Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

My Complicated Relationship with Makeup: Concealing Who I Am

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

The sun is barely out and I am trying to figure out what is causing the flakes of skin that are flying down my face and finding their home, nestled in my shirt. Is it because of my acne medicine? My makeup? I could never really tell because I slathered both on my face so frequently it was all a blur. 

I remember the day that I bought my own makeup for the first time. I forced my mom to drive me to the store and I picked out what I wanted– and for me that was anything that would conceal the red splotches of acne that consumed my porcelain skin. It was never about expressing myself or feeling put together. It was just a routine act of hiding. But of course, I did not realize this at the time. 

From the time I was 13 years old, I was training myself to believe that the only face that the outside world could see was covered in makeup. I would not wash off my makeup at sleepovers, which left my skin worse by the time I woke up. I could not go anywhere without concealer and foundation that crackled over the dry patches that were invading my face. 

I did not like to look in the mirror while I was washing my face. It always left me disgusted by the face I saw looking back at me. This cycle went on until I was a freshman in high school when one day realized what I was doing. I knew that I was so detached from my bare skin. I was ashamed of it. And this shame only served to fuel the acne that I was so scared to show. So, one day, I decided to not wear makeup to school.

I remember walking into school that morning was dreadful and all I could think about was “I hope no one says anything” but of course– they did. I still remember how someone that I considered a friend at the time asked “Are you okay? You look a bit tired today.” There were definitely tears forming in my eyes as I replied back that I was fine. Despite this incident, I committed to the idea that I would no longer wear makeup. I had no other choice. If I continued to cake my face in the lightest shade of  drugstore foundation, I would only get more acne and less confidence. 

Looking back, it amazes me that I can recall word for word certain things that were said to me. I remember that someone mistakenly thought I was on the cheerleading team and a girl in my chemistry class uttered–”Anna couldn’t be a cheerleader, she doesn’t even care about her appearance.” It was subtle blows like this that broke me. Here I was trying to embrace my natural self and to an outside perspective that meant that I did not care about how I presented myself. 

To this day, I do not wear makeup on an everyday basis. I choose to wear it on some special occasions. A part of me still fears that I can once again fall into the trap of continuously blocking out my bare skin, myself in my rawest form. I am proud to know that my freckles now get to see the sun, my cheeks get to blush until my entire face turns a rosy pink, and my pits of acne scars now reflect my past.

 The relationship between makeup and I has been a rocky one– obsession that has been followed by an indefinite break. I hope that one day I can once again rekindle my connection and apply makeup but in a new form. In a way that builds up my confidence and allows me to feel true to myself. In a way that so many other beautiful people already have. As I continue to grow, I will always keep the way it felt to have flakes of skin floating towards my vanity and to remember how far I have come. I can now walk confidently with all my imperfections open to everyone. All that’s left now is to embrace myself with and without makeup and to acknowledge that I can be my truest form in both. 

Anna Claire is a second year at UCSD, majoring in Political Science with an emphasis in American Politics. She loves to read, write, go on hikes and is passionate about social justice. Her favorite places to be are the beach or in the desert surrounded by Joshua Trees and a starry sky.
Similar Reads👯‍♀️