Daughter playfully touches mother's nose.


Accepting The Skin I’m In By Going Makeup Free

Aug 1, 2017

I got something last Christmas I wasn’t expecting. Pink Eye. My daughter gave it to me, and then to my husband. And while theirs quickly cleared up, mine lingered. A visit to the doctor just before the holidays didn’t result in the quick fix I was hoping for. Instead, I was told I had developed an allergy to (gasp!) makeup. I was to toss out all cosmetics and not wear anything on my face for an entire week.

So I did what any frazzled and vain mother would do over the holidays. I ignored the doctor’s advice. I mean really, it was the holidays. Everything in my home was tarted up and coated in glitter and sheen. My face couldn’t be the only exception.

I caught myself asking people to forgive my appearance. I felt my lack of eyeliner warranted explanation. I was literally apologizing for my face.

And oh how my eyelids burned. My skin tingled. But after the holidays came birthday parties, business meetings and special events at my daughter’s school. There was no way I could go to any of that without putting on my face, right?

That is until one morning while complaining about the toll makeup was taking, my daughter asked, “why are you putting that stuff on anyway?”

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Why indeed? Truthfully, I hadn’t given the ritual much thought since starting it as a teenager. But when posed with my daughter’s question, for the first time I pondered an honest answer.

Because I feel society expects me to.

Because I don’t recognize myself without it.

Because it makes me feel pretty.

Now I look around and see plenty of women who are perfectly at ease leaving home without painting their faces.

Not exactly the message I wanted to be sending my tween. So I tossed out my cosmetics and confronted the world bare-faced expecting the worst. I caught myself asking people to forgive my appearance. I felt my lack of eyeliner warranted explanation. How dare I subject them to my unadorned skin? I was literally apologizing for my face.

And the response? Nobody seemed to notice, or if they did, they didn’t care. Shockingly, the world did not end because I wasn’t wearing mascara.

Now I look around and see plenty of women who are perfectly at ease leaving home without painting their faces. In fact, I have friends who I have never seen wear any makeup at all. Alicia Keys famously swore off it and even Hillary Clinton opted to forego her usual maquillage when she gave her first post-election speech.

I view makeup differently now. I know that much of it contains harmful ingredients like Formaldehyde, coal tar dyes and parabens. I have a new respect for the face I was given and think twice about what I put on it and why. So when my daughter asks, “why are you putting that on your face?” I can say:

Because I choose to.

Because I don’t have to.

And because I no longer need it to feel pretty.

Article Author Laura Mullin
Laura Mullin

Read more from Laura here.

Laura Mullin is a playwright, director and the Co-Artistic Director of Expect Theatre and PlayME Podcast. Laura is passionate about the arts and works in theatre, film, and new media. She lives in Toronto with her writer/producer husband and their budding fashion designer nine-year-old daughter. When Laura isn’t writing plays or turning them into podcasts, she can usually be found picking up tin foil and duct tape off the floor after one of her daughter’s many avant-garde art projects. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @expectlaura.

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