Everyone knows that social media contributes to a warped perspective of body image and beauty, so I won’t bore you with that. Instead of treading the beaten track, I thought I’d try something slightly out of my comfort zone and share it with the internet, and challenge myself to go a week without makeup. I like to think I’m somewhere in the middle of the make-up spectrum, in that I’m neither a heavy user nor a natural skin advocate. This was not always the case, with my once rigorous routine of hair and makeup in the morning having dwindled since starting uni. I have been known to go to Sainsbury’s in my pyjamas with no shame, but, needless to say, the week ahead was most definitely more challenging than I had previously thought.
DAY 1: THE PRESENTATION
No one needs to dress to the nines for a uni presentation, although some people’s lecture-wear dedication really does astound me. We all know those people who arrive looking like they have 18th Century Literature at 10 and Milan Fashion Week at 12, while I’m struggling to make it in on time. There’s no need to look that good, but understandably, no-one wants to look their worst when they walk into a room of 100 people.
To kick off the week, I went full force and didn’t wear a scrap of makeup. I gave my part of a presentation (which went pretty smoothly) and drifted back to my seat, with the focus remaining, luckily, on the next speaker. This wasn’t too bad.
DAY 2: NEWSDAY
So, as a Journalism student, I have to participate in what my uni calls ‘newsdays’. This is effectively where we all pretend for the day we are actual reporters/page designers/ editors/photographers and produce an end product as a team whether it be a newspaper or magazine. Think of The Apprentice but without the getting fired bit. For these days, we are instructed to dress smart in work attire and look presentable. Without makeup, I certainly did not feel this way and I couldn’t wait to get out of there. In my own head, I felt as though I wasn’t presenting myself at my best and looked slobbish as a result. Not the best second day.
DAY 3: ”OUT-OUT”
Surprisingly, this was probably my favourite day. Despite feeling underwhelming in the face department I felt rather well dressed and had a great time. The best bit about friends and pub and a few jaeger bombs is that you laugh, don’t look in the mirror and forget what you’re doing anyway. Until the next morning that is… Yes, I may have felt a slight inkling that I was the ugly duckling, but because nobody made me feel this way and I started to forget, it was no longer a thing. This may have been different had there been an abundance of Instagram photos and Snapchat photoshoots coming at me from all directions, but on this occasion, there wasn’t and I didn’t feel conscious at all. And the best part – no need to remove that layer of slap concreted on with setting spray whilst drunk. The idea of a makeup free life was becoming a little less repellant.
DAY 4: DATE NIGHT
I’d just like to add a little disclaimer: although this was a date, it was not a first date and therefore not as scary as it could have been. As the pair of us settled in at a booth in Yo Sushi, I tried my hardest not to drop my guard and appear like I wasn’t taking this seriously. A lot of the time during my week of no makeup I felt lazy and underdressed: I think I had the mentality that if I wasn’t putting the effort in and doing my face, the need to do everything else also didn’t matter. This largely surprised me because I thought I would overcompensate on the outfit and hair areas to compensate for my loss of makeup; which is actually quite sad when I think about it. In regards to the date, we had fun, I forgot I had no makeup, he didn’t mention it and my only real concern was what other people may have thought. I wondered if they thought I looked untidy or maybe even too young.
DAY 5: WORK
Arriving at work is never the best feeling in the world, but today it was more than a little worse. I found people often mistook me for the pub owner and were shocked (sometimes to the point of rudeness) when I told them I was actually 19. I decided to take this as a compliment to my experience and not a hit to my knackered skin. Regardless, it put me in a bad mood.
DAY 6: SHOPPING WITH FRIENDS
Tramp. I could feel it whispered all around me, as shoppers caught sight of me. Every time I saw myself in a mirror or window, I readily agreed with them. I felt unmotivated, far from pretty and like I needed to go home and change. I pulled, stretched, poked and squeezed my face so much it actually made everything a lot worse. I learned that it was best to just leave it (not that I hadn’t heard that before and chosen to ignore it lol). I also reminded myself that I must book that eyebrow wax and make a more conscious effort to exfoliate. I can’t lie, feeling like a plain Jane 24/7 was really starting to get to me.
DAY 7: PUBLIC TRANSPORT
I’ll admit, getting on the tram sans makeup doesn’t exactly warrant the Victoria Cross. However, it’s never nice feeling unattractive and people that stare on public transport really don’t help either. I decided to take and upload a selfie from the confines of said tram. The nice comments helped; “you look no different!”, “Beautiful with and without <3”. It’s amazing how easily people are willing to lie, but ohhh did I love them for it.
Something to take from this is that I’m clearly more self-conscious about my appearance than I once believed. Whilst I can pretend that I don’t need makeup to feel good about myself, I would be partly lying. Yes, I may have been able to get on with my day to day business and no, I didn’t cry about it, but some of it really, really sucked. It’s worth trying this yourself, as you discover confidence in places you wouldn’t have expected, but it’s a harder thing to undertake than most would have thought.