Stop Wearing Makeup: A Crash Course in Self Love

Five years ago I stopped wearing makeup. Yep, you read that right. Being makeup-free is a part of my life that I rarely think about these days, but there was a time when I would have called you crazy if you’d told me that someday I would ditch makeup entirely.

I used to wear makeup every single time I left the house, because I honestly felt like I needed it to look presentable. I believed that any blemish was unattractive and unacceptable, like I was less of a human being without covering my face with products. So today I’m here to tell you that when you stop wearing makeup it is a crash course in self love (and that is beautiful).

I won’t lie- I fell into a makeup free life accidentally, and it was all thanks to a month when I found myself broke and living in a cheap apartment with a TINY bathroom.

I had just spent all of my meager savings moving to a new city and securing an apartment that had just one tiny, cloudy mirror over the bathroom sink.

I had no furniture so I could not afford to spend money on something as trivial as a mirror. Plus the bathroom was tiny, ugly, and dark, so I didn’t enjoy spending any extra time in there.

While this may sound pretty depressing it was such a blessing in disguise. The first week or so in the new apartment I managed to apply basic makeup using the compact mirror that housed my face powder, but I quickly found this to be a huge pain in the ass. So, in a fit of frustration, I basically said “f**k it”, and decided I would stop wearing makeup until I bought a decent mirror for my bedroom.

I actually made this decision because I was completely overwhelmed with my life at that moment, and definitely not with any intention to change my habits permanently.

The first few days without makeup felt…weird, scary, I felt exposed. I also quickly realized that people did not seem to notice that I wasn’t wearing makeup. Strangers didn’t stare at my naked face, I went to a job interview sans makeup (and got the job), and before long I actually stopped thinking about the fact that I had no makeup on.

This lack of makeup was paired with the fact that I was no longer looking at myself in the mirror, because I no longer had a decent mirror. I never realized how much of my time was spent staring at my own reflection until there was no mirror around for me to look in!

After a few weeks I realized that I could afford a mirror! But did I want one? This was the real turning point.

Before rushing out to purchase a big, full-length mirror I stopped to reflect on the previous month, and what I realized blew my mind. After a month without wearing makeup, and without looking in the mirror, I genuinely liked myself more than I had in a very, very long time.

When I had mirrors all over my house I obsessively stared at myself, critiqued myself, and I spent an enormous amount of my time trying to improve my physical appearance.

In that month without mirrors everywhere, and without wearing makeup, I paid so much more attention to my non-physical traits. I was excelling in my new job, I had quickly made several new friends, and I was in the beginning of a wonderful romantic relationship.

My life was the best it had ever been, and it all happened without the aid of makeup. This was such a huge, eye-opening moment for me- wearing makeup every day was not necessary, it didn’t change the way people saw me, and it may have actually been masking my true self all along.

I decided not to buy a mirror. I decided that I was going to continue the experiment, now that I was aware of the huge benefits, and see what happened.

A super cool change that occurred over the first few months of this experiment was the fact that when I did occasionally see my reflection in a mirror, I loved what I saw….it was like taking a break from mirrors and makeup allowed me to see how beautiful I actually was. Once again- my mind was blown.

So I continued my life, sans makeup, for the next year. I checked in with myself occasionally: Was this still what I wanted? Did I still feel good? And the answer was a resounding yes!

I was learning to love myself in a very honest, deep way- a way that I’m not sure would have been possible if I had never ditched my daily makeup routine.

Now I want to be clear- this post is not a criticism of women who wear makeup. Everyone is different, and just because I used makeup in a really unhealthy way, doesn’t mean that everyone does! There are plenty of women for whom makeup is an art, and a form of self-expression.

I also know that there are plenty of women out there who are wearing makeup on a daily basis because they feel they have to. If you can relate to that feeling then this post is for you because, as it turns out, you really, truly don’t have to wear makeup.

Makeup will not get people to accept you, love you, or appreciate you, and the flip side of that is that you do not have to wear makeup in order to be accepted, loved, or appreciated.

