I’m very on-trend. I’m hitting the zeitgeist. Everyone’s talking about it. Adele’s done it, and there’s even the beginnings of a backlash against Alicia Keyes for doing it.
For the past two months I’ve been appearing in public with no make-up. None. Not so much as a slick of glossy lip-balm.
Now bear in mind I am very, very attached to my make-up. I’ve not so much as stepped out of the house without a sweep of eyeliner and three layers of mascara since about 1987. There isn’t a brand of eco-friendly illuminating tinted moisturiser that I’ve not tried. I love peach-toned blushers, and own a gorgeous range of vegan angled brushes for just the right contouring effect on my cheekbones. I got stupidly excited when Urban Decay released their Naked3 palette.
Like a lot of women, I don’t feel dressed without a touch of make-up — according to a 2011 poll, most of us feel more stressed by the idea of going to work bare-faced than by a first date or job interview, and that’s no surprise to me. I’ve probably spent thousands of pounds on cosmetics over the past 30 years — and enjoyed it all.
You get the picture — I love a bit of slap.
But recently I’ve been wondering why.
The two men in my life – my husband and my son—are both bemused by my obsession with cosmetics, and genuinely don’t notice when I wear make-up or not. Annoying, frankly. My son actually thinks I don’t look better, just ‘weird’, when I carefully apply-and-blot three layers of lippy.
So now no make-up is the ‘it’ thing? I didn’t mean to be so darn trendy. It happened accidentally. Here’s how.
I got a stye on my upper eyelid at the start of the summer holidays. I’ve never had one before; it was very sore, red and swollen — not a good look. Not being able to wear my usual make-up added insult to injury. Of course people were very sympathetic. What I wasn’t expecting was how defensive I felt about my make-up-free state. I found myself making hurried apologetic noises, and consequently drew attention to my swollen eye — often before people had noticed it.
Then we went on holiday, and like a lot of people I don’t bother much when I’m away — too much hassle with the panda-eyes and anyway, no-one knows me. I took the bare essentials with me just in case I felt I needed to ‘look my best’ while we were away, or if we visited friends on our travels, but in fact managed the whole time make-upless.
I thought I’d crumble going back into work. After the first scary day, and a couple of furtive, ‘Do I look alright?’ conversations with well-chosen individuals, I’ve stopped thinking about it all the time.
True, the residue of the summer tan helped — the natural dewy-glow look — and restful, stress-free time off has probably made the usual under-eye concealer redundant. But actually, I don’t think anyone has really noticed anything different.
This isn’t me trying to make a statement, or flick a middle finger at the cosmetic industry, but I do feel a certain sense of liberation. I’m not blessed with perfect skin, and my eyelashes are not dark and lustrous. But I’ve got used to seeing my face without make-up, and it’s ok. In fact, I quite like it. And no-one’s running away, or treating me as incompetent. Plus, I love having an extra ten minutes in the mornings.
So will I go back to make-up? I’m not sure. Like a newly-reformed smoker, I’m not throwing away the tools of my old habit quite yet. It’s only September. Come February, when my skin’s looking grey and dulled by an English winter, I may feel differently. But for now, I’m with Alicia and Adele. This is the new me!