Unless we go hiking or running together, you live here in my house, or you just drop by and surprise me, you've probably never seen me without makeup. Not in the last decade, anyhow. I always wear makeup at work. And when I go grocery shopping. And when I go out, I wear even more makeup.
I wasn't always like this. Once upon a time, I barely knew how to wear makeup. I put it on reluctantly, and probably awkwardly, when I thought it was expected of me. I've never been a "makeup is fun" kind of person, although I do have a silver eyeliner I really like, but rarely wear. I call the time before daily makeup "My Teens and Twenties."
The first time I remember thinking about makeup and the image I projected to others was at a job orientation. I'd gotten a short-term gig selling merchandise at the Fox Theater for the Broadway Phantom of the Opera production. It sounded fun and it was. Also, it was a challenge. Would I be able to stand in a the middle of a crowded lobby and hawk programs? I didn't know for sure. It turned out I could. It didn't even feel weird - it was my job.
During orientation, the sales manager told the women to wear makeup. "After all," she said, "you're part of the experience. Look the part."
Hm. Okay. I probably wasn't wearing makeup when she said that to us. But I wore makeup to the job, shouted about programs, saw the show for free, took a tour backstage, met the performers, and generally had a great time.
That, I think, was the beginning of the end of my makeup-optional days. Since I've worked in the service industry and retail most of my life, it's easy to let that "give the public your best face" morph into a daily requirement of putting makeup on before leaving the house.
Fast forward ten years or so from that hawking job and I'm 42 years old. I have lines and dark circles. Weird random red spots. I find gray hairs in both my eyelashes and my eyebrows. Did I mention the dark circles? They're there.
Now, I'm not just used to wearing makeup. I'm a little afraid to go out without it. I put it on at 4 am before I start the early shift at work. I reapply in the afternoon if I go out after work. I travel with makeup. Honestly, I've even work makeup hiking. Other than when I go running, I have to make a conscious effort to leave without it. That's a lot of makeup wearing.
Not that I wear a lot, or not a lot by some standards. I wear concealer on those damn dark circles, Bare Minerals foundation, a little blush, some powder, 24 hour lipstick in a natural color, and mascara. If I'm trying to be fancy, I wear darker lipstick and maybe some eyeliner or shadow. Sometimes I pencil in my eyebrows. But it's not like I'm painting on cat-eyes every morning no matter what.
I searched the internet for other "no makeup challenges" and found a lot of 30ish women who went with bare faces for a week, or three, or even eight weeks. When I was 30, I didn't feel like I needed makeup all the time, but these women do. Erin La Rossa at Buzzfeed went without makeup for a week and looks adorable. Ramona Dimeo-Ediger at The Frisky went without for two weeks and shared what she learned, but not what she looked like. Gabrielle Korn at Refinery29 went without for a week and didn't like it. Michele Zip at The Stir went without for a a week. Augusta Falletta at Daily Makeover tried to go without for 30 days but only made it through 21, quitting because she found she was looking in mirrors more than usual. However, she did once make it 21 days without washing her face, which is pretty unbelievable. Stylist.co.uk has a fascinating interview with several women who never or rarely wear makeup. Here's Barbie without makeup. The Beauty Bean has a thing called Makeup Free Mondays, which is just what it sounds like, with a hashtag (#makeupfreemondays) to go with and all.
There are lots of potential benefits to not wearing makeup. Everything from having more free time in the morning to improving the quality of your skin comes up. The benefit I'm hoping to find is all in my head - I want to feel like makeup is optional again.
So follow along as I go without makeup this week. I'll post pictures and share the reactions I get from others. Hopefully, it won't be too bad!