Everyone has their desert-island beauty product. The one thing they feel naked leaving home without. For me, it's mascara. Unless I'm forgoing makeup entirely—for special occasions such as running errands, exercising, or lounging around in solitude—mascara is a must if I'm wearing even an ounce of makeup. To skip mascara on my made-up face is, for me, the visual equivalent of the chalkboard noise. When a mascara-less me looks in the mirror, my eyes look dead, my face looks pallid, and no amount of bold lip can save the situation.
I'd much sooner skip foundation, even on a bad skin day, than head out into the world with naked, undefined lashes. There's something about mascara that I feel transforms my face, and hence, a made-up face complete with some generous swipes of mascara has become the version of myself with which I'm most comfortable. So the idea of renouncing (even temporarily) my holy-grail beauty product for as many days as humanly possible (I aimed for a month and allowed for—and added on—some exceptions) was nerve-racking, to say the least.
Read on to see how I survived 27 days (more or less) without mascara.
Day one was the most difficult. First came the challenge of getting made up that morning. My plan was to give up mascara, not to live my life barefaced. I have one way of doing my makeup—with the occasional swap of lipstick or eye shadow shade—and the look is meant for mascara. On the first day, I completed my typical face and simply skipped my usual swipe of mascara at the end. The beauty look was off—it was too loud and heavy when paired with bare lashes. Throughout the day, I was self-conscious that I must look drastically different than my usual self.
By day five, I had navigated makeup application minus mascara, finding that it was best if I ditched eyeliner as well and took it down a notch with the eye shadow. Instead of focusing on the eyes, I paid special attention to creating a natural glow, spending extra time experimenting with bronzer and highlighter. As someone who has spent most of her adult years working the same beauty look with little variation, it was fun to switch it up. Skincare, while always important to me, became even more decisive, as I felt it wasn't as easy to draw attention away from imperfections without defined, pumped-up lashes.
My biggest hesitation when beginning the challenge was the reactions of others. Would people I interacted with on a daily basis notice how different my face looked without mascara? After about a week, it was clear that no one even noticed I had ditched my favorite beauty product. Though I didn't feel like myself, I appeared to be myself to others. It was reassuring—especially in a world where I'm using to phrases like "are you sick?" or "you look tired" every time I work a fresh face around people (particularly men) who usually see me in makeup.
When I first began the challenge, I envisioned that I'd have thick, lush, gorgeous, healthy lashes by the end of it. After all, hasn't it always been touted that mascara is the culprit behind eyelash thinning and loss? But three weeks into the experiment, without warning, four to five clustered lashes bit the dust with the clamp of an eyelash curler. I had a legitimate bald spot on my lash line. I was horrified and confused. I had sacrificed one major eyelash stressor, and yet this is when my lashes became their worst.
I did consider that perhaps it was my eyelash-curling technique (or lack thereof) that had caused the trauma to my lash line. But giving up mascara and forfeiting curling my eyelashes is a challenge I'm not yet ready for.
After the eyelash incident, my motivation to continue the challenge quickly waned. If giving up mascara wasn't enough to ensure my lashes at least stayed in place (as they were evidently neither growing thicker nor more gorgeous), then what was the motivation to ditch something so dear to me? I began making more and more exceptions for when it was okay to cheat with mascara. I was visiting friends and family back in New York and didn't want the stress, self-consciousness, and subpar selfies that come with living a mascara-free life to impede on my time on the East Coast.
I'd skip makeup during the day, but graduation parties, bar-hopping, and a New Kids on the Block concert ultimately called for a bit of mascara to finish off the look.
I'll come clean and admit that 27 is a rough number. As described above, the last few days of the challenge were punctuated by exceptions when I'd allow myself a little mascara when I thought it appropriate. When I accepted the fact that my mascara-free daylight hours hardly counted as giving up mascara, I called the challenge off. Satisfied with making it nearly one month, I ordered myself a fresh tube and happily returned to my mascara-wearing ways.
What's your desert-island beauty product? Would you ever try living without it? Let us know if you're up for the challenge in the comments.