6 Amazing Things I Learned When I Stopped Wearing Makeup

Written by Karen Azeez

Like most women, I started experimenting with makeup as a kid playing dress-up. I couldn’t wait for the day when I could start wearing eye shadow and lipstick and be a grown-up. In high school, I started with foundation and blush to cover breakouts, soon moving on to the hard stuff: mascara, eyeliner, lipstick. There was no turning back.

Nothing happened. I was allowed on the subway, I wasn’t jailed for indecent exposure or mocked by small children.

That was my life (and face) until a few years ago when I quit my executive job and started a new career as a health coach. Instead of commuting to an office, presenting at conferences, and meeting with high-powered people, I now spend most of my days studying, writing, cooking, and doing yoga.

My standard routine of morning makeup soon started to seem pointless, but I still applied "my face."

Then one day I was running late and had no choice but to leave the house without makeup. And you know what? Nothing happened. I was allowed on the subway, I wasn’t jailed for indecent exposure or mocked by small children. In fact, my friends didn’t notice or say a word. And so I stopped wearing makeup.

Although it seemed more like an evolution than a revolution, since giving up makeup, I've realized a few amazing things that make me never want to go back:

1. It's a huge time suck.

Aside from the time it takes to apply and retouch makeup every day, I also spent endless hours talking with friends about our favorite brands, strolling the aisles of drugstores and cosmetic counters, and reading reviewed lists of new products. I've never added it all up, but I'd venture to say, all told, I spent far too much time on anything related to makeup.

2. It supports a negative body image.

My adult life felt like a continuing search for that magic shade that would plump my mouth, the perfect tint that would make me glow like a goddess, that magic elixir that would lengthen and curl my skimpy lashes, and all the other goodies that would make me a superstar version of myself. Instead of living with and learning to love my natural attributes, I stayed in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction with my face.

3. It costs a lot of money.

Even if you stick with drugstore brands and shop sales, you're dropping a big wad of cash to wear makeup. In 2013, InStyle reported that women spend upward of $15,000 on beauty products in their lifetime. In my experience, that’s on the low end. Isn't your money better spent elsewhere?

4. It promotes gender inequality.

With the exception of stage actors and glam musicians, most men don't wear makeup on a daily basis. Have you ever asked yourself why it’s perfectly acceptable for a man to have a naked face during business meetings and cocktail parties, but if a woman showed up barefaced, it would be a big deal? Wearing makeup sends an insidious message that women must be adorned to be accepted, and that just doesn’t seem right.

5. It’s inconvenient.

To wear it well, you have to apply and touch up makeup throughout the day and be careful not to smudge or rub it off on clothes or other people. Meh. Without makeup, I can experience the absolute joy and freedom of splashing water on my face whenever I need to cool down or clean up. That’s something you can’t do with a face full of makeup unless you want to emerge looking like a deranged clown.

6. It doesn’t really make a difference.

It’s kind of like meeting the Wizard of Oz. When I stopped wearing makeup, I realized I didn’t need any of it the whole time. Not one person I encounter has ever said I look tired or sick or odd. That’s because — despite what we're told — makeup doesn’t really make that much difference in our appearance.

Even if you have fun with makeup, it couldn’t hurt to try to go out barefaced once in a while just to see how it feels for you. You might decide you're a better version of yourself naked and unafraid. And you might save some time and money to boot!

Photo courtesy of author

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