beauty

"This is my face." Women share what a 'no makeup selfie' actually looks like.

It’s difficult to introduce a post which contains 56 fantastic photos of makeup free faces without getting a bit soppy, so we’re not even going to try.

We asked a bunch of amazing women to share their no makeup selfies along with a few sentences describing their relationship with makeup and how (and if) it’s changed, and we got a lot of responses.

For some, their beauty bag represented an empowering and creative part of the female experience, while others spoke of the freedom they felt when they ditched the face slap. Maybe you’re somewhere in between, maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it.

That’s totally fine too. We know that despite the fact makeup is seen as ‘normalised’ and part of ‘being a woman’, it can also be a deeply complicated and conflicting subject.

On the topic of things women do to their faces, that men (generally) don’t. Here’s what it would look like if a man lived like a woman for a day.

Video by MMC

As one woman (who didn’t want her photo shared) said, while she previously saw makeup as something that hid “the physical flaws on [her] face,” this changed after she recovered from a very deep period of post natal depression which saw her not wearing makeup for almost a year.

“Today, it’s more a symbolic process which celebrates my recovery from that terrifying time,” she wrote.

“It makes me feel happy, well put together, confidant and in control. I know it shouldn’t, as it’s a superficial thing, but I’m unapologetic for it, as it’s much deeper than just ‘making my face look pretty.'”

So without, further ado, here are 56 fabulous makeup free faces…

“I have insecurities over my pigmentation,” Katie, 33

Although I am confident in myself as a person and proud of my achievements, I have insecurities like everyone, one being my skin and pigmentation. It mainly stems from having had clear skin, then reacting to hormonal contraception and developing melasma (a type of skin pigmentation).

It is a volatile type of pigmentation and almost impossible to treat and I have found it challenging to deal with my change in appearance. That being said I am learning to accept and love my skin everyday and I choose to focus on the things I like about myself rather than obsess over the things I don’t like (and can’t change).

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"I never leave the house without makeup," Natasha, 33

From 13-27(ish) I would never leave the house without makeup on. Ever. I got it from my mum, who is always perfectly made up. I would get detention after detention in high school because I refused to not wear eyeliner and I struggled to find foundation to match my half-Indian skin tone in New Zealand in the 90’s and 00’s.

Now, makeup is more about fun, but I still feel naked without eyeliner or foundation and I hate my thin veiny skin. However, I hardly ever wear makeup on weekends and do so many fitness events that everyone sees me sans makeup all the time now. It’s the real me.

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"Bit addicted," Shereen, 47

Eek. I have a small stash of concealer/mascara and lip tint in the car for work days. Bit addicted to mascara and tan in a can. Value my happiness more so I dress up and makeup when I feel like it. Less rules, more JOY.

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"Not a fan," Marisina

I’ve never been a fan of makeup, I wear lipstick if I go out somewhere out of the norm. It all seems like too much effort and really what for? Each to their own and I never judge those that wear it. I quite admire done up faces and the effort people go to. I’ve always been a low maintenance type of chick and not given an F about what I look like.

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"I have visible acne," Ele, 26

I wear makeup purely to cover up acne. I am starting to feel more comfortable without it or at least less of it. I always wear a fair bit to work though. I think I am worried people will see me as more of a 'child' than they already do if I have visible acne.

Looking through the other comments, the people saying they never wear make up have very nice skin!

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"Your face, your choice," Amy, 26

This is me straight out of bed (sitting on my balcony where there’s great lighting and after rubbing the gunk out of my eyes). I normally do my makeup at work because I sweat so much on the commute - some mornings, I get in and can’t be bothered, I’m comfortable without makeup (I’m lucky to have nice skin so I brush my brows and slap on some tinted lip balm) but I love the ritual of putting on some makeup or trying new things. End of the day, your face, your choice.

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"Can't be bothered," Rachel, 45

I haven’t worn makeup except a bit of lippy/mascara in late teens/early 20s. I’m now 45. Can’t be bothered at all. I do dye my hair though.

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"A celebration of the woman I am," Sheri, 37

I love makeup. Makeup to me is a form of expression and celebration of the women I am. It also allows a moment in the day where I can just sit and be with me, which is a sacred time. Especially when you have a toddler, a business and studying. A moment to sit, be with me and express is a moment with makeup. Even if it is for just five minutes.

