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As a 21-year-old female, I want to look good. Everybody does, to some extent. Some people are more concerned about it than others. I used to be quite worried myself, but lately I've started just accepting how I look and appreciating my own features.
I've gone through beauty phases in my life—in seventh grade, I wore the only eye-shadow I owned every day, NYC's blue-eye palate, with a shimmery teal shade on my lids and forest green in the crease. In eighth grade my mother put mascara on me for the first time, and I cried when I saw my reflection. In ninth grade I plucked my eyebrows for the first time. When I left home, I wore eye-shadow and mascara every day, regardless of where I was going.
A couple of months ago I visited my family for a couple of days. I have two younger sisters, ages 17 and 15. Only my youngest sister wears makeup. My other sister, Emily, has the longest and most beautiful eyelashes I've ever seen. She has worn makeup a total of 3 days in her life: my wedding day, her semi-prom, and for a play. I was so jealous of her thick, beautiful eyelashes! All she does is curl them in the morning because she doesn't have the time to do anything else.
That's what caused me to start thinking about why I wore makeup.
I am not super confident, I don't have flawless skin, and I'm don't have particularly striking features. I came to a startling conclusion: the reason I started wearing makeup was because of other people. My mother wore makeup. My friends wore makeup. My teachers wore makeup. In and of itself makeup is not inherently bad, and I'm not blaming anyone for anything, but when I noticed them I figured that if everyone around me was doing it, then maybe I should be too.
I went home, washed off my makeup, and took a hard look at myself in the mirror. This time, without criticism, but simply to notice my face for its good features. I like my eyebrows because they have a beautiful natural shape. I like my nose. I like my freckles.
Next I took a look at the makeup products I owned—eyeshadows, eyeliners, eyebrow pencils, lipsticks, and so on—and threw out anything that I had owned for over 6 months (which is something you should do even if you're not planning on going makeup-free.) Then I looked at things I actually wore, and got rid of what I didn't. I only ever wear mascara, blusher, eyebrow pencil, and concealer. Eye-shadow I wear infrequently. I put all my lipsticks in a Ziploc bag and put it in my bathroom bin at the top shelf of the closet, along with the Vaseline and a curling iron I never use. I had a huge, multi-colored palate with 30 different colors including yellow (?) and cyan (???), which promptly met the trashcan. I took the "emergency concealer" we all carry in our purses and threw it away, because it had been there for about a year.
Then I started going bare-faced.
It took courage, I can't lie. I had presented a perfected front to everyone and now I was letting it crack. I had a number of blemishes that were just waiting for this opportunity to embarrass me and emerged from my skin to flaunt their swollen selves. I had to step back from the mirror and focus on something else to stop from picking at them for a half hour every night. I started drinking more water. I stopped eating as much sugar. I started working up a sweat a couple times a week. I changed my pillowcases more frequently, all in the name of giving my skin a chance to breathe.
Now I look in the mirror after I brush my teeth and admire my skin. It's not perfect by any means, and I still have blemishes that find their way to the surface. But my skin is glowing from all the extra care I put into it, now I don't have anything to hide behind.
For those of you hesitating, I get it. I didn't even wear that much makeup on a day to day basis, so it was a little easier for me to stop. I've found that the hardest habits to break are those you hack out quickly. The change doesn't always last. My recommendation is start slow. Maybe stop wearing foundation and just use concealer or a tinted moisturizer for a week. Maybe stop putting on eyeliner or lipstick for a while. It doesn't have to happen overnight.
I haven't stopped entirely, as I will still wear makeup once in a while. I kept my old standbys, mascara, eyebrow pencil, and concealer, which I wear maybe once every three weeks when I want to dress up. Now it's more of an accessory for me, something to complement a party dress.
In a strange way, doing this has changed me for the better, because I'm no longer trying to convince everyone I'm perfect. My morning routine has dramatically decreased in time - I can be out the door in 30 minutes after getting up, including breakfast. My eyelashes have grown longer because I'm not putting on layers of drying mascara and then scrubbing it off every day. When you let go of that exterior you've put up, you let go of perfection. I am quiet and reserved, and I keep to myself, but I am comfortable with how I look now. I really believe you can too.