When I was 14 my mother took me to the Clinique counter at a Belk department store in our small North Carolina town. She said, “If you’re going to wear makeup, you’re going to wear it right.”
She meant that I was going to use it to accentuate my natural features rather than hide my flaws, which was a great way to teach a teenager about makeup. I always learned that makeup was used to make my big, brown eyes pop. Or that using bronzer in the summer helped draw attention to the tan I acquired from working outdoors with horses for eight hours a day.
I never learned that it was necessary to make me look better, and I silently thank my mother for that lesson all the time.
Now, I hardly wear makeup at all. If I’m going to a nice event, like a wedding, then I’ll stick to the basics: eyeliner, eye shadow, mascara and a lip stain. But I never go all out.
I avoid foundation no matter the event, and I wouldn’t know what to do if you handed me five fancy contouring brushes. On an average day, I usually head out of the house with no makeup on at all. I wash and moisturize my face everyday to keep blemishes at bay, and—if I’m feeling a little jazzy one morning—I might swipe on a nourishing mascara.
But my simple routine wasn’t always so simple. In high school I wore makeup every single day, and I felt weird or ugly without it. It wasn’t until college, when I practically lived at the student newspaper office and could count the hours of sleep I’d gotten the night before on one hand, that I finally gave up my makeup routine altogether.
Looking back, I can say it was one of the best decisions I’ve made for a few important reasons.
1. It’s A Double Standard That Hurts Women
I know many women who swear up and down that they wear makeup for themselves and no one else, and that’s great. But it doesn’t change the fact that the reason makeup became a thing was because women were held to different appearance standards than men, historically.
Most men don’t wear makeup. In fact, most of them roll out of bed, brush their teeth and they’re off. Studies have shown that women appear “more competent” when they wear makeup, according to the New York Times, and most women know what utter crap that is.
By not wearing makeup all the time and being a competent woman, you can help break this awful generalization and show other women that a natural face is beautiful.
2. It Contributes To Body Image Problems
Most women believe that they look better with makeup on. Though makeup might make certain features stand out, that doesn’t necessarily mean they look “better” that way. What I’m saying is that bright red lips are beautiful, but only in a different way than nude lips.
Women should never feel uglier without makeup on. They should feel like themselves, which is attractive in its own right. Makeup should be something that you wear to accentuate the things that you already love about yourself—not something that you use to hide the things you hate. Unfortunately, makeup is used in the latter circumstance for too many women, and that’s when it’s no longer serving its purpose.
3. It’s Very Expensive
In 2013, InStyle reported that women spend an average of $15,000 on makeup in their lifetimes. Think of all the other things you could use that money for: amazing vacations, education, a new car, a down payment on your home; the list goes on an on.
4. Not Wearing Makeup Helps You Love Yourself More
When I stopped wearing makeup, I was hyper aware of every small blemish or imperfection. But, over time, I realized that no one looks like the women we’re constantly shown in CoverGirl advertisements. (Well, only women who wear a lot of makeup.)
Finally, after giving up makeup for a few months, I began to realize the kinds of things that really make me feel and look more beautiful: when I get enough sleep, when I take care of my skin, when I eat right, when I drink a lot of water each day, and, for me, when I practice yoga regularly. These are the things that make my skin glow and my body feel amazing, and, when I feel amazing, I’ve found that people think I look pretty amazing too—with or without makeup.
Giving up makeup has helped me invest more time into the building blocks of true “beauty,” like good physical and mental health. I no longer rely on makeup to make me feel like the best representation of myself, and that’s a pretty great feeling to leave the house with every morning.