I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror this morning and it caught me by surprise.  I hadn’t seen my face in a while.  Since I don’t wear makeup and my hair doesn’t listen to me anyways, my morning routine doesn’t have me looking in the mirror very often.

My strategy for staying body-positive in our social media world has been to ignore how I look.I work out because I want to be strong and my capsule closet is an insurance plan to cover clashing so there’s no reason for me to spend much time examining my features.

Here’s what I discovered:

  • Looking at my face isn’t as scary as I thought
  • My eyes really are more green than brown
  • My hair really is out of control

I’ve found myself with more time for reflection (both literal and figurative) during this time in Russia.  I don’t plan on becoming a millennial selfie queen but I am very grateful to be forced to take life a little more slowly.

In high school, I studied and volunteered and worked to fill out my college applications.

In college, I studied and volunteered and worked to fill out my resume.

In California, I studied and worked to fulfill my duties as an employee and make a living.

Here, I’m finally free to take a deep look in the mirror and learn more about what I actually enjoy doing.  There are no more applications to live for, no more resumes that cry out to be updated.

For the last 10 years I’ve been running away from not being enough, not doing enough to get where I thought I needed to go.  And now I’m finally able to look forward and whisper “Onward and upward!” and mean it.  I walk slowly and cautiously as I explore what the future could look like.

Why I Don’t Wear Make-Up

I once read that “Women who don’t wear make-up are lazy.”  As someone who hasn’t worn make-up for 4 years, I can affirm that that’s 100% true.  I used to wear make-up in high school, despite my complete inability to get eyeliner within 3 inches of my eyes.

Then sophomore year of college hit and I was literally running around campus in my business professional outfits trying to make the next meeting. I condensed my morning routine into an efficient 10 minute process that involved me sprinting to the community bathroom to get ready and eating most of my meals while in class (sorry, professors).  The application and removal of synthetic materials on my face simply didn’t make the cut of essential activities.  When you’re at the point when you’re choosing between sleep and dinner, you’re not worried about aesthetics.

My initial break-up with make-up was because I was lazy/way overbooked, but I haven’t incorporated it back into my routine because I just like my face better without it. As an added bonus, my skin is 100% better than it ever was with make-up.*

Confession time: I now use absolutely no products on my face. Zip. Zero. Zilch.  Adios lotion, sayonara face wash, see you later exfoliating scrub.

It took my skin a solid 2 years of adjusting to the make up free life before it learned to self-regulate oil and dry patches.  In the meantime, I’ve become a huge believer in the idea that the body can take care of itself better than all the aisles in the beauty section of CVS put together.**

If you’d like to save 10 minutes in the morning or are just grossed out enough by my facial product free lifestyle to be curious, here’s how I did it:

1. Switched from medicated products to cleansing ones (big fan of Cetaphil)

You might be thinking that using no facial products is fine for someone with naturally perfect skin, but believe me, my skin had its fair share of puberty-induced acne, irritation, and dry spots. I tried Proactiv and even went to a dermatologist for some heavy duty cream.  But honestly, it never made sense.  The internet told me that drugstore solutions were designed to addict your face to them so that you could never go off of them without breaking out again and the prescribed variety actually said on the tube that it would make your face break out MORE for the first 6 months.  No, thank you!

2. Reduced how often I washed my face

3. Started switching from store-bought products to homemade ones

Instead of lotion, I started using coconut oil to moisturize my face once a day.  I ditched the astringent for a witch-hazel & apple cider vinegar combo that not only cleans without drying your skin, it also reduces redness and irritation.  Let me know if you’d like the recipe!

At this stage I still used Cetaphil to wash my face.

4. Ditched store-brought products entirely

I ran out of Cetaphil once and decided to wait a few days before buying more.  The craziest thing happened.  Nothing.  No new pimples, no oily skin, nada.  I still used my homemade astringent since the apple cider vinegar kills bacteria and does a great job cleansing.

5. Went to every other day

Instead of applying astringent every day, I started only doing it every other day.  This time, my skin actually started to improve!

6. Committed to au naturale.

No products, no problem. My skin produces the perfect amount of oil to keep it from drying out without causing my face to break out.  I still shower every day, so my face does get rinsed regularly and I wipe it down with a wet towel after I work out so the sweat doesn’t soak into my pores.

On the rare occasion that I find a blemish, I simply go back to using my homemade astringent and it disappears in days.

Of course, everyone’s skin is different.  This worked great for me who had combination skin.  It’s also worked great for my husband who trends on the more oily side.***

Has anyone else made the leap?  I’d love to hear what worked (or didn’t work) for you!

*  I am not at all anti-makeup.  I’m super impressed by all the women out there who have mastered what is truly an art of applying eyeliner on the actual eye area of the face and I think it looks great.  It’s just not for me at this time of my life.

**This journey all started with my hair, when I stopped washing it in high school.  But that’s another blog post entirely

*** Disclaimer: This will NOT work AT ALL if you have the habit of picking at your blemishes.  It does everything you’ve been warned about–spreads bacteria, creates scars, makes it harder for your skin to heal.

My Feeble Attempt

I like quotes.  Mostly because they do what I never can.  They  take a thought, an idea, an emotion and turn it into a sentence or two.  It usually takes me more like a paragraph or two.  Sometimes I browse the web for quotes when its a rainy day out like today and nothing is really pressing on my shoulders right now and I need some new ideas to fill my brain with.  The one above is a good example of your typical internet quote.  It is decently nice.  It is also decently egotistical.  I browsed a bit down the comments about this one and one read:  “Don’t you ever forget, You Are Perfect!” 

That’s a really nice thought.  A really nice thought that’s really false.  You aren’t perfect.  I’m not perfect.  We never will be.  I don’t even have a good proportion of doing things right to messing up.  In fact, I’d estimate that I mess up 8.48 times for every one time that I actually do something right.  But that’s just a rough guess.

I’m okay with that.  I want to do better in every area of my life but there is something to be said for imperfection.  It makes us vulnerable.  It tears down some of judgment walls if we would just realize that everyone is just as broken as we are and we are just a group of fallen people feebly trying to hold each other up while resting in the incredible grace of the God who created and saved us.

It also makes the small perfections in life even more beautiful.  The innocence of children is even more precious, the sincere smile from a stranger even more encouraging.

We are wonderfully made and known by name by an incredible God, yes.  Perfect we are not.