Could you go five days without make up?

I love make up. I wear it pretty much every day, I spend a lot of my time reading about it and yes, I’ll admit, I spend a fair bit of my student loan on it. It’s so satisfying to finally find that perfect mascara, or to buy that lipstick you’ve had your eye on for a while.

But reading the recent Buzzfeed article, ‘This is what I learned going make up-free for a week,’ I started to rethink my thoughts on make up slightly. While I’ve always rationalised my love for make up as being an art form, maybe I was becoming a little too dependent on it. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d left the house without it, and the thought of doing so made me a little nervous. So naturally the best path of action was to take five days off make up and write an article in which the entire university could see my make up free face. Enjoy.

I woke on day one, after going out the previous night, and admired my relatively hangover free face in the mirror. Not putting make up on meant I had time to eat my leftover Piccolos chicken from the night before, so I wasn’t too fussed about not wearing any. In my seminar I was my usual talkative self, and I actually forgot that I wasn’t wearing make up until I rubbed my eyes and realised I didn’t have mascara all over my face. Win.

For day two I met up with my parents, who of course assured me that I looked fine without make up (thanks Mum). However, I felt a little inadequate going into some of the fancier shops, just because I always feel like I should live up to some kind of standard just to go into them. Seeing my face in the changing room mirrors was a little tough too, because I’d had a minor breakout that day and changing room lights are unflattering as it is. I shook it off though, Taylor Swift style, and managed to enjoy my day without feeling too self-conscious.

Day three was a Sunday, so it was mostly spent actually doing some dissertation work. I regularly make trips to Tesco Express in much worse states, so going make up free while food shopping wasn’t too daunting. Generally, while I may not have been entirely excited about being make up free, it was starting to become relatively normal to me.

Day four was actually kind of difficult, not because I felt particularly insecure or anything, but because I have a lipstick that goes really well with the top I was wearing and I really wanted to wear it. I genuinely considered making it only a three-day process, but I powered through and stuck to five. Otherwise I felt fine all day, and was happy to notice that my skin was starting to clear up quicker than usual without the layer of foundation over it.

I’d like to say that by the fifth day I was a new woman and was all ready to denounce make up for good, but that wasn’t really the case. It wasn’t that I felt really bad about my appearance, but I just didn’t entirely feel like myself. I assumed before I started the five days that being make up free would get easier over time, but actually I found it was very dependant on how I felt that day, or what I was wearing. So while over the past few days I’d learned to accept how I look ‘naturally’ and be more comfortable with not looking 100% all the time, that didn’t mean I enjoyed it. I missed the process of putting my make up on in the morning, and I think denying myself of it just made me miss it more.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that I think everyone should wear make up all the time. Some people don’t want to put in the time or effort, and that’s fine, because they look great anyway. Some people don’t feel as confident or as comfortable without it, and that’s also fine, because people get their confidence from a whole variety of places. While I did miss make up, I know that my appearance isn’t the only thing that matters about me, and I will be trying to have a make up free day every now and then to remind myself of that.


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January 2022
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The University of East Anglia’s official student newspaper. Concrete is in print and online.

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