The year is 2002, and I'm a burgeoning 13-year-old who has just discovered the inky-black allure of kohl eyeliner. I had experimented with bronzer (MAC Bronzing Powder, $27), brushing my face with layers upon layers of the shimmery powder each morning before school. I snickered each time I pulled Nars Blush in Orgasm ($30) out of my makeup bag, feeling both provocative and grown-up each time I swiped it on the apples of my cheeks. But, eyeliner was a product I had yet to master. My first one, L'Oréal Colour Riche Eyeliner ($9), glided along my lids like freedom. I started wearing it every single day, first along my bottom waterline, and then, after a few weeks of practice, I mastered a thick line above my lashes.
For the next decade, wearing eyeliner was a way of life—that is, until I fell out of love with it. Call it laziness, call it a trend, call it resistance, but I think my yearning for a more natural look, sans smolder, is part of something more personal. Just like the "less is more" approach we've seen crop up on runways around the world (subtlety, in that way, is subversive), I unmasked my face for all to see. Throwing away my eyeliner was liberating. That, and no longer having to sweat those annoying, melty smudges.