On Monday, September 10, 2012, the five ladies of CBS’s ‘The Talk’ did the unthinkable during the premiere of the show’s third season. Sheryl Underwood, Sara Gilbert, Sharon Osbourne, Aisha Tyler, and Julie Chen walked onto the set without their major weaponry. Each agreed to go without hair extensions and makeup throughout the entire hour-long show. No, this wasn’t not pre-taped. This was to represent the beauty (and fear) of live television. And as Chen, who I’d like to crown the Queen Mother of makeup contouring and sculpting (watch one episode and you’ll see what I mean), revealed to People Magazine recently, “We know there are people who are going to say, ‘Oh, my God, no wonder they wear so much makeup.’ “
Upon first hearing the show’s plans, I was afraid for them. Who in the world would want to forego being touched, snatched, and pampered by some of Hollywood’s most esteemed and talented makeup artists just to prove a point? Are they kidding? No, I don’t work in Hollywood nor is my face plastered on television each day, but a planned day without wearing makeup for attention’s sake is not high on my list of priorities. Yet ‘The Talk’ cast is hoping that this act of solidarity, and insanity for some, will maintain its desire to keep it real with viewers, a fact in which they pride themselves. And as I’ve given this more thought, I can see their point – somewhat.
Oh, yes, while makeup comes in all shapes, shades, colors, tones, sizes, and prices, the art of applying it can become habit-forming. And habits form various levels of dependency. While some women may apply foundation, eye shadow, or blush to conceal hyperpigmentation or last week’s acne scar, others simply find comfort in seeing themselves in the different light cast by their favorite makeup shade. It’s easy to become dependent on the barrier that makeup provides between our natural skin, in all of its imperfection, and the mask of makeup. We enjoy the confidence we carry when the barrier is powdered on tight. And here’s another big secret: we bask in the compliments we receive when others admire our new shade of anything. I know I do. It’s the reason why simply the thought of going without our favorite lip color or eyeliner sends us into modes of panic.
Even today, as I write this, I’m reminded of the eerie sense of loss that plagued me as I boarded the commuter train to my job in D.C. I had my phone, purse, and keys, but as I glanced in the mirror on the car closest to me (yes, I do this often, sadly), I smugly stared back at my reflection. The face I simply can’t escape had not an ounce of foundation, slather of lip gloss, or sweep of my favorite blush. It was as bare as a baby’s bottom and I was not happy. Waking up late had limited the time I usually commit to applying my makeup. I don’t have this overwhelming need to face another day, fresh-faced, ready to greet the world.
But ‘The Talk’ may just be on to something that we all can share. Even I, the award-winning makeup artist who wouldn’t be caught dead without MAC’s Lady Danger lipstick somewhere in my stash, could use a lesson in doing without for the sake of doing without. Grasping the concept of being natural may begin by admiring the hair and glowing skin of another woman. But it doesn’t mean much until we’ve fully embraced the idea for ourselves. For the woman who says she simply can’t go a day without her makeup, I challenge her to go a few hours without any product on her face. I can already see some of you, wagging your finger in rebuttal at this suggestion, so I’m willing to compromise: if the idea of going bare-faced scares the crap out of you, limit yourself to applying only three to four products for the next few days, all minimal in color. Instead of red lipstick, try a new gloss. Not that blue eye shadow this time, but a tawny touch on your lid and you’re good to go. And if all else fails, remember I’m taking the challenge with you. (Check out the photo of yours truly sans makeup.)
Sure, no makeup means having to face those pesky under-eye circles or multiple complexion shades. But when is the last time you’ve actually just gone for a gallon of milk without worrying about if you’re wearing enough mascara? And trust me, if the guy in your office building is ever going to truly adore you, at some point he’ll have to see you with the face you were born with, not the one that looks like it belongs on the cover of a beauty magazine. (Think Beyoncé or Jill really care about being snapped without makeup?) Going a few hours or even a day without makeup may not initially feel like you’re doing something great for humanity but it just may reaffirm the person you’ve been trying to become underneath all the makeup anyway – you.
Please let me know how life without makeup suits you (or doesn’t) and submit photos on The Diary of Natural Gal’s Facebook page or to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.