The truth is, I found that I had an easier time meeting new people when I stopped wearing makeup.

I’m still not sure what caused this change. Was I feeling more confident so I was quicker to chat with strangers? Did my lack of makeup make me more approachable to new people?

Again, I can’t say for sure what did it, but I definitely noticed that I met more people more easily when I ditched makeup, AND I’ve found that the people I meet seem to warm up to me pretty quickly.

The incredible side effect here is that I find myself making new friends far more easily than I ever did back in my makeup wearing days!

How to Stop Wearing Makeup

Okay, so if you’re convinced and want to give this no-makeup thing a try here are some basic steps to get you started:

If it’s easier, reduce the makeup you wear first

(if you just want to go cold turkey right away you can skip to the next step!)

Ditching makeup can feel really scary when you’re used to wearing it all the time. Trust me, I remember that feeling. It may be easier to start by eliminating most of your makeup first. Maybe you only where mascara, powder, and blush for a week. This will be a nice stepping stone to completely eliminating makeup.

Cover your mirrors

I really believe that the inability to stare in the mirror made it MUCH easier for me to ditch my daily makeup. To replicate this, cover your mirrors with sheets, towels, tapestries for at least your first week without makeup. This will help to keep you from evaluating and critiquing your bare face.

Don’t mention the change to a lot of people

I remember Face-timing with a friend when I first ditched makeup. I immediately told her that I wasn’t wearing makeup- and went into a long-winded explanation of why. Her response? “Okay, cool.”

In other words, no one but you cares if you wear makeup, so there’s no need to explain to everyone around you why you’ve stopped wearing makeup.

You may feel the urge to explain, because you may feel that everyone is wondering why you look different. The truth is, most people won’t even notice. Seriously.

I know it’s hard to believe, but most people are way too caught up in their own lives and minds to notice small changes in a coworker’s appearance.

Most importantly, by not mentioning the change, you will get the chance to see how people naturally react (or, in most cases, don’t react) to your lack of makeup!

Go without makeup for at least one full month

The first month of quitting any habit is the most difficult, and if you don’t give the makeup-free life at least a month, you probably won’t get a chance to fully experience the benefits of ditching daily makeup.

If it’s easier, you may want to keep your mirrors covered for the full month. I suspect by the end of the month you will see yourself very differently (in a good way)!

You can do this! Courage comes in many forms, so be brave, stop wearing makeup, and get an incredible crash course in self love.

There are lots of ways to be brave and change your life. Read about our leap into full time travel, or check out my post about the time I went to Burning Man all by myself!

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5 thoughts on “Stop Wearing Makeup: A Crash Course in Self Love”

  1. These kinds of articles are very silly and sad for us girls with bad skin. I have had bad acne for my whole life which then developed into bad rosacea or exzema (the doctors can’t figure it out so no cure for me). Without makeup I look insane and people ask me if I’m okay. Literally I have heard "OMG your skin!" In a bad way. When I don’t wear makeup. Keep on leaving your beautiful skin bare and those of us with terrible skin will continue to try our best to look like you without makeup.

  2. Hi Cara! I definitely understand that there are medical conditions that make it difficult for some people to go makeup-free. Even men with bad rosacea often use makeup!

    This post is absolutely targeted towards the average woman who is not suffering from a medical condition that alters their appearance, and I apologize if it was an uncomfortable read for you.

  3. Thank you for your bravery and honesty. I am away alone at a mountain resort this weekend and realized I went through an uncomfortable debate with myself about not wearing makeup to go pickup breakfast at the little restaurant here. Today I have been asking myself… Where did this come from? Who cares if I am seen with no makeup! It has just been a regular part of my morning routine (and I actually have fun putting it on) so I never really go places without it, although I am completely comfortable at home in front of my family bare faced. I was very happy to find your article as this morning made me realize I am using it in a way that does not serve me if I feel outlandish for not covering my face with a bunch of products to go outside. Thank you!

  4. Hi Sarah. Thank you so much for the kind comment. I can totally relate to your experience, and I’m so glad the article was helpful 🙂

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