Senior reduces makeup use, nurtures self-empowerment

Written by Helen Nguyen, News Editor

I woke up with a jolt. Senior year has taught me that when I sleep late, I wake up even later. “Shoot,” I thought, “I need to get going.” Chugging water, I wolfed down a bowl of oatmeal, then proceeded to rush into the bathroom. It was 7:45 a.m. and I needed to be out the door in 10 minutes. “Alright, I got this,” I said, looking in the mirror. As I hurried through washing my face and brushing my teeth, I couldn’t help but contemplate whether or not it was worth it to take the time to slap on some makeup. “Do I need it?” I wondered. Like most mornings, I didn’t have time for anything extravagant, so I swiped on a bit of mascara and swept my hair into a ponytail. It was 7:53 a.m. and I needed to go–I vacated the bathroom, grabbed my bag and dashed out the door.

This routine of hopping out of bed, disregarding my makeup routine and dashing out has become a typical morning for me. While it’s second nature for me now, this wasn’t always the case. It took a lot of time and self-reflection for me to become comfortable enough with myself to leave the house without makeup.

I first started experimenting with makeup when I reached high school. Starting out, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. My skills were subpar, but I wasn’t concerned–I knew that I was having fun and continued to learn the works of the art. As I continued to sharpen my skills, it was as if a whole new world had opened up in front of my eyes–my face became a canvas and I was testing the waters of the more complicated looks that I would constantly scroll past on Instagram or Youtube. I was almost surprised with myself; before makeup, I had never truly challenged myself creatively. I was in awe by the power of makeup–makeup had given me an outlet to visually express myself as a person.

As time went on, makeup became a staple part of my daily routine. Before school everyday, I allotted myself 10 extra minutes to apply makeup. I felt like the payoff of feeling more confident throughout the day was worth waking up those 10 minutes earlier.However, on days that I went without makeup, I found that I felt too bare, self-conscious and uncomfortable. For most of my life, I walked around with nothing on my face but the sunscreen that my mom mandated I apply before I left for school. So why was makeup such an integral part of my life now, when I was perfectly fine before I even discovered it?

Eventually, it dawned on me that I had based my confidence on how I looked each day and whether or not I was wearing makeup. While it wasn’t noticeable to others, I found that on days when I didn’t wear makeup, I felt more insecure about myself compared to the days when I did. I felt a little embarrassed to go to school without makeup on, and made an effort to keep up my “makeup-game.” I no longer put on makeup out of enjoyment, and instead found myself relying on it for confidence. As I quickly learned, this was destructive to my well-being.  

Realizing how volatile this mindset was, I decided that I needed to make a change in the way I approached makeup. I started by cutting back on the time I spent on makeup, and encouraged myself to wear minimal to no makeup out. Although it took some time to get used to, I began to feel comfortable in my own, bare skin again. I made sure to take care of my physical and mental health to build and ensure a sturdy foundation for my well-being. Eventually, my confidence stemmed from within myself, instead of how I felt I looked. Makeup became a positive part of my journey once again as I used it to empower myself instead of relying on it for confidence.

Society views makeup as a way to cover one’s flaws, essentially providing a mask for one to hide behind. As a person who enjoys wearing and experimenting with makeup, I see it as more of an art than a mask. I now wear it to empower and express myself–not to hide behind.

Now most days, I rock the bold look of “no makeup.” Sure, it’s partly due to my First-Semester-Senior nature of waking up late and racing against time in the morning, but I also feel empowered in a new and thrilling way. Walking around campus with minimal to no makeup makes me proud. I feel beautiful, with or without makeup, and the knowledge that I don’t need makeup to feel and be beautiful is refreshing. Some people feel insecure without makeup, while some feel insecure with it. It’s important to remember that with makeup or without makeup, you are beautiful. As cheesy as it is, beauty truly comes from within. Also, if I don’t say so myself, the payoff of those 10 extra minutes of sleep is so worth it.