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"I'm wearing less makeup for my daughter," Naomi, 30

I mainly wear make up to "go out" however that definition has changed quite a bit in the last few years. It used to include to go to work or the shops but now I more often than not wear no make up to work. This is mainly due to my daughter making comments like "I need make up mummy, so I look pretty like you!" So I've been consciously trying to show her that you can look beautiful with or without make up. I also like to give my skin a break or sometimes I will just throw on some mascara and brows... full make up is mainly now only worn to go to an event like weddings, birthday, concert etc.

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"I'd rather spend my time getting dirt on my face," Dorothy, 27

I don't often wear make-up and if I do, it's lipstick. But I'd rather spend my time getting dirt on my face and stronger muscle tone on my body than trying to figure out how to contour and highlight. I've also noticed that taking care of my skin more so than covering it helps me feel prettier.

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"I’ve decided I hate wearing makeup," Chelsea, 22

As of the last few months I’ve decided I hate wearing makeup! I wore it for all of my teen years to hide acne, makeup was just a shield for me. I took roaccutane to fight this battle I was having with my skin. I literally just wear mascara to work now! I’ll only wear makeup if I feel like playing with it. I don’t feel like I NEED it anymore and it is such an amazing feeling! I’m ME!

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"It's the real me," Caitlin, 33

Makeup free means being 100 per cent me. Washing off teacher, friend, dog mum and just being Caitlin.

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"I've only had an issue with it once," Heather, 42

There is no set rhyme or reason for me wearing makeup. You might find me at work with or without, at dinner with or without. I am comfortable with myself and I see makeup as something fun and experimental for when I have time and feel like it.

The one time I had an issue was when a relationship therapist said to me, “you should try putting on makeup for your husband more often. It’s such a shame your mother had terminal cancer when you were a teen, it really impacted your time to play with makeup and get comfortable with it and get good at it.” Needless to say I never went back and she got a strongly worded email as to why and what I thought of what she had said.

Given I had never worn makeup to see her, she had no idea of my proficiency, my teen years were spent being an advocate and nurse for a very ill mother and my husband doesn’t mind nor notice makeup, I thought she was WAY out of line. I decided she was placing her values onto me and I did not need to alter my fun relationship with makeup based on that.

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"I’m hoping the confidence will come," Cass, 30

It’s rare that you’ll see me without makeup. Although I only wear light coverage, I always wear it. Growing up my mother always wore minimal makeup. She taught us that make up is to “highlight” not to cover. When I was 18 I went out with no make up at all and a handful of people asked me if I was unwell.

I’ve never stepped out of the house without it since. The older I get the more wrinkles, freckles and pigmentation my skin gets. It wasn’t until just recently that my husband looked at me and said that he loved me without make up. I’ve made a huge shift from make up to good skin care and I’m hoping the confidence will come.

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"It’s more about making myself look a little more alive and polished," Rachael, 41

This is me in bed this morning (with a headache). Love playing with products, love wearing makeup.. always wear to work and if heading out socially otherwise I look pretty flat! But I don't wear makeup when I'm just at home and happy to duck to shops bare faced. But I never leave the house without lip balm / gloss otherwise I truly look dead. Overall for me, it’s more about making myself look a little more alive and polished when I want to - and I definitely feel better for it!

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"I look bomb AF without it!" Sally, 30

I don’t wear makeup because I look bomb AF without it!

I can’t be bothered with the extra work of putting it on and taking it off daily, when I think people notice most about me my happy smile and personality. I do love to wear makeup when I go out, and I feel pretty doing so, but in my day-to-day life I love being makeup free.

My friend’s boyfriend once said to me when we went for a night out “omg you look like an actual lady!! You’re like.. transformed!”, and it made me feel very nice indeed, that I can change my appearance for a night out and dress up with makeup, for someone to notice such a change

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"Men aren’t expected to, so why should I?" Lucinda, 37

I stopped wearing makeup a few years ago, apart from nights out/special occasions. My first job was in a law firm, and makeup (along with things like stockings!) were required every day. I still work in an office, but I just don’t wear it. Partly because I don’t like it, I have problem skin and I think it’s better for my skin without it. Partly because men aren’t expected to, so why should I spend $$$ every year?

