"I simply panic at the idea of going to a social event without makeup where there will be straight men, but it's like I don't trust them, I expect them to be unkind," she writes. "...during the summer I don't do water activities. I don't swim, I don't jet ski, I don't kayak, but I would love to join on all of these things."
We were, of course, heartbroken by this girl's story, so we chatted with some experts to see what was the cause of this severe anxiety. "This may be a form of body dysmorphic disorder or social anxiety," says Dr. Josie Howard, a San Francisco-based psychologist and psychodermatologist on the advisory board for Simple Skin Care. BDD is described as a distorted view of one's physical appearance that affects a person's functioning, while social anxiety is when the anxiety over being around others is tied up with how you feel about your appearance, says Dr. Howard.
"Women's self-esteem is so closely intertwined with their view of their physical appearance that this may point to issues of self-confidence and self-perception," Dr. Howard says. Behavioral treatment is typically the best way to conquer these anxieties. Howard does point out, however, that the original poster may already be moving in the direction of healing. "Talking to others decreases the sense of shame, which is a crucial first step, so I applaud her braveness for writing in and sharing her experience," she notes.
The next move is to begin taking baby steps toward going makeup-free. "Perhaps this might start with something as small as walking around the block without makeup, working up to running errands without makeup, and finally attending a social event without makeup (or maybe just minimal makeup) can help her increase her confidence," Howard says.
Minimal makeup is actually an easy feat to accomplish. "Don't be overcritical with your skin. Sometimes a good moisturizer and eye cream help improve the way your skin looks in an instant," says celebrity makeup artist Nick Barose, who counts stars like Lupita Nyong'o and Uzo Aduba as his clients. "If your skin is in good shape, you can totally skip foundation and use a bit of traceless concealer under the eyes."
Barose says to first fill in your brows. "You can wear less eye makeup, but the eyes are still framed." He then suggests using a stain on the apples of your cheeks, as these tend to last longer in the elements. "Easy on the eyeliner," Barose advises. "Opt for a liner that's thin and not intense black. Try a shimmery bronze or chocolate."
At the end of the day, Howard says the important thing is to change your view of the role makeup actually plays in your life: "Makeup can change from being a shield against the world, or a mask to hide behind, to a confident and healthy form of self-expression — which is an option, not a necessity."
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