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

Updated 12/09/18
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Last month, 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 deep-set 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. 

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 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).


However, here we are at the end of my experiment, and as promised, I've written 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). If you're intrigued, keep scrolling. 

Courtesy of Emily Algar

Made Up

To begin, I've got a photo of my face entirely made up (by Terry DeGunzburg, no less). I also have a blow dry, 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? 

Courtesy of Emily Algar

No Makeup, Good Lighting

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 Lien Davies of Brow Confidence. Also, the natural lighting in my bathroom is on-point. 

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.  

Courtesy of Emily Algar

No Makeup, Average Lighting

So how did I go?

So, 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 (who does my brows) instructs 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 defence, I was otherwise completely bare-faced on the internet for the world to see. For me, that was a relatively courageous act. 

How did it make me feel?

This is a complex question to answer, because while overall I felt great, 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 had zero makeup on. 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 their skin, this was a pretty wonderful compliment. 

While I missed makeup, I feel empowered and confident coming out 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 final single greatest aspect of this experiment is how quickly I can be out the door to work in the morning. Skincare, Oribe Texturizing Spray 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).



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 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. 

But, I understand that not everyone has the same thoughts and emotions as me (and skin confidence can be a major issue for some), so I'd love to know your thoughts. Do you, or would you ever go without makeup? Why or why not? Feel free to sound off in the comments below, or message me on Instagram at and let me know your thoughts. 

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