Partly because I’m not a morning person, so I like the time saving. Partly because I’m trying to reduce my waste and plastic (I also stopped dying my hair). And partly because I’m actually pretty happy with how I look, and no one who matters to me likes me because of what I look like but who I am, so it was time to own that.

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"I feel like people are nicer to me when I am wearing make up," Vanessa, 26

I used to go out bare faced all the time but after following Instagram travel bloggers that are fully made up and well dressed in their posts, I wear make up every day now.

This could also be in my head but I feel like people are nicer to me when I am wearing make up and a nice outfit compared to when I am bare faced and in T-shirt and shorts.

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"It brings me joy," Emma, 35

I’m 35 and I wear makeup most days as makeup brings me joy and makes me feel creative. Having said that, I am now at a place that I love my bare face. I am barefaced around 40% of the time. Since listening to the You Beauty podcast I have really taken the time to invest in my face and I am proud of it. I would honestly say this is the first time I have classed myself as pretty bare faced.

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"I love it," Barbara, 55

I love my make up. It gives me confidence and inspires me to be creative.

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"I honestly didn’t care enough about my red nose and imperfections," Caro, 30

I only ever wore bronzer on my face because 1. I know nothing about makeup and 2. I’m super pale and it gave me colour.

I stopped makeup a few years ago (apart from going out for a special occasion) and went bare face since. I honestly didn’t care enough about my red nose and imperfections to do anything about it. I knew I could look better but I also knew it wouldn’t make me a better person. When my skin is front of mind I do feel really gaslighted when looking at other women because their faces don’t look like mine.

Cut to two weeks ago, I bought my first foundation. It looks really natural and makes my skin look soft. I’ve worn it everyday and when I wash my face to reveal my skin I’ve found myself feeling shocked that my skin actually looks like that! Basically, my brain is already convinced my made up face is my real face. I don’t want to keep this habit up but I’m enjoying it for now and can’t help but feel like I’m taken more seriously at work.

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"Only special occasions," Tarrin

I've never worn make up in my day to day life, only ever for special occasions, like my wedding. I’ve always felt totally comfortable being bare faced too until a few months ago a friend said “oh you’re so brave not to wear any make up”.

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"I feel really conflicted," Abigail, 43

This is me bare faced. I hate wearing makeup. I hate the feel and the process and didn’t wear it at all until I was about 30. Unfortunately I feel I have to wear make up every day for work and I really struggle with this. I struggle because I feel I should be good enough without going through the arbitrary process of painting my face. I struggle as I feel like a ‘bad feminist’ for wearing it. It’s something I feel really conflicted about and would love to be brave enough to go to work barefaced.

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"It's a tricky relationship," Caitlin, 20

I have a tricky relationship with makeup. I wear it everyday at work but on the weekends just a little bit of BB cream.

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"It gets me centred," Amy

I started regularly wearing make-up for work in my early 20’s. It’s become a daily ritual that gives me comfort and gets me centred for my day. It’s almost always the same routine and when I get to work, I face my colleagues and clients with best face forward.

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"Makeup is money well spent," Cara

My mum never has or never will wear makeup but I was introduced to make up and fake tan from age five due to wearing it on stage for calisthenics. I then began experimenting throughout primary and high school. I am now a regular user of both make up and fake tan. I have recently stopped wearing foundation on work days but still wear tinted moisturiser, concealer, bronzer, highlight, brows and mascara depending on how fresh my eye lash tint is. I never go to a social event without a full face and it makes me feel extremely happy and confident.

I love playing around with new products and colours and I am unapologetic about my love for the stuff and thousands of dollars well spent at Mecca!

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"[I'm] getting my game face on," Vanessa, 41

I'm a stay at home mum and I wear make up almost every day - I especially love playing with eyeshadows! I have four-year-old twins and I feel that because I don’t work outside of the home, the process of doing my hair and make up just makes me feel like I’m preparing for work for the day and getting my game face on. I always feel more motivated the better turned out I am (clothes, hair, make up, shoes etc) even if I am just leaving the house to drop the kids to preschool and go to the supermarket. I’ve never been one to remain in my jammies all day as it just makes me feel unmotivated, so having this ritual every day not only gives me some 'me time' it also gets me set up for the day and makes me feel happy.

