Image may contain: Wood, Stained Wood, Hardwood, Woman, Girl, Female, Blonde, Person, People, Human

I didn’t wear makeup for a week and, surprise surprise, my world didn’t end

No, I’m not ill

Nine days out of ten I choose to wear makeup – it’s been my morning ritual since I was 13. I fluctuated between trends like baking, contouring and questionable winged eyeliner, but my routine has, thankfully, matured since then. You won’t catch me with Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse any more.

Nowadays, I don’t go full Kim K on the daily, but I use makeup to cover up what I’m visually insecure about. Concealer is my best friend for eye bags and spots, powder for my red cheeks (I've been compared to a red M&M too many times) and a dash of mascara to "open up" the eyes, as the makeup gurus say.

Recently, though, I’ve been questioning why I rely on it so much. I find myself apologising if I don’t wear it, to friends who frankly couldn’t care less. And I know so many people who do the same. Is it not strange to apologise for going out literally as I am?

So I thought: one week without it. Couldn’t be that hard, right?

Image may contain: Food, Dessert, Chocolate

Goodbye my lover

Uni days

The upside of my week off makeup was that mornings were made significantly more leisurely with an extra 20 minutes in bed. But it did feel wrong getting ready and leaving my face bare – I kept thinking I’d forgotten something.

I was well aware, and quite self-conscious, of how tired I looked, due to my dark circles that don’t ever seem to budge. And the walk to uni through the Meadows with wind speeds of about 50 mph did not help my rosy cheeks.

Honestly, lectures and tutorials didn’t ring any alarm bells – given, it would be quite weird if anyone was staring straight at me in these. I was asked if I was feeling alright by an acquaintance, but I chose to smile through gritted teeth. Charming.

Instead it was the time in between lectures, while attempting to be productive in DHT or the library, and walking to and from George Square, that I noticed changes. I found myself avoiding eye contact, touching my face and hair, and occasionally turning my head away from people, all significantly more than usual.

Image may contain: Portrait, Face, Person, People, Human

Before my coat matched my cheeks

Side note: I also tried that thing in films where they splash their face with water in a random bathroom when they look stressed out, just because I could. I can say it’s rather uncomfortable, wouldn’t recommend.

The night out

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t dreading going out. It's one thing not wearing makeup in the day, but it’s a must for me on a night out. The phrase “I need to put my face on” will be used about 10 times in the run-up to pres – which is so stupid, because who actually thinks I wake up with gold glitter painted on my eyes?

Not only was I going clubbing bare-faced, but I was heading to Bongos for the first time. Safe to say I did not feel at home on arrival. As if I didn’t feel vulnerable enough, I was probably the only person wearing skinny jeans. Flares as far as the eye could see.

Image may contain: Drink, Bottle, Beverage, Beer Bottle, Beer, Alcohol, Person, People, Human

Drunk all that voddy for some liquid courage

Nights out automatically call for more powder than usual, and boy was I craving it. As soon as I was on the dance floor, I felt that familiar sensation of my cheeks as they transformed scarlet-red. The lighting in the bathroom also didn’t do me any favours, so I shuffled out pretty sharpish after glancing in the mirror.

At the same time, no one around me said anything nor changed their behaviour towards me. So after some drinks and a boogie, or whatever you can call that weird dancing to drum and base music, it was actually a really fun night.

There was also no half-hearted attempt to drunkenly take my makeup off at home – I was straight into bed, and it was magical.

Image may contain: Party, Person, People, Human

Accidentally ended up at Hive too (don't judge)

Am I a changed woman?

It did open my eyes to a world of more sleep and longer pres, but I missed my makeup safety blanket. It makes me feel more put-together and confident, but maybe that’s because I’ve worn it for so long.

When I look back at the week, though, I realised that no one changed their behaviour or attitude towards me, whether it be strangers or friends. It was all me feeling more self-conscious, and worried that a random person would think I looked tired and unattractive, and more specifically (and ridiculously) that a guy would think this.

The logical conclusion is that if no one around me gave me a reason to feel uncomfortable, I should understand that these worries are in my head, and happily go about my day, makeup-free. But thinking like this isn’t always easy. I, like lots of us, desire the respect and approval of people I don’t even know, as if their passing thoughts about the state of my face are a reflection of me as an individual.

It can feel like a constant comparison between myself, and faultless Instagram models who don’t even know what a blemish is. Social media bombards us with these "naturally flawless" women (who definitely don’t use Photoshop), embedded with the message that it's better for women to look natural. Of course, evenly toned skin and perfectly sculpted cheekbones don’t come naturally without a bit of groundwork – but then comes the criticism of looking too cakey and fake. You can’t please everyone, so why not just do what you want?

Image may contain: Cup, Coffee Cup, Person, People, Human

No makeup = no shame

With that in mind, I think I'm comfortable in neutral ground for now. I’ll be the Switzerland of makeup application. Meaning there will be days where going makeup-free is no second thought, and I’ll feel great just the way I am, like I did some days this week. But I have also accepted that sometimes foundation and mascara is just the medicine needed for a little self-confidence boost – and that’s okay too.