In which she takes a stand against make-up

Sometimes a blog post needs to percolate in my head for a while. This one started out as a vaguely apologetic examination of why I’ve gotten out of the habit of wearing makeup lately, but the more the idea fermented, the less apologetic I was feeling. In fact, I’m feeling rather defiant about the whole issue now, perhaps in part thanks to an article I read on Jezebel called Please don’t tell me that I look better without make-up. It’s not so much that I disagree with the author, or that I have some moral opposition to makeup and those who wear it – I am just over feeling apologetic about my choice to not to wear it.

For me, this is about overcoming insecurity and the ridiculous notion that I must wear makeup or else appear like I was “letting myself go” or the idea that women of (ahem) a certain age need makeup to make up for the loss of dewy youthfulness. It’s the idea of makeup being mandatory that irks me – that you would feel like you couldn’t leave the house without it, or that going around without makeup is like going around in a stained shirt and torn trackpants.

If you wear makeup and love it, great! I’m glad it works for you. It has never worked for me, though. I wore makeup for years because I felt like I had to, because I was supposed to, because I wasn’t attractive enough without it. Except I was never particularly good at applying it, so I never felt terrific when I was wearing it, either – I felt self-conscious either way, but I was self-conscious AND uncomfortable when I was wearing makeup. Up until recently, I felt obligated to wear makeup to the office in the same way I’d wear work-appropriate clothes. Except I love dressing up in my work clothes, and I just felt hassled by remembering to put on makeup.

Now that I’ve more or less given it up entirely, I’m feeling rather liberated. Here’s five reasons why I’m happy that I finally got over the idea that I was obligated to wear makeup:

1. It’s expensive. I learned young that you pretty much get what you pay for with cosmetics, and when I did wear makeup I was a sucker for the higher-end brands. It’s especially expensive if you follow the recommended guidelines and replace it every few months but you only ever apply it often enough to use 1/10 of the container. I can’t tell you how many mostly-full eyeshadows and mascaras I pitched because I couldn’t remember how many years old they were.

2. It’s a hassle. You have to remember to put it on, and you have to remember to take it off again. Getting eye-makeup off is an even bigger PITA than getting it on properly. And you have to remember not to rub your eyes, or cry, or lick your lips. And you have to carry a patch kit, and have spare makeup stashed in your desk or purse for the days you forget to put it on before you leave the house. And it doesn’t stay on your face – you get foundation on your pillow cases and lipstick on your coffee mug. Ick.

3. It’s unhealthy – or, at least, my skin is healthier without it. “U.S. researchers identified 10,500 industrial chemicals used as cosmetic ingredients, including carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxics, endocrine disruptors, plasticizers, degreasers and surfactants,” according to the David Suzuki foundation. Sure there are toxin-free alternatives out there, but they’re usually even more expensive. And sure, there are chemicals in my shampoo and moisturizer and everything else I touch all day long, but if I’m eliminating one more source of toxins, so much the better, right?

4. It changes the way you look. I know, duh, that’s the point, right? But I don’t like the idea that how you see me is through a layer of paint. I don’t like the fact that if I wear makeup nine days out of ten on that tenth day you see me and say, “Wow, she looks like shit today” because I’m not wearing my war paint.

5. It’s a self-perpetuating tyranny. This is linked to the previous point. The more often you wear makeup, the more you feel obligated to wear it and the more like you don’t feel like yourself if you aren’t wearing it. You-in-makeup becomes baseline you, so you without makeup is somehow not as good.

This is me, unvarnished. No make-up – and no Instagram filter, either. (Not even with the white balance and exposure adjusted, which is way harder for me than not wearing makeup.)

Ha, it is so much harder to take and post a photo like this than to leave the house without makeup! Eek! But I have to admit, unlike the author of the Jezebel article, I DO feel like I look better without makeup — and I’m more than happy to hear you tell me so! ๐Ÿ˜‰

So what do you think? Why do we feel apologetic about NOT wearing makeup? Do you feel makeup because you love it, because you feel like you have to, or you don’t bother? Is it about being pretty, or your sense of self? Does it bother you to leave the house without fixing your face first?