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"Pregnancy made me so much more confident," Kate, 29

I wear makeup everyday, but only BB or CC cream and I tidy my brows. Pregnancy made me so much more confident in my own skin (despite my lovely pigmentation) so I have cut back on my makeup. I’m really into my skincare now and find I can get away with little makeup if I make the effort to cleanse/exfoliate/use serums etc! PS bed hair for the win.

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"Some days I look worse than others," Aimee, 40

I am 40 and wear makeup most days but hardly any and never foundation mostly mascara, tidy up my bushy brows and sometimes eyeshadow, I wish I could remember to apply lip gloss or lip stick. I am happy to leave my house with no make up. Some days I look worse than others but that's normal right? My pet peeve is when I have actually made an effort and then someone says "you look tired/sick".

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"I was a theatre kid," Renee, 23

This took 8 million photos and even so this is so scary! I started wearing make up full time at 13 (I was a theatre kid, so I had access to products early on). A decade on, there’s rarely a day where I don’t wear some form of make up. Although I’ve learned to be a lot more comfortable in my skin, I tend to always put something on my brows and lashes. I don’t love the skin I’m in because I’m so so pale, and hate that you can see every detail underneath. I’m learning to be more confident, but I always feel better about myself with make up on.

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"I like sleep too much," Emily

I like sleep too much to be bothered with make up. Never wear it to work (except maybe school photo day) and generally pretty light if I’m going out. Save it for special occasions.

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"Not self-conscious at all," Naomi

I rarely wear make up because I can’t be bothered, I don’t feel self-conscious without it and I don’t like putting a concoction of chemicals on my skin.

When I do wear make up, it’s minimal (like tinted moisturiser) and usually a natural/organic brand - unless I’m going somewhere super special (wedding/Christmas party etc).

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"I rarely wear it," Gillian, 52

"Rarely wear makeup but often wonder when I’m going to grow up and start wearing it regularly especially to work."

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"Just started going makeup free this week," Kate, 33

Only THIS WEEK I made the decision to go makeup free at work which is a BIG deal for me.

I am 33 this year and my relationship with makeup has been up and down. I enjoy buying it, I am terrible at applying it, I like how it makes me look, I hate how long it takes to get off! It just all got too hard so I thought instead of investing my time and money and self-confidence in makeup, I strip it back and I now invest my time in a good skincare routine (and feather touch brows).

Make-up for me now is the exception, not the rule and I am very comfortable with that.

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"It's a pain," Penny, 41

I’m 41 and used to wear make up every day. I worked as a hairdresser and now in retail. I like to walk most mornings before work so I find having to apply makeup after is a pain so I just go without. I do like to wear it on special occasions.

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"I enjoy the affect," Rachel, 33

I have gone through different stages with makeup... couldn’t wait to wear and experiment with it, now I very rarely wear it except for special occasions - I prefer the extra sleep. I enjoy the affect when I do and how it helps events feel special but I generally don’t feel self conscious for not wearing it daily.

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"Makes me feel more in control," Hannah, 22

This is me just before I put my makeup on. I wear makeup every single day, especially to work. For me, makeup is about looking and feeling “professional” no matter how tired/sick/angry/upset I may be. It does feel a little like a mask. Overall I am pretty comfortable in my skin with or without it, but especially around my boss and clients it makes me feel a whole lot more in control.

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"Things changed when I had my son," Justine, 34

I almost never wear make up. I never wore much before, but my relationship with it changed after having my now 4 year old son. I think he is so naturally beautiful and I want him to see that reflected in what I think of myself and how I behave.

I hate the feeling of make up your face, Especially around my eyes, when I sweat, and I dance a lot plus exercise everyday. Every now and then I’ll use a tinted moisturiser or BB cream, curl my eyelashes and pop on some lippy for a special occasion.

Here I am sporting a necklace my son made at kinder!

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"I was wearing makeup to conform to beauty norms," Gianna

My mum rarely wore makeup, so naturally I was really drawn to from a very young age. She had a small collection of makeup she’d use for special occasions, and I loved to go through the bag and apply it to my face over and over.

