Would you stop using makeup for a month? This woman did.
Some of the men in our lives use November to grow mustaches or ditch razors. Some do it just for fun, and others do it to raise awareness about health problems.
What's a woman to do? A friend of mine who works at the paper took on a bold challenge of her own for that month: She didn't wear makeup.
You may remember Times staffer Stephanie Bolling from my recent post about Stitch Fix. She decided to eschew makeup for her own reasons, though there's also a No Makeup November cause with Christian roots that encourages women to prioritize natural and inner beauty.
I had to know if she made it through the entire month. I thought she looked great when I saw her, but I wondered if she was insecure or if her coworkers noticed. How did she handle days when a blemish stopped by for a visit?
We turned our email exchange into a Q&A, and I think you will really enjoy it. Read our chat, and tell me in the comments: Would you go without makeup for a month -- or longer?
Why did you decide to do this?
I think it stemmed from guys (and some gals) really getting into No Shave November/Movember, which got me thinking about beards as a sort of cover up. Most women "cover up" everyday by wearing some degree of makeup while (most) men don't. Why not be equal in that regard? Show myself as I am as a challenge, but also see how others respond, or if they even notice.
What's your normal makeup routine? What products did you miss the most?
Eyeliner is my crutch. Take all my cosmetics away, but leave me my Fluidline!. I have a habit of matching my eye shadow or top lid eyeliner with my outfit. It's part of my signature style. Seeing my eyes naked felt so vulnerable.
Did you tell people what you were doing, or did you let them notice on their own? How many people noticed and took the next step to ask you about what was different?
Within the first week, I made a point of mentioning it in conversations, and making jokes as a self-conscious way of excusing or acknowledging my less comely appearance. I preempted my boss the day before so he wouldn't be surprised if I looked drastically different. I'd throw it out later in the month when I met new people and had been talking for a while. Surprisingly, only one coworker said anything, and he just mentioned there was something different about me, in the eye area and he couldn't put his finger on it. My friends, being good friends, would sometimes say that I looked pretty without makeup on.
Do you think someone who wears more makeup could pull this off?
Absolutely. Upon telling a friend I was planning on doing this, her response was, "Well, you're pretty so you can pull it off." Which, I felt was a stigma among women. She is very pretty herself, and I've seen her plenty without makeup, but she wasn't ready or confident enough to let go of her security blanket of eyebrow pencils and powder. Once you challenge yourself and get through the first hurdles, you learn to love and accept your face as is. That could be valuable for someone who wears more makeup.
Did you go all 30 days without a stitch of makeup -- not even concealer? What part of your beauty regimen did you keep?
OK. I USED CONCEALER ONCE! I've have this very annoying pimple that really just won't go away. It was Thanksgiving and I hadn't seen some of my family in a while, so I put some dabs of concealer over it. That was it. A complete 30 days without eyeliner, eye shadow, foundation, powder or lip gloss (chapstick was allowed). I continued plucking my eyebrows and washing my face but, both infrequently since there was less gunk on and frankly, I wasn't looking at my eyes closely to notice needed maintenance.
Did you document your natural look, like with a journal or your iPhone?
No, but I should have come to think of it.
How did you feel? Did you have a low and high point with your self-confidence?
I had difficulty the first week. I was self-conscious, over compensating with fun outfits, excusing my appearance if the conversation allowed. But I forgot about it as time went on. Turns out the opposite sex doesn't care as much as we thought, and as I warmed up to el naturale, things just felt normal (except when I wore turquoise and quelling the urge to lather my lids the same shade ensued). High point: A gay friend overheard me talking to a girl friend about the no makeup thing and he suddenly turned me around exclaimed, "Wait...you're not wearing any makeup?" Which I replied no, I'm not. "Oh my god, you look really good!" So yeah, compliments really lend confidence.
Now that you are wearing makeup again, are you doing anything different? Going with less?
Honestly, I seldom wear foundation and lipstick. It's all the eye allure for me. I attended a birthday party on Dec. 1 and only put on eyeliner (sweet, sweet Fluidline, we meet again). It looked weird. Unnatural. But I went with it. Since I deprived myself the fun of eye makeup and outfit coordination for 30 days, I've been indulging this week. Each morning so far, I've considered going without, but haven't yet. I might try to incorporate one day a week, maybe, "No Makeup Monday." I mean, who likes Mondays anyway. Might as well.
Any other comments? Kudos to you for sticking it out.
Thanks! I'd say the biggest perks to not wearing makeup are saving time and money. I shaved five to 10 minutes off my morning routine. Plus, I refrained from venturing the cosmetic aisles and stores.
My friend Lynne visited in September. She wore light makeup before, but I noticed absolutely none on the trip. I inquired and she stated that her new theory was, "why lie?" Seeing her face as is when you meet her allows for no surprises, no facades. I liked that approach. In a modern world where women so often manufacture an appearance and let the idea of image steal their true, natural identity and beauty, it's refreshing to come as you are.