One Entity writer explains what happened when she wore no makeup for a year.

A few years ago, I was like so many women who couldn’t stand to see themselves in the morning without makeup.

I wanted to be “beautiful.” I didn’t want to face the tired eyes, red cheeks and dull skin that greeted me as I awoke. I would even go so far as to refuse to look in the mirror before slapping on some foundation, concealer, bronzer, eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara … you know the drill. It didn’t hit me (ironically) until I got a job at Abercrombie & Fitch that I had a dependency on makeup.

Suddenly, I knew it was time for me to love my face again … my real face.

Abercrombie had a specific beauty style, detailed in their “look policy,” which stated that eyeliner was forbidden, lip color should be clear and brightly colored eyeshadow was out of the question. There was an option not to wear makeup at all, and at the time, I thought, “Well if I can’t wear eyeliner, I might as well wear no makeup at all.”

I started reluctantly changing my daily routine, eliminating eyeliner first. It was devastating to see my eyes without that sexy, elegant definition, but I decided not to  stop there. I stopped applying all of my face makeup. I didn’t have any skin problems but I didn’t like that my skin wasn’t completely even in tone. When I stopped wearing mascara, I broke down and cried at my reflection. I didn’t want to go out in public like that, but I soldiered on, and walked out of the door with my real face exposed to the world.

That’s when I noticed a change in the way people were treating me. The construction workers stopped whistling at me when I walked by, and my peers were constantly asking me what was wrong or if I was sick.

I noticed that men stopped looking at me the way that they used to. I thrived on positive attention and compliments, and I wasn’t happy to have all of that validation suddenly vanish overnight. I thought that maybe if I just put on a little bit of mascara, then people would think I was pretty again.  As time went on, I noticed that the positive changes of avoiding makeup far outweighed the negatives.

My eyelashes were growing again without all of that clumpy mascara goop that left them truncated. My skin seemed to even itself out the more I allowed sunshine to warm my face. My eyes looked less tired over time, as I stopped mentally shaming them. I shied away from taking pictures with my perfectly made-up friends, feeling washed out by all the makeup they wore. I made exceptions for special occasions, wearing only the slightest bit of eyeshadow and mascara to weddings or graduations. It was one of the hardest things I’d ever done. But realizing that I was relying on makeup for every aspect of my life made me aware of just how broken I was. I knew that it was partly my own fault, allowing myself to drown completely in all of the glory that was, essentially, being fake.

But how could I not?

The emergence of Instagram, the shaming of celebrities when they don’t wear makeup and the acceptance of beauty standards we are made to emulate has fractured so many more women than just myself. There is an epidemic of makeup dependency bred by media and celebrity culture. We live in a consumer-driven society; one that preys on insecurities to guarantee the sales of countless unnecessary products. I mean, think about how much everything in your makeup bag costs. Insecurity is profitable and falling victim to it will cost you more than just your money.

Apart from saving money, I saved time on the men who were distracted by all the makeup and gave a chance to the ones who actually saw me for the woman I am. I saved time in the morning getting ready – and having never been a morning person, that was priceless. My friends saw that I was much happier, spending less time checking the mirror every couple of hours to see if my makeup was okay and more time enjoying their company. I was even more likely to workout because I had no makeup dripping down my face.

As this social experiment came closer to the end, I grew much happier with the way I looked. People started giving me compliments again and I knew that, this time, they were real. I realized that my looks were all in my head and have found that people really do respond when you exude confidence and self-loving vibes.

Nowadays, I allow myself to go with or without makeup, and it’s the most wonderful and empowering feeling ever.

It takes confidence to feel fierce without that daily fix of eyeliner or some contouring. It took me a year of not wearing any makeup at all and allowing myself to be vulnerable to gain that confidence. However, I think any woman can find confidence. The hardest part is knowing where to look.

Ultimately, the choice is yours as to whether you want to go bare or beat. Just know that you’re fabulous either way.

Edited by Gabrielle Sobel

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