The Student
National No Makeup Day: revolutionary or problematic?

National No Makeup day is approaching on the 26 April. This day encourages those who wear makeup to brave going bare-faced for 24 hours to liberate and express their natural beauty.

Makeup means different things for different people. For some it allows them to conceal insecurities, express their personalities, or simply feel more put-together and confident when out in public.

Celebrities and public figures have been posting their makeup-less faces to inspire others to expose their natural beauty and feel comfortable in their own skin. However, we begin to question whether this day and its associated trends are empowering and freeing, or just shameful and judgemental?

The rise of the ‘no-makeup-makeup’ look is evident almost everywhere, from magazine editorials and shoots , to the ordinary people we see walking down the street. Beauty brands such as Glossier and Milk Makeup pride themselves on their minimalism and their “unintentionally effortless approach to beauty.”

Makeup is now being used to emphasise and ‘beautify’ our existing features, rather than attempting to change or conceal them. For example, Glossier’s product Boy Brow is said to be for those who simply “brush their teeth, brush their brows and then maybe brush their hair” when getting ready in the morning.

This is a drastic contrast to the world of cut-creases, false eyelashes, and perfectly arched eyebrows that have dominated the beauty industry over the past decade. This could be interpreted as a revolution, encouraging makeup-wearers all over the world to ditch their full-coverage foundation and let their skin breathe and radiate natural beauty.

This trend has been supported by famous faces such as Cindy Crawford, Lady Gaga, Heidi Klum, and most prominently by Alicia Keys who emphasised that she “doesn’t want to cover up anymore” and has chosen to be makeup-free for over a year now.

There are more than 13 million posts on Instagram that have used the #NoMakeup tag, many of these coming from influencers and celebrities with thousands of impressionable followers.

The problems with this trend begin to emerge though when we use these bare-faced selfies as a means of comparison. What many of these influential figures fail to disclaim is the fact that despite being makeup-less, they still have microbladed eyebrows, eyelash extensions and fillers in their cheeks, lips, jaw et cetera.

Not that there’s anything wrong with these beauty procedures, but they present an unattainable image and allow us to believe we should all look that perfect without any makeup, which is certainly not the case.

This dishonesty means that when we talk about ‘no makeup beauty’ we are not referring to leaving the house having simply washed our faces, we are talking about how we appear after several procedures, skincare applications, and the use of minimalist products.

This also creates a divide in society, as those who can look this good without makeup have the time and money to dedicate to expensive skincare routines and invisible beauty work – it is not accessible all. We could perhaps see the ‘no-makeup makeup’ trend as equally damaging for self-esteem as covering up our flaws with makeup: neither liberates us to love the skin we’re in.

One of the core concepts behind the No Makeup Day movement is that it reveals ‘true’ beauty, but for some this may be achieved through makeup rather than without it.

Makeup is seen as one of the most accessible and open forms of expression in society and can also help boost self-esteem and confidence.

Makeup is often an easy way to cover up elements of ourselves that we may otherwise feel too insecure to expose, but it isn’t just covering up. It can be an outlet for creativity, experimentation, and, most importantly, it can be fun!

Just like choosing an outfit or changing your hair, makeup is an element of getting ready that allows people to make a statement – it puts their image into their own hands.

Whilst the benefits of feeling comfortable in your own skin are evident, we shouldn’t see National No Makeup Day as a day for people with perfect skin and thick fluffy brows – it can be embraced by everyone.

At the same time, if you feel more comfortable, or that your ‘truest self’ shines, when you’re wearing a bright lip or a bold brow, then that is just as important.

Embrace the version of yourself in which you feel most free, whether this be with makeup or without.

Image: Kaboompics via Pixabay