When the ‘No Make-Up’ selfies started filling up my Facebook newsfeed back in March I felt a strong reluctance to get involved. Which is strange, because I am all for natural beauty and like everyone else have been in the looming shadow of cancer as it has gone after and taken people whom I love. In theory I should have been enthusiastically entering into the spirit of things but instead I found that I just didn’t want to.
In my head I started picking holes with the campaign; you shouldn’t coerce people to give, I give plenty anyway, I hate selfies, there are already pictures of me without makeup on Facebook, besides my camera is too rubbish to get a good photo…
All pitiful excuses in the face of how much money was raised for an undoubtedly worthy cause.
When my nomination eventually came along I posted an infographic on how to check your breasts for signs of cancer which I thought would perhaps be more useful than my face. I donated money to a hospice and didn’t nominate anyone else.
At the time there were quite a lot of news articles and blog posts sharing different views on the campaign. One friend gave a long explanation on Facebook on how she took issue with the idea that not wearing make-up was a revolutionary thing to do. She argued that women shouldn’t be led to believe that they only looked ‘normal’ when wearing make-up. Our natural faces shouldn’t be something hidden for rare occasions.
She made her argument better than I could ever paraphrase. Anyway, that opinion, and others, stuck with me and really got me thinking about my own relationship with make-up.
And now a couple of months down the line I want to share some of the thoughts and some of the ways I’ve since changed in my make-up relationship. Now I’m not saying that how I feel about things is universal for all women, this is just what is true and relevant to me.
Make-up should be a fun indulgence not a necessary shield.
I enjoy putting on make-up. I like sitting at my dressing table and opening the little drawers and selecting the eye shadow or lipstick for the day. I like the stillness of applying make-up. Those few minutes sat in front of my dressing table are peaceful, quiet ones. It’s a moment to breathe and be calm before the fun starts. When I am finished I feel prepared for the day, ready to go out and do what I need to do.
So on the whole, I like make-up. I enjoy using it and I especially like buying it! I am a sucker for sweet packaging and pretty colours!
But I think make-up becomes a problem when you couldn’t face the world without it. If walking out the door bare-faced fills you with dread, then there is something not right. Or if a problem with your appearance causes you to panic internally then the make-up has lost its fun.
So whilst I enjoy putting on make-up, I don’t want to rely on it.
Letting my skin do its thing
One thought that has helped me to keep my make-up dependence down is to recognise how amazing the human body is. It really is a wonderful creation and feat of engineering, and should be appreciated. Even when you are sat down not doing anything your body is running hundreds of complex processes inside of you. It’s incredible!
Your skin knows how to renew itself, it knows how to use Vitamin D from the sunlight, it knows how to supply each section with oxygen and to target areas that need it most. Sometimes I think we need to trust in these natural processes more and let it do its thing. It knows what it is doing and in lots of cases when we leave it alone, it looks after itself.
Since the no make-up selfies phenomenon I have made a deliberate choice to have more make-up free days so that my skin can look after itself without my interference.
I like to still wear make-up at work because it is a part of how I feel professional, and I like to wear it if we are going out somewhere special, because it is part of the fun. But I want to make sure I give my skin a full break from products now and then. So I have decided to leave the make-up off over a few weekends.
The challenge is to not letting a ‘No Make Up’ day mean the same as ‘Staying Home Alone’ day. Just because I am make-up-less doesn’t mean I’m not going to do the food shopping, or see my friends, or go for a walk.
And do you know the truth is; not wearing make-up actually makes no difference to how much I enjoy the day. People don’t treat me differently when I wear make-up to when I don’t, and if they ever did, then I am not sure whether I would be interested in spending time with those people.
I know that for some women going make-up free could be a terribly difficult thing to do but if you never leave the house without make-up you will never realise how little you need it to have a good day. Again like I said before, this is just about what works for me, and I want make-up to be a fun indulgence in my life, not a necessary shield.
My new routine
I’ve always tried to keep a healthy outlook on how I see myself, but recently I have started a new routine that has helped me to work on this every day.
I follow the fabulous Vintage Frills blog and one of Catherine’s recent posts was on skin care. She recommended Boots Cold Cream as a nightly cleanser. She explained how to use it, said it costs less than £2.50, and feels lovely on the skin.
My skin had been feeling a little dry, and I am very naughty at not thoroughly removing make-up at then end of the day, so I thought it couldn’t hurt to try it out. I purchased the little pot and created a new night time routine.
Each night instead of haphazardly splashing my face with cold water a few times before going to bed, I pull my hair back with a headband and begin ‘cleansing’. Whilst looking at myself in the mirror I apply Boots Cold Cream to dislodge the make-up and grime of the day. Then I run a wash cloth under the tap and wipe it all away.
During all this process I look at my reflection in the mirror, and I see all the make-up wash away to leave a face that is wholly my own. No mascara, no lipstick, no blusher, just me. And in those brief seconds I look in the mirror, feeling clean and a little pampered, and think; ‘There I am.’
It’s a good feeling.
You see it may be not be the most beautiful red-carpet-ready face, but it is my face and it is good to be happy with it, just as it is.
I like this new routine because it means each night I take just a couple of seconds before I go to bed to look at my face without adornment or improvement and be content.
It is a new habit for me and one I recommend, even if you normally hate your looks. If you spend all your time covering and improving your face it may have been a while since you last saw it for what it really is. You may find that there is more to like there than you originally thought!