The Beauty Bohemian

Because you're worth it

Life Without Mascara

I’ll tell you how it all started. Some months ago I started considering how many products I require to beautify myself on a daily basis (face wash, anti-aging serum, night cream, sunscreen, concealer, mascara, lip gloss, hair gel, hair straightener, etc., etc.). Besides the fact that a trip to target was a weekly occurrence (to the sincere chagrin of my husband) and that my cabinets and shower were full, all of those beauty products take time to apply and soak up money that might be spent elsewhere. I was wondering if this stuff is so necessary, how have women lived without it for centuries upon centuries?

At about the same time, I came across this big exposé: The Story of Cosmetics. It has been around awhile, so you’ve probably seen this unsettling little film, but if not, I highly recommend watching it.

Once I realized that I was mostly dishing out money to pour unhealthy (and entirely unnecessary chemicals) onto my body (and thus, into my body), I thought this is truly insane. So I started paring down. First I ditched the hair straightener (not a chemical but damaging nonetheless). That was so liberating that I then I attacked my nail polish, my perfume collection and, finally, my face products and cosmetics. I gave my nail polish the boot, kept only the perfumes that seemed safe (more on that another time).

Yes, mascara. That one cosmetic that many of us just CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT. I only couldn’t find a mascara that was natural, safe (according to the Environmental Working Groups Cosmetics safety database; this is an excellent resource for all manner of personal care products) and that worked. I tried several kinds of natural mascara which did not work well and finally switched back to my usual drugstore mascara in despair. I couldn’t imagine giving it up. My eyes would disappear, my nose would seem more significant, I wouldn’t be as pretty.

Finally, I thought, to hell with it. And something amazing happened. When I gave up mascara (and in general, switched to very minimal makeup), I began to feel more beautiful and more confident. This is the same thing that happened, by the way, when I switched entirely to unlined/very lightly lined bras. I might be less like a model, but I have a beauty that is all mine, naturally and healthfully.

Make-up can be glamorous and fun (when it is non-toxic), but it can also be a crutch. It is impossible to be genuinely confident when you feel phony. If you were to ask yourself honestly, am I enhancing my natural beauty or hiding behind my make-up, which would be your answer? For me, for a long time, I was confusing. Don’t get me wrong; if I have circles under my eyes, I still conceal them. I curl my eyelashes; I wear lip gloss. But I look like me.

The problem is that seemingly everyone wears mascara. Female newscasters, models, family members, friends, even girls at the gym. It seems that the person who skips it will look tired or less cute. What I find shocking is that many women feel that not wearing make-up makes them appear less professional. This is a bogus standard (and a double standard considering that men don’t have this pressure. And why don’t they, aside from tradition?). Let’s stop this. Let’s stop taking evil glee in those stars without makeup articles, let’s stop reaching for some ideal of perfection that doesn’t exist, and let’s stop making make-up an expectation rather than an optional thing that one does for fun.

When painting ones face is as natural as brushing one’s teeth, we’ve got to stop and evaluate. Especially if those cosmetics contain chemicals that harm us. The beauty industry bases so much of its advertising on fear: you will look older than your friends if you don’t use this anti-aging cream (read: you will be worthless if you look old). Listen, I’m a bit of a girly-girl, and I do think that makeup has its place, but I don’t like to support an industry that profits from my insecurities.

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