When I was in high school, I had a religious experience. I can’t explain why, but one day I stood transfixed in front of the mirror, and something hit me from high above — or beyond. WHY? Why am I wearing all this makeup? Why do I cake the living organ that is my skin with toxic barely-invented-yesterday chemicals? Why do I go through this bullshit routine every day when I am perfectly aware that time is our most valuable currency?
I hated putting it on, hated how my skin felt while it was on, and of course: hated having to take it off (mercy on you if you don’t). I became angry with myself for having wasted what I calculated to be months of my life so far on this pointless ritual — which by the way hadn’t even gotten me laid. It then dawned on me that makeup is the Chinese footbinding of our age.
So I just stopped.
Except for really special occasions, I entirely nixed makeup from my routine from that day forward. And I loved it.
I didn’t know it yet, but I had joined a global sisterhood of likeminded women. Black women who know that we, alone, are enough. Black women GLOW. If turning ourselves into Russian dolls of layers of capitalism’s industrial byproduct was necessary, we wouldn’t exist as a species to begin with.
I would soon find out about that sisterhood. When the eyes in our fresh au naturel faces meet in the street, we just know. But I also learned so many other wonderful things about the no makeup lifestyle. Here’s what I discovered.
#1. No makeup is much faster
My morning routine takes about 5 minutes instead of 30. Pee, brush teeth, wash face, contacts, GO. There are almost never jazz hands, however. It’s 6 a.m. for pete’s sake. If you start to do the calculations on how much extra life you get to live if you ditch the makeup, this one is a no-brainer.
#2. Our Black skin comes with nature’s finest makeup built in
As Black women, being naturally beautiful is our birth-right, and we come out of the vajayjay baked to perfection. There is a reason melanin is the most expensive chemical in the world!
#3. No makeup is cheaper — Duh
Over the years, I’ve saved hundreds — maybe thousands — of dollars on not buying makeup and its related accessories. Money I could then spend on things and experiences that brought me joy, instead of a morning chore.
#4. No makeup is less zitty
I have naturally oily skin, which means I’m already prone to shininess and blemishes — two things makeup only makes worse. Zinc oxide, dimethicone, talc, parabens, and propylene are some of the ingredients commonly found in makeup. They gradually create a thin build up on the skin, which traps oils and sweat below — causing pimples.
#5. No makeup is freeing
I don’t have to “put my face on.” I have nothing to fear if someone drops by unannounced. I don’t have to constantly freshen up my makeup, worry that there might be lipstick on my teeth, or any other makeup-related neurosis. I’m just me.
#6. No makeup is healthier
Most makeup, especially the cheaper end stuff, contains toxic substances we probably shouldn’t be slathering on our body’s most porous organ.
You probably already know that fragrances and preservatives can trigger allergic reactions, including contact dermatitis. Common ingredients like parabens have been detected in cancer cells. Formaldehyde is another nasty preservative — this one can irritate your eyes and skin.
#7. No makeup keeps us young
While it is well established that Black don’t crack, there is no reason to actively vandalize our sacred temples. The toxins trapped by makeup will over time cause increased pore size and deepened wrinkles, giving you more of an aged appearance. Drop the makeup and you’ll probably still look 40 when you’re 80, like our beautiful Black men!
#8. No makeup is rebellious
You know what sucks? Doing things because they’re expected of you. Not wearing makeup is a really easy way to stand out, be different, and let your light shine. I’m living proof that it’s still possible to make friends, date, and embark on a career, all without makeup on.
#9. No makeup is a confidence booster
When I stopped wearing daily makeup, I stopped feeling like I was wearing a mask. I show the real me to the world every day, with the knowledge that they see me the same way I see me.
And you know what? Absolutely no one complained. This sounds so small, I know, but it was a huge confidence booster for me. And if there’s one thing Black women could use more of, it’s confidence.
#10. No makeup makes special occasions even more special
I won’t lie and say that I never, EVER, touch makeup. But when I do, it’s for a truly special occasion, and instead of being a chore, it’s a festive, unique ritual that amps up the excitement.
Bonus: Saying goodbye to makeup is a celebration of Us
Many people use makeup to “cover” or “fix” things they see as physical flaws. When you don’t wear makeup every day, it’s a big step toward making peace with yourself, and celebrating the beautiful characteristics that have been there all along.
And, by God, they are beautiful characteristics. There is nothing more beautiful than an au naturel Black woman proud of her perfect visage.
You are a queen. Own it.
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