What say ye, bloggy peeps?

Author: DaniGirl

Canadian. storyteller, photographer, mom to 3. Professional dilettante.

15 thoughts on “In which she takes a stand against make-up”

  1. Preach it sister.

    I personally hate make-up. My wife doesn’t wear it, and I’ve very glad for that. I don’t like the painted on darkened eyes, the foundation on the cheeks (yes, I can tell it is there.) or any of it.

    Women should be proud of their true beauty, and not try to hide behind a mask.

  2. First of all, you are stunning. gorgeous skin, eyes, hair. I am not hitting on you, but holy pretty mama!

    I wear very little makeup but I am extremely pale so always like to put a little colour on my cheeks. mascara and lipstick and even nailpolish on my fingernails……. I just can’ t do. I put a tiny bit of coverup under my eyes, as I have very deep circles. that, and lip chap and blush …..good to go.

  3. I actually love make-up but since I’ve been pregnant I’ve given it up. First because I was just too damn tired to put any on and then I went though a phase where my eyes were watering all the time. It’s actually been liberating, and I’m saving lots of money, I’m sure. I do plan on wearing it again when I return to work someday though.

  4. Love this, and I feel exactly the same way. In fact, I propose a bloggy movement where non-makeup wearers post their as-is photo, in solidarity. Will get on that once I find the camera under this pile of crap on my desk :).

  5. I wear makeup anywhere between 2-4 days a week. I use it when I want to feel slightly more put together. I prefer a natural look on me, I’m lazy and I am not ‘good’ at makeup, so I keep it very basic: concealer because my skin is a total jerk (despite all the sacrifices I make for it), mascara because my lashes are blonde at the ends, blush because I am quasi-albino. I don’t think it dramatically changes the way I look; besides, as previously mentioned, I am too ham-fisted to accomplish that even if it were my goal :D.

  6. I think it’s great if a woman doesn’t want to wear makeup, but I also think it’s great if a woman does. I just wish we could do away with the judgy nature of most comments when it comes to women and makeup (not by you, Dani, just in general). I hate it when people say, “you’d look so much better with a little bit of colour” or when people act surprised to see a normally-painted woman without makeup. I also hate that it has to be such a big deal for people to post barefaced photos of themselves and that we in turn have to fall all over ourselves to say, “look at how great she looks without makeup!” I just wish it were more matter-of-fact, you know? A woman without makeup is beautiful. So is a woman with makeup. I wish it were no more a big deal than what colour shoes she’s chosen to wear.

    I also don’t like preaching too far on the other side — “women should celebrate their natural beauty” or whatever. Just because I wear makeup, which I do every day, doesn’t mean I’m hiding something or fooling you all by not showing off my “real” face. I’m still there — I’ve just got a bit of colour on my cheeks. I like putting eye shadow on — it’s fun! I also like dabbing on concealer to cover up my acne scars or whatever. It makes me feel a little more confident.

    All in all, I just wish the decision to wear or not wear makeup didn’t have to be so fraught — wear it if you like it! Don’t wear it if you don’t! But I know we’ve got a long way to go in terms of being more accepting of women’s choices of how they present themselves, sigh.

  7. I am totally with you on this!

    I only started to feel the pressure on wearing make-up, and heels, and be generally more girly, when I moved to Canada. There weren’t as many spiky heels and dark eye-shadow where I used to work in France ๐Ÿ™‚

    I wear make-up very rarely – when I am going out, which, with 2 young children and no family whatsoever around, happens even more rarely. Or on days when I want to feel and look different. I wear mostly concealer under my eyes to make them look bigger, and basically really discreet stuff.
    In an ideal world, I’d maybe like to take the time to wear make-up, and look better, blablabla. But in the real world, getting out of the house in time for school in the morning is a battle in itself, and getting into bed 10 minutes earlier because I do not have to remove make-up is a real plus. So no make-up.

