Recently, a brilliant beauty blogger I know posted a video of herself on Insta Story with no makeup on and the caption ‘because we too often look at images we forget what real skin looks like’ (link to her blog here – seriously check it out, she looks flawless and writes beautifully). I carried on skipping through other people’s stories, but her words stuck with me. 99.9% of the people whose stories I watched had makeup on, as did I when I sat watching them. I scrolled down my feed and I couldn’t see a single photo that wasn’t edited, filtered or of people wearing makeup. Don’t get me wrong, I love makeup. I love seeing people’s incredible application skills, I love going to places like Sephora and I love it when you can add a dash of lipstick and instantly feel yourself be boosted. This is not a post that is anti makeup or against anyone who wears it.
But those words made me realise how little we see people without it and made me realise how often that I personally am uncomfortable to go out without it. For example, the other night I was meeting Jack after work to get some snacks for a TV night. The shop is 5 minutes from our apartment, it was dark and I’d not had any makeup on all day, but I looked at my skin and couldn’t stand the idea of going out in public without at least a layer of foundation and a hint of bronzer on to even out my skin tone. I ran upstairs, applied my makeup and poor Jack was waiting outside the shop for me to get there for 5 minutes. Maybe if I was more confident in the skin I was in, there wouldn’t be an anecdote that ended in Jack waiting around for me to get ready to attach to this blog post.
This isn’t to say that I never go out without wearing makeup. I’ve spoken before in this post about my birthmark about how I now feel more comfortable than ever before to go out makeup free and it’s true, I do. I have gone to the beach, gone for walks and gone to work completely barefaced. My birthmark does not hold me back in the same way that it used to.
Yet still if you said to me now that I had to go to somewhere as trivial as the supermarket with no makeup on, I don’t think that I would.
This morning when I got out of the shower, I looked at my skin and asked myself ‘would I be confident to go out like this? Would I share a selfie like this?’
I had two spots. It’s not often I get spots at all, but because I’ve been feeling a little run down recently, I have two. I was a little tired so my eyes looked swollen. In general, I don’t have that even skin tone we see advertised. My cheeks and my nose are a little pinker than the rest of my face and the skin under my eyes is little dull, and that’s my skin without even mentioning my birthmark.
Instead of shying away from how I looked makeup free with soaking wet hair, I’d decided to take a photo. I decided that one of the images I would share with the world was that of my real skin. Like my friend said, we sometimes forget what real skin looks like. We sometimes forget what we look like underneath it all.
Really this is what I look like. Strip it all back, me as I am, this is what I look like.
I am clothed, my hair is just covering my vest!
I took it in front of a window to use natural lighting, but other than that, this is me, exactly as I was this morning.
These are the kinds of images that we don’t see shared online and this is why we think we are strange or ugly when we don’t have smooth completions and perfect, even skin tones. It’s the reason we are reluctant to go outside makeup free, the reason we feel we aren’t enough if we don’t wear it. Think about it – when was the last time you saw someone’s skin just as it is on your newsfeed?
There is nothing strange or ugly about this photo. This is natural. This is my skin this morning. They are my eyebrows, untamed and not filled in. Those are my lips that I hadn’t moisturised with lip balm yet. That is my birthmark, catching the light from the sun. Those are surprise spots that I woke up to find. That’s me. That’s my skin.
I know that sharing a makeup free selfie doesn’t change anything. I know that some people still still conceal their skin through shame. I know some people will still wear makeup because it’s a powerful expression of who they are. I know that most of us wear makeup because we enjoy it and will continue to enjoy it. I know that I will continue to happily post selfies when I am all ‘made up’. I know that I will still run upstairs and put on a layer of paint between myself and the world even if I am just running to the shops.
But by sharing this, I feel like I am showing that I don’t care if you see me like this. I am not embarrassed of this photo. This is what real skin is. We might not see it often, but it’s always there underneath it all. This is what we all look like. Real skin, that thing that we all have. This is okay. This is natural. I might even go as far as saying this is beautiful.