I’ve never been one to cake on the makeup. In fact, most folks – guys especially – are surprised whenever I tell them I have any makeup on at all. That’s because I’ve not only made the no-makeup look my signature look – but I’ve also mastered how to do it. I cover my pesky flaws – blotchiness and occasional blemishes – and I enhance my big hazel eyes, naturally long eyelashes, and bold brows. Even so, the idea of going a week without a drop of makeup on my face would have sounded like a nightmare to me before now.
My morning makeup routine takes me about 10 to 15 minutes tops. After applying a facial mist and moisturizer with SPF 30 to my face, I start my base by applying an oil-free moisturizer that covers enough to leave my skin looking flawless but also like my actual skin. I’ll dab some concealer under my eyes to give them a wide-awake look. I’ll curl my lashes and occasionally apply mascara, especially if I have plans later that day. I’ll usually paint my lips with a nude liquid lipstick and every now and then I’ll add a little bit of blush to my cheeks for a nice, subtle flush – that’s it.
Unlike makeup, skincare has always been top priority for me. I’ve gone 1-2 days a week barefaced in the past, in efforts to keep my skin clear and healthy, especially on the days I know I’ll be going to the gym. But a really bad breakout in mid-late January, forced me to forgo all makeup for about a week and it was a lot easier than I thought it would be.
I have oily and sensitive skin. It’s a tough combination that results in occasional breakouts and redness. But this particular breakout wasn’t like the ones I’ve had before. It wasn’t one or two blemishes on my chin or jawline. It was red bumps and zits all over my cheeks.
It was so intense that I knew putting even a little tinted moisturizer over it, would only make things worse.
Initially I had planned to forgo makeup for just a day or two until the breakouts cleared up. But after going into work for two days with a bare face, I somehow coughed up the courage to go longer. I challenged myself to an entire week.
What was supposed to be a few days dedicated to treating my skin turned into a week filled with self-love and self-evaluation. The self-love went deeper than being able to confidently leave my house with nothing but moisturizer on my face. It also allowed me to still feel beautiful even with breakouts and redness all over my cheeks.
I’ll admit though, that on the first few days I felt awkward, self-conscious, and uncomfortable. It even showed in the selfies I took. But by day three, I really started adapting to it. I found myself receiving compliments and positive feedback from friends, which I believe had more to do with how good I was feeling and carrying myself, and less to do with how I actually looked.
“Sure, you have a little bit of redness and a few breakouts on your cheek but you still look beautiful and no breakout is going to stop that from being the case,” one girlfriend told me. I truly believe that my comfort and my confidence gave off a certain air that allowed others to see me at my best – because I felt like I was at my best. The mind is incredibly powerful in that way.
For seven days straight, I double-cleansed my face morning and night with an an oil cleanser followed by a gentle foam cleanser. I applied the Glossier Solution Exfoliating Skin Perfector every night before bed and I made sure not to apply a drop of makeup to my skin. I not only noticed a drastic difference in only a matter of days but I felt prettier too. I felt like I didn’t actually need makeup, like could actually leave my house bare-faced and still slay.
It took awhile for the breakouts to completely clear out. Today I still have two noticeable post-acne, dark spots on my right cheek that are slowly but surely fading away. They also don’t bother me as much as they normally would. The truth is, we live in a society that’s constantly trying to dictate the way women look. They tell us how much we should weigh and how long we should grow our hair. Eurocentric beauty standards condition us to believe that our skin should be lighter, our hair should be straighter, and our ethnic noses should be thinner. They tell us natural beauty is in – but god forbid we leave the house without a full-face on.
There is no “right way” to be beautiful and our responsibility as women is to choose our own paths when it comes to what we define as beautiful. If beating your face with a full-on Kim Kardashian-esque makeup look every single day makes you feel beautiful – then do it. But don’t apologize for the days you choose to wear nothing at all. It’s your body, it’s your decision – and at the end of the day no one has the right to tell you what is or isn’t beautiful.