Why I Stopped Wearing Foundation

“Sometimes, in the morning, I just look in the mirror and think ‘I really like the way my face looks today!’”

This was said by one of my very best friends, in a conversation we were having about wearing makeup on a daily basis. I’m sure I replied with an “Oh yeah, I totally get you!”, but I was actually thinking “what kind of supernatural being is she that she just likes the way her face looks?”.

We had this conversation in 2017, our second year at UCT, when I was experiencing acne for the very first time. Throughout high school, my skin had always been okay. Not great, but not terrible. Even in first year, I had a few more outbreaks and some left a little bit of scarring, but I didn’t really have a complex about it.

Theeeeeen 2017 arrived. Oh boy.

beauty, blush, brush

Due to personal issues and concerns about depression, I went on and off birth control about four times in six months. (I did not speak to my doctor about this. If you are thinking about changing up your birth control routine, I highly recommend speaking to a professional first.) When I finally went back on the pill around April 2017, all hell broke loose. And it broke loose on my face.

It was a horrible experience. Anyone who has had skin issues knows the deal. What it really boiled down to was a break down in my self-esteem and extreme insecurity about my natural face.

Now, something else that was going on around the end of 2016 and the very beginning of 2017 was my growing love for outdoor adventures. This meant that I had stopped wearing foundation every day (a habit I had picked up in first year). I was pretty happy just letting my skin be free. But once my acne developed, I felt I needed to go back to wearing foundation to feel secure.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve tried going on a camping trip and maintaining your makeup routine...but it’s not a thing. I had come back to Cape Town for my second year, I was making new friends and meeting new people, and going on adventures with them. I would have loved to feel my best, but I wasn’t able to put on my foundation. I just had to exist with my natural, imperfect face.

And that’s when it finally dawned on me that something really messed up was going on. I had come to prefer a version of myself that didn’t actually exist, and I wasn’t content with just me. I spent so much time and effort worrying about what people thought of my face when, for reals, NO ONE CARED. I knew that, logically, these people didn’t mind what I looked like, but I couldn’t focus on just having fun and enjoying the outdoors because I was feeling so anxious and insecure.

I got back from one of those trips deciding I needed to make a change. Sure, I looked “better” with foundation, but I decided that I had to be able to get up, look at myself in the mirror and think “I really like the way my face looks today.”

Since then I had been holding onto the hope that my acne would just go away if I found the right skin products, adopted the right routine, or waited for my hormones to calm down. I thought that when that happened, then I could be happy with my face. But that’s not how life works. You can’t just hold out on loving yourself until you turn into the ideal version of yourself. If I was going to love myself, I was going to have to love that screwed up, blemished skin.

It has been a long ass journey. In the past year, my skin has calmed down (although I still have scars because apparently science has failed in finding an effective treatment for those). I have been going on camping trips, kicking ass at university, making new friends, going on dates, falling in love, living my best life.

And I haven’t worn foundation in 8 months.

Photo of Woman Looking at the Mirror