In high school I was the one who wore it everyday and put makeup on all my friends. I even got arrested at 16 for attempting to steal makeup from Sephora! (Which cured me of my sticky fingers!) However, since meeting my partner and getting married I have become much more comfortable with myself and my style has changed.

I realised I was wearing makeup to conform to beauty norms and hide my low self-esteem. Once I was married to a man who loved me no matter what, I didn’t feel the need to hide behind the makeup anymore. Now I don’t wear makeup nearly as much. Day-to-day I either wear nothing or just mascara, and when I want to feel fancy I will add a little eyeshadow and some bold lipstick (I still LOVE lipstick). I was fortunate enough to work at a job with all women in a culture where nobody really wore much makeup—so the pressure wasn’t there to conform.

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I am about to move back home to NYC from Melbourne and it will be interesting to see if, at my new job, the implicit pressure to conform to beauty norms returns or if I will remain comfortable in my own skin.

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"My 30s have helped me feel more at peace," Melissa, 36

I used to wear makeup daily, partly because it made me feel more put together, and partly because I felt I needed to cover up my redness from roseacea. Now, I have a skincare regime that i feel great about, and my 30s have helped me feel more at peace with being me! Going out without makeup is common now. The eyelash extensions are my concession to vanity, and often my ‘makeup’ these days. No need for mascara!

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2I was never exposed to the pressures of peers," Nicola

My mum hardly ever wore make up and I didn't attend 'normal' school until Year 9 so was never exposed to the pressures of peers. Day to day I use an SPF moisturiser and that's it. I have a BB cream that I water down with moisturiser, a mascara thing, and a lipstick that I'll use on nights out or fancy occasions. Just spent four months travelling South America and all my toiletries fit in a zip lock bag

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"I have no complaints," Lana, 31

I have two boys under five, hence the circles haha. I work four days a week at the front desk of a real estate so need to put something on at least. I've never been massively into makeup so actually had to buy some extra things - foundation in particular. I have streamlined it now and can be done in five minutes. Using IT CC Cream on Mia's recommendation has been the best change! I've always liked my eyes so do enjoy mascara and eyeliner.

I have had issues with acne since teenage years and pregnancy made my cystic acne flare up again but I use Benzac wash in the shower and just their moisturising cream. I don't think I have aged too much when I look back on photos but I can tell this photo has been taken after I got some sun - my freckles have come out to play! All in all I'm happy with my face.... it looks decent all made up! But even like this I have no complaints.

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"This is my face," Fiona, 36

This is me. This is my face. My daughters look at this face every day and I want them to see that I love my face just as much as they do. I don’t need to ‘put my face on’ before I walk in the world.

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"It's crept up on me," Sam

I wear make up day to day. Just some concealer under the eyes, blush and mascara. It's crept up on me, and people tell me I look tired if I don't. (Thanks CC cream, it really is my face but better, AKA my face on holidays.) on holidays, I don't wear makeup. Just sunscreen. And sleep. And long walks and green veges and having fun and looking after myself and here I am.

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"I haven’t always felt like this," Sara, 36

I love wearing making up, I like the way my skin looks with it on, I feel confident and happy with it on. But I also love being fresh faced and make up free. Confidence is loving yourself with any face you are wearing. But I haven’t always felt like this a few years ago I would never leave the house with out make up. But as I have gotten older I found I feel more comfortable in my own skin, with or with out make up.

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"My glasses make it difficult," Jessica, 30

I almost never wear make up, pretty much only special occasions like weddings. I think it’s because in school all my friends started experimenting with makeup by first playing around with eyeliner/mascara/eye-shadow, and because of a serious eye condition (in both eyes) I could never really participate unless someone did it for me. I’m almost completely blind without glasses so I just failed miserably at any of that stuff.

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"I can't remember the last time I wore makeup," Anna, 51

Can’t remember the last time I wore makeup. I do own some... I’m delighted to report that my 16 and 14 year old daughters very rarely wear makeup either.

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"Clear mascara only," Jade, 30

I’m 30 years old and only wear makeup on very special occasions. On a day to day I will use clear mascara but that’s it. It's more out of laziness than anything else.

