It all started with a visit to the Lush Cosmetics store... I was looking for more natural makeup, and since Lush has a reputation for offering natural, organic, and vegan products, it felt right to look there.
After one of their sales reps told me women found their eye lashes to be stronger and longer after using their Eyes Right, vegan, "all natural" mascara, because of the wheatgrass and some other completely natural ingredients, I looked past the ingredients list and just completely disregarded the ingredient names that had over 10 letters... I needed nothing else to influence me to buy it. 20 bucks later, and I had definitely felt less bad for putting this product on my eye lashes every day before work. I even suggested Lush to one of my best friends who became really into living a less toxic life.
When she mentioned to me that she had read a bunch of articles on how bad Lush's products actually are and the amount of chemically processed ingredients they use, it was like my world had crumbled down on top of me. I had been buying Lush products for years at this point, how could their products not be as "natural" as they claim them to be?? I felt devastated.
I started researching the ingredients in some of my Lush products. Using the EWG Skindeep database, I was able to research what each ingredient meant and their related risks. I was even more disappointed in every additional Lush product that I researched. My mind kept racing with questions, concerns, and worry. Faced with disgust, I decided to research my regular drug store and branded makeup products. If Lush, a cosmetics brand that markets themselves on how natural they are, used strong chemicals, I couldn't even imagine what my regular drugstore products contained. My Maybelline concealer I was using for over 2 years had tons of artificial colorants and preservatives, including Methylparaben which "is in the paraben family of preservatives used by the food, pharmaceutical, and personal care product industries. Parabens mimic estrogen and can act as potential hormone (endocrine) system disruptors." (Skindeep) What is happening? How does the FDA allow stores and brands to manufacture and sell millions of harmful beauty and food products around the country? Something is awfully wrong and needs to change. I could not believe I have been putting all of these crazy products with strong chemicals onto the biggest and most absorbent organ of my body: my skin. I decided I needed to take action, and quickly.
A full week makeup-less? My younger self would have easily welcomed this challenge, but my current self seemed to fear it a bit. What is it about adult women in our society that make themselves their biggest enemies? I am definitely my own biggest critic, so it only made sense that going a week without wearing makeup sounded scary. However dreadful I was working it out to be, this week ended up being one of the best, most healing times of my life in a while.
Scroll down to view the results of my experiment of living a full week with a naked face.
I started on the "official" first day of the week: Sunday. Sundays are already usually the days I take a break from makeup so it did not feel like I was doing anything different. It was easy, to say the least. I did not have to go anywhere outside of my house or see anyone I knew.
Monday: Today was a very scary day for me. It was the first "real" day of the experiment, since, I had to go into work- a professional office setting without wearing a single drop of makeup. I only used my Farsali facial oil after washing my face in the morning since, it was in fact winter and my skin tends to get dry patches throughout. I had been prepping myself mentally for this experiment for a while now, and in turn I thought I had to compensate with big bold jewelry and a top-notch outfit so that it distracted people from looking too much at my bloated, tired-looking face, (or at least that's what I kept believing).
Interestingly enough, I presumed I would receive so many comments from my co-workers asking if I was tired, or if anything was wrong with me, but I got nothing. Not even a single comment! Of course, it shall be observed that my skin is fairly normal. I say it is a combination skin because my T-zone is oily but the rest is dry/normal. I do not have too many bumps or pimples, except for my freckles- which I don't enjoy too much. In the summer they tend to overpower my face, and I always admired smooth and soft facial skin. When I am exhausted I might get some bags under my eyes, but other than that I don't really "need" to wear much makeup. It is just something I have become accustomed to wearing every single day- it helps with my self-esteem.
At the end of the day I had become so busy at work that I actually forgot I wasn't wearing any makeup, except for when I would go into the bathroom and look at myself in the mirror; which was when my inner self critic came out to judge EVERY SINGLE flaw. It is a good thing that my thoughts are my thoughts, otherwise if others were able to hear what I think, they would be appalled at the way I judge myself. Today was when I started making myself consciously aware of the way I think and instead, put in good thoughts about my natural "flaws."
