“Beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes. It is not something physical.” – Sophia Loren
I have suffered from lingering allergies and sensitivities my entire life.
Every day, I am in some way affected by how my body responds to my environment. Whether it’s triggered by something I ate, something I wore, or something I touch or breathe in, it’s a struggle that has been with me since I was a young child.
Living with sensitivities like this teaches you how to appreciate life in a different way. If I didn’t find it so hard to stay comfortable, I wouldn’t think it’s such a blessing when food doesn’t upset my stomach, clothes don’t make me itch, or plants don’t make me sneeze.
Beginning in my early teenage years, I became interested in developing a basic skincare and makeup routine. It made me excited to use soft brushes, pretty products, and various cleansers to make my skin glow and accent my features.
What I had no idea would slowly happen was that my skin would poorly react to every beauty product I exposed it to.
Last winter, I officially gave up on attempting to wear makeup.
I had applied natural powder to my face to reduce shine one morning, and within minutes, my hands had broken out in hives where the product had come in contact with them. It was scary and disheartening at the same time.
What started in 2014 as a desire to feel prettier became a journey of heartache. Everything I tried using to cover blemishes, even out my skin tone, and keep my skin clean ended up burning, itching, and making me sneeze.
I had no idea that, in my case, beauty would hurt.
Going makeup-free in 2018 taught me so much more than I would have ever thought possible.
I thought that it would be hard for me to get used to, considering I’d been wearing makeup nearly every day for years. Admittedly, it was a challenge at first, because every time I went out in public, I felt like I’d forgotten to put on something important.
In this post, I want to share with I’ve learned with you. I’ve gained wisdom through this experience that is important to share, because it’s not something most young women would think to do. (And I don’t blame you! I only did this because of my skin, but I’m now all the more grateful for this challenge.)
Important note: It took a lot of strength to compose this post and then go through with publishing it. Your feedback would be much appreciated, but please be kind.
After not wearing makeup
for a year …
#1: I feel more beautiful.
I thought, for the longest time, that makeup boosted my ego and confidence. Little did I know that it did the complete opposite! I slowly started to forget the reason why I began wearing makeup in the first place (i.e. to enhance my features) and began to instead struggle when I couldn’t get my “look” just right. I felt ugly when my foundation was uneven, when one cheek had more blush than the other, when my mascara sprinkled down onto my under eyelids. I felt naked in my own skin and unattractive in my inexperienced makeup looks.
After going makeup-free for months, I now smile confidently in pictures. Every day, I’m learning to embrace my features and imperfections instead of wanting to mask them, transforming myself into someone different. I feel like myself! And that is a beautiful thing, indeed. ❤
(However, I still have a long way to go … after writing out the whole of this post, I began taking steps backward, suddenly feeling like my lack of makeup use makes me ugly. How sinful is that?? Every day, the Lord is teaching me how to love myself and not listen to the lies of this world, or my mind.)
#2: I stopped caring about how other people see my outward beauty.
I don’t mean this in a silly way, or like I don’t give a darn how I look. I do care about how I look, but it’s not longer based on how people see my face; it’s about how they see the real me.
“Charm and grace are deceptive, and beauty is vain [because it is not lasting], but a woman who reverently and worshipfully fears the Lord, she shall be praised!” – Proverbs 31:30 AMPC
I no longer define who I am by how dressed up and pretty I look. I feel the most like myself when I exchange smiles with a stranger, or make somebody I just met laugh. I now care about people’s first impression of how I act and respond to them, not on whether or not they think my makeup’s “on fleek.”
#3: I began to accept my imperfections.
I’ve been struggling with acne for years, and that was probably the hardest part about quitting makeup last year. I continued to have zits that I wanted to cover up. It took months for me to stop feeling self-conscious about it, but once that initial insecurity wore off, I can’t even describe how confident I began to feel.
I could finally accept that acne is just part of how my skin responds to things, and how blessed I am that it’s not much worse. I even started eating chocolate again, after years of sadly avoiding it in an attempt to keep my skin clear. I’ve found that eating what makes me happy (in moderation, of course!) is worth it, and that benefits my life more than by depriving myself of that happiness.
“Beauty attracts the eye, but personality captures the heart.”
#4: My anxiety has been reduced immensely.
It would be impossible for me to summarize just how many insecure thoughts ran through my head every time I applied makeup. Coupled with my desire to make a good first impression, my social anxiety caused me to crawl into a very dark hole.
Makeup may very well be the reason why I suffered as much as I did socially for years, because I was continually thinking about how others saw me. Instead of focusing on making small talk with people and being friendly, I was terrified – and I didn’t even realize it!
Now that I’m learning to embrace who I am without the makeup, I see people in a completely different light. I’m able to make small talk without being concerned about my makeup look that day.
#5: I’m able to focus more on interacting with people.
Because I don’t get caught up in my physical appearance anymore, all of my attention can be invested in the people I interact with. I’ve always responded to my family the same way, whether I’m wearing makeup or not, but around strangers and new friends? I used to be insanely distracted.
Now that I haven’t attempted wearing a full makeup look in months, I genuinely smile at people. I feel actually happy and confident about who I am and how I act, about the more authentic, beautiful person I’m becoming. It matters more to me to impress people with my behavior than by my outer beauty.
“If the world was blind, how many people would you impress?”
#6: I’m now learning to accept my body the way it is.
Most skincare products are about treating your skin right, enhancing your best features, hiding imperfections, and becoming the person you envision yourself to be. I really wanted makeup to be something that increased my confidence and overall happiness, but that’s not what it did at all. I became angry at my body for rejecting products I was originally excited to use, and I was frustrated at my inexperience when I found out my makeup didn’t look the way I wanted it to.
I’ve struggled with having a quick temper since I was a young child, and makeup ended up adding to this burden. Since stopping the use of these products on my skin, I’m thankful every day for the lesson it has taught me about loving who I am, sensitive skin and all. I still have a quick temper, though, which is something I need to work on (haha), but I’ll save that journey for another post!
#7: I no longer feel like I need to cover up my imperfections.
Sure, I’d rather not have acne that stands out, or frizzy hair that keeps falling down in front of my face. I’d love trying out new eye shadow looks and perfecting the winged eye.
But going makeup-free has FREED me.
I am a better person without makeup. I now consider smiling eyes and a huge grin the only “makeup” that I need. I’m confident in my own skin without needing anything to make me feel beautiful.
For the first time in my life, I’m grateful that the Lord gave me skin that is so sensitive. Through this difficulty, I’ve become more confident and happy, which I wouldn’t have believed possible. ❤
Thank you so much for reading this post. I really poured my heart into it, because I’ve been thinking a lot about what this subject means to me lately. Some of the hardest things we go through in life make us so much stronger than we would have dreamed possible! I have to say that that has certainly been true for me.
I’d be interested to see how other girls my age would view themselves differently if they went makeup-free, but this is a huge decision you have to make for yourself. If someone else had encouraged me to stop wearing makeup because I’d feel better, I probably would’ve rejected the idea and thought they were insulting me or something, haha! At this point, I just know that sharing my experience was (and is!) important to me. If it inspires you to do the same, whether it’s for a week or a month, I definitely think it’s worth it. You’ll have to let me know what you learn!