I rarely wear makeup, mostly because I don’t think I’m very good at applying it. So while my co-worker Erin went makeup-free for a week, I donned a face full of makeup.
I have nothing against makeup, and I’m definitely not trying to make a statement by not wearing it. The reason I usually go makeup-free is mostly because I feel like I’m not good at doing it, and also because I love sleeping and would rather sleep for an extra 30 minutes in the morning than spend that time applying makeup.
For this week of wearing makeup, I wanted to go all out in the makeup department. The only problem was, I wasn’t really sure where to begin. So I decided to head to Sephora to get some ~stuff~.
I wandered the aisles looking totally lost, until, finally, my half-terrified, half-excited look prompted one of the makeup artists to approach me. After I explained to her what I was doing, she was super excited to help me, and ended up giving me a mini-makeover. Though I dropped way too much money, I also left with a look to try and emulate each morning.
4. Here’s what I learned wearing makeup for a week:
5. Day 1: When I learned that people would notice something was different, but wouldn’t be able to figure out what it was.
For the first day, I decided to go big or go home, so I came to work sporting hot pink lipstick, several brown and gold eyeshadows, foundation, bronzer, black eyeliner, mascara, and highlighter… I even filled in my eyebrows! After putting on so many different layers of products, I sort of felt like I was wearing a mask, but figured at this point I had to try and own it.
When I finally worked up the courage to walk into the kitchen after hiding at my desk for the first hour, a few people came over and said something — that’s when I realized how different the reaction would be from guys and girls. Every girl seemed to notice I was wearing makeup, while every guy knew something was different, but couldn’t put his finger on what it was.
My male boss asked if I did something to my hair. Another male co-worker said I looked different, “in a good way,” but it was clear he had no clue what exactly had changed.
But female co-workers immediately commented on my lipstick, eyeliner, or just that I was wearing more makeup in general.
7. I felt the need to mention the experiment as an excuse for why I was wearing makeup.
I quickly realized that when people began to comment on my change in appearance, I would immediately tell them I was doing an experiment for work where I was wearing makeup.
Why couldn’t I just say “thank you” and own the fact that I wanted to put a little extra effort into my look that day? I’m allowed to spend time making myself look pretty, even if it is just to go to work. But for reasons I’m still not entirely sure of, I found myself still feeling a need to justify myself instead of just embracing it.
9. Day 2 (aka the day my phone would only take blurry selfies): When I learned how insanely hard it was going to be to not touch my face all day.
Ladies who wear makeup every day, I don’t know how you do it! Apparently I touch my face all the time, and wearing makeup really made me realize that. All I wanted to do after looking at a computer screen for a few hours was rub my eyes, and remembering I couldn’t because I would smear makeup all over my face was a form of torture.
11. Also, this is the night I learned that coconut oil is a truly amazing makeup remover!
12. Day 3: The day I realized I love sleeping in.
One of the main reasons I usually don’t wear makeup is because I have a love affair with sleeping. I feel totally fine about getting 10 hours of sleep on an average night, and sometimes on the weekends, I marathon sleep.
So having to wake up 30 minutes early was never fun for me.
This became painfully clear on Day 3, when I woke up and wanted nothing more than to crawl back into bed. It took everything in me not to say “fuck it” and go back to bed. But I pushed through because I was doing this experiment and I had to. My sleepiness made it quite clear to me that a little extra beauty sleep is the main reason I end up makeup-free most days.
15. Day 4: When I learned that people get used to you looking a certain way, and they’ll notice any variance from that — whether it’s makeup or something else.
On Day 4, I decided that it was time to spice up my makeup-wearing experiment by also wearing my hair pulled back — something else I never do!
I did this because I figured it was the bravest I could get, forcing my full, made-up face to show without any hair to hide behind.
But ironically, my master plan failed, because on Day 4, no one noticed that I was wearing makeup; everyone just noticed that I had a new hairstyle.
17. Also, a lot of people had no idea I didn’t wear makeup in the first place.
One of my male co-workers who knew I was doing this experiment told me that before this week he didn’t realize I didn’t wear makeup, and if someone had asked him, he would have said I do. He said that now looking at me, he definitely sees a difference, but that neither one is better or worse, just different.
