For the past decade, I would have rather been seen in public without clothes on than without my hair and makeup done. That may sound unbelievable, but I've worn only fake eyelashes to a nude beach—on more than one occasion—so believe it. But I've recently found myself reversing this preference, despite my long-standing commitment to painting my face.
This month, I stopped wearing my extravagant, meticulously applied, and yet utterly routine daily makeup. After years of private and public beauty-based fanaticism, going into the world wearing only clothing (how obscene!) now seems just fine to me.
How Makeup Made Me
Before I discuss this strange new transformation (or un-transformation), some background about my affection for taking a heavy hand to my contour brush: dolling myself up makes me feel prepared for life. It masks foul moods and suspicions of personal inefficiency. When I begin my day with a well-painted head, the rest of it, it seems, will also go along with intention, ability, and care on my part. If I make the effort to get my lip liner right, it increases my trust in myself to be just as painstaking in matters of work, friendship, and all of life's other non-cosmetic duties. I feel like myself.
"After a few instances in which I spent my usual hour applying makeup each morning only to have it liquify like a Popsicle spilled on searing concrete, I had to concede defeat."
That self typically wears fake eyelashes, mascara primer (the Lancôme one is egregiously dope; I accept no understudies), mascara, facial primer, blush, contour stick, contour powder, concealer, lip liner, lipstick, plumping lip gloss, eyebrow tint, liquid eyeliner, highlighter, and setting powder. Listing it all, I'm reminded that it takes a Herculean effort and lots of time (and funds) to paint myself into what feels like "efficiency."
Baring It All (Face-Wise, Anyway)
I have the humidity to blame (and ultimately, thank) for my cosmetic self-denial. Normally, I'm happy to make the makeup effort, but the season undoes my work too frequently to justify it. In New York City this brutal and damp July, the weather has been rudely aggressive toward any and all makeup: primers, fixative sprays, and powders are helpless against it. All my normal blushes make me look like I'm overheated, flushed, and/or a little sunburned, and tinted moisturizers, like heat mirages, slide away from my zones upon contact with the thick air.
After a few instances in which I spent my usual hour applying makeup each morning only to have it liquify like a Popsicle spilled on searing concrete, I had to concede defeat. There's only so much time to chase down ice pops on any given day, and I was tired of being pissed off at the sun. I had to find a new method of feeling like myself, the old version having melted.
"I feel unencumbered: I'm not checking to see if a lash has gone akimbo or if my lipstick has become distorted after I drink a soda."
While I expected to feel a bit uneasy with minimal-at-most makeup, I'm seeing, instead, that the lack of it is as outlook-affecting as caking it on. I feel unencumbered: I'm not checking to see if a lash has gone akimbo or if my lipstick has become distorted after I drink a soda. There's less to notice, and so, fewer distractions to crowd out my other concerns. It's nice.
Making It Up as I Go
If I want to induce a jolt of the old makeup-based self-possession I counted on for so many years, I shape my eyebrows, apply two coats of mascara to my upper lashes, and scribble on some lip stain (or opt for a cherry ice pop, which works out about the same). That feels like more than enough, and the wet heat doesn't deign to vanquish so little.
There are other upsides: I'm focusing more on skin care. I've learned that freckles are better seen than hidden, and I like being able to reapply sunscreen without power-washing my skin first. My hair doesn't have to be stick-straight in order to exist on my head! Who knew? Most of all, it's a relief to discover that I still feel like myself, no matter what I've got on my face—a lesson bound to outlast this gross-ass weather.
Thinking of eliminating some of your makeup? Try these barely-there products that are light and airy and won't make you look—or feel—overdone.