Alicia Keys started it, Demi Lovato tried it, Christina Aguilera rocked it and now we’ve done it too.
Looking at my beauty cabinet (primers, highlighters, bronzers, brow palettes, concealers, blenders, a spectrum of brushes) you’d think I spend the better part of an hour laminating my face with war paint. Take a more granular look and you’ll see dust particles pirouetting around the products. They weren’t always neglected like this though.
It’s been a month since I decided to have a major make-under. All that has meant is not wearing any makeup – not a morsel of cover-up, not a swipe of blush nor a flick of liner. Either you’re shrieking in horror at this (“you can’t pay me enough to do that,” said one friend) or you’re ‘pah’-ing nonchalantly (“give me a real challenge!” snorted another friend). Since the no-makeup makeup trend is already having a good run, this just seemed like a quick hop further to au naturel.
I am constantly endowed with products way past my pay grade (by the way thank you PRs, it’s all received with much glee, trust me) that also tend to be so above my level of beauty knowledge, I rely on YouTube tutorials for distillation purposes. But over the past few months, my use of product has dwindled – mostly out of laziness from years of diehard and failed attempts at fine-tuning the cat-eye technique. Can someone please help me not look like a bandit on Halloween? And it’s always been one of my three wishes for there to be a magic wand to make me makeup-ready before I shoot out the front door in the mornings.
I’ve never been a metro or taxi beautifier – if my face melts off onto the pavement, I’m not doing any touch-ups. And I already have a firmly-placed ‘no makeup’ policy on Fridays, so I knew one makeup-free month would be no sweat.
But being makeup-free in my habitual comforts (home, my friends’ homes, the supermarket) wasn’t the real test. Going into work, attending meetings (with polished clients) and going ‘out-out’ where people know me for my crimson red lips and spider-long eyelashes, was the real litmus test on this bare-faced experiment – especially in Dubai, where the mantra more is more is employed with next to no abandon.
At first when I began, I annoyingly found myself preceding every human interaction with a pre-emptive warning of the state of my face: “Sorry, I’m not wearing any makeup, ignore this shambolic sight,” I’d say, my hands in windscreen wiper mode, ‘x-ing’ my face, as I internally kicked myself for being an insecure narcissist. But then again, I could see it in their eyes – that polite, glazed look of (no frown) doubt – I mean, even I had to do a double take in the mirror most mornings. By the end of the first week I had a tightly packed calendar of nightly engagements – the type that requires (note the insufferable criteria) mime-thick makeup against clinical lighting. I almost caved one night as I gripped my mascara in an asphyxiating fist when I was getting ready. But then I thought: it’s never going to be an ‘ideal’ month to do this – there’s always going to be an excuse. I thus released the mascara and eschewed my usual makeup routine every night that week. I felt naked, out of sorts and out of body. But the elation of being able to slink out of my outfit and into bed as I crawled home was unparalleled. Not wearing makeup gives you back the gift of time. I even set my alarm clock 30 minutes later in the mornings.
Then the summer holidays began – I went to Greece – a land laden with natural skin enhancers. Just a small peck from the Hellenic sun and you look like you’ve got a coat of tinted moisturiser on. I didn’t feel the need to wear makeup. It comes with the territory to be makeup and care-free in Greece.
Over the month I realised that anything done with long-enough repetition, turns into the regular. We’re creatures of habit, so if we get into a routine of not wearing any makeup, it becomes less of a question and more of a reality. I’ve gotten used to not worrying about smudging my mascara when I scratch the corner of my eyes – equally too, there’s a guarantee of a fleck-free pillow come daylight. And I also love how sharp my skin has become now that I’m not clogging my pores with product.
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The other day, I did put on my former face for the first time in a month. It felt similar to being out of WiFi range for so long and then suddenly gorging on a bolt-fast connection. I loved seeing my face pop in a different way, but there was also a feeling of indifference: it’s fine to be this way or the other way.
Makeup is a choice and not a mandated requirement. I know people notice I’m not wearing makeup, because I notice when a woman isn’t wearing makeup. But is it a big deal? No. Your worth doesn’t depend on whether you’re wearing the latest beauty drops but if it does add to your sense of self, then by all means, colour away. Our identity, in all its variations, can be physical and intellectual. One does not preclude the other.
Right now, I cannot deny that youth is still on my side. This is why I think I am confident enough to bare all. I hope that by the time I am 55, society (that starts with you and me) will have finally given everyone permission to do whatever they want. You do you. However and whatever that may be.
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Images: Trunk Archive and Instagram