Unmasked — The Power of No Makeup and How it Builds Confidence in Young Girls at Sleepaway Summer Camp.

By Rachel Mlota

“Here at camp I’m unfiltered, unmasked and free to be me. My natural self. My real self. And I’m beautifully complete.”

There are countless different reasons why you might choose to wear or not wear makeup.

Makeup can be used for artistic expression, or to make you feel more confident in yourself. You might even use makeup to show the world a different version of you. It can also be used by people to feel more presentable and to send a message to others that you are looking after yourself. Makeup might even be used to connect with other people or worn simply because you enjoy it.

It’s clear that our society continues to have a strong connection to makeup and beauty products as a whole. With billions spent on cosmetic products year on year there is a never ending topic of conversation around makeup and whether people should or should not wear it.

The important thing to remember is that if you choose to wear makeup, that you wear it for yourself and not for others.

But whilst there are a large majority of people that wear it for themselves there are those who wear it for others, and live a filtered life.

Here at IHC, we encourage our campers to live an unfiltered life, we often talk about being an authentic version of yourself, not an artificial version. It’s important to send this message to younger children so they don’t succumb to social pressures as they grow older.

We’re a makeup free camp, for some this can be a tough environment if they are used to wearing makeup each day. We understand that makeup can often be a mask for people to live behind and not wearing it can push them out of their comfort zone.

This goes for both staff and campers.

Hannah and Chloe opened up about their experiences with makeup and how giving it up at camp has helped them grow in confidence.



Chloe — Varsity

I don’t really wear a lot of makeup. On a daily basis I’ll probably wear concealer, mascara and maybe curl my eye lashes. Unless, I have a party or something, i’ll put on foundation and maybe a little eye shadow. But on a daily basis I don’t wear a lot of makeup.

Makeup for me means a way to feel better about yourself or a way to be creative. Makeup can help people express themselves. I also feel like makeup can help people with their insecurities because if you have acne or you’re breaking out with pimples, makeup can help to cover it up and make you more confident about yourself.

I’m starting to understand that makeup can be a good or a bad thing. It can help people become more confident in themselves and hide some insecurities they may not be so fond of but I also think make up could cause people to hide behind something and to make themselves something they are not

Everyone has those days when they are down… just really not feeling themselves. I know that for a lot of girls makeup could cover that but I feel like it doesn’t solve everything. Yes, it can make you look better and make you feel better but in the end it doesn’t really do much and it’s important that you still be yourself.

As I scroll through social media and look at pictures sometimes I think ‘wow that’s crazy, I wish I could look like that.’ But as I have gotten older, I have realized that nothing you see online is real. It’s all edited and Photoshopped and people have gallons of makeup on. I have come to realize that that’s not what people actually look like. Also, I’ve seen what people do with pictures, how much they can edit a picture to make it look so different than what it actually is. So I’ve come to see that what you see on the internet is not what you see in person. So as time’s gone by I’ve realized that this is not what reality looks like.

With the internet I feel that there are a lot of images that show you what people think you should look like. Everyone will see a picture online and think I wish I could look like them. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who hasn’t thought that before. But this day and age, the amount of pictures that you see that are fake or edited, the more you come to realize that no one looks like that. It doesn’t send a great message to young girls.

Here at Camp IHC, we don’t wear makeup, which has helped me with not feeling any negative pressures about makeup… because no-one else here wears it. It’s not like it’s an unfair thing and we’re all on the same playing field where we’re just our natural selves. Even though we all may not want to be natural, we all band together and embrace it. And the best place to embrace it is at camp because it doesn’t matter. It shouldn’t matter how you look. You embrace your natural self. I feel like camp is the best place to do that.

I feel really safe at camp to be my natural self because I do it with all my best friends and we all embrace it. I honestly enjoy it because at home there’s so much social anxiety and pressure to look good all the time and get more likes and followers…but at camp you can just be natural and you don’t have to worry about all of that. No-one cares.

