Make-up is an essential part of many women’s morning routines. According to official statistics, in the UK, 60% of women wear make-up on a weekly basis . Reports have also demonstrated that British women spend an average of 55 minutes per day on doing their hair and make-up . A third of women, when asked in a survey, claimed they would never leave the house without make-up on . According to the “Statista” institute, “the United Kingdom is among the leading three cosmetic consumers in Western Europe.” .
To be honest, for a very long time I would have also fitted into this statistic: since I was about 16 years old, applying BB-Cream, concealer, powder, highlighter, mascara and lipstick to my face was a daily procedure that I was very reluctant to skip. What I was or still am to this day, most insecure about is my skin, which is, as it is the case for many people, prone to spots, redness and other imperfections. From a young age we are majorly influenced by advertising, supermodels and celebrities, so we tend to believe that our blemishes are ugly and should be covered up. As a woman, our skin (as well as everything else in our life apparently, which I’ve come to learn over the years) is supposed to be smooth, clear and have no scars. It is only in the last year that I started thinking about all these things. One thing was clear: I wanted to be less dependent on make-up and only wear it when I felt like it.
On the 1st of January, I started an experiment: quit all forms of face make-up, from foundation, to concealer and powder, for at least two weeks. This may seem more mundane for someone who doesn’t, or rarely wears make-up, but for me, it was a big deal! I have now been doing this “challenge” for 3 weeks, without any interruption.
This is what I learnt…
…not wearing make-up saves time
This point may be the most obvious but it’s still valid. The act of wearing no make-up saves a significant amount of time which can be spent doing something else such as sleeping longer in the morning, or having more time to make breakfast. It was also a way to devote more time to skincare. For instance, I do a face mask at least once a week which I never bothered to do before. The main reason for this sudden interest in taking care of my skin is because I can’t hide my blemishes with concealer and powder anymore. Therefore, I had to think about what would improve my skin in the long run. I also noticed that I drank more water and paid more attention to putting good things into my body which also benefited the quality of my skin.
Not wearing makeup increases your confidence
It is quite well-known that make-up can make one feel more empowered and confident. According to UK statistics, 63% of women wear make-up for this purpose . However, not wearing make-up can have a similar effect. In these last few weeks, I learnt to accept the state of my own skin with all its imperfections and blemishes. In many ways, make-up or make-up trends can lead to the uniformity of women’s faces. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can lead women to hide certain features that makes them so unique such as freckles, scars or splits in the eyebrows. Not wearing any make-up for a while enables you to reconnect with your true face.
I realised that the cosmetic industry is a giant machine fuelled by our insecurities.
Nowadays, the cosmetic industry is a billion-dollar heavy machine that keeps getting wealthier. From 2019 till 2020, the worth of the sector has increased from 537 to 569 billion pounds which makes the cosmetic industry one of the most lucrative sectors . According to a report by “Edited”, this exponential growth is due to several determining factors, such as the rise of influencer marketing for beauty products, the fact that companies such as H&M also started selling make-up and the new market for more ethical, sustainable and vegan products that has emerged in the past few years .
Another implicit reason why the cosmetic industry keeps growing is because as time goes on and beauty standards, due to social media, become higher, the demand for beauty products continues to burgeon. In other words, the industry is fuelled by our insecurities and aspiration to conform to the countless trends and beauty standards. The tactic to lure us into buying a product is always the same: “you don’t like your lips? Oh how, convenient, we have the perfect product for you: our new lip plumping lipgloss!”. The beauty brands, through their marketing, try to fill a void and make us believe that by purchasing their product we will be a step closer to happiness. However, we all know this isn’t the case; as soon as we buy a product supposed to fix one insecurity, almost instantly, a new one emerges. In the long run, this generates a vicious cycle of consumption.
Furthermore, I got spiralled into buying more products that were supposed to be “miracle remedies”. They were not. Over time, I noticed that, the more “blemish covering” make-up products I purchased, (which in reality, prevent your skin from breathing and therefore cause more spots), the more anti-acne skincare I bought. As I saw that the latter didn’t work either, I bought more make-up. In many ways, by not wearing make-up and turning to a very minimalistic skincare routine enabled me to break out of this toxic cycle. Another positive side effect is that this lifestyle saves you a lot of money.
In conclusion, I noticed that, without wearing make-up, I learned to appreciate many aspects that I, until then, didn’t like. I am therefore profoundly convinced that not wearing any make-up can be equally as empowering as wearing it. The main reason for this is, as mentioned previously, I stopped funding the cosmetic industry that capitalises on all our insecurities by promising us the world when we buy one of their products. In the words of Caroline Caldwel “in a society which profits on self-doubt, to love oneself is a rebellious act”.