Another month, another challenge for Georgina Radford. We all know the struggles of wearing makeup and often wish that society wouldn’t give the impression that we have to plaster our faces with it. Well, Georgina went makeup-free for a month and shares her experience with our SpaLife readers.

Let me just start by saying that I’ve never been one of those girls blessed with perfect skin. All throughout secondary school, the poor condition of my skin was a constant anxiety – an anxiety that I masked with makeup.

While many people find makeup a fun way to express themselves, I have always viewed it as a massive chore. Through all the hassle of having to buy and apply foundations, concealers, powders, primers, mascaras etc. (the never-ending list), I still looked like crap.

Rather than a source of empowerment, makeup became a hindrance to my self-esteem. I’d constantly compare my makeup to other peoples. Was I wearing too much? Was I wearing too little? Why did mine always look like it was practically sliding off my face?

For the entirety of February, I ditched the makeup bag, as both a low-key protest to the effort that I felt pressured to undertake each morning, but also to expose the insecurities that wearing makeup every day can cause. Here is what I learnt from a month of being bare-faced.

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Photo credit: Amanda Dalbjorn

Starting a skincare routine

With my skin being on constant display, I followed a strict routine to keep it looking as presentable as possible. This meant cleansing, exfoliating and moisturising my face every day – a habit I have always struggled to implement into my daily routine. Without the time pressure of having to put makeup on however, I managed to make the skincare routine stick – a feat I never thought I’d be able to accomplish.

My daily routine included:

  1. Cleansing and exfoliating using an electrical face brush with ‘Clean & Clear Daily Face Scrub’.
  2. Spraying Lush’s ‘Tea Tree Water’ to prevent any future breakouts and tone my skin.
  3. Moisturising with Nivea’s ‘Soft Moisturising Cream’.

Personally, the cost wasn’t an issue during this challenge as I already had all of these items – I just never bothered to use them. Surprisingly, each product has lasted me a long time; I estimate that I’ll get at least another few months use out of them before I will have to replace them.

It definitely costs me more to buy makeup as it’s never a case of just replacing what you already have; there’s always a new shade of lipstick you can’t resist, or a foundation that you’re convinced might finally suit your skin type (yet never does).

Although my skin is still far from perfect, it definitely looks clearer and brighter than it did initially.

Makeup as a professional necessity?

During the first half of February, we had employability workshops – the most significant of these included talks from potential employers, giving us an all-important opportunity to network. As I sat in the lecture hall, it suddenly dawned on me that I wasn’t wearing any makeup.

My skin at this point was badly reacting to not having makeup; it was blotchy and discoloured, with a sprinkling of acne scars and spots. I suddenly became anxious that these professionals might have interpreted my lack of makeup as lack of effort, meaning that I was lazy in my work performance – not the ideal candidate for employment. After much umming and ahhing, I managed to dissuade myself from talking to the speakers.

This, over everything else, shocked me the most. I had never fully considered makeup as an important factor when it comes to employability, or at least, never thought I had. It made me question if my fears of being makeup-free were grounded in anxiety or whether there was some basis of truth to this preconception I didn’t know I had.

Just looking at the statistics given in an article by the Telegraph seems to suggest the latter, with 61% of company executives admitting that not wearing makeup would have a detrimental effect on the woman’s promotional prospects. Personally, I find this outright appalling – there should not be an expectation for women to wear makeup within the workplace, particularly if this means that my future job prospects lie entirely within my makeup bag.

However, it is also worth considering that wearing too much makeup can be just as damaging to a women’s career. The Telegraph released another feature that discussed this issue which divulged the results of a study by Abertay University: it showed that “women who were wearing more ‘glamorous’ looks were deemed less trustworthy, suggesting there is a makeup line which, when crossed, damages professionalism.”

This new level of discrimination is totally unreasonable; women are seemingly forever aiming and struggling to have the perfect appearance. I believe merit should come from performance, not appearance.

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Photo credit: Brooke Lark

Feeling comfortable in my own skin

At the beginning of the month, I definitely could not have said that I felt comfortable in my skin. I felt incredibly uncomfortable and was hyper-aware of how I looked. At one point I felt so self-conscious that I actively avoided looking at the mirrors in toilets, lest I reminded myself of my blotchy complexion.

It’s strange to say that now I feel like I actually look better without makeup. After a solid month of looking at a bare-face, wearing makeup just looks odd. Now I’m quite content to wander around campus makeup-free and not give a damn!

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Photo credit: Charisse Kenion

Conclusion

After a month of banishing makeup, I’m happy to say that I feel no strong urge to start slapping the foundation back on. For now, at least, I don’t need to wear makeup – I’m lucky enough to say there is no pressure in my current part-time job to wear it and there seems very little point when most of my day at university is spent rubbing my eyes from staring at a book or a computer for too long.

That’s not to say that this should be the opinion of everyone. Plenty of people use makeup as a form of expression – much like clothes; it’s used in a way to showcase personality. Alternatively, people wear makeup like armour; it gives them confidence and helps them to routinely start their day.

It should be a choice, not an expectation. Problems arise when people become dependent on makeup, to the point that they can’t function without it. Or worse yet, when women are expected and pressured to wear makeup.

Words by Georgina Radford
Featured Image Photo Credit: Camila Cordeiro

 

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