The sound of my alarm blared at 6:25 a.m. I rolled out of bed and dragged my feet across my plush white rug, feeling enclosed by my dark walls. The sun had yet to rise, so I turned the light on my makeup mirror to the brightest setting. Just like every other day, I looked into the mirror and examined my face critically. “I can only get better from here,” I assured myself.
I wiped the sleep out of my eyes and began my tedious makeup routine. I began with primer, preparing my face for the transformation I was about to create. Then followed the concealer, foundation, bronzer and highlighter to cover up any imperfections and to intensify my features.
That was the easy part.
Next I was onto the most drawn out part: my mascara routine. I would go on to curl my eyelashes — which can be painful when you’re half asleep and not paying too much attention — then I’d apply eyelash primer. After carefully preparing my eyelashes, I would apply two different types of mascara until they were of acceptable length and thickness. If I was feeling extra fancy, maybe even some eyeliner on my lower line.
I carried on this routine every morning before school. I was obsessed with achieving “the look” — perfectly long eyelashes, perfectly clear skin, perfectly contoured cheekbones. My makeup fed my obsession. I would sit in front of my makeup mirror plucking, dabbing, wiping and rubbing at my face for at least 30 minutes, until it satisfied me.
By 7:10 a.m. I was ready to head to school, battling the paradox of feeling confident and trapped at the same time. Confident in the way I look. Confident that I would be accepted. Yet I was trapped under layers of makeup – trapped under the semblance that makeup had made for me.
Unintentionally, I was using makeup to create a persona for myself. I couldn’t snapchat after school without reapplying mascara. I refused to leave the house without covering up my skin in layers of foundation.
I was so obsessed with trying to impress people, that I didn’t realize the harm I was doing not only to my skin, but to my personality. Ever since social media became a normality, society caused me to subconsciously create a checklist for the way I was supposed to look. I felt the need to put an “X” in every box – achieve the goal of being perfect in every category while pleasing the people around me.
Under all of the layers of makeup hid my bumpy, imperfect skin. I coveted the clear skin many of my close friends flaunted. When I confided in my friends, they shared their secret beauty tip: don’t wear makeup. After persuading me, I caved in and agreed to try it. I would not wear any makeup to school for a week — except for mascara, which I couldn’t force myself to give up — to see if anything changed.
I began the day uncomfortable and scared that people were going to judge or make fun of me. As the day went on, I started receiving compliments on how tan I was – such a small compliment, but big enough to slowly chip away at my insecurities. Those little compliments were what kept me convinced I was on the right track. As time went by, people started pointing out how my skin was getting clearer. My confidence skyrocketed and I no longer felt makeup was a necessity.
I have confidence in my course of action. We don’t need makeup to feel beautiful. We don’t need to impress anybody. If you chose to wear makeup, do it for yourself, do it for fun.
Before this transition, I was the friend in my group that piled on makeup for school. The girl whose makeup routine lasted longer than her shower. The makeup guru that’s blown some bucks on tiny bottles of nude colored cream, just to impress her classmates.
After this transition, people noticed me in a different way. There were comments on how my skin was clearing up. People told me I didn’t need to wear the amount of makeup I had been wearing before. And while that made me flush with embarrassment, I could practically see the newfound confidence radiating out of every —now free— pore in my face.
It was a huge step out of my comfort zone when I no longer hid under all of the product I had for the last seven months. Before, I feared that if I came to school with no makeup on, people would judge me because I didn’t look a certain way.
I still wear mascara and dab on concealer when I breakout or when my face is red, but I am so relieved to have gotten out of the habit of feeling so compelled and obligated to hide behind makeup.
Don’t get me wrong, I love getting ready on a Friday night and seeing the changes I can make to myself. Makeup makes me feel like an artist, there are so many different ways to express myself with it. But it’s important to me, to not only have those extra 30 minutes in the morning to sleep in, but to have the confidence to go to school without my face dressed up. I mean seriously, it’s hard enough to dress yourself at 7:00 a.m.