My Naked Face

I started wearing makeup when I was fifteen and by the end of my first year out of school the thought of leaving the house without foundation, powder, blusher, mascara, eye shadow, lip-liner and lipstick painted thickly over my face absolutely horrified me. I would rather miss my bus than catch it without wearing make-up.

I never thought much about my need to paint myself into what I thought I should look like and what it actually meant about how I viewed myself – there were so many other girls doing the exact same thing, so it seemed normal and perfectly fine. Besides, I reasoned, I wasn’t one of the lucky girls who had beautiful, perfect skin. I never stopped to think that make-up might be the reason I had problem skin.

With the pimples, came the picking – almost an obsession at times, where I’d squeeze, aggravate and damage the skin on my face wherever I perceive there to be a pimple or a blackhead. Of course, the next morning I would wake up with angry, red scabs and sore spots all over my face. I couldn’t leave the house like that and so I would apply some more foundation, cover-up and powder to give the illusion that I was healthy.

But I wasn’t healthy and that’s why my skin was problematic. However, over the past year and a half my lifestyle now includes lots of exercise and eating mostly raw, whole, healthy foods, yet my skin was still problematic and I would still have medium to large breakouts throughout the month and it would still result in me having a squeezing binge. I didn’t know what else to do.

Then a few months ago as I viewed my face one morning – my skin red and inflamed – I had a sudden epiphany – what if the skin problems were caused, or at least aggravated by the make-up? What if make-up was not the ally I had once believed it to be? So, I began looking into what goes into make-up – I was horrified. Carcinogens, industrial chemicals, petroleum – the list went on and on. No wonder my skin was always irritated!

It was then, that I realised the hard truth – I could no longer wear make-up. I was devastated, how would I be able to leave the house ever again? Gossip magazines always showed Hollywood stars without make-up and the accompanying commentary was usually thick with derision for their natural looks – and this was how I was viewing myself, with disgust for what I actually looked like. And so I came to my next enlightening moment – what was wrong with the way I looked naturally anyway? Why did my eyes have to pop out, laden with mascara, eye-shadow and eye-liner? Why couldn’t they just be my eyes, why did they have to be outlined and accentuated to look like something or someone that they’re not?

As I looked at myself in the mirror I realised that each time I had applied makeup to myself over the years, the subconscious message I was sending to myself was that I was not good enough, not pretty enough, not attractive enough. I was also simultaneously reaffirming to myself that my looks – not my mind and personality – were my best assets. Obviously this is not true but that didn’t matter because the physical act of putting on makeup everyday was telling myself that I had to hide myself, fix myself and pretend to be something ‘more’ than I was already.

So, I realised it was no wonder that I would end up scrutinizing my face for any blemishes or marks and end up in a picking frenzy over any imperfections I found – literally trying to pick them off my face! It was an unhealthy cycle….perhaps even an addiction – wearing make-up led to breakouts which led to me feeling down about myself which resulted in me mutilating my face which led to me trying to cover up with make-up which led to breakouts and so it went round and round.

But, two months ago I put a stop to that. I decided that my skin needs to breathe and needs to be treated gently; after all, it is actually an organ and therefore has a function other than simply looking rosy and clear for beauty purposes. Out went all my chemical-based makeup; out went the chemical-based toner, face-wash and moisturizers.

I didn’t leave the house for two days and then I dressed down, looked down and tried to get home without bumping into anyone I knew. I couldn’t believe how hard it was to do go out in the world with my own face.

But I did it and each time it got a little easier. My skin has begun to clear and even when I do get blemishes or pimples, I don’t pick and squeeze them anymore because there’s no way to hide what I’ve done afterwards. Now I follow healthy, gentle skin care regimes that use natural products that don’t irritate and aggravate my skin but rather nourish and nurture it for me.

As I said, I still get breakouts, but not nearly as bad as before and usually only around the time of my period.

I’ve learnt to show my true face to the world and I’ve found most people don’t even notice – I look natural and healthy and as it turns out, healthy is beautiful!

The thought of applying toxic paint to my face now is strange and alien to me now. I love how simple and quick it is for me to get ready in the morning without having to do Art 101 before I can leave the house; I love how clear and healthy my skin looks and I love that I’m finally learning how to truly love myself for what I am and not just for what I (don’t) look like.

It’s not easy to break free of makeup addiction but it is worth it – worth it to your skin and to your self-esteem. Learn to love who you are and stop trying to recreate the illusion of beauty fashioned by the media for their profit. Have the courage to forego the toxic paint and empower yourself to allow your true, natural face to shine through – because let’s face it; we are all beautiful when we just allow ourselves to just be beautiful.


7  Things I learned from not wearing makeup for 2 weeks :


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