Once upon a time, when our world wasn't in isolation (remember those days?), I would wake up, eat breakfast, get dressed, straighten my hair, do my makeup, and go to work. In fact, if you swap work with school, it's a routine I've practiced for the past 10-plus years of my life. Sure, there'd be days I'd skip the flat iron, and there were certain AM classes I was not putting on makeup for, but you get the gist. Almost every day for the last decade I've looked at a done-up version of myself in the mirror, and still thought I had a healthy relationship with my bare skin. After all, I didn't need makeup. I just preferred it — or at least, that's what I'd tell myself.
Makeup gave me confidence. From the compliments like "you have such pretty eyes" to "wow, your skin is glowing" (cough, thank you highlighter and setting spray, cough), I have experienced firsthand the power of a full face. In high school, I was dependent on it. Whether it was to hide my terrible acne or to bronze my face like a Cheeto, I used to think, "god, I can't imagine showing someone how I look without it." In college, I loosened up a bit, because A) my skin cleared and B) no one went to morning classes looking good (it's like you were uncool if you tried).
But in baring my makeup-free skin came the "she's pretty but, have you seen her without makeup?" comments from other students and even "friends." Don't get me wrong, I wasn't the only girl in school hearing these insults. We would talk about how it didn't phase us, how the people who said it were lacking confidence themselves, and how we were strong enough to look past it. We comforted each other, but if I'm being honest with myself, I was never truly confident in my own skin.
"It took a global pandemic for me to gain the confidence I needed in my makeup-free skin."
It took a global pandemic for me to gain the confidence I needed in my makeup-free skin, and I wish that was an exaggeration. My morning routine, the same one I've done for 10-plus years, has totally flipped upside down. I no longer need to pick out an outfit and do my hair and makeup anymore — who am I seeing? My only requirement is to log on to my computer and get to work, and my natural hair and bare face is perfectly suitable for a quick conference call. My new "normal" is undone hair, bare-skin, and a most-likely-in-sweats version of myself that high school me would shudder at. It was different at first, but in looking at a bare face version of myself every day, I've come to accept my sun-damaged skin (the spots look like freckles), dull lips (they get dark when I eat something cold, who knew?), and not so dramatic eyes (they look like normal eyes now, which is totally OK) — AKA, all my insecurities — for what they are.
Does this mean I'll go back to work makeup-free? Probably not. I still love makeup and miss my daily routine. However, I now have a new outlook on my non-glammed-up face, and that version is beautiful too.