5 Ways to Prep Your Skin to Go Makeup-Free

I’ve worn foundation every day since the beginning of eighth grade (except for the occasional sick day or lazy Sunday spent at home). My skin has never been completely clear, and I was always self-conscious about it. So my solution to the bumps, blackheads and zits was to cover it all up with layers of makeup—a tactic that’s likely not unfamiliar to a large percentage of us. 

But in the past few months, I’ve started to go makeup free. Well, I still wear eyeliner and mascara, but there’s not a drop of foundation to be found on my face. It’s not because my skin is now perfect, it’s still far from it. 

All it really takes to prepare your skin to go makeup free is to simply find the confidence to stop wearing makeup. But of course, that confidence has to come from somewhere. Here are five tips to get your skin feeling good (so you can feel good working with the natural look!). 

  1. 1. Hydrate

    I don’t need to tell you that it’s important to hydrate. We all know that’s an essential part of human survival. But good hydration also does wonders for your skin. Your skin can lose a lot of valuable moisture throughout the day, especially in the summer when you’re sweating a lot, and overnight. So it’s important to replenish what’s lost to keep your skin bouncy and bright.

    We all know the old recommendation to drink eight glasses of water a day. Aim for eight, but try to do more if you can. It may not seem like it’s doing much, but it’ll keep your skin from getting dry and dull. 

    If you hydrate your skin well, it’ll live up to its potential for natural brightness—and then you’ll feel ten times more comfortable keeping it makeup-free. There’s no need for highlighter when your cheeks are glowing all on their own.

    Along the same lines of hydration comes keeping your skin protected, especially by wearing SPF every day. SPF needs to be a part of your daily skincare routine, no questions asked. By protecting your skin from harmful sun, you're helping yourself in the long term and keeping skin healthy and not burned, peeling, irritated or damaged in the moment. 

  2. 2. Moisturize

    There are also ways to hydrate and heal your skin from the outside, too. One way is with moisturizers and cleansers that are hydrating and packed with antioxidants, which prevent damage to your skin from the wear-and-tear of everyday life.

    Blogger Mod Young uses Krave Beauty’s Matcha Hemp Hydrating Cleanser ($16) made with natural ingredients like matcha and hemp seed oil. She loves it because it hydrates and cleanses without irritating your skin. One of my favorite products is Image Skincare’s VITAL C Hydrating Intense Moisturizer ($65). Although it’s a little more pricey, it’s absolutely worth it. It’s made with hyaluronic acid and shea butter, and makes my skin feel soft all day long. I feel like my skin look five times brighter whenever I use it, and I can definitely notice the difference when I go a week or two without it. 

    If your skin is protected from damage and full of moisture, you’ll start to have that fresh-faced glow. With less skin irritation, you’ll likely start feeling a lot more comfortable without makeup.

  3. 3. Use a face mask

    Self-care Sundays aren’t the only time you can be using facemasks. Depending on what kind of masks you use, how many times you use them, and what ingredients they contain, they can really do wonders for your skin. If you want to clear up breakouts, even your skin tone, reduce the size of your pores, calm, hydrate or nourish, there’s a mask that can do it.

    Every face mask is different, so make sure you find one that works for your skin type and does the job that you need it to. Yeah, charcoal face masks always look cool, but that might not be what your skin needs. My favorite one is Lush’s Cupcake ($10) because it works wonders for oily skin that’s prone to breaking out. 

    If you want to start with masks from Lush (which is an inexpensive but effective place to start), you can use this guide to help find the one that’s best for you. But here’s a few hints to get your started (and trust us, the strange ingredients work wonders): 

    1. Rosy Cheeks ($13) calms inflamed skin, restores balance, cleanses and removes dirt with fresh rose petals, calamine powder and kaolin (a type of clay)

    2. Oatifix ($10) moisturizes dry or irritated skin with oats, mashed banana, sandalwood and ground almonds to leave your face soft and dewy

    3. Don’t Look At Me ($14) rubs away dry skin and brightens your complexion with murumuru butter, lemon juice and silken tofu 

  4. 4. Wear less over time

    Now this one may seem obvious, but the best way to prepare your skin to go without makeup is to let it breathe. If you are currently covering your skin daily with foundation and concealer, a lot of the “problems” that you see with your skin will likely start to go away when you slowly start to wear less. Makeup clogs your pores, dehydrates your skin, and sometimes can even cause breakouts. Lighten makeup use slowly to get your skin used to the changes.

    I can say from experience that this absolutely works. Although it may be scary at first, the more your start to see your skin without makeup, the more you start to get used to it.

  5. 5. Take it all off

    Have you ever noticed that people who never wear makeup don’t look “bad” without it? If you wear makeup all the time, you’re used to seeing yourself with it on (if that’s what you always do), then wearing no makeup seems out of the ordinary. If you start going makeup-free more often, you’ll see that it’s not as bad as it seems. Even if your skin still isn’t “perfect”—because let’s face it, no one’s is—you can still go sans makeup. 

    The best way to build the confidence to go makeup free is to jump in and do it. Maybe you’ll make the change gradually, switching from foundation to just concealer, then just mascara, and then bare skin. Or maybe you’ll wake up one morning and just decide, today is the day.

You can try to hydrate, moisturize, exfoliate, and face-mask your way to perfect, glowy makeup-free skin, but if you don’t build up your self-confidence first, you might still feel self-conscious without makeup. If you’re a serial foundation-wearer like I always was, it’s definitely a scary step to take. But once you’re ready, just take it all off (and don’t be afraid to take a #nomakeup selfie or two).