The first time I let my co-workers see me without any makeup on, after nearly eight years, was during a Zoom meeting a couple of weeks into the pandemic. I'm not sure anyone even noticed, but it made me anxious nonetheless.
I'm usually pretty put-together — hair washed and styled daily, makeup on, and a carefully coordinated outfit. Since mid-March, though, my daily beauty and fashion routines are nearly nonexistent. I wear comfy lounge clothes to work from home every day and not a drop of makeup besides moisturizer.
I'm far from alone. I've lost track of all the pieces I've read examining how the pandemic has blown up women's beauty routines, replacing them with a fresh, product-free perspective on how we see ourselves, and how we present ourselves to the world. From letting roots grow out when salons closed to abandoning our razors, so many of us are going "au natural," both by choice and circumstance.
For me, the extended break from my vanity chair has been unexpectedly freeing.
For so long, I was genuinely self-conscious of my own face without makeup. At times through my teens and 20s, I deeply believed my super-fair, freckle-prone skin and naturally blonde hair to be utterly plain, boring and childish. I have nearly invisible eyelashes and brows. In middle and high school, I was constantly teased for my paleness. I'll never forget this mean joke boys would say: "If you were caught naked in a snowstorm no one would be able to find you!" Ha, ha. In college, I slept with makeup on not out of laziness, but insecurity.
Since I've grown used to seeing my own face in the mirror without any products over the past few months, I've begun to reevaluate my past reliance on them. For so long I'd convinced myself that I wore makeup for myself, because it made me feel confident and presentable. But if that were true, why did I still care so much if anyone noticed when I didn't?
Among the many pandemic-prompted beauty reflections, a piece by the New York Times quoted a few experts saying that when this is all over, we'll go back to old beauty habits, maybe even more strongly than before.
Even if that turns out true, I hope my inner confidence discovered during this break lasts, and that more women have also discovered a newfound confidence and respect for their beautiful bare skin, brows, lashes and lips. ♦