Confessions of a Beauty Junkie: Learning to Be Naked

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A beauty editor discusses the psychology of beauty, how she came to love her skin makeup-free, and how you can come to love yours too!

I once overheard a woman describing her dating bio with one of those trite statements like, "I enjoy long walks on the beach and a good red wine," as though long walks on the beach tell you anything of real value about a person. But for some, that phrase personifies their laid-back nature. If I had to think of one, mine would be "I enjoy spending hours in [insert beauty store] perusing cosmetics and reading books about skincare." I'm not alone in that sentiment. According to an article published on Mint.com, the average women will spend $15,000 on makeup over the course of her lifetime— $3,770 on mascara, $2,750 on eye shadow and $1,780 on lipstick. I will assume that the remaining $6,700 is being spent on foundation and primers.

But if that $15,000 only covers the cost of makeup, the amount spent on skincare must be considerably higher. Admittedly, I only recently became a [bare] skin enthusiast. Two years ago,  I operated on a sunscreen-free,  moisturizer-free, two-product system ( cleanser and acne gel). Fast forward to today and my skincare team is seven products deep and we're thick as thieves. We're talkin' a cleanser, mask, two serums, an eye cream, a moisturizer and an SPF. Skincare is one of the highlights of my morning, and a general nighttime necessity, but I guess taking pride in that is part of the reason why I'm a beauty editor. 

A 2011 study of 355 women between the ages of 18 and 50, conducted by the University of the Basque Country confirmed that women are often driven to purchase cosmetics based on emotion rather than satisfaction with the product. While some succumb to beauty indulgences for the love of makeup artistry, for many women, the art of "becoming beautiful" is an addiction; with pigments and brushes replacing needles and narcotics as the drug of choice.

Companies thrive on the psychology of self-perception, targeting female consumers by feeding on their need for affirmation of physical beauty and their instinctive nature to compare their own beauty to that of their peers. As stated in the study, "One way of achieving this is by subtly telling them they are ugly— something that many cosmetics adverts achieve implicitly and very effectively by showing images of unusually beautiful women."

Of course, it is no surprise that marketing is designed to target our weaknesses, but once a beauty victim, how does one return to or arrive at a point of self-acceptance? If you are like me, you grew up practicing a general approach to skincare and hoped for the best; thinking more abrasive formulas would brighten and clear-up dull skin. You approached your skin the same way that you approach grime in between the tiles on your bathroom floor— harshly scrubbing and exfoliating your skin until it submit to your methodology. Suddenly, your skin took a backseat and where it failed in clarity, you made up with makeup; masking the imperfections that may have resulted from a hormonal imbalance and poor technique, or perhaps even the makeup itself.

Ironically—or perhaps, not so ironically—our ever-industrious western culture has an affinity for the manufacturing of beauty which casts a dark shadow over its' fundamental building blocks, that which we have naturally. I began wearing makeup at the age of 16, after a brief modeling stint. I loved it because it made me feel beautiful, but eventually, I wouldn't leave the house without it. In a large sense, makeup crippled me. Without it, my skin wasn't even enough, my eyes looked too tired, my cheeks looked dull. It wasn't until I began my career in beauty that I discovered that beauty editors generally wear very little makeup, if they wear any at all. Beauty editor's and makeup artists enjoy the art of makeup, but what they really take pride in is their bare skin. Here are a few tips how you can too:

1. Commit to detoxing one product at a time.

Eventually, I felt out of place in the office wearing a full face of makeup, so I began to wean myself off of products one at a time. I started with foundation, opting for a tinted moisturizer instead. Next up, I dropped my habit of using heavy concealer under my eyes—something that you can reserve for evening, as it's less necessary in daylight. I kept everything else simple: balmy lips, lightly filled-in brows, and a lengthening mascara on my lashes. As I amped up my skincare and my skin began to glow, I dropped the tinted moisturizer and began spot treating with concealer, focusing solely on the parts of my face with hyper pigmentation (around my lips and along my jawline—battle scars from teenage acne wars.) 

2. Learn to accept that your bare face is the right kind of beautiful. 

We often begin to apply makeup with an ideal in mind—a certain kind of beauty that we hope to achieve. Whether it's chiseled cheeks, lighter skin, or a thinner nose, but at some point, we go beyond enhancing our beauty, and begin to change our face. Learning to be naked is about being happy with the reflection that looks back at you in the mirror. If you break the cycle of daily dependency on makeup, and make a habit of looking at yourself without a mask of makeup on a regular basis, your idea of beauty will expand to include your naked self as well as your made-up self. Each is just as beautiful as the other, but confidence in your naked skin will always trump beauty-for-purchase.

3. Change your vocabulary. 'Healthy skin' is not synonymous with 'perfect skin.''

A crucial step in learning to be naked is setting better standards for your skin. Strive for optimum health rather than perfection; bearing in mind that your skin is a living thing and should be treated as such. The more you care for your skin, the healthier it will become; and, healthy skin is great skin.

4. Give it 30 Days.

Studies have shown that it takes approximately 21 days to make or break a habit. Give your brain a chance to reset by committing to it for three weeks, minimum; add a few days to make it a month for good measure. Coincidentally, your skin rejuvenates itself after about a month, so it will take about that long to commit to better skincare and see the results. Of course, it may take more than 30 days for you to begin to truly love your bare skin, but a month of cutting back on cosmetics will allow you time to develop a rapport with your skin. Additionally, because you are cutting back on products, you will notice that you do not need as much makeup as you may have thought that you needed before. As a result, you will learn how to apply makeup to suit your needs for the first time, instead of merely copying someone else's technique.

Personally, it took me close to the better part of a year to completely recalibrate and identify my naked skin as beautiful, but after dedicating so much time to obtaining healthy skin, I wanted to show off my hard work and now I rarely use foundation at all. During the week, I often choose one part of my face to focus on—usually the eyes—and I enhance that feature. My daily makeup routine consists of three products: brow gel, mascara, and blush. Of course on weekends and special occasions I go the distance and wear a full face, but for the most part, I love my skin. It's beautiful without the mask of makeup that I once thought I needed, and yours is too.

Have you ever done a makeup detox? Tell us how you came to love your naked skin in the comments below!



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Filed under: Beauty, Skin