Reporter Siobhan Downes removing her makeup to kick off the weeklong experiment. (Photo: Stuff)
What would happen if you’ve been a lifelong makeup lover and decided to ditch cosmetics for a week? Siobhan Downes, a reporter with Stuff New Zealand, decided to find out, and she recorded it all in a hilarious video.
Downes admits she started using makeup as an adolescent to help build up her low self-esteem. “My deeply self-conscious teenage self started slathering on a layer of foundation around age 15,” she said. “Then a bit of mascara. Somewhere along the way, I built up an arsenal of bronzers, concealers, eyeshadows, eyeliners, and lipsticks. Once you start, you can’t stop. It feels like part of your face is missing.”
So she wanted to see what her day-to-day life would be like if she skipped that essential part of her routine. After removing her makeup and telling her cosmetics that she’ll miss them, Downes went out to dinner with friends and admits she felt completely exposed. “I feel vulnerable the second I walk out the door, like a newborn, bleary-eyed mouse,” she said. “When the waitress takes my order, I have a hysterical urge to explain myself. I want to tell her, ‘I don’t usually look like this.’”
This is how Downes normally looks with makeup. (Photo: Stuff)
Despite feeling vulnerable, Downes enjoyed getting an extra 15 minutes of sleep by nixing her morning makeup routine before braving it bare-faced at work. However, she soon realized that even co-workers who see her every day didn’t notice her makeup-free look. “I tell my colleague I’m doing the ‘week without’ challenge, and she asks what I’m going without,” Downes said. “I look at her in disbelief, and make a framing motion around my face. ‘Never would have noticed,’ she says.”
It made Downes reflect on how she views other women’s faces. “I would tend to think, She has nice eyes, or She has a nice smile. I wouldn’t think, Gosh, she has expertly applied her eyeliner at precisely the right level of thickness this morning.”
This is Downes without a spot of makeup. (Photo: Stuff)
Her takeaway after the seven-day experiment? “What I’ve realized over the past week is that other people are too busy worrying about their own faces to be concerned about mine,” she said. “When I put my makeup on in the morning, I’m not doing it for anyone else — I’m doing it for myself. And that’s reason enough, really.”
She added: “Because even though I know I don’t need foundation or mascara or lipstick, if it’s something that’s going to help me face the world feeling a little bit more confident and sparkly, well, what’s wrong with that?” Amen to that.