No Lie: I Went Two Weeks Makeup-Free to Understand If I Still Felt Pretty

Emily Algar goes makeup free

 Emily Algar 

In early 2018, the overarching theme of all content I produced fell under the idea of "perceptions of pretty." The aim was to take a deep dive into the history, etymology, and current-day perceptions of the word, "pretty." When brainstorming story ideas, it got me thinking about my own thoughts on the word and what makes me feel good about myself or, for lack of a better word, pretty.

Working in beauty, I, obviously, have a love for skincare and makeup products, some of which I rely on every single day to feel "done." As my thoughts progressed, I thought it would be an interesting experiment to skip makeup altogether for two whole weeks to see how it made me feel. Would I feel empowered? Lack confidence? Be able to sleep in an extra 15 minutes? Teeter on the edge of embarrassment? These were all very possible outcomes I was willing to explore. At the end of my experiment, down every thought and emotion that ran through my mind for the entirety of my barefaced journey of self-discovery. I also took some iPhone photos for reference (that you can see below).

For more on what it's like to go makeup-free for a week, keep scrolling. 

The Baseline Makeup Routine

To provide a little context, I don't wear a lot of makeup by standard means. No-makeup-makeup is my daily go-to, albeit achieved with eight products (primer, foundation/cc cream, concealer, highlighter, brow gel, mascara, lip balm, and blush, to be exact). But for this, I quit cold turkey. I actually put it off for the first two weeks of February because attending a calendar full of beauty and social events barefaced made me feel anxious (hence the missed deadline getting this in before the month's end, whoops). 

The Benefits of Going Makeup-Free

• An easier skincare routine

• No need to remove makeup at the end of the day

• Less time required to get ready each morning

As mentioned, day one was great. I actually received a bunch of compliments because I had that post-facial glow and my eyebrows were on point. But that post-facial glow does not last forever. In the days that followed, I had a few tiny whiteheads crop up that I had to squeeze ever so gently with tissues wrapped around my fingers to avoid big red marks that I was unable to cover with concealer. And eyebrows! Luckily, Lien Davies of Brow Confidence (who does my brows) instructed me to use a bar of soap to brush them up, and seeing as this isn't "makeup," I was able to continue this for the two-week experiment (cue the fist pump). But other than that, my routine consisted of sunscreen, and that's it. Cleansing at night was a breeze too, seeing as there was no makeup to remove. 

Every morning I took 20 minutes less to get ready, and I am (kind of) proud to say that I only cheated once. I was filming a Facebook Live with Alli Webb from Dry Bar, and I used a tiny bit of eyebrow crayon. But, in my defense, I was otherwise completely bare-faced on the internet for the world to see. For me, that was a relatively courageous act. 

What to Expect When Going Makeup-Free

Overall, I felt great when I went makeup-free, though there were certainly moments where I would have done anything for a bit of concealer or a swipe of red lipstick. I had a particularly important work-related dinner event one night during the experiment, and I admit that wearing nothing (surrounded by beautiful women who were made up) made me feel a little inadequate. I wished I had lipstick on or mascara, at the least. Another example is when I received a few photos of myself from a press event in my inbox. When I opened them, it was blatantly obvious (to me) that I was wearing no makeup. To see it staring directly back at me (and not in the mirror) was pretty confronting. 

But, on the other hand, I've probably never received more compliments on my skin than I have in the past two weeks. I'm assuming it's because everyone can see my actual skin and not just how it looks with a little aptly placed foundation. I was actually even called a "glow worm" by one of the girls in the industry. For someone who is pedantic about her skin, this was a pretty wonderful compliment. 

Oribe texturizing spray
Oribe Dry Texturizing spray $23.00

While I missed makeup, I felt empowered and confident coming out on the other side. I am actually still bare-faced as I write this and probably won't wear any makeup to work tomorrow, either. The single greatest aspect of this experiment is how quickly I can be out the door to work in the morning. Skincare, Oribe Texturizing Spray ($48) in my hair, and I'm done. It's changed my morning routine for the better, that's for sure (I've started jade rolling again with my newfound time, and it's so good). 

To get an idea of how much of a transformation going makeup-free actually was, let's take a look at how my daily look and routine changed. To begin, I've got a photo of my face entirely made up (by Terry DeGunzburg, no less). I also have a blowout, so my confidence was peaking. While it's a natural look, there is a highly skilled application of creams, liquids, and powders that had me all glowy and even-toned. Ah, the power of makeup, right? 

Emily Algar with makeup
Emily Algar


Next, we have a photo of me bare-faced, taken on day one. But, I will disclose that the night before, I'd had a facial with Melanie Grant (and a healthy splash of Biologique P50), and my eyebrows done by Davies. Also, the natural lighting in my bathroom is on point. 

Emily Algar goes makeup free
Emily Algar


Below, I posted one three days prior, minus the lighting and plus a smattering of acne marks and pigmentation. If I'm being honest, coming into this experiment, I was more worried about not filling in my eyebrows than skipping foundation, but I'll get to that later.  

Emily Algar goes makeup free
Emily Algar

The Final Takeaway

So, the answer to the million-dollar question is: Do I need makeup to feel pretty? No. Do I feel prettier without it? Not always. And would I do it again? 100 percent. But another thought I had was about the word "pretty" itself. Looking back, I'd probably rather sub it out for "confident," because "pretty" is such a subjective and convoluted term. In short, I overall still felt capable and good about myself without my daily face paint, and I'm pretty proud that I stuck it out. 

Related Stories