Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Face-Off February…go!

So it has begun! It's Face-Off February, second month of Discipline Year, and one I'm dreading a bit. No make-up for the entire month… Let's see what we're working with, hmm? Here's a before-and-after I took a week ago:

My pre-Face-Off February before-and-after mugshots.

The left-hand picture is my totally unembellished face. Not so bad, really, now that I see them side by side…though I was sitting right in front of the window, and sunlight is kind. The right-hand photo is after the application of liquid-powder foundation, brown eyebrow pencil, a bit of blush, a tiny taste of eyeliner, taupe eye shadow, one sweep of "brownish-black" mascara, and tinted lip balm (I hate the feeling of lipstick). That's me on an average-plus day. On a plain old average day, I don't bother with eyeliner or shadow. Bonus: I took these the day before I dyed my roots, so you can catch a glimpse of my encroaching silver up top. There's way more where that came from!

The women I've chatted to about this month's challenge seem to fall into two camps. Camp One never wears makeup, and they don't see the big deal at all. Camp Two's members have been wearing makeup since junior high and won't even fetch the mail without at least mascara on. I'm more of a Camp Two girl, but obviously, I'm not so afraid of my own natural face that I won't lock the cosmetics away for twenty-eight days. Hmmm, twenty-eight days…not unlike rehab.

I know intellectually that my face is just fine. I know that the average dude can't look at a woman and tell whether she's made up or not (my husband) and if even if he can, he doesn't really care. Women who are into makeup, however—they notice.

I used to be much more of a Camp Two recruit. It wasn't until I began a volunteer job at the New England Aquarium in 2005 that I realized it was possible to be seen with a bare face and survive the experience. My job there involved bobbing around in a wetsuit chest-deep in cold water, feeding the penguins and cleaning their exhibit, and makeup doesn't last long in that environment. Certainly not mascara.

At first, that felt weird. Oh my crap—people are seeing me without mascara! You know how in Disney movies, even the female animal characters have eyelashes? I had one of those moments, as if my gender were suddenly thrown into question. As if eyelashes are like the female cock and balls, and going bare was a castration of my femininity. That sounds so ridiculous now, but here we are. Anyhow, working at the aquarium got me over my irrational fear that I may cease to exist as a viable (or indeed, identifiable) woman in the absence of cosmetics.

The other thing that loosened me up about makeup was my relationship. My husband was the first man I really lived with (platonic roommates and one very brief, epic cohabitation FAIL notwithstanding) and you just can't spend the entirety of your marriage avoiding being seen without your bra on or your cellulite masked by candlelight or your face done up. Plus my manfriend is from Oregon—he's a beardy outdoorsy man with intermediate chainsaw skills and little patience for fussiness. He doesn't notice whether or not I'm made up. Not because he doesn't look at me. More like the presence of makeup is a tone heard on a non-human frequency, or a color imperceptible to his eyes. It just doesn't register. Bless him. Which isn't to say I've changed my routines too much since we've gotten comfy with one another…just modified them a bit. It's pathetic to fear the reverse might be true, but it's very reassuring to know you'll be loved equally at both your best and your worst.

Sorry, tangent. So anyway, let the experiment begin! Let's see just how comfortable I get in my own natural face this month. If nothing else, I'll save myself at least five minutes each morning, as well as the annoying under-eye-finger-wipe that any mascara-wearing woman caught in a rain- or snowstorm can appreciate.

Farewell, my put-together sisters. See you in March!


  1. The before and after pics would be more effective if you were even slightly unattractive with a bare face. Dude, you are gorgeous without make-up! Your Feb goal should be easy-peasy.

  2. You're too kind, Pen. I must say, it feels a little weird. I even reached for my makeup bag right after the deodorant step of my morning routine. After like seventeen years, my hands are well programmed. Good thing I put the bag away or I may have done my whole face on autopilot. When I took the trash and recycling out this morning, I felt like I'd left the house with no shirt on. I think this month will be good for me.