Later that day, while chatting with a female co-worker about what I was doing, she made a comment like, “Well, you usually wear some makeup, like mascara and stuff.” “No,” I corrected her, “I usually wear literally NOTHING. Not one ounce of anything.” My co-worker, who has seen my face five days a week for over a year, was in disbelief at the fact that I don’t wear makeup.
As Erin talked about in her post, I think this is because society has conditioned us to assume the people we see are all wearing makeup — it’s almost expected at this point. I think this is especially true for women who seem to put some extra effort into their appearance, like I do. While I might not wear makeup on a daily basis, I always do my hair and spend the extra time to make sure I feel confident and beautiful in the outfits I wear. People assume that ~those~ types of girls must always wear makeup.
19. Day 5: The day I realized wearing makeup makes me feel more confident, i.e., the day my boyfriend called me bossy.
“Whenever you put on makeup, you get sassy and bossy.”
That’s what my boyfriend told me as we were walking home from dinner on Day 5. I’m sassy by nature, but I think the bossiness and sassiness he was picking up on was actually my heightened confidence.
But this moment wasn’t the first hint that I was more confident in my appearance when I wore makeup. I work for BuzzFeedVideo, so from time to time, I appear in videos, and on that Monday, I was in a Jewish Taste Test video. In the past, my makeup-free face has appeared in a couple of thumbnail images, and I’ve been slightly mortified, but when my made-up face was used for the thumbnail, I was kind of excited about it. A co-worker even emailed me to tell me I looked “amazing,” and instead of getting awkward or trying to come up with some sort of excuse, I simply said, “Thank you!”
I’m still not totally sure how to feel about this. As someone who identities as a non-makeup-wearer, it feels somewhat defeating to admit that makeup might actually make me more confident. Does this mean if I start wearing makeup every day I will become a more confident person, or will the newfound confidence wear off after a few weeks or months? I really don’t know. I think it might not be the makeup, but just giving yourself a little extra time to make yourself feel good in any way — whether that’s putting on makeup, spending extra time doing your hair, getting your brows done, or even getting a massage or a manicure.
21. Day 6: When I realized that women’s reasons for wearing makeup and not wearing makeup are REALLY similar.
… And that the experiment I was doing was more similar to Erin’s than I had ever thought.
I was on the phone with my best friend Victoria talking about women who feel the need to wear makeup vs. women who don’t feel a need to wear makeup, when I had an epiphany.
I think women who don’t wear makeup have an easier time claiming that they are so confident and comfortable in their own skin that they don’t need to wear makeup, while women who always wear makeup can be regarded as insecure or vain.
But in reality, I think that not wearing makeup can be as much of a mask as wearing makeup.
I think a lot of women who don’t wear makeup do so because they don’t feel they are beautiful enough, or worth the time and money that makeup entails. In the same way that women who usually wear makeup feel insecure without it on, women who usually don’t wear makeup, like me, can feel insecure with it on.
Now, I’m a pretty confident gal, but I think my original need to justify wearing makeup for this week proves that I felt in some way insecure about being dolled up, in the same way Erin felt about not being dolled up.
Us makeup-free ladies have more in common with makeup-lovers than I ever would have guessed.
23. Day 7: When I learned that if you feel pretty, you are pretty — makeup or not.
While I’ll probably never be the type of girl who wears makeup on a daily basis, I did come out of this week feeling like makeup isn’t as horrible or irritating to wear as I initially assumed it to be — makeup can be a fun way to express yourself and accentuate your attributes.
But I still feel like my makeup-free face is pretty darn cute. I don’t think I necessarily need to spend a bunch of time and money trying to make something I already like look different, especially when I’m just going to work or to see people who I already feel comfortable and confident around.
Just like anything else, getting dolled up takes some getting used to, and while I don’t see myself showing up to work wearing bright pink lipstick again anytime soon, I do think this experience has opened my eyes to the world of makeup, and I think I’m now more open to wearing some subtle makeup from time to time. Also, if I ever do have the urge to give that hot pink lipstick another go, I’ll know that the world definitely won’t end, and I might even look kind of cute!