Why I Decided to Give Up Makeup for a Year

Three months in, I feel more confident and beautiful than ever before. Plus, my skin has never looked better.

Why I'm Not Wearing Makeup for a Year , Young woman removing Makeup in front of mirror
Photo: Getty Images

Like most people, the era of COVID-19 has changed my daily routines. With nowhere to go, i.e. no one to impress, I stopped wearing makeup for much of 2020. I deeply appreciated the freedom I felt to ditch the mascara, the brow products, and the concealer for almost half a year.

However, I quickly caved and started digging into my makeup bag once I returned to campus last fall (my university offered in-person courses the entire 2020-2021 academic year). I was really only focusing on my eyes since half of my face was covered with a mask, though. Once COVID vaccines rolled out to the masses, and my friends and I began to gather maskless (still adhering to expert guidelines to social distance and avoid large crowds), I felt a stronger push to make myself "presentable" with makeup. I couldn't be the only one with a bare face and stick out in all the Snapchats and IG Stories. I began to feel a very familiar pressure to fit an aesthetic that was of no interest to me. (

I've tried in the past to become invested in makeup by watching tutorials (I see you Jackie Aina) and buying the best products (Fenty Beauty still has my heart) but the effort of attempting to create a "flawless" look was never worth my mediocre results. My makeup usually made me uncomfortable; I would mess it up with a careless hand, and I always ended up ripping my lashes off halfway through events. While I admire makeup application as an art form, over time, I've realized that my reason for wearing it had nothing to do with creativity, but rather an effort to fit in.

After making my return to campus (and with it, my makeup routine) I began to long for the freedom of my barefaced quarantine time. I started to explore the idea of not wearing makeup for a whole year. I'd previously had success going a year without using heat on my natural hair, so I figured I'd apply the concept to my face. Despite my hesitations, on April 25, 2021, I put makeup on for the last time and have yet to use a single makeup product since — no concealer, no brow pencil, no foundation, just lip balm, and sunscreen. Yes, I even went barefaced to my college graduation in May. (

I'm about three months in, and so far, and I feel zero desire to give in. Every day I'm presenting exactly who I am to the world — take it or leave it. If I have a huge pimple, everyone I interact with sees it. If my skin is looking even and dewy, they see that, too. This has resulted in a vulnerability that's allowed me to be more open with people and, in turn, connect with them more deeply than before. I genuinely believe that allowing people to see me (see: my face) exactly as I am with no enhancements or covers makes them feel more comfortable to engage more authentically with me. And as I've gotten used to seeing my face "as is," I've started to feel more beautiful in my natural state.

Throughout this experiment, I've also been able to learn more about my skin and how it responds to different factors including my sleep (something I'm getting more of thanks to less time needed for beauty in the morning), nutrition, environment, and skin-careproducts. I've dealt with acne for years, and as of late, my skin is clearer and more vibrant than ever. When I do have minor breakouts, I no longer mask them with foundation and powder — I focus on solving the root of the problem through my nutrition, skin-care routine, and other lifestyle habits. I've become more mindful of what I put on my skin and in my body.

While I don't know if I'll extend this year-long experiment to a lifetime of no makeup, I now find beauty in every part of my face with or without glam. Each freckle, crater, scar, and bump all tell the story of who I am and where I've been. I started this "challenge" because I wanted to see myself completely unaltered and learn to love who I saw unconditionally. This makeup-free journey feels like one small step on a long path to self-love and acceptance. So, here's to three months of transformation and nine more months (and a lifetime) of growth to come.

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