"I gave up makeup for a week and didn't feel empowered."

For the last week, I’ve not worn a scrap of makeup. No concealer, no mascara, not even a slick of lip balm. Nothing.

It’s a decision I made early last week, after Alicia Keys stirred up public opinion by rocking up to the MTV VMAs totally makeup-free  – as she has been doing for the past few months.

“’Cause I don’t want to cover up anymore. Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing,” she wrote in Lenny Letter.

Keys at the VMAs last week. Image: Getty

Her own empowerment from ditching makeup inspired a #NoMakeupMovement and curious to feel it for myself, I decided to join in as a personal experiment.

The outcome couldn't have been more surprising.

Seven days of nothing but a bare face and all I gained was a pimple, dull skin and a renewed love for my cosmetics bag. No surge of self-love, no fist-pumping moment of empowerment. Alicia, what happened? (Post continues after gallery.)

Let me be clear about one thing - not that I should have to explain myself. My desire to wear makeup isn't to do with low self-esteem, wanting to hide behind a mask of foundation or impress other people. Like 98 per cent of people who choose to wear makeup, I do so because I like it.

I enjoy the ritual of putting it on to go out (admittedly less so at 6am on a Monday morning), the creativity of trying new looks and the way my eyes are accentuated with a flick of winged liner.


I wear makeup most days (disclaimer: I do write about beauty for a living), although it's not unusual for me to go makeup-free on the weekend if I'm having a quieter day. However doing it repeatedly for a week was a very different experience.

The first day was okay. I felt a bit of a sense of liberation, like a rule breaker, even if it was only my own rules that I was "breaking". My skin was in pretty good nick and I'd enjoyed an extra 15 minutes in bed because I didn't have to worry about "putting my face on".

brittany bare face inline

Bare faced - and also in good lighting. Image: Supplied

 The positives ended there.

For the rest of the week, going bare-faced only made me feel under-dressed. When I looked in the mirror, I saw someone who looked tired and 'unfinished'. I felt a little less confident walking down the street than I usually do. And rather than reaping the benefits of not layering my skin in products, I experienced the opposite.

Because I wasn't having to worry about taking my makeup off, the rest of my skincare regimen dropped by the wayside. Some days I didn't even bother with anything bar a quick splash of water on my face. As a result, the day's gunk of city dust was left largely untouched, leaving me with dull, dry skin and a pimple. Not fair. Watch: The ultimate nail polish for the uncoordinated. Post continues after video. 

I purposefully didn't tell anyone about my experiment - and their reactions were interesting. "Are you going to do something with your face?" my mum asked when we headed out to dinner one night. Harsh, but meant well.

At work, while no-one said anything at the time, when I revealed what I'd been doing, I was met with "Ahh, so that's why..." comments.


Not impressed. Image: Supplied

Keys finds empowerment in going makeup-free. I don't. I respect and admire her choice, just as I hope she would mine (if, you know, an incredibly successful award-winning musician even knew of my existence.)

Neither of us is right, neither of us is wrong. Empowerment doesn't come from giving up or wearing a particular item - it's in the choice you make, whatever it is.

So whether you're waking up and heading straight out the door or spending 45 minutes doing your brows and cut creases, it doesn't matter. Do what you want and what makes you feel good - and don't feel ashamed because it's not what others think symbolises 'empowerment' or 'bravery'.

And I can't wait to get back to my Too Faced Chocolate Bar and Kylie Lip Kit tomorrow.

Image: Supplied.

Listen: On the latest episode of Mamamia Out Loud we asked: are celebs who go makeup free brave?