EVERYONE talks about first periods, bra shopping, and losing your virginity like they’re the defining moments of womanhood. I don’t know about you, but actually the first time I successfully evaded the babysitter and crept into the upstairs bathroom, to defile my face with a smeared army of pilfered lipstick and eyeshadow, I felt like a woman. Unfortunately, I looked like a tipsy, colorblind clown. Becky from Full House (wait, we don’t all take our beauty cues from 90s era sitcom babes?) said it best, “The trick to make-up is to seem like you’re not wearing any. Stop looking down my shirt, Uncle Joey.” Ok, maybe she didn’t actually say that last part. But she should have.
STEP 1 HAVE A FRIEND WHO MAKES JOAN RIVERS SEEM NURTURING AND SUPPORTIVE
Toxic friends are as much a high school staple as inedible cafeteria food and dumb baseball coaches moonlighting as history teachers. Maybe she was the girl who inquired, all false innocence and sickly sweet, “how you had the courage to forgo mascara when your lashes are so bizarrely straight.” Or who swore you’d look just like Gwenyth Paltrow. . .once your skin cleared up. Either way, she had you running for the ladies room and your economy-sized tube of concealer every time you broke out. And not just with those big a**hole zits who set up shop smack dab on your nose, but even the diminutive clusters who seemed to murmur, “Just doing our job, ma’am” as you drowned them in foundation.
STEP 2 GET ENTRENCHED IN A VICIOUS CYCLE OF BREAKING OUT AND CAKING ON
The more make-up you caked on, the more irritated your skin became. And the more irritated your skin became, the more make-up you caked on. It was the eternal struggle, a twisted symbiotic dynamic that led your pores to be clogged and your mom to accuse you of looking like a two-dollar hooker. Your eyes were all wrong without layers of liner, your naked lips almost obscene. You barely recalled your natural skin tone. Or what any of your features looked like unmarred by mountains of make-up.
STEP 3 I KNOW MY FACE IS BURIED AROUND HERE SOMEWHERE…
High school is in the past, but its effects still permeate the air like a bad smell. You still get up an hour early to apply your meticulous mask before work. You still don’t let boyfriends you’ve had for months, or even friends you’ve had for years, see you bare-faced. You still leave your trademark orange-y skid marks on every face towel that has the misfortune to cross paths with you. Until the day you decide, enough is enough. You want to be able to move confidently through the world with the face the good lord gave you! You want to embrace imperfection and celebrate natural beauty! And you want to go one week without buying new goddamn towels.
STEP 4 LESS IS MORE, BARELY ANY IS BEST
It feels downright sinful to shop Sephora with a normal-sized bag, not your usual cavernous sherpa tote, but you’re committed to cutting back. Battling withdrawal shakes, you limit yourself to the essentials. A little blush, a dab of mascara, some lip balm and clear gloss. And your face feels so light. Like for the first time in forever (or since you were like, twelve — same thing) it can breathe. You stick to brands that blend well with your natural skin tone, enhancing rather than hiding. You even, heaven help you, limit yourself to a single layer. It’s a brave new world. And you are its bizarrely straight-eyelashed pioneer.
STEP 5 MAYBE SHE’S BORN WITH IT. . .
It’s been a while since your foray into the fresh-faced frontier and you’re a believer. At first you detoxed, applying only the bare minimum every day, whether you were going to the gym or out bar-hopping with friends. Now that you’ve settled into your new minimalist lifestyle, you allow yourself the luxury of special treats — nights where you dress your face to the nines. False lashes, red lips, the works. Makeovers are a lot more fun now that you know they’re not necessary. And some days, you even go au natural, flaunting your naked face with all the sparkle and abandon of a grown woman living in Bob Saget’s attic.