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I Stopped Apologizing For Not Wearing Makeup

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“Sorry I’m not wearing makeup, it’s been one of those days.”

I’m somewhat embarrassed that it’s taken me this long to stop apologizing for my face.

The last few times I apologized for wearing makeup, it was primarily to men, and I remember them looking mildly awkward about it. Not awkward that I was without makeup, but awkward about me apologizing. What could they say to that? It was a reflex for me to apologize in the first place, but thinking back on all the times I’ve done it, I realize how odd it is. And obviously, it’s pretty telling that I only felt the need to apologize to my male friends (none of them ever said or did anything to indicate that I should). Jotting that one down for whenever I eventually get back to therapy.

I enjoy the benefits of makeup, or at least I enjoy it as much as I enjoy nice clothes and styled hair. It’s not a requirement for me, but this is not an anti-makeup post. I’m a chronic over-apologizer, and this is just one area that I’ve noticed some improvement.I'm done apologizing for my face.

It’s not about makeup. It’s about confidence, appreciating our bodies and our skills, and living our lives without apology.

When I was a teenager, I never left the house without makeup. I wouldn’t so much as check the mail at the end of our short driveway without a full face. These days, I wear it maybe 2-3 days a week on average. Sometimes more, sometimes less. It just depends on how I feel that day. Some weeks, I wear it every day, and some weeks I don’t wear it at all.

It used to be a knee-jerk reaction for me to apologize as soon as I ran into somebody I knew at the store, or I showed up at a friend’s house, or whatever. But lately, I sometimes don’t even remember if I put makeup on that day. It’s not that I’m busy busy busy, I just don’t think that much about it once I’m going about my day.

I believe this started a few months ago, when I started to deal with eczema around my eyes.

It popped up out of nowhere, and it’s been quite annoying to say the least. All of a sudden I had itchy, red patches on my eyelids and under my eyes, and they were painful. I’m not allergic to anything that I can find, I hadn’t started using different products, nothing. When taking a week-long break from any makeup didn’t help it go away, I used makeup to try and cover it up. After a month of misery and trying different ways to diagnose and fix the issue myself, I went to the doctor.

Now I have some cream that I put on my eyes at least twice a day. I don’t know if this is something I’ll always have to do or not, because the few times I stopped (thinking I was cured), the itchiness and red patches would come back within 24 hours. That feels like a recovery metaphor, hm. Story of my life.

Now I stick to the twice-a-day schedule and try not to stress about it. It doesn’t cure it all the way, but it keeps the redness and itch mostly away, and that’ll do. Apparently, adult onset eczema is a thing. Sigh. I am going to be experimenting with different products, lowering my stress levels, and other things that might help, but this is where I am right now.

Why am I talking about eczema on my recovery blog?

Good question. I didn’t intend to talk about it in this post, but here we are.

When the redness went away, I was so happy that it was mostly gone, I didn’t want to risk aggravating anything with makeup. I was also just so thankful to have my face back, it felt fresh and clean and I wanted to keep it makeup-free for a little while.

I finally saw my face the way it probably has been all along.

And somewhere in that whole experience, I stopped caring as much about what other people thought about it.

In my quest to fix my problem, I stopped caring about the superficial issues (redness) as much as I cared about the practical ones (like itching and pain). The superficial reason was still important to me, obviously I’m not going to pretend that I don’t care that my eyes look(ed) bad, but I could have covered that up with makeup and gone about my day. The more annoying problems, the itching and the burning, are what made me seek help.

That could go into a whole other topic, though.

Makeup is fun, and I do feel a bit more confident when I’m wearing it, but I’m done apologizing for my natural face.

no makeup no filter no apologies

Wonder Woman sticker courtesy of my son. Love.

I tell my girls that makeup is a fun thing to use when you want to get a bit more dressed up, but it’s not a requirement for participating in life as a woman. I don’t owe a made-up face to anybody, and neither do they. It’s important to me that my face looks and feels clean and healthy without makeup, for sure. I want my day-to-day makeup to enhance what’s already there, not make me look like a totally different person. Party and fun makeup is a whole other situation, by the way. Bring on the fake eyelashes and smokey eye! That’s just fun. Sometimes it’s fun to do tons of makeup for no reason. The point is – I wear makeup for a purpose that I can get behind.

I’m not telling anybody not to wear makeup. This post has nothing to do with the actual choice to wear makeup or not. Again, I wear it frequently for various reasons, and I enjoy it.

The point is, if you aren’t wearing makeup, or you don’t from time to time, you don’t owe an apology for it. I know I can’t be the only one who did this, and it applies to more than makeup.

We don’t have to apologize for being ourselves, whatever that looks like.

I’d rather say, “Here I am. Let’s get to work.”


Related reading:

Never Good Enough: The Futility of Striving to Meet Others’ Expectations

3 Actions To Help Overcome Anxiety

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  1. Anh on December 18, 2017 at 8:03 pm

    Hi Ash!

    You are amazing and beautiful! More so now then years ago before your recovery.

    Same thing happen to me growing up too. I would never leave the house without makeup and this continued through my adult life. It wan’t until I got pregnant and my skin changed and become very sensitive to almost everything that I stopped wearing makeup. It was very freeing and I think my face thanked me for it too.

    Now after not wearing any makeup for almost 2 years my skin has improved and now wear minimal makeup because I no longer need to hide any imperfections. When they did come up, oh well, it’s part of life.

    Thank you so much for sharing as I know this will help and empower many people to not wear makeup and justify themselves. ❤️

    • Ashley Ann on December 20, 2017 at 6:07 am

      Thank you! My skin has improved as well (minus that pesky eczema). Very few breakouts on my face anymore, although that could be due to so many factors. Still, I’ll take it. Yay for confidence. <3

  2. Al on December 18, 2017 at 11:08 am

    Nice photo, Ashley. My wife has just recently been venturing out of the house without makeup. Honestly, the makeup hides her age a bit, but I don’t mind. I like have a day or two without shaving. It allows my face to “heal” from the peel I get from a razor. You’d be surprised at how different a face feels without shaving in just 24 hours. My beard is mostly gray anyway, so it is not as visible as it once was. Conclusion: If it’s good enough for Ashley to go sans makeup, then it’s good enough for Al to go sans shaving. Do I have your permission? 🙂

    • Ashley Ann on December 18, 2017 at 7:26 pm

      Lol! Well I don’t know as much about the stigma around not shaving, except that beards are kind of popular these days, so that might work out perfectly. ;D

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Sitting on top of Pike's Peak in Colorado, a little over 2 years sober.

Hi! I'm Ashley, and my sobriety date is May 6, 2015. I write to share my experience, strength, and hope in recovery. On any given day, you can find me developing websites, writing, or chauffeuring kids around.  Read my story...

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