This past month, I climbed the beauty version of Mount Everest. I challenged myself to survive a full 30 days without wearing makeup—no tinted moisturizer, tinted lip balm or tinted anything. Spurred by a combination of curiosity and masochism, I packed it all away and went about my days in the buff from the neck up in an attempt to test my vanity and give my skin a break. Here’s what I learned.
No makeup and no filters. Photo: @caryfspitzer
I'm not as vain as I thought I was. The ease with which I got ready to go out sans maquillage more than made up for my uneven skin and patchy eyebrows. And on most nights that I bared all—despite being dressed to the nines with a bouncy blowout and killer heels—I forgot that my face was naked. My friends didn't notice. In fact, they complimented my smooth skin. The time I usually spend worrying about migrating lipstick or creased eye shadow was devoted to listening to my husband tell me about his day or savoring a particularly delicious glass of wine.
No-makeup must-haves. Photo: @originsusa
But I’m still pretty vain. Once that novelty wore off, I shifted my focus to my skin and started over-examining my pores, my fine lines and anything else that screamed, “You're not perfect!” I stocked up on masks and peels and gels to try and achieve the sort of flawlessness that can only really be had with great lighting and Instagram filters. By day 30, my skin definitely didn't resemble a teenage supermodel's, but my pores were noticeably smaller.
One month later. Photo: @caryfspitzer
But not that vain. On my first day back in civilization, I ran as fast as I could to Benefit's Brow Bar for an eyebrow and lash tint. Then I put it all on: primer, foundation, concealer, contour, cream blush, mascara and a dark red lip. I felt so glamorous, but three hours later, I was melting faster than the Wicked Witch of the West. The following night, I attended happy hour with a bare face. Now, I look forward to the special occasions that call for eyeliner and lipstick, but for every day, I know I can survive—and thrive—without a barrier between my skin and the rest of the world.
Want to give makeup the slip? Here are my tips:
- Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! Nothing made my skin feel better than frequent applications of an oil-free, moisture-replenishing cream. By day, I used Clean & Clear Essentials Dual-Action Moisturizer with salicylic acid. Twice a week, I went to bed wearing a layer of Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask.
- Keep your fingers off your skin! Every dermatologist and facialist will tell you this till the end of time: Your hands are bacteria farms, and when you touch your face, you're giving those little bugs carte blanche with your pores.
- Skip the booze. I woke up several mornings with a puffy mug, red nose and under-eye circles that suggested I'd just lost a cage match. Booze might be skin's worst enemy (after cigarettes and too much sun, of course).
- Don't overwork your skin. Masks and peels and other heavy-duty products are great once a week, but nightly applications will make your skin freak out (and likely break out). Relax, and refer to tip one.