  3. I'm sure you'll do good during "face-off February" because you look GREAT sans makeup! From one woman to another, you honestly don't need it! I'm def a camp two girl, though, so I applaud you for being so ballsy. I've improved SLIGHTLY recently by not jumping up in the early AM just to apply concealer before the BF sees me. He always says I look better without makeup, but what does he know? Just maybe one day I'll believe him ;)

  4. I must admit, I'm glad to be done with the days of wearing makeup to bed when I'm with a boyfriend (not full makeup, but you know) and then the old lick your finger and clear away potential mascara smudges first thing in the morning move. It's crazy the stuff otherwise rational women do to avoid appearing imperfect…even crazier how borderline-universal some of those strategies are!

  5. I'm going to agree with everyone that you are plain gorgeous without make-up. I second that this month will be good for you. I've been in a third, in between, camp most of my life. No make-up in high school and minimal after that. I can do base, cheek color and lip gloss. After that I throw up my hands. But I force myself to do those most days. It's a reverse challenge from yours. Good luck and think of all the money you'll save on cosmetics.

  6. You look great in both pictures, Meg - with makeup is always 'better' in a commercial sense, even for professional models. I confess I was a Camp two girl from my mid 20s - didn't wear any until age 24, but never went without it. In the past few years, I've loosened up and rarely wear it in the house. Hubs doesn't mind. Well, I do wear it in the house 'sometimes.'

    Also, so very glad to see your Blaze release on pre-order! I will order it soon!

  7. Meg, you're going through a whole of lot of work for nothing...you're attractive without makeup.

    Is there a CAMP 3 kind of girl? I sometimes wear makeup, sometimes don't. For dress-up I do, for scooping the cat litter I don't.

  8. You're a brave woman, Meg, though not as brave as you'd be if you looked like the living dead without make-up on. I wear make-up everyday, and when I don't, I've had people say "You look exhausted". Nice, right?

    So even though it's a snow day today and I won't be leaving my house, I'm still wearing my absolute minimum - concealer, powder, and blush. LOL Most days I wear foundation, concealer, powder, blush, bronzer, eyebrow pencil, eyeliner, mascara, and lipstick. All put on in a such a way as to pretend I'm not wearing any at all. ;)

    You look great without make-up. Good luck!

  9. "Most days I wear foundation, concealer, powder, blush, bronzer, eyebrow pencil, eyeliner, mascara, and lipstick. All put on in a such a way as to pretend I'm not wearing any at all," said Shoshanna.

    Ain't that the truth? All this time and money we invest, to work ourselves up to what we think "natural" ought to look like! Thanks, Western media!

    Incidentally, if anyone else feels brave this month and would like to share a photo of themselves all naked up in da face on the #1 Fun Blog, you're more than welcome! Just email me at meg [at] megmaguire [dot] com and we can chat. The more the merrier.

  10. good luck. you're very brave! I agree - you're lovely with or without.
    I usually remove makeup before a camping weekend, but otherwise I apply mascara At LEAST before going to the gas station or grocery store run.

    I think I've seen my mother 3x in my life without her "face" on. she's a stealthy makeup ninja.

  11. I was more or less a Camp One woman until I was in my 40s -- I would have spasms of wearing it that would last a few months, and then I would get tired of it and stop.

    In the last few years, though, I've become a makeup-every-day kind of girl, mostly because I like playing with colors. Sure, my lipsticks mostly fall within the same narrow stretch of the spectrum (darkish rose), but I have 20+ shades of eye shadow, and I wear most of them.

    I work with guys, so they'd never notice if I didn't wear makeup, but I would miss playing with colors (and at this point, I'd feel unpolished without it...)

  12. I have very ruddy complexion. Makeup makes a HUGE difference. (Unlike you who is just as pretty without.) I should wear makeup, but I wear glasses, which covers my eyes and have MS which limits my dexterity (and I value my vision too much to risk a wand in the eyeball LOL!). Just isn't going to happen. LOL! I'm in camp one and grateful Mr. Nina doesn't notice/care one way or the other.

  13. Wow, so far this experiment is teaching me that my friends are very, very good at flattery. Duly noted, lovely ladies.

  14. I get away from make-up and hair routines in the summer. My hair frizzes in humidity, so why bother? Make-up is apt to melt off too. But I think a bit of a tan makes up for it.

    The rest of the year? I don't do hair or makeup without an excuse...such as leaving the house. Like you I have a wonderful guy who loves me without or without primping. (Whew!)

  15. What everybody else said! Wish my before and after were like yours! It took me a few minutes of really looking to figure out which was which. You lucky Creature!