. I didn’t take half as many photos if I had worn makeup. We didn’t get the ideal family photo on the beach like I intended because I was floating in my new “bare faced but don’t take a picture of me” world. Every time I caught my reflection, I was surprised to see me looking this way “out in public.”

I made new friends who met me only as makeup free, which seemed obvious on the beach; they didn’t think anything of my secret makeup break. I was happy and tan and didn’t care what they thought of my freckled, un-made-up face. At the end of our trip, I shared a Dubsmash compilation video my husband and me recorded and my new friend’s first reaction was, “Cute. LOVE the lipstick.”

“Thanks,” I replied. “It’s my non-beach look.”

Home a week, the makeup remained untouched until today. I went to see my grandmother and my mom and thought I should look my best for fear of them thinking I looked too thin or pale. I am so tan the makeup looks less negligible than ever.

“You look great,” my husband made a point to tell me. “Is this the first day you did makeup?”

“Yes, I wasted at least ten minutes doing this and I look exactly the same.”

“I told you – you don’t need it.”

12 thoughts on ““I Took a Break from Make Up” Club

  1. I took a several year break from makeup! There were so many OTHER things “wrong” with me (I felt at the time), that putting makeup on was, like that saying, “like putting lipstick on a pig.” Some mascara and lip gloss was not going to hide the fact that I’m FAT and old with frizzy thinning hair. So why bother?

    And, like you, I didn’t start putting it on again for ME. I started wearing it again for a MAN (shocker). The man is now gone and I’m back down to Mascara Only mode…unless there’s a specific reason To Look Nice (cuz just BEING ALIVE isn’t enough for me)…and then there’s also eyeliner and lipstick.

    Now I feel like I don’t really want to put anything on til I really learn the RIGHT WAY to apply the best make-up for me. So I’m putting that out into the universe to see if some sort of makeup angel shows herself to me…and then we’ll see.

    But yeah, if I was the last person on earth (I play that game a LOT), I would never wear makeup again. AND I’d shave my head. But that’s another story.


  2. Ah, the great makeup conundrum! I really appreciate this post, as I daily ponder the conversations I will share with my daughter when she is older. So encouraging – thank you for sharing 🙂

  3. Ha ha … I’m still too vain to let my hair go gray naturally, but I’m only two years into the whole hair dying thing and it’s too fun to play with the colors. I loved makeup … I was good at applying it, it’s just I got OCD about it and was meticulous and loved to make it just so … but the time wasn’t worth the result. As for makeup fairies … they exist and love helping people. Try Sephora or Blue Mercury or any department store make up counter and they will show you how to beautify. I love Nars!

  4. I mean I’m not giving up makeup and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it … but I guess the summer is giving me a fresh perspective! Thanks for reading!

  5. I have taken a few breaks from makeup. I had a period where I was constantly getting styes by my eyes and ended up not wearing eye makeup for a few years. I also have sensitive skin and there has been times when my foundation hasn’t agreed with my skin. I always feel better when I do my makeup though.

  6. I also realized that eye makeup in the summer seems stupid since I’m wearing sunglasses all the time. The bronzer and blush also gets negated because of the tan and the “foundation” / tinted moisturizer is the wrong color because I am darker. The truth is I still think I look better with it – definitely 9 months of the year!

  7. I found myself saying SAME over and over again throughout your post! I’m a teacher and I decided to not wear make up this summer (as much as possible). I’m loving it! I forgot how nice it was to be able to rub my eyes at the end of the day and not have raccoon eyes!

    P.S. Found this on BlogHer and then came to your blog to tell you I’m in the same boat as you! So glad I stopped by and did! xoxo, Amy @ http://teachmehow2mommy.blogspot.com/

  8. Thank you! Come pale season, I am so back to the bronzer/blush combo but I think I may ease up on the eye makeup … but yes the end of the day. And today, I was so hot walking around the city with my teenager and at lunch went to the bathroom and just washed my face with cold water – no repercussions! Summer: makeup free zone from now on! Thanks for reading.

  9. You are beautiful and only you can see your flaws. The rest of the world sees you as a gorgeous, talented, caring human being and no wrinkle or laugh line can hide that.

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