Every morning of secondary school, I rose from slumber and ate breakfast my overworked and underpaid momma prepared. Then I headed for the bathroom where I would shower, washing my hair only to dry and iron out its natural wave. After every bit of me was sufficiently straightened and buttoned up, I’d begin to paint my face for the day.
At university, I did away with ironing and began to wash my hair less often. Though I wanted to own labels like “hippy” and “natural” and even “free birdy,” I still marked my face with a sufficient amount of war paint. Not to hide anything, as I was lucky enough to have unmarked skin. For I carried no bags under my eyes regardless of how I slept. And no lines signaled how much I laughed or batted my eyes just yet.
For the past five years, I have tried a number of cure-all cosmetics and various war paint to combat pock marks from my pregnancy and to hide the dark circles forever present ’round my grey eyes that see much more than I’d ever thought possible at this interval in life.
My thirty year old face is just different and though I accept that, I still love to learn and experiment in all facets of life. Recently, I underwent my first chemical peel (which I will address in another post and link to here). And, oh did my inquisitive brain veer sharply after this treatment in the way I perceive myself. See, I could not use any war paint after the chemical process. For a week, I welcomed the change in my routine. I forgo makeup in warmer months, but never entirely, never days on end, and never consciously.
Like most new mommas, I hadn’t the time to even look at my face, let alone fret over the amount of war paint applied. But ditching each and every cosmetic? This was a new concept. A new me.
Admittedly, I have never been creative with paint strokes on my face, and often joke that my idea of contouring is to apply a forwards and backwards number “3” shape on each cheek and consider myself fancy. Of course, war paint can be so fun and enticing, and I very much consider it an art form. (If you do not, I urge you to check out various hashtags on social media, particularly Instagram and YouTube, where a number of talented artists create murals and more on canvases of skin that I could never envision, let alone duplicate. Some makeup artists could not and should not be duplicated as this is their unique craft, their unique interpretations–and what a true gift they are to behold. I scroll through Instagram in awe of varying creations within this art form that uses only framed faces and war paint.)
And so, after a week of no makeup, I decided to go a full ten days without products to really see myself in all forms of light, at all hours of the day. Honestly, I could not even recall what I truly looked like without war paint on my blonde lashes, my light brow, my pale cheeks.
What I learned was pretty exceptional. I learned to be sweeter to myself, for this is the only face I will ever know as intimately. Though I look upon my son’s face as he sleeps, as he wakes, as he goes about his day, there will come a time when I am not allowed to gaze as fondly or as long as I would like–as long as I do now. Because, well that would just be creepy and his future counterpart would probably not appreciate it.
I learned of my skin’s texture and that it needs to breathe, uninterrupted by elixirs and products and paint, paint, paint. I cannot say that I have been less prone to breakouts, but the skin irritations I have had seem to disappear quicker. I recall hearing of someone famous claiming to rest her face from the likes of paint for two days each week, and I can attest to the appearance of such a routine now. My face is definitely thanking me.
I learned that maybe I am as naturally driven as I had longed to be at university. For I appreciate my skin, my body, and all that it has done for me and for my babe throughout these adult phases.
I learned that I am taking better care of my skin as I now have time in my routine to allot to proper lotion application. Without fine tuning my eye liner and bronzer, I can allow my spf and lotion to dry. Maybe a serum or scrub will find its way into my daily lineup, now.
I learned that in time, others get used to seeing you without makeup and will start to recognize the real you. At first, I received comments like, “Are you tired? You look exhausted.” But after a week without under eye concealer and brighteners, others as well as myself are starting to truly see me and not products on products. My blonde lashes are quite long and I do not mind them as much anymore. And these little glimpses into my self perception will only improve as I adjust my lens within the mirror. The more and more I will start to recognize myself and what truly matters in my day to day.
Without making this list more tedious to pilfer through, I will stop here. I am still learning what it means to be beautiful on the outside, and what it means to be my own true self.
Could you, would you ever forgo makeup for a specific amount of time? What product, what brand of war paint, could you never live without?
P.S. Stay tuned this week for a reveal of epic sincerity ’round this theme!