Tuesday: Woke up feeling great- knowing I have an extra 15 mins to get ready/stretch/ do whatever I please in the morning can really put me in a good mood.
It took me literally 10 minutes to get ready today and I realized that males must really have a lot of advantage. One of my co-workers always gets to work super early and I always wondered how in the world that is possible. But today, it finally clicked. Dudes are super lucky! Why are women socially expected to always look a certain way: happy, not tired, and with perfect skin and hair?? What if all women out there decided not to ever wear makeup again and cover their imperfections? I wonder what would change. Men are naturally perceived as super attractive, especially that slight "messy hair" style... This should be the case for women too.
Notes: My friend told me that I don't look too different now as compared to when I do wear makeup. maybe it's because usually I only wear light makeup- I don't like to cake up my face with tons of foundation and powders. Some concealer, eye liner and mascara works just fine for me. Sometimes I do some contouring.
Wednesday: Today was a snow day so it felt really easy to follow along with the no makeup week. It felt kind of like a Sunday- being able to work from home, comfortably in whatever I wanted to wear and without having to interact with anyone. I definitely felt like my skin was thanking me for going through with this week and being committed- it felt and looked dewy and smooth throughout today.
Thursday: Today I was a little stressed with work/personal matters and a little tired so I felt ugly and every time I looked at myself in the mirror, my mind zoomed in to my facial flaws- my slight dark circles felt like they were being enhanced- but I know this is all in my own head. I decided to curl my eyelashes without any mascara- not sure if this would help but it made me feel a little better.
Friday: Today I feel exhausted- the weight of the week definitely hit me hard and for some reason I didn't get a restful night of sleep- And I can clearly see and feel this on my skin; no wonder they call it the "beauty rest." The weather has been extra dry as well, which affects my skin's consistency and feel for sure.
*It is important to note that the weather, our diets, our intake of water, and even hormones and natural chemicals/genes within each person can highly impact our skin's feel and look. There isn't a "one size fits all equation" that will fix any problems, but this no-makeup week has definitely helped show me how my mind and self-esteem affect the way I look at myself and how I treat myself. It has definitely helped detoxify my skin, but it goes much deeper than that.*
Saturday: I broke it! I broke the flow of the challenge and I feel sorry, but also can't do anything about it. Sometimes life just happens the way it wants to.
Today was my last day at my Video class at NYU. I woke up at a friend's house, in Harlem, where I spent the night. I looked at myself in the mirror and just couldn't let myself look that tired/swollen for this last day in the class. I knew I would be meeting lots of amazing people, so this weighted down on me a bit.
Of course I tried not to do too much damage, since I have come so far, so I curled my eyelashes and applied a little bit of mascara. Just that much made me feel a little more presentable and confident. I know this isn't and shouldn't be an excuse for letting myself break the challenge, but, I believe in balance. And the most important part of this experiment is to take away something new- whether it be a new habit, some skin detox, or a little bit of a boost of self-esteem. All that mattered is that I was going to keep up with this new lifestyle.
At the end of the day, I realized balance definitely is the key to anything. I do think that makeup can be a way to express oneself and a beautiful art form. I also believe it has been created to help out in a few other ways. If there is one week of the month, for example where you may be more exhausted than usually... you know what I mean here, ladies... makeup is our friend.
Do I believe there is a deeper issue with the FDA and the American food/cosmetics industry? YES, 100%! I just hope to have enlightened a few more people on this topic with this article and start a discussion, since, information is gold, no matter what we decide to do with it.
I also have come to terms that if I had to choose from all of the beauty products out there in the world, Lush Cosmetics really isn't that terrible. They do use lots of more natural ingredients, which, if compared to the drug store brands, are definitely an improvement. However, please do your own research! Not everything works for everyone the same way, and if you have sensitive skin, some things might work better or worse for you than for others. Like I said, there isn't just a one size fits all equation. So read labels!
All in all, maintain a balance, do your research, and join the movement to keep our bodies and our Earth cleaner and healthier.