As I’ve started going through my teens I’ve started appreciating the no makeup rule at camp more because at home I know how it feels like to always try to look good and wear makeup everyday.. but at camp we’re all like… you don’t have to think about it. You don’t have to care how you look. You don’t have to worry about wearing a gallon of make up to impress anyone because no one cares. And at home when I say to my friends ‘oh yeah at camp I never wear makeup,’ they’re always like ‘oh my God, how do you do that?’. But I think it’s just helped everyone here grow more as a person and into themselves.

I think it’s helped me grow more as a person especially at home because when all my friends are worried about how they always look and feel, I don’t have to worry about that cause I’m used to not worrying about that at camp cause I’m like focusing on enjoying the summer and being with my friends and doing activities and not wasting time worrying about makeup.

I’m Chloe and here at camp I’m unfiltered, unmasked and free to be me. My natural self. My real self. And I’m beautifully complete.


Hannah — Head Counselor

When I hear the word makeup I immediately get excited. It is one of those things that I love to do in my free time. I’m a beauty therapist back home as well so it’s always been in my life. So I definitely get excited when I hear makeup.

I enjoy putting on makeup. I enjoy the task of it. No word of a lie, I could easily spend two hours doing it, happily. And I’ll enjoy that time. But I think in the real world it is a mask to a lot of people and to me as well it was a mask. I feel like I’ve grown a lot and camp has helped me with that, comparing the first year of camp to now, definitely.

The images on Facebook, Instagram and the internet in general. So many of them are so fake. It’s what I look like all the time. I’m always constantly looking at Instagram, that’s my favorite. And it’s not real at all and so many people look at it and they think they can look like this person and be like this person. But it’s not real, whether it’s filtered or squeezed in smaller or airbrushed. And that’s what our young people are look at. Even with my younger sister who’s 16, we’ll have conversations at the dinner table about a girl on Instagram, what she’s wearing and her makeup or whatever. It’s constantly being looked at. But it’s not possible to look like them. It really isn’t.

So at camp, when I first started last summer, it was a really really big deal for me not to wear makeup. I wear makeup every single day at home, whether it’s going into town or going to meet my friends in the evening. Everyday before work I’ll spend half an hour happily doing my make up, every morning I’ll get up and do it. So when I first got to camp it was a really big thing for me not to wear makeup. And I did, I definitely struggled at the start last year. Even just having conversations with people, meeting them for the first time, I would get embarrassed. I would go red. It sounds so silly but honestly it was my biggest fear. When I was having a conversation with someone I would… I’d get so worried that they’re just looking at me with no makeup on. Even now as a head counsellor I was super worried this summer to stand in front of everyone and talk to them with no makeup. I was like oh no I don’t know if I can do that. But I have. I did it. And I do it everyday now. And I’m super proud of myself. It hard because I’ve always grown up like you’re not yourself unless have makeup on. I’d feel uncomfortable when I don’t have makeup on. If someone spoke to me I’d shorten the conversation straight away and just move on and walk away. So that was definitely my biggest struggle, but I did get over it eventually. It’s all in your head. It was all in my head. It was just me not being comfortable in myself and my own skin. I’ve learnt that now.

I wouldn’t say I was ever depressed or anything like that because of makeup. I just genuinely enjoy putting on makeup everyday from the time I was in school. So I guess you could classify that as a slight obsession. I would be obsessed with makeup. If I didn’t have time to do it I would make time for it. I would take the extra time even if it meant I’d be late for work.

So here at IHC, we are a makeup free camp. It’s one of the things we pride ourselves in as a camp. It’s amazing. It’s so important to embrace it. Everyone does embrace it. Some people can struggle with it at the start but it is amazing. We’re ourselves. We’re natural. There’s nothing we can hide behind and it forces you to make those connections as a true person.

At camp I feel so safe. I feel like it’s such a safe place for me with no makeup. For everyone it’s the safest place you can be. You’re completely stripped down and you can make those connections without a mask on and just be your true self.

Here at camp you can completely be yourself. You’re forced to be yourself and not hide behind anything. I feel like I’ve benefited at lot from that because I can actually just be confident and be myself. I can take this with me forever. Here, we’re stripped away from your phone, social media, makeup and your peers. We get lost in camp life and learn a lot from this experience. I’ve been able to grow as a person and find myself and get lost at camp. In the middle of nowhere and just be who I am.

I’m Hannah, this is who I am.

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