    I am happy with it, and so is my hubby. He is the one that’s really counting anyway.

  8. I don’t wear makeup. Haven’t for most of my life. I like it that way. I will admit, that I add a bit of makeup (just a bit) when I am having my photos professionally taken. But so little it barely counts. Even at my own wedding my makeup was minimal. I just like it this way. I have a dear friend who makes me up when we get together, I don’t mind. It is fun. But my preference is without, thanks.

  9. Since having a kid, I definitely wear makeup less (I work from home) and that’s ok with me. I do put on eye makeup before leaving the house, usually, force of habit. I find it makes me feel more confident when I am actually feeling tired and rundown and so it’s worth it to me to spend a few minutes on it.

    I agree with caitlin – accepting each others choices should be the ultimate goal. It sucks that women feel like they aren’t attractive enough without make-up. It sucks that we’re ashamed to post a photo of ourselves au naturel. I applaud you for taking a stand against make-up since it doesn’t work for you and I hope that if I get to the point that it’s not working for me anymore I can do the same.

  10. I do not wear makeup generally, mostly because I am not super “girly” (I have no clothes sense either; this does not bother me). But also in retaliation for being forced to do a makeup badge in Girl Scouts when I was young. #truestory #iwantedtogocamping

    I think that I have worn makeup three times in the last twenty years; my prom and wedding (sparkly glitter on my cheeks, and I’m not sure about my wedding) and blush for my brother’s wedding. There’s a photo of me here: The other problem is that most lotions & makeup irritate my skin and make me feel horrible. And I hate buying stuff that I won’t use most of, so if there is no sampler I am not going to buy it.

  11. I’ve never warn make-up on a daily basis. i do tend to put a little on when i go out for dinner with the hubby, or on the rare occasion that i go for a few drinks with friends. for a while i was thinking, hey! i’m in my 40s, maybe I should try wearing make-up and pretend to be a grown-up and more professional at work. i think it lasted a couple of days. it’s just not part of my routine. i did the same with wearing heels. that stuck! ๐Ÿ™‚ i don’t care if women choose to wear it, though i am not a fan of pancake face (you all know what i am talking about!). if it works for you, knock your socks off! but i have never judged anyone for wearing or not wearing it. come to think of it, there are very few women that i work with that wear a tonne of it. more just a little foundation and maybe some mascara. but that might also be akin to the industry i’m in.

  12. The only time I ever wear makeup is when my mother forces me to for family occasions. I also put on lipstick before a job interview (as instructed by my mother). Any time I wear it, not matter how tastefully it is applied, I feel like a clown. To be honest, I really don’t like the way it looks on anyone. Why are women so afraid to show off their natural beauty? Men don’t wear make-up and they look just fine!

  13. The only makeup I wear is foundation and lipstick, and even those I skip using on a regular basis. The foundation I use more often in Winter as I’m prone to dry skin and it seems to help. Over the last few years, though, I’ve been increasingly troubled by the whole idea of makeup, for many of the reasons you list. I don’t want my daughter to grow up and think that she has to cover her face up with makeup in order to look acceptable.

  14. I haven’t worn makeup regularly in probably 20 years. In part because I was never taught how to apply it properly, so I felt a bit clownish as a teenager. Now I have a better idea of what colours work for me and I have a few skills (smoky eye, baby!) but I feel more like “myself” without it. It’s fun for dress-up occasions and to add a little sparkle for a girls night out, but day to day, I’m just me. Take it or leave it.

    I have, however, committed to myself that I will make sure my girls get proper make up application instructions from a professional when they are ready to start wearing it (if they choose to). I want makeup to be fun for them, not something that defines them, but something that they can use to play with their look just like colouring their hair or a flashy pair of earrings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *