Personal Essay | Faceless Self-Portrait

“We don’t even wear much make-up on a typical day.”

“I know! All I wear somedays is BB cream and mascara.”

“I always have to fill in my eyebrows.”

“And yet, it’s still so difficult for us to go one day completely without. Like, I’m talking nothing. Just moisturizer or sunscreen.”

“Why do we feel that it’s necessary? Could we do it for a day? An entire week? I hear it leaves you feeling so free, liberated…”


And so I am inspired to attempt this bare-face strategy. A whole week, regardless of my agenda’s contents, no Maybelline Great Lash or NARs rouge will come near my face. Eeek! I will document my thoughts along the way….

Face-less Self-Portrait : Day 1

First thought: Am I just doing this to unclog my pores & achieve a glowing radiance, unhindered by Loreal & Physicians Formula cosmetics? Second thought: my hair looks so much cuter in a sloppy bun when I done my beauty supply; without it, I don’t come close to the Juliette Binoche, effortless Parisian look (there’s a reason it’s called the “le no-makeup makeup look.”) Think more homeless woman pacing the Park Blvd intersection with signage. OK, maybe not that bad, but it brings me to my next thought: how will outsiders, cubicle buddies or fellow barre devotees, behave? Will I not be taken as seriously due to my lack of cosmetics? Will my bare face read: “she woke up 45 minutes past her alarm clock”? Or will this be the authentic feedback? Almost everyone wears make-up; it is a culture mannerism. Not wearing make-up proclaims a statement just as bold as wearing it does. Because of the ubiquity, there is no “foundational prototype” or blank slate anymore; looks with and without make-up are both active acts now.

p.s. All day I can’t help but think I feel obligated to pay more attention to other areas of identity to compensate for the lack of make-up: clothes, hair, shoes, skin condition, jewelry, nail care/polish – everything else must be in tip-top shape.

Face-less Self-Portrait : Day 2

Yesterday evening I faced triathlete trainers & hobby fishermen on the Coffee Pot Boulevard runner’s route, today I confront “acquaintances”: pediatrician staff & grocery clerks (yes, grocery clerks are acquaintances. yes, I may go to the store more than I should. yes, I am working on that). I share a smile (like a secret handshake kind of one) with the kind-hearted, pediatric nurse, as she was not wearing make-up, either… Or was that imagined? Today, I notice I don’t feel intimidated because of my au-natural air, but rather open and honest, with no pretenses. I am becoming more comfortable somehow. Maybe it’s because it’s an intentional decision not to wear make-up, as opposed to procrastination or laziness?

Face-less Self-Portrait : Day 3

Baring your face instigates an ultimatum: either settle into a mold of lethargy or highlight other areas of identity to capture poise or beauty. Not wearing makeup can be associated with busy mornings & gym workouts or an intentional appreciation of simplicity. I am finding it to be the perfect lesson in embodying gracefulness without fluff and elegance without being stuffy. It’s also creates a domino effect to increased mindfulness. It’s influenced everything this week. Because I eliminate the need to portray myself a specific way, my desires alter from “what is my story” or “who am I going to be today” to “how I can reach out to other’s today?” Was this because I didn’t spend my normal 7 minutes on makeup? I found time to actually have little to do with it. The amount of energy or thinking about my appearance dissipated so much because I did not feel “pressure” to keep a certain social rule. I neglected pouring energy into to-do lists —> my main motivation became to stir up my heart for the furtherance of God’s kingdom. This felt the most freeing.

p.s. I keep forgetting to wash my face at night because I feel there is nothing to wash off.

Face-less Self-Portrait : Day 4

Today’s the day. Close community members, fellow believers, witness the raw Charitie. I anticipated it stripping me of my age, but I actually find an increased intentionality, definitive of the older population. The lack of make-up did not leave me feeling juvenile or immature, surprisingly. In the midst of many conversations, I forgot I did not have mascara on. I simply was me. No one acted differently. Maybe some noticed, maybe some didn’t, but it somehow didn’t matter. The only comment I received, which wasn’t directly about make-up per say was a question about if I had been in the sun lately (I have slight rosacea and flush bright red, even when I’m not embarrassed or excited). I felt no shame, though, and simply explained I had decided not to wear any green concealer that night.

I would develop a cluster of blemishes around the corner of my mouth, though…

Face-less Self-Portrait : Day 5

“Faith is not faking like we are good with everything when we aren’t. It is going to God and being straight with Him in our experience.” – my pastor

There is no way to true faith without honesty. Without the embellishment of make-up, I am forced to this kind of honesty, in a way.

Face-less Self-Portrait : Day 6

Company matters. Or rather, my attitude among different people matters. This is the night I became irrevocably aware of my “naked” face. Rather than choosing to humble myself, I choose to garner glory and attention for myself while facing the couple across from the Bella Brava dining table. Once this became my goal, I distinctly noticed the urgency to hide who I really am. To be as honest as possible, I felt the need tonight to impress them and make much of myself. Like Eve & Adam after the fall, I want to portray myself to be a perfect, creative individual & if I have to create a guise to make other people believe it, I often will.

Face-less Self-Portrait : Day 7

Today, I realize the lack of make-up forces me to make a decision, but it does not produce the decision itself. After experiencing a mostly successful week, I trusted in the act of simply not wearing make-up to make me more mindful. In reality, it can also cause me to be so much more aware of my empty face.

I struggle maintaining a vision of the liberation, because I now feel a slave to the emptiness from lack of care given to the face – actually, rather, from my perceptions of what other’s think. It seems this is just another example of a pendulum the world’s system employs (i.e., make-up or natural, individualistic or collectivistic, humor or fear) in which you find people floating back & forth, claiming to find happiness at one extreme. Only through the lens of the Gospel, though, will we be able to desire true life & satisfaction. Wearing make-up or not wearing make-up will not provide satisfaction ending of itself – we will simply swing back and forth and change our attitudes to match our moods or behaviors, but it’s pointless without filling the motivational gap. Only God truly satisfies.


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