Haasch: Makeup shouldn’t feel necessary

What happens when makeup feels more like an obligation than an avenue for self-expression?

by Palmer Haasch

I went to get a haircut the other day, which is nothing out of the ordinary. I have short hair, which means frequent haircuts. As I quickly put myself together before leaving my appointment, I struggled to decide whether to wear makeup. I was already running late, I knew I was going to have to redo it later for an event in the evening and if I’m being frank, I just didn’t want to. However, I ended up doing so — my reasoning being that if my haircut turned out badly, I didn’t want to have to deal with my bare face too.

Until this past summer, I was never someone who did their makeup regularly. This was, in large part, due to the fact that I was in the habit of waking up too late to even throw on mascara. However, after moving out-of-state for an internship, I found myself dutifully putting on foundation, concealer, bronzer, blush, highlight, eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara and brow cream every morning before I went into the office. Given few friends and nonexistent plans, I spent a significant amount of time on my days off putting on makeup as well. 

After less than two weeks, I was in the habit of putting on makeup every day. Eventually, I became more accustomed to seeing myself with a full face of makeup than without. My summer pre-work routine carried over in the school year, and I found myself putting on nearly a full face before class every day.

This alone isn’t a problem — I like doing my makeup, and it helps give some structure to my previously hectic mornings. The issue lies in the fact that after constantly seeing my face smoothed over with a layer of foundation, I find it difficult to force myself to go out barefaced. Each day that I attempt to forgo cosmetics in lieu of an extra twenty minutes in the morning, I inevitably cave after glancing too many times at my uneven, acne-prone skin.

Now, I feel like makeup is more of an obligation than an avenue by which I can express myself. More often than not, I wear it because I feel compelled to as soon as I look at my face in the morning. On days that I choose not to, I worry that classmates will think that I’m sick or ask if I’m doing alright. Overall, I enjoy doing makeup and watching others explore its art on various social media. However, I’ve reached a breaking point where it has mostly ceased to be fun and has become a chore more than anything else. 

For some, makeup is a passion, a way to cope with insecurities, or a career. For me, I know that my attitude towards makeup is unhealthy. I’m in the process of trying to move past my cosmetic compulsion by forcing myself to skip makeup for at least one day during the work week. Forcing myself to go out barefaced helps me to both get used to the feeling of seeing my natural face in the mirror as well as the feeling of not wearing makeup. To be candid, I probably rub my eyes five hundred plus times on the days I don’t wear makeup simply because I can. I’m planning on increasing the days that I don’t wear makeup each week until I start feeling fully comfortable in my own skin again. Don’t get me wrong: makeup is amazing and I love how confident it can make me feel. However, that shouldn’t come at the expense of my own body image.