I quit being a slave to cosmetics

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About a year ago, I started questioning why I had been faithfully buying facial moisturiser for half of my life. I’d been using it daily since I was a teenager, and I very much ‘needed’ to apply it every time after my face got wet. But why wasn’t I able to create moisture in my face? The rest of my body could. And my kids and Anthony and some of my friends didn’t need to apply external moisture each day. So why did I need to buy something to feel normal?

I decided I didn’t want to be a slave to moisteriser any more, and began to use it less often. At first, my skin screamed “I am too dry!! Get me the rosehip oil!” It was uncomfortable, and some days I couldn’t stand it, but slowly it became easier to live without smearing anything on. It took longer than I thought it would to become completely comfortable without using anything on my face. I guess that was my skin recalibrating after 20 years of relying on external moisture. (I still use lip balm, haven’t been able to kick that one!)

Close up of Emma

Close up pic as I was writing this article.

I actually remember when I started moisterising. I was in high school and after applying it one morning, I went off to a volleyball workshop. My face sweated like it never had before that day! It was so obvious to others that a friend asked if I was wearing make-up or something. But I didn’t wear make-up then, and I don’t recall using harsh cleansers either. So why did I think I needed moisteriser? I certainly clogged up my pores that day!

Perhaps I got the idea from a Dolly magazine. I was impressionable and keen to be all grown up. And later I started wearing make-up, which then required removers and thorough cleansers, which further stripped the natural moisture from my skin. There is a definite dependency that cosmetic companies want us to buy into, and I well and truly did. Cover up with products, enhance with products, cleanse with products, tone with products, moisterise with products, treat blemishes with products. It’s very clever – the blemishes and dryness and even the insecurity we feel are all exacerbated by the products themselves. We buy them as we think we need them, and end up needing them because we buy them.

I’m not saying that wearing make-up is wrong, or that all cosmetic products are bad. Some are helpful at certain times in our life. I know many women who love to wear make up, and they don’t do it out of fear of showing their true selves to the world. Using any product mindfully, because you want to, not because you think you need to, is a choice that anyone is entitled to make. Perhaps if you are not choosing it though, but, like I was, you’re a slave to a habit that feeds on a belief that you aren’t good enough, it might be time to reassess what you’re doing.

I know from experience that it is possible to come to acceptance and even happiness with your naked face and un-perfect body. It is something I have worked on a lot and still continue to work on. For quite awhile in my life I simply had to have heavy black eye-liner, mascara, lipstick, foundation and powder on, as a mask to face the outside world. Now you couldn’t pay me to apply make up like that! I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve worn anything on my face in the past 7 years. But I could only give it up once I was quite happy within myself. I did the inner emotional work, and took off the outer mask.

I chucked out all of my make up as I got more confident. But two years ago I thought I might like to wear some occasionally again, and bought some from a leading natural brand. I used it for a couple of special events, which was nice, but now I need to throw it out because I’ve had it for too long (more than 3 months = huge amounts of bacteria). And I’ve hardly scratched the surface of it! It’s definitely not worth the investment or waste it creates for such little use.

Over this time I’ve also worked on my physical health a lot, and that has given me pride in my outer appearance as well as feeling great, because the glow comes from within. Now I get complimented on my clear skin, and as only water touches it, I receive the compliment as being actually for ME, not for my make-up artistry or expensive lotions. Exercise and eating a fresh food diet, full of fruit and vegetables and healthy fats, is the absolute best skin care regime. My lovely massage therapist commented once that the skin on my back was in great condition, and knowing my diet, she quipped “the proof is in the chia pudding!” I love that.

My health and happiness reflect the inner work I’ve done, and I think it’s a great metaphor for life. Covering up on the outside is not treating the cause of the ‘need’ for cosmetics, whether that is emotional or physical, or both. But work on the inside, and you’ll see results on the outside.

Work on yourself and your true self shows, and glows!

Photo of Emma

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6 Responses

  1. Peg says:

    “In a society that profits from your self doubt, loving yourself is an act of rebellion”

    “If every woman in the world woke up tomorrow and loved themselves just as they are, how many industries would go out of business?”

    I love my red lipstick. I love how it makes me feel to wear it, the way my outside mirrors my inside when I’m in the mood to wear it. And I love the way my face looks without it, and the way my outside mirrors my inside when I’m NOT in the mood to wear it.

    Love this post, Emma.

  2. Sarah says:

    I have always disliked the feel of make up on my face. I detested the smell of lipstick in particular. So I wore it as little as possible over the years. My mum used to tell me that I at least needed moisturiser, but I was not good at putting it on regularly.

    I did get to a point when I was so stressed and run down after having a baby that I felt I may actually need it. My face was so pale and worn looking, I felt I needed to use foundation to make it look ‘normal’. But now that I’m in a healthier place in my life, I no longer feel that need, even when going to a special occasion.

    My hands and legs are always extremely dry. I never got into a regular habit putting moisturiser on them either. Have you tried not using moisturiser on them as well? How did that go?

    • Emma says:

      Yes, I don’t use moisteriser on my body either now. I used to sometimes, but not as habitually as on my face. My skin certainly isn’t as dry as it used to be, so I’d have to say my diet is the main reason. I do feel a bit drier in winter time though, and am conscious of eating more tahini, coconut oil and avocados when the weather is cold. And loads of water of course.

      I know what you mean about the feel of make up, I never liked the feeling of lipstick or foundation either. I’m glad you’re feeling healthy and happy now!

  3. Sloene says:

    I remember meeting you Emma…about 5 or 6 years ago. I dont know what you were using or eating back then, but you were glowing – your face was vibrant and eyes so clear and hair so shiny. I so wanted skin like yours. You looked amazingly healthy to someone like myself who admires healthy natural people.

    • Emma says:

      Thanks Sloene! I was eating mostly raw food then and using minimal products. It is very true that leading a natural lifestyle creates natural and vibrant health isn’t it? xox

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