In April 2018 I stopped wearing makeup.
This was by no means a conscious decision, protesting the perceived ridiculous expectations society has for women. Nope. It was an accident. I fell into it.
Globally, the beauty industry is worth USD 532 billion in 2020 according to Forbes.com, with the US as the largest market with 20%. People can be incredibly loyal to their favourite brands, seen with L’Oreal, the current market leader, with a 5.5% growth in 2018, and an estimated sales of more than 200 billion euros.
In April 2018, I went on one of the best holidays I’ve ever been on to Lisbon, Portugal. The day I arrived, it was pouring with rain. Walking down slippery limestone streets in the rain was interesting. However, I made it to the hostel I was staying and proceeded to settle in.
The next day, it was sunny and warm. I had booked a walking tour and needed to get to the meeting point as quickly as possible. So I skipped my makeup routine.
The next day was also warm and sunny, with a day trip to Sintra. Once again, I didn’t put on any makeup. Or the next day, or for the rest of the trip. It was so hot that I came home with a sunburn on my shoulders and back.
Coming home, I didn’t have a job. At the time I was working as a temp, moving from job to job. I was also about to start my master’s degree in September 2018. After my sunny Lisbon holiday, I had very few places to go and as far as I was concerned, no reason to wear makeup daily.
Then the 2018 heatwave hit Europe.
When I came home from Lisbon in mid-April, the weather in the UK was relatively normal. By May, though, the UK was at the beginning of a long heatwave, reaching 35 degrees celsius. It was boiling hot and just like Lisbon, I had no desire to put any makeup on in such hot weather.
In June 2018 I got a new temporary contract as a receptionist, something that would have made me start to wear makeup again. However, it was still hot and I had gotten used to not having a daily makeup routine. The days went by and still no makeup.
It’s now September 2020, and I have not worn makeup for more than two years—not even mascara.
My skin feels better and I don’t get as many spots as I used to. I’ve become much more knowledgeable about skincare and what works for my skin, without makeup. It helps to have a cousin who works in the cosmetic industry. She was the one who suggested I start to use a cleanser every day.
Packing for travel is easier as I only pack shower gel, shampoo, condition, and face cream. Everything fits into one pouch and I don’t need to worry about concealer, foundation and mascara. I have now saved money as I no longer buy cosmetics.
The biggest change is that I am more comfortable in my skin.
Don’t get me wrong, I do have bad skin days. Days where my skin feels like it’s crawling, or when the moles on my face feel ten times bigger than they are, or days when my skin tone looks uneven. I am still unable to leave the house daily with unwashed hair.
Makeup has a lot of power. Some of that power is bad, and many people struggle with the standards of the beauty industry and media perpetuate.
However, makeup can help transform a person, giving them confidence by hiding scars or helping with uneven skin tone. In the wake of the 2020 Black Lives Matter Protests, many cosmetic companies are not only readdressing the range of shades they sell to be more inclusive of Black, Asian and Indigenous peoples, but also the lack of diversity of the people who within the industry.
Once upon a time, I could not leave the house without a full face of makeup or unwashed hair. I couldn’t nip to the local shop for a pint of milk. I didn’t feel like myself. There may be a point in the future when I start to wear makeup again, but at the moment I’m loving not wearing it.
Wearing makeup is a choice.