I have always had a tumultuous relationship with makeup. In high school I wore a lot of flannel, doc martin boots, and converse shoes. My favorite outfit was a flannel shirt on top and long underwear underneath a pair of ripped jean shorts. Think Claire Danes in My So Called Life. Despite my affection for flannel and grunge my mother always taught me when to dress appropriately. And that appropriateness included wearing blush and having my hair did. I grew up thinking that I must have looked like a pale waif since my mother was always saying, “you look great, but did you put on blush?” I would roll my eyes the way that every teenager does and go upstairs to put on some peach melba colored blush. As I got older I realized how just a little blush could transform my face from the angsty grumpy girl to a bright ray of sunshine. And for me, I realized that putting on a little makeup transformed my mood.
After college I took at job at Estee Lauder in NYC in their design department. Read: free makeup. I worked there for almost 6 years. That meant I got a plethora of makeup either free or highly discounted. And it was really good makeup. Thus, I wore it every day to work in varying degrees of severity: “The Full Face” application: foundation, shadow, lipstick, mascara, and blush. Or “The I’m Too Tired From Partying The Night Before Because I’m Single and Oh So Fabulous” application: mascara and blush (plus whatever I didn’t wash off from the night before). Sad but true.
Since leaving Estee Lauder I no longer get free makeup. Thus I am less likely to wear it that often. The idea of having to pay for my makeup after getting it for free or highly discounted for so many years is abhorrent. Nevertheless I have moments when the glitz, the glam, and the peach melba blush call to me from the makeup counter.
So (now finally getting to the gist of this post) when I decided to do a week without makeup I wasn’t too worried. But what I didn’t realize is that I do wear makeup almost every day. Even when I go to the grocery store wearing my best yoga pants, I put on lip gloss. Because hey, if I look skanky at least my face looks a little polished. On Thursday I sat in traffic chewing my lip. I chew my lip when I’m thinking deeply about something, like what we’ll have for dinner or how a family member just defriended me on Facebook. Before I realized it I had chewed my lip raw. I reached up, dabbed my lip with my finger and looked at it: blood. First thing I did was reach for the tube of Aveda “pomelo” colored lip balm in the glove compartment. Sh*t, it’s the week without makeup…I can’t wear this. Awesome. Hi, I’m Henry’s mother, I have rat-chewed lips, let’s talk about his progress in your Pre-K class.
The real test for me was date night on Friday, and no makeup. Gasp! I have always felt that not wearing makeup was sexy. I see women without makeup on and I think they look strong, empowered, and fresh. This is how I feel without makeup. Sometimes. On Friday night when my husband and I went out for dinner, I took the opportunity to just be out, and channel that sense of sexiness without makeup. I missed wearing my MAC bright red lipstick (which I typically wear on date nights)…but we all survived.
At the end of the week we went to NYC for a quick visit. I wore makeup. It’s renewing to go without “something” for a week and then incorporate it back in to your life. I was less critical of my face as I put the makeup on after a week-long hiatus. I admired my brown eyes, which are speckled if you look really closely. My normal routine of getting ready in the morning was changed. Taking the time to put on makeup felt luxurious rather than a chore. It became more of a celebration of me and my face rather than a cover-up. Try it sometime. Break the cycle of your routine for a week, or even just a few days. You might be surprised with what you notice.