Makeup: ‘Putting on a Face’ OR Enhancing the True Beauty Within?

by Julie Goodhart, Vermont US

Wearing – or not wearing – makeup seems like a basic part of a daily routine that doesn’t require much contemplation. At least, this was certainly true for me until recently. When I first became interested in makeup, I was about 11 years old. My family and I had moved to a new and unfamiliar place. I started at a new school and much to my surprise (and very different from the place I had grown up in), all of the girls were wearing bras padded with tissues, carrying purses, and wearing lots of makeup. At that age I still felt like a kid and didn’t understand why other girls my age were in a hurry to grow up, to be like a woman.

I didn’t initially like the thought of wearing makeup as a young girl, and may have resisted for a while. But I wanted to fit in, so I finally gave in, even though it felt false. Knowing how to apply all the different kinds of powders and creams and pencils, and what each one was for, was a mystery to me, but somehow I learned the basics and did what every other young girl was doing. At some point as a teen I came to understand that wearing makeup was a way to hide something one didn’t like about oneself. The term often used was “putting on your face”. When I first heard this, I thought it strange. Don’t I already have a face? What other face am I putting on? The answer: the face you wish you had. One that is flawless, glowing, bright, beautiful etc. etc.

As a teenager and young adult, my skin was not flawless or glowing, so I used makeup to hide blemishes and uneven skin tone, and to feel pretty. To be seen in public by anyone without makeup would have been completely mortifying, and would just not do! Every single morning, no matter what, I completed the same routine of concealer, foundation, eye shadow, eye liner, blush, and lip gloss (or lipstick when I was older). I had a huge array of powders, blushes, creams, eye shadows, etc., and would always be on the lookout for the next latest and greatest.

When I was in my late 20’s, my partner and I moved to another new place, and here it was ‘normal’ to wear no or very little makeup at all. Over time I could feel how I had been using makeup to cover up my natural beauty, and felt somehow that makeup itself was a problem; that this was possibly harming, a sign of ‘vanity’, and that I could only be a ‘true woman’ when I was comfortable being seen with no decoration. It felt very liberating to clean out my makeup bin and throw most of it away. I stopped wearing much of anything on my face except a little powder and some blush in the winter and lip balm to keep my lips from getting dry. And this has been true for many years… until recently.

I still do not have flawless skin, and it was bothering me that here I am, a woman in my 40s – with blemishes. When I would look in the mirror without any makeup, I could hear negative self-talk running through my head about looking ‘unattractive’ and ‘tired’. But as I’ve recently started to feel more love and appreciation for myself, I’ve been able to look in the mirror and today see a lovely face looking back at me! And I see brightness in my eyes, smoothness in my skin. I see how beautiful the arches of my brows are and how long and dark my eyelashes are too. I see smooth, pink lips and a cute upturned nose…

And then I felt how delightful it would be to add some colour to my eyelids to enhance my pretty brown eyes. How lovely it would be to experiment again with blush, lip color, eye liner. So, recently I went to the makeup aisle of the store and took my time looking at each item and feeling what would be right for me. I chose things that would be appreciative or honouring of the beauty that I can feel I am on the inside that’s now being reflected in my face on the outside. I looked at colours, ingredients / formulas and makeup styles. I asked myself things like – would an eye liner pencil feel gentle and loving on my lids or would that feel too harsh against my skin? And would a cream or powder feel better, etc.

When I came home with my new purchases, I gently washed my skin, and started applying my new makeup, slowly, tenderly, lovingly. It was the middle of the afternoon and I had nowhere to go, no-one who I wanted to impress. I was doing it just for me. Not to put on ‘my face’, or a ‘new face’. Not to hide any flaws… It felt so amazing to use makeup simply as a celebration of the beautiful woman that I am. And it felt like a huge weight was lifted from me – this ‘program’ of hiding and covering my previously thought ‘flawed’ self that had been running in the background, and for so many years, finally stopped playing out.