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"Less is more," Sammii, 26

I don’t wear make up everyday but I’m completely obsessed with it. I have probably too much for an average person. But my mum always taught me to love the skin I’m in and when wearing makeup less is more and not wearing it everyday gives people a surprise and can make you feel nice. I feel beautiful with and without makeup.

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"It makes my face feel dirty," Rebecca, 40

My mum wore makeup every day. It took ages for us to leave the house. I wear makeup for weddings or special outings but just CC or BB cream, mascara and some blush or bronzer. It makes my face feel dirty. I’m 40 and think I still look okay without it.

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"My views have changed as I've gotten older," Jess, 24

Because my mum never wore makeup, I always saw it as a fun means of self-expression and self-care, but not as a necessity. However, as I’ve gotten older I’d say this has changed. Even though I don’t inherently believe this, I notice that I feel ‘shabbier’ and less prepared for the day when I go to work / meet up with my friend sans makeup and it’s something I’d like to change.

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"I don't need to wear it for my job," Leah, 38

I'm a mum of two gorgeous girls. This is on a long haul flight with my family at Christmas time. Make up is not a big part of my routine. A bit of cover up and some mascara is the extent of it most days. I’m getting a few pimples lately, which is annoying me. I got a bit lucky with my eyelashes and eyebrows naturally being quite dark and thick.

I am a singing teacher, so I’m not in a job where there is an expectation that I need to look done up or business like. I always think I look a bit weird when I do a full face of makeup for an awards night or something fancy.

My mum was not big into make up either. My brother’s ex partner wore so much make up. I never saw her without a full face done. It looked suffocating to me and would have cost a fortune.

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"I resent it," Amie

I don’t wear makeup unless for work or a special occasion because I find it uncomfortable and I struggle to remove eye makeup no matter how much I douse it in micellar water! I feel unprofessional without makeup and sufficiently self conscious to want to make the effort for a rare night out but I do resent it.

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"Skincare over makeup," Briony, 39

I almost never wear make up, only really for special occasions. I was never really interested and not very good at putting make up on.

I use skin care products (moisturiser, toner, cleanser and night cream) because I kind of believe that well looked after skin looks really good and doesn’t need make up.

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"It's been six months makeup free," Lauren, 26

I work as a commercial lawyer. I grew up wearing make up every day (including to school) and always felt like I wasn't "pretty" without it, and felt "naked" without wearing it. I always felt self-conscious that people would notice. Growing up, all of my friends and family wore and enjoyed make up. Six months ago I decided that I wanted to feel comfortable in my own skin, so I stopped wearing it all together. The first few days were strange but I got used to it pretty quickly! Now I feel confident in my own skin every day.

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"I relish the days off," Amelia, 27

I love makeup and the way it makes me feel, but in the the last few years my focus has definitely shifted more to good skincare. I have to wear it for work so often I do tend to get a little tired of makeup, and now relish the days off I have when I get to be bare-faced.

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"This is 39," Kirsten, 39

I’ve never felt that bothered by makeup for my day-to-day living (probably my mother's influence) but for some reason I do feel the need to wear at least a bit of concealer/foundation and mascara for work days and when going out at night. Mainly just to cover the dark circles and spots.

I really try to avoid getting sucked into the beauty industry’s trap - it’s a corporate machine after all and I do think its reason for existing is to make women feel bad about how they look naturally, in order to make lots of money ... this may not be a popular opinion, but I can’t help but see it plain and clear. I also prefer to use products that are better for the environment. That’s not to say I don’t feel tempted sometimes or feel drawn in when I walk through a shopping centre ... I’m conditioned like anyone ... but I just don’t have time in my life to spend putting it on every morning either!

Having said that, I also know that using makeup for some women is a creative endeavour - and I can appreciate that. I use clothes and have used hairstyles/colours for my own creative expression. So that makes sense too.

Ultimately I want my skin to look healthy and vibrant - I won’t deny that! - after having two kids I have neglected my skin for about six years so I’m enjoying getting back into many different self-care routines - feeding my skin healthy products without chemicals and trying to do the same with my food and water is becoming my focus. I have a long way to go though (fewer sleepless nights would help too!)

no makeup selfies
Image: Supplied.

What is your relationship to makeup like? Tell us in a comment below!

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