There are many important milestones when it comes to modern-day romance. There’s the strategically sent friend request, the first kiss, the first FaceTime chat, the first couple’s Instagram upload, and the list goes on.
Lately, though, I’ve been thinking about one relationship milestone in particular: the point at which your significant other sees you without makeup. Through an informal polling system (namely, forcing my friends and co-workers to divulge their secrets), I’ve deduced that the timing for this step varies greatly across the board—from a few dates to a few years!
To ignite a candid conversation on the topic, I figured I’d offer my personal experience and tackle the issue. Read on, and who knows? Maybe you’ll relate!
I love makeup. I love applying it carefully (glass of wine in hand—oops) before a date, I love the boost of confidence I get when the wings of my eyeliner are symmetrical, and I love experimenting with different shades of lipstick for way too long before I head out the door. You may be thinking, Um, duh, you’re writing for a beauty website, so of course you do, but I offer this information as an acknowledgment that I probably fall far on one end of this discussion’s spectrum.
That said, I take my barefaced reveal seriously. In my mind, the possibility of running into a new crush with zero makeup on—or sunglasses to hide behind—is kind of mortifying. In past relationships, I usually waited at least a couple of months before going totally barefaced. I know, you brazen, makeup-ambivalent babes are probably wondering how one can keep up appearances for that long. The truth is I slept in my makeup (like a bad, bad girl) and always toted liner and concealer around for little morning touch-ups.
After some time, though, my comfort level would rise and lead me to stage two of this process: the phase-out.
In polling my contemporaries (and honestly considering my own habits), I’ve found that women usually have one or two cosmetic security blankets they’re most reluctant to be seen without. As I’ve shared before, for me, it’s eyeliner. Concealer and mascara seem to be other popular answers. One of my pals even maintains that her boyfriend of three years has never seen her without concealer on. The point here is the cosmetic security blanket is usually the last item to be abandoned on the road to barefaced romance.
I like to take the reveal in increments. First I’ll let my gentleman see me without foundation and concealer. Next go blush and bronzer, followed closely by eye shadow and lipstick. Once I’m in a phase where I feel comfortable with only my eyebrows and liner done, we’re about two months deep. He knows how I like my coffee, I know how chubby he was in middle school, and things are progressing. Finally, the ultimate reveal usually happens while traveling together. In this scenario, there’s a shared bathroom and several days together, so I finally tell myself—buck up, wash your face, and get over it. Of course, there are a few things I hope he will say…
When the makeup finally comes off, two things happen. First, men don’t usually react as dramatically as expected. As nervous as women are to wipe it off, I’ve heard repeatedly from guys that makeup is “not a big deal.” Not a big deal? Great. Lovely. Splendid, guys.
Secondly, every woman thinks to herself, I hope he compliments me when I don’t have makeup on.” Even if you’re the coolest, most confident, generally badass gal, it is the ultimate compliment to hear you look the best in your most natural state.
In the end, it’s clear that this milestone hinges on two things: confidence and comfort.
That being said, there’s no shame in swearing by some barely there products. Shop some of our favorite items for a fresh-faced look below.
A makeup-artist favorite, this emollient cream is the formula behind virtually every airbrushed-looking complexion you see on the red carpet. The deeply hydrating moisturizer blurs imperfections, smooths uneven texture, and instantly plumps and brightens the complexion.
There are a few Byrdie editors who declare this the best highlighter on the market—a bold statement, considering our collective obsession with dewy cheekbones.
This coconut oil–based concealer melts into skin for solid but seamless coverage. Plus, the all-natural formula moisturizes and treats your skin as it conceals.
Mark our words: For a natural, glowing finish, tinted oils are poised to replace foundation as our new go-to base. This editor-loved formula gets bonus points for being fortified with SPF.
Your turn! We’re curious: When do you usually feel confident enough to take it all off? Is there a general time frame, or has it varied in different relationships?