I’m a twenty-something woman, and I don’t wear makeup.
I have my tube of Burt’s Bees or Merry Hempsters lip balm, which I apply as if following a dogmatic order, but that’s it. I’m not trying to sound like this is new and shocking, or strange, or some act of bravery (but if it is brave to you, that’s OK too). It’s just that makeup isn’t something that I do.
It’s not like I’ve never worn it: I applied makeup maybe four or five times when I was a teenager, always in the bathroom, in the nude, slyly taking some of my sister’s stash and painting my eyelids and cheeks, outlining my eyes, and combing through and darkening my lashes. I looked in the mirror at the face which I am used to seeing, and presenting, with not a trace of makeup on. I noticed that I was pretty with makeup, but not prettier. I’ve thought of how I, even just by the tiniest amount, more closely resembled models seen in glossy fashion magazines, simply because we both had faces heavy with cosmetics. Then I would take some folded damp tissues, and wipe away the products, my face and the thin paper streaming with black, browns, and reds. Afterwards, I would look back at the mirror, and see the face that, for all of its imperfections, is perfect, and me entirely.
Why don’t I wear makeup? Well, I think it partly has to do with my mom. I’m not sure how it was for other people growing up, but when I think of a mother’s morning routine, I imagine a whole French toilette process: the careful application of makeup and perfume, the contemplation of what to wear and putting it on, and then doing up the hair. I know that this is probably a very inaccurate and romanticized image, but there you go. My mom never had this process while I was growing up. It’s not that she is all grungy, as she certainly takes good care of herself, and her appearance. But she was never fussed about makeup, at least not in the obvious sense. As a girl, whenever I went into her bedroom or bathroom, I never saw neat little rows of powders and lipsticks, nor dainty drawers full of eyeshadow and mascara. She would apply moisturizer and sunscreen, and except for special occasions, she largely abstained from makeup.
Maybe I don’t wear makeup because I’m lazy. I roll out of bed, tame my hair, throw clothes on. I hardly notice the minutes tick by as I sip tea or play with my dog, all before I dash out the door, nearly too late. I savor my sleep, or the few minutes I get to do exactly what I want to do before I have to go somewhere, or work on something. I can’t imagine taking away 10, five, or even two minutes away from my peaceful slumber or time spent with my pup. I’m already a “late person,” and a bit of a perfectionist while trying to find the outfit I want to wear, and something akin to a scientist when it comes to combing my wet hair to get the waves and curls that I want. At times, I wistfully remember my quick morning routine during the couple of years when I had a pixie haircut. I would basically not have to do anything to my short hair, and just had to get dressed. Makeup, whether that is simply mascara, eyeshadow, primer, blush, or lipstick, would add on time and worry which I never became accustomed to.
Also, I’m cheap. I wait until the soles on my shoes are completely worn before I get new shoes, I have a wallet instead of a purse or a bag, and I save my pennies so I can buy books and travel to my adventurer’s heart content. Cosmetics aren’t something that I consider my money worth spending on, even though they are probably overpriced, as the average woman spends $15,000 on makeup over her lifetime. Even if makeup was cheaper I would still skip out on it, preferring to spend my money elsewhere, perhaps on handmade soaps or body lotions.
So, I don’t wear makeup. When the “#nomakeup” tag started appearing on Instagram, I thought it was awesome, essentially because it was empowering for the women who participated in it. But I certainly don’t think less of women who wear makeup, or think I am better because I don’t. Anyone should be able to do anything to their own bodies (as long as it isn’t something harmful) if it causes them to feel more beautiful, more powerful, more confident. But, I’m not one of them, and my naked face makes me feel more beautiful than any cosmetic possibly could.
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