Living a Makeup-Free Life

inconnu makeup

When I contemplate my life without makeup, I often ask myself this question:

Did I miss “girl school” or something?

There are ways for me to educate myself on the subject; the web abounds with different ways to integrate makeup into my routine. But when I look at my friends, it seems innate, like they always knew how to apply foundation or how to choose the right mascara. Did their mom or sister teach them? Because my mom sure didn’t.

However, that question pretty much sums up my reflexions on makeup and its lack of presence in my life. Wearing makeup everyday is a mystical concept to me, one I’ve never seemed to grasp, and I consciously choose not to seek it out. For me, eye makeup and lipstick are my go-to staples when there’s a special occasion; a dancing night out on the town, Christmas, New Year’s Eve… That’s its role in my life: I wear it when I want to look a little more fancy.

For me, there are many advantages to skipping the beautification process every morning. I get to sleep in. Nobody ever tells me that I “look tired” if I skipped mascara that day. I get to spend money on food instead of beauty products. I get to smoosh my boyfriend’s face with my own without fear of smudging. But I want to stress the first part: for me. Because in no way am I suggesting that everyone should forgo the products that bring them joy and comfort; I don’t judge people that decide to wear makeup on a daily basis. I just decide not to join them.

And I guess that’s one of the disadvantages of being in my situation; I oftentimes feel left out when, hanging out with a group of girls, the conversation turns to makeup, aesthetic products, even hairstyles. I kind of just smile and nod and try and fail to look interested. It’s not any different than if I’d hang out with construction workers; I appreciate their interest in cement, but I just don’t “get it”. Also, some girls jump to the conclusion that I’m a hippy, or that I’m super confident about my outward appearance. They might say “you’re probably a vegetarian, too” (I’m not) or “you wouldn’t get it because you don’t care what you look like” (I do). They also associate my lack of makeup with my feminist worldview, choosing to see it as my rejection of the patriarchy and superficial values.

But it’s not that deep, really. I don’t see someone wearing makeup as their subscription to the “male ideal”. That’s not to say that it doesn’t exist, but some girls like to wear glitter on their faces, and they should do whatever the hell they want. What it comes down to is that I like to sleep in, and that, since I’ve never done it before, I don’t see the point in starting now.

When it somehow comes out in conversation that I don’t wear makeup, some people turn around and say: “You don’t wear makeup?”. That’s what’s intriguing to me; that for some, wearing makeup is the norm. I guess I’m here to say that, yes, I go out every morning with nothing on my face but some residual water from my face cloth. And, other than when it strikes my fancy to write about it, I honestly don’t really think about my makeup-free life. And I shouldn’t have to.

Art by Esme


About Gabby Ross

I write about what I live. This includes previous jobs, boring details, passions and television. Lots and lots of TV. I enjoy live-tweeting episodes of sci-fi/fantasy series (and the occasional football show) @GloryisBen.


  1. Yahong

    This is totally me too, Gabby. Make-up takes so much time, money and constant attention to be sure that it ain’t smudging that I inevitably find that the novelty factor wears off quickly. Like you said, my decision isn’t necessarily a judgement on anyone that is wearing make-up, though I do enjoy subverting the patriarchal idea that girls need to wear make-up to be presentable to society.

    One major benefit for me, too, is that when I do wear it (for special occasions, as you said), I get to see the bewildered faces of my acquaintances going, “Who are you?” and laugh at them. :D

  2. “Some girls like to wear glitter on their faces.” Thank you for accepting me, Gab. You do you, girl.

  3. Nia

    I am makeup free as well. Somehow applying makeup always ends with me slightly injuring myself or not applying it correctly. I think I look alot more fresh faced without it. My skin feels more supple as well. That said I can see why some girls would choose to wear makeup. It looks like so much fun!
    I totally support anyone who is taking charge of their own image regardless of what detractors might thinks.

  4. whishawingforawhishaw

    oh my god me too, it’s like- i see my friends putting it on and you sort of wonder- when did you learn how to do this? Why don’t I know how? Am I supposed to know instinctively as a woman how to work eyeliner and what shades of lipstick are suitable for my skin? Good to know that I’m not alone


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