This article was written by Ellie Fielding. Here she shares her experience of wearing less makeup and regaining her confidence.
After years of hiding behind a protective wall of makeup, I am finally able to look at myself barefaced in the mirror and love what I see.
I have had a fascination with makeup since I can remember. I would sit and watch my mum getting ready in awe and delight, excited for the day I was allowed to play around with makeup too. Often, I would ask for barbie makeup kits for my birthday and the epitome of all gen z toys – the lip-gloss flip phone. I started wearing makeup in year eight and from then on, I was hooked.
Makeup in an online world
By 2015 the makeup world exploded on social media and YouTube, and I bought every dupe of every product that Nikkie Tutorials and Jaclyn Hill put on their face. Which looking back on was a horrible idea, but unfortunately all I could afford as a sixth former. I spent hours watching videos and carefully recreating what I saw on my screen. By my first year of university, I had constructed a whole new face using the tools in my makeup bag. I became very skilled, and even started a makeup Instagram account where I would spend hours creating the perfect cut crease to share with my followers.
When Instagram turns into reality
It wasn’t just Instagram that required three hours of application. I got so used to a wing and contour that my everyday routine took just as long. When I took my makeup off at the end of the day, I hated what I saw in the mirror. My face just looked incomplete, boring and full of flaws that were easily correctable in my mind with some concealer.
I would spend so long analysing my face in the mirror when getting ready that I noticed things that I now realise nobody else could see – like how my left eyebrow was slightly higher than my right, or the shape of my jaw or even my wonky cupids bow.
Don’t get me wrong, I tried to do natural makeup from time to time but it always escalated. It would start off with just a little concealer. After applying it I realised how white my face looked so I’d then add a bit of bronzer, “But wait, that’s not right.” I would think. So, I would add some blush. But then I’d have too much on my face and nothing on my eyes and well, you get the picture.
Becoming too critical and fixated on every detail
It got to such a point that I couldn’t even take the bins out without a full face or go to my 9 am lecture without the perfect eyeshadow look– even though everyone around me was sat in pyjamas with a blanket wrapped around them, half asleep holding a coffee cup. Sometimes I’d put makeup on when I didn’t have anywhere to go at all, I just didn’t like how I looked. And don’t even get me started on going out clubbing – not only would I spend up to four hours getting ready, but I never took my makeup off when I got back, in case my flatmates saw me in the morning. That’s right, I would wear the previous night’s makeup on the following morning.
As a young girl growing up in a society that shoves body dysmorphia down your throat, naturally I developed many insecurities when it came to my body. But I never hated my face. Actually, I quite liked it. I never expected that my teenage years would bring such a strange new hatred for something I never had a problem with.
I would always dismiss these developing insecurities and say, “Honestly I just have a face meant for makeup.” And I really believed that. To me, with my large eyelids and soft jawline, makeup was just cheap plastic surgery and who in the hell didn’t want that when all you can see is a flawless Kate Moss on the cover of every teen magazine.
The impact of long term insecurities
Sydney sims, unsplash
Unfortunately, wearing makeup so often for that long has both terrible mental disadvantages and physical ones too. My skin was absolutely butchered. As a young teen, my face had never even met a spot, suddenly it was introduced to a whole army of them on a very dry battlefield.
Of course, it didn’t help that I knew absolutely nothing about skincare. I didn’t know at the time, but it was more than just spots, I had really damaged my skin in so many ways. Which of course made my insecurities spiral out into a whirlwind of dysmorphia and depression.
Trying out a new approach during lockdown
Fast-forward to 2020. What a year. A worldwide pandemic has led to quarantines and lockdowns, that have forced people to stay inside and work from home. Turns out, for me that wasn’t such a bad idea. I’ve graduated, moved in with my amazing boyfriend – who apparently loves me without makeup – and suddenly had time to work on myself. There really hasn’t been a reason to put makeup on.
At first, it’s hard to put down the makeup brush and I didn’t do it overnight. Gradually I’d wear less and less every day until I just didn’t feel the need to put any on. I’ll be honest I didn’t love it, but I also wasn’t really focusing on it. I decided to put my attention elsewhere like work and my mental health.
Shifting the focus from makeup to skincare
I also happened to stumble upon a couple of great skincare enthusiasts on YouTube that opened my eyes to a whole new world. Rather than spending hours watching makeup tutorials, I spent hours watching skincare videos. I bought myself a bunch of new products to help clear my skin and reverse three years of never moisturising and finally, my skin is starting to get better.
It’s now been months of no makeup, double cleansing and using a bunch of products I never knew existed and finally, I can look in the mirror and actually like my face naturally. I like my thick eyebrows and soft jaw. It makes me…me. These days if I’m going out, I put a bit of concealer and mascara on and I’m on my way. It’s liberating. Not to mention how much more time I have in the day. I can directly look people in the eye and not even think that they’re silently judging me for uneven eyebrows and if they are, they’re super weird and I don’t care.
A changing perspective for the better
The truth is my reliance on makeup was just creating insecurities I had never had before rather than fixing them like I thought it was. My nose is small and cute with a small ridge in the middle. I’d never hated it before but seeing how nose contour transformed it made me hate what it looked like naturally. Now I realise that ridge is something Ancient Grecian women would have died for and I’ve grown to love it and appreciate it for what it is.
Don’t get me wrong I still love makeup. It’s not just something we use to fix our insecurities but it’s an incredible creative outlet and is now very much a form of art. There is no doubt that we’re in the middle of a makeup revolution right now and if you are like me or are a fellow MUA or makeup enthusiast, stay creative but don’t let your skin and confidence suffer because of it. I can happily say that I’ll still enjoy makeup, it’s how I express my creativity, but I now don’t rely on it and I finally have my confidence back.
Main image by ali-marel-H3n9XUvedXM-unsplash-scaled