Why I Stopped Wearing Makeup to Work

The thought of smudged foundation on my iPhone screen.

I don't wear makeup to work. Cue the shocked gasps. But, it's not for the reason you think.

It all started with my first real job out of college. I knew someone, who knew someone, who got me an interview at a very luxe hair salon. I thought I was there to work the front desk, swipe client's credit cards, the usual. What I didn't know, was that it was also my job to carry the reputation of the salon on my shoulders (well, on my face). I was the first thing people saw when those gilded elevator doors opened, and the last thing in view as they left. A full face of makeup and immaculate hair was expected, daily. And it was fun! I am a bonafied beauty fanatic and nothing pleases me more than perfect curls and a red lip. But after a while, it dawned on me that my job was very literally to look pretty—that it was acceptable to discuss my physicality as part of my job description—and eventually, it really waned on my psyche. And, have you ever tried to eat a burrito with lipstick on?

According to the New York Times, a recent study concluded that makeup "increases people's perceptions of a woman's likability, her competence, and her trustworthiness." Honestly, it makes sense. Not only does it confirm the obvious: people like attractive women, but most of us are more confident when we feel like we look great and project that onto the world. But I started to wonder, when does wearing makeup stop being about confidence and begin to veer into self doubt?

Just to be clear, this isn't a sob story. Once I landed my first full-time writing job, my former position as a salon insider became surprisingly important. I knew how the industry worked and had behind-the-scenes experience with beauty big wigs that I never otherwise would have. The salon helped me excel in my career, and it continues to this day. But, I found I no longer felt it necessary to get up in the morning and apply makeup. I just didn't want to anymore. As a beauty editor, I was expected to test and review essentially every new product to hit shelves. So, suddenly I had fancy skincare product galore! It started to seem counterproductive to smooth on $350 moisturizer made with caviar and the sweet breath of babies (or something like that) and then cover it right up with makeup. So I stopped doing it.

I'm not against women who feel it necessary to wear makeup everyday. I get it, I used to be one of them. It's really hard to step out of the house sans product when most of us haven't done so since puberty. I'm not even sure if my skin has improved, or if I've just gotten used to what my face really looks like. After much reflection it became clear to me that I wore makeup all the time for two different reasons: I loved expressing my mood with different shades of lipstick, and I just didn't think I looked pretty enough without it. Now, only one of those reasons remain. People still think you're pretty. Your face is your face, it's just hard to remember that sometimes.

I love makeup. I love lipstick, I love mascara, I love it all. But applying it is no longer motivated by insecurity, but rather by confidence. And there's that whole never being "the girl applying eyeliner" on the subway again. Because really, who wants to be that girl?


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