I Stopped Wearing Makeup To Work For A Year. Here's What Really Happened
During my first few months living in New York City, I was confronted with an influx of cystic acne and blackheads. The new blend of air pollution, humidity, and sticky subway rides on top of the now-needed arsenal of foundations and concealers, which are packed with chemicals and hormone-disrupters, left me with more acne than I'd ever had before.
My first instinct was to mask my skin's symptoms under a mask of makeup, but a little voice in my head told me that packing on the products wasn't the solution. In fact, it only exacerbated the problem.
I'd once had a dermatologist spill her tried-and-tested skin care secrets, and going foundation-free as often as possible was at the top of her list. She made it clear breakouts would never have the chance to heal if they're regularly smothered in pore-clogging makeup. So I knew what I needed to do: It was time to stop wearing makeup—including foundations, concealers, blushes, bronzers, the works—until my skin cleared up.
The decision to temporarily bid farewell to my makeup bag was never intended to last any longer than it had to. As someone with a rather ruddy complexion and uber-sensitivity, the idea of showing up to work barefaced terrified me. It's one thing to go au naturel on the weekend with my friends. It's another thing to face a room full of colleagues and clients makeup-free.
My complexion changed…for the better.
That uneven skin I was scared to show the world? It is no more. Why? Because I finally gave my face a chance to heal. Removing makeup filled with toxins and drying agents seems like a no-brainer now that I've seen the wonders it's done for my complexion. Some of the biggest changes: reduced redness, smoother texture, increased hydration, smaller pores, and, of course, less acne.
I've also had people—friends and strangers alike—comment on how youthful my skin looks, which I chalk up to the fact that my fine lines and wrinkles have become significantly less noticeable. As it turns out, the ridges on my forehead that I used to daydream about "Botoxing" away are now essentially a thing of the past.
I saved a lot of money.
Do you know how refreshing it is to not have to spend money on makeup each month? Or money on products to clear up the acne your makeup is leaving behind? Removing makeup from the equation meant that my skin care routine actually had an opportunity to work its magic without any interruptions, which brings me to my next victory…
I learned how to "read" my skin for the first time.
Skin reading or "face mapping" is using the location of the acne on your face to determine the root cause of these flare-ups. This holistic approach is definitely having a moment, but it's actually an ancient practice that's been around for thousands of years.
Now that I've stopped wearing makeup every day, my breakouts are few and far between—and when they do appear, I take a look at where the acne is popping up on my face and ask myself, "What has changed in my life that could have triggered this?"
I've found that, these days, the majority of my breakouts are on either my chin or jawline—which is linked to hormonal imbalances, or on my forehead—which is connected to the digestive system.
My self-confidence radically improved.
OK let's face it—the reason it took me so long to ditch my makeup when I *knew* how desperately my skin needed me to take a breather was because I let my ego get the best of me. We naturally want to be loved and accepted, and we've been taught that our outer appearance is what controls this. The first week I went makeup-free in the office, I consciously kept my head down as I spoke with my colleagues, doing my best to avoid any eye contact. But, to my surprise (and admitted relief), not a word was uttered about my lack of makeup. Watching my colleagues hold me in the same regard without makeup boosted my self-confidence in a powerful way—I was able to see that it really was me, at my core, who they'd loved all along.
I now feel the most like "me" when I'm barefaced, which is a level of comfort in my own skin that I never thought I'd experience.
I finally became a morning person.
When I bid adieu to my a.m. makeup sesh, I found that I was able to replace it with a daily meditation practice (involving my tarot cards, of course). Using this time to find my center, instead of struggling to find my favorite highlighter at the bottom of my makeup bag, made an instantaneous improvement on my mood and anxiety levels.
Now, just because I stopped wearing makeup to work doesn't mean that I've quit cold turkey.
I've re-introduced makeup into my life and I love whipping out my supplies and getting to work—but the way I view this process has totally shifted. I use products to showcase the features that I love the most, like using blush to play up my naturally rosy cheeks, or applying highlighter to the end of my nose to make it pop.
I like to think of this new and improved makeup routine as a kind of gratitude practice, a ritual that celebrates the natural beauty that comes from the combination of my unique features. And now, whether I choose to go barefaced and fancy-free or rock a dark lip and smoky eye, I know that this decision stems from a place of self-love.
So whether it's a day, a week, a month, or a year, I challenge you to go makeup-free and see how you feel—the results could change your life in ways you never expected.
Heal Your Skin.
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Elizabeth Bobbitt is a branding, events and marketing consultant, and the former Social Media Manager at mindbodygreen, currently residing in Australia. She received a bachelor’s degree from Newcastle University. When she’s not exploring her new home, you can find her studying astrology, making bulletproof matcha, working to reduce her carbon footprint, or curating the perfect vinyasa flow playlist.