Why I Stopped Wearing Makeup

makeup free face in the sunlight morning

I can't remember the last time I wore a full face of makeup. My best guess would be my year 13 prom, which was nearly a year ago now. I was never really someone to 'glam up' everyday, and I haven't worn foundation ever! The most makeup I would wear at once would be: concealer, powder, highlight, blush, mascara, eyeshadow, lipstick, eyebrows and maybe liquid eyeliner if I was feeling up to it. And that would be a special occasion.

If we throw it back to 13 year old Ella, who wore black winged eyeliner every day to school. I used to love it, it was my art, my known skill and something that I enjoyed doing in the mornings. So I understand why makeup is so loved by everyone! I won't deny that the feeling of getting ready and being able to approach the day with confidence was fulfilling. But it sometimes felt like I needed it for confidence in my apperance, an external support of my confidence that I was relying on.

Filling in my eyebrows was always the biggest confidence booster for me. I don't really talk about it a lot, but having trichotillomania has meant that eyebrows were always my biggest insecurity (considering I didn't really have much eyebrow to be happy with.) Though it helped to start with, it became a safety blanket to cover up my OCD. As a result, the makeup hindered my recovery more than supported it. Upon realising this, I slowly stopped filling in my eyebrows so much, allowing myself to be content with my natural state. It reached a point at the end of highschool where I felt like I didn't need the makeup to 'cover up my mistakes'.  I've been blessed with dark, thick eyebrows. So for the last 6 months I haven't used any eyebrow products at all.

I've never hated makeup. I love the beautiful colours and eyeshadow looks that people achieve. I think it is empowering and really helps people feel confident in their own skin. Though there are some reasons why it just didn't fulfil that pipe dream for me. I wanted to feel confident in the way I looked naturally, so I could wake up and leave the house without feeling negative about myself or worrying about what people would think of me. Makeup had this mask-effect for me, like I was putting on someone else, my alter-ego, and stepping out the door knowing that she would be okay. This was not the answer to feeling like myself. It certainly wasn't the answer in the effortlessly self-confident Ella I wanted to feel and be.

Starting university enabled me to easily make the decision to stop wearing makeup everyday. New people, who wouldn't know me as my makeup-self, but who could learn to only know me as my natural bare-faced self. The biggest shock to some people is that I even stopped wearing makeup to go out clubbing/ out in the evening. I don't feel obliged to wear makeup for smarter events, only if I particularly want to spend time creating art on my eyelids. Having that choice was really important to me, though it used to feel compulsory.

I'm now at this point where putting on makeup is more effort than it's worth. My skin can breathe everyday. I don't have that chore of taking off makeup before I go to sleep, I can just close my eyes and not have to worry. From my perspective, being makeup-less has freed me of unnecessary hassle and stress.

You are probably thinking "why would I stop wearing makeup?" Since stopping, I've discovered a multitude of benefits that I gained from going makeup-free:

I don't feel anxious to leave the house without makeup. I've gained confidence in my makeup-less self, knowing that my appearance doesn't matter as much as I thought. External confidence can only get you so far. While thinking about this, I concluded that the facial flaws we are told to cover up and conceal are a result of society telling us it's ugly. Spots and blemishes have been stigmatised as ugly and bad, when actually it is just your skin's way of reacting to germs. I will admit, I'm in a position where I was led to believe that spots are bad and ugly - though they are temporary. That spot on your cheek that showed up this morning? You will have forgotten it was even there next month. Will the people around you even notice it's existence? Most likely not, and if they do they probably won't point it out.

Not putting on makeup in the morning has also meant I haven't been staring at my face for long periods of time in the mirror. Which I can speak from experience, really does wonders for not even noticing when you have these 'temporary flaws'. Maybe the solution is to spend less time looking in the mirror, but I'm not sure how that would be possible unless you can apply makeup without one.

When you eliminate outer beauty, you have to really look at how beautiful you are inside. Instead of working on making myself look confident, or by gaining confidence through applying makeup, I've learned to work on feeling confident on the inside. Successful people don't just spend all day looking in the mirror, they spend time learning about themselves and their inner flaws, so they can improve the way their actions impact others. Your facial 'flaws' don't impact anyone except yourself. Your personality flaws can impact the way you interact with friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, parents. Yes, makeup can boost your self-esteem and improve that relationship with yourself, but can it improve the relationships you have with other people?

If you spent the same amount of time in the morning working on your inner beauty and self, as you already do covering up temporary spots with makeup, what kind of person could you grow to become? The Bible says "your beauty should not come from outward adornment" but rather "it should be that of your inner self" (1 Peter 3:3-4 NIV. From my point of view, I see truth in that piece of scripture. Being beautiful to others, but because of your kindess or your confidence, rather than the way you did your makeup that day.

Makeup isn't an endless supply, you have to keep buying it and maintaining it. By not wearing makeup, it meant not having to buy more makeup when it runs out. It's simple really. Alongside this, I find that with wearing makeup comes to desire to try new colours and brands. I no longer desire those things, so I don't buy them. Wearing makeup also comes with having to take makeup off, so I also saved money by not needing to buy makeup remover or makeup wipes. Which leads onto my next point...

Not buying makeup equals less consumption, therefore resulting in less waste. Most makeup is packaged in plastic, and even some make-up removal products. Yes I hate to break it to you all, most makeup wipes contain plastic. And obviously they aren't being recycled, so they are just another item that builds up in landfill. They are single-use, which means you have to keep buying them, but their disposable nature essentially means you are buying something that you will soon throw away. In terms of how you spend your money this is useless, esepcially when there are options such as a cotton face towel or reusable cotton pads. If there is one thing you change after reading this article, please invest in a reusable makeup removing cloth/pad like these.

My 'makeup routine' now only involves brushing out my eyebrows with this old mascara brush I cleaned to use again!

Though I can appreciate these benefits, I do understand the value that a lot of people hold in wearing makeup. When discussing this topic with friends, I learned a lot about small ways makeup can improve someone's life. For example, wearing makeup can help to distinguish between resting and getting ready and prepared for the day, which I can appreciate. Putting on makeup is a key part of most people's routine, and therefore can act as a catalyst for a productive day, or feeling like you can take on anything. I suppose for me, I have just learned to gain that feeling through getting dressed (something I would consider much more essential, especially if going out in public!) But of course, I had to learn that as anyone else would. I just decided to take the plunge and cut it out in one sweep.

In addition to this, I know that makeup is a hobby for many, or even a part of their job e.g. makeup artists or models. Therefore despite my controversial opinion, I would never judge someone else for deciding to wear more makeup. If you are reading this right now, I'd love if you would consider the reasons why you wear makeup, and be honest with yourself.

Is makeup an essential part of your life, can you live without it? If you couldn't, why is that? I feel like it's important to understand why you do what you do, are you doing it for yourself, or for others? Does it make you happy? If it does, then that is great and I'm glad that you have found something that you enjoy! But also, have you ever considered who you would be or how you would feel without it in your life?

I'd love to hear your opinions on this topic, though I have benefitted from cutting makeup out of my everyday routine, I know it wouldn't work for everyone. What do you think?

RELATED: Why + How I've Stopped Buying Clothes


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