I Stopped Wearing Makeup For A Week & This Is What Happened

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Studies have shown that quitting sugar will reset your palate in a significant way — sweetness will taste stronger in everyday foods like bread and salad dressing, fruit will taste like candy, and candy will taste like you dumped a pack of Sweet'N Low in your mouth. I’ve temporarily quit the sweet stuff for varying lengths of time and found that this couldn’t be truer. A similar thing happened when I quit makeup for a week — including the cravings.

Why Now?
The idea of going makeup-free isn’t new — I can’t think of a time during my career as a beauty journalist when it wasn’t en vogue to make a statement with what you don't put on your face. In fact, a slew of stories has come out on the topic over the past few years with a common theme among them: Societal pressure to hide your unmade face has got to go. The movement is alive and well today, with "makeup-free Monday" a hot topic. It even has a hashtag, so we can all join in.

Translation: I am not the first, and will not be the last, to undergo a personal experiment involving a cosmetic hiatus. This is not uncharted territory in our era of fourth-wave feminism, but it was for me, because I wear makeup every single day.

One more thing...

I dreaded writing this story, mostly because of the potentially negative comments it could receive. Things like, "People are starving and she's complaining about not wearing makeup for ONE week?" bannered through my head. I questioned the merit of this post. I wondered about my intentions. I tried to delay the story. Then I just said "whatever," because I know it seems lame to some, but if we can't examine something we do every single day on a personal level in a way that sparks thought, then why do it at all? Also: Haters gonna hate, so let 'em.
Day 1
Difficulty Level: 0
I was stoked to start this experiment for one big reason: more sleep! I wear makeup every day, but not 24/7, so I wondered if I would even have anything to say about it at the end of the week. I mean, I'm going without makeup for a week, big whoop! I already go to the gym sans cosmetics, have never really had reservations about letting someone I'm dating see me without makeup, and frequently run errands on the weekends wearing just sunscreen. In fact, once I leave the house I don’t think too much about what's on my face. But, then again, this wasn't for reactions; this was for me.

That being said, I admit it was a little weird walking into work without my weekday minimum: a pump of foundation applied immediately over sunscreen (so they blend into each other), concealer under my eyes, blush (and a lot of it), brow gel, and a touch of lip color, normally applied in the car. But no one said anything, so I quickly forgot.

Day one down.

If we can't examine something we do every single day on a personal level in a way that sparks thought, then why do it at all?

Days 2 & 3
Difficulty Level: 3
What ended up being the jarring part of this experiment showed its face early on. Did I care that my coworkers or friends saw me sans makeup? Honestly, no. The best way I can explain how I felt is this: A few years ago I did a two-week cleanse for a story, which required me to quit one of the things I love the most: coffee. My caffeine withdrawals were so bad that I had to allow myself a cup of tea each morning to get through it. And although the tea did cure the mind-numbing headaches immediately, it left a lot to be desired. I missed the smell, the taste — the morning ritual of coffee.

This was akin to the feeling I had by day three. Brushing my brows, curling my lashes, and applying my SPF got me out the door in the morning, and the side-eye glances I was anticipating never arrived. ("Look, she's not wearing makeup!" said no one ever.)

In fact, I got to work faster and had to lug less stuff in my bag, but I deeply missed choosing between a nude lipstick or berry stain on my way out the door, picking a shade of blush that matched, and deciding which matte-red lip pencil I'd pop into my leather jacket's interior pocket in case of emergency. (What am I preparing for with my bullet of crimson? Your guess is as good as mine.)

By day three, I wasn't ashamed of my makeup-free face; I just missed makeup! But I had to push on...
Days 4 & 5
Difficulty Level: 4
Here's where it got a little more annoying. The novelty wore off, and I started to notice all the things I normally cover up. I've grown to love the fair skin I was born with, but I started to notice that I look especially pale — almost sallow — without a bit of foundation and a swipe of vibrant blush. L.A. is really windy and my allergies are bad at this point, so my eyes are puffy and I have circles — and I didn't have the means to cover them. I started to realize why I wear makeup. I was generally irritated and just wanted to finish this experiment, so I could go back to waking up my skin with blush and my trusty yellow concealer. I hid inside after nightfall.
Day 6
Difficulty Level: 5
Today was the same, with one difference. On the evening of night six I walked my dog, heated up some leftovers, and applied red lipstick. I often test new products at night — it's like bringing my work home with me — but this time was for a different reason. I applied my latest favorite red to see what it would look like after a few days of color deprivation. At first, it looked terrible — garish, jarring, unflattering. My thoughts? I don't know who I am anymore.

Obviously I am kidding about that last part, but it did take a few minutes for my eyes to adjust to the color. I smeared a little into my cheeks for balance, and chilled for a few minutes before wiping it off.

At the end of the day, no one cares what's on your face except you.

Day 7
Difficulty Level: 4
The last day could have been nothing but annoying, but then I realized something: My skin felt really good. By the end of the day, I'm normally considering going into the bathroom and applying whatever moisturizer is currently on my desk over my makeup because my skin feels utterly parched. This hadn't been happening, and I just realized it. Makeup is making my dry skin drier. Eureka!

I had plans to meet an old colleague for catch-up vino the previous week, but I rescheduled for today because if anyone is going to say something about my bare face, it's him. (We have a witty, sibling-like rapport and he also has the same affliction as Donald Trump: no filter.)

The whole time we were hanging out, I waited for him to say something, but it didn't happen. Before parting ways, I asked: "Did you notice I'm not wearing makeup?" He looked at me quizzically. "Not really," he replied. He hadn't even noticed until I pointed it out.

So Here's What I Learned...
All week, I was waiting for someone to ask me if I was feeling okay (I was convinced skipping makeup made me look tired or like I had a cold) or why I had gone without any color on my face, but it never happened. I never got a side-eye glance or a stern look of disapproval from anyone. No one even noticed — and if they did, they knew better than to say anything. Which is pretty amazing, because it shows what makeup should be: a form of self-expression anyone can experiment with, but by no means a requirement for everyday life. Wear it or don't, wear it some days and skip others, rock a bold lip in your apartment at 10 p.m. just to see what it looks like — there are no rules.

When I finally slicked on my (other) go-to red the morning after this experiment, it was the exact opposite of going back to sugar: There was no sick feeling or stomachache, and there was no regret.

It felt great — especially since it was for me, not because I felt like I needed to wear it. A bit of concealer and blush, and I felt polished and ready to tackle my busy day, even if the only person who would likely notice would be me.
True story: At the end of the day, no one cares what's on your face except you.

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