I know that, and as with everything else I do, that I have a choice here – I can wear makeup to hide my flaws. I can wear it to impress someone or attract attention. I can wear it to feel more confident. Or… I can put on makeup to be with me in full appreciation and love, thereby honouring the real ME – flaws and all…

I’m choosing the latter – and it feels awesome!

461 thoughts on “Makeup: ‘Putting on a Face’ OR Enhancing the True Beauty Within?

  1. I love using make up as a way of confirming the beauty within. There’s an alchemy in doing so that always amazes me, like a ray of sun in my face that expands the light already there..

  2. We have so much power within – so lets not play small lets let it out and show everyone what beauty truly is – not some made up imposed version that currently keeps us all small and in hiding.

    Beauty is found within and within is pure power.

  3. Wearing make up as a mask is sadly very common but so too is avoiding make up as a way of denying your womanliness which has been the case for me for most of my adult life. I still wear very little make up but no longer feel that I am avoiding reflecting my beauty which feels lovely and on the days that I choose to enhance it with make up I have fun rather than feeling unskilled and less of a woman.

  4. A couple of weeks ago I stepped firmly outside my comfort zone and posted a selfie of me at my mirror with no makeup on and my hair brushed fully off my face. But the moment it was online I went into total doubt and deleted it. A few minutes later after a loving self-talk I re-posted it as I knew that it wasn’t just important for me to stop hiding behind makeup and a fringe and to embrace my natural beauty, but that it could inspire others. The wonderful response I received was amazing and so confirmational, especially as at 69 I do not have the unblemished face I had in my earlier years. The next day, when I went out, I put some makeup on and reverted to a fringe, but this time I could feel that I was no longer hiding, simply enhancing the beautiful me.

    1. Thank you for sharing Ingrid and very inspiring that you re-posted the selfie and could feel the difference the next time you put make up on. It is not what we do but the intention behind it so that your make up routine has become confirmational of your beauty rather than you hiding and the world gets to feel the blessing of this.

  5. True beauty will never be about the make up we wear, it will always be about how much we are willing to show our trues-elves and let our love and true origins out.

    1. Absolutely I have pasted a smile on my face as a form of protection and hiding for most of my life – no make up needed to cement my separation from others!

  6. I have become more and more aware of the quality of the products I use and the same goes for products I use on my face. There is a huge difference between brands, some feel like they cover up my beauty and others bring me out in full.

  7. I really appreciate your blog Julie, and it’s come at a time when I am reconsidering makeup again too. Yesterday I started playing with mascara, after being inspired by a friend who was using gold eyeshadow. I too used to hide the imperfections of my skin, now I’m experimenting with a little blusher, that and eye shadow. It’s fun and I understand the honouring of myself, no need to cover up a face shinning with the light of who I am.

  8. I have resisted applying cleanser and toner on my face for many years in fact I have never bothered before yet recently I have started doing it as part of my evening routine and wow am I noticing a difference. It’s an opportunity for me to connect to my sacredness just before bed.

  9. There is a great deal here to be said about make-up, the industry of it, the culture of it, the way it fits in to our thinking minds. But apart from all of that, I really love applying make-up. I put it on so delicately, using the products that have been specially chosen for their quality and texture, using tools that ensure I have to be precise and present. Make-up to me is a ritual that confirms me in my body and so it prepares my whole entire being for the day to come and thereafter everytime I look in the mirror t I am brought back to being present in my body once again. This, as far as I can tell, is a greater purpose of make-up.

  10. Whether we wear make up or not, looking in the mirror and accepting and appreciating what we see and feel, building a relationship with our own reflection, is a huge part of loving ourselves.

  11. This does feel awesome, ‘ I can put on makeup to be with me in full appreciation and love, thereby honouring the real ME – flaws and all…’

  12. I love putting on my make up and when I don’t love it I know I am not with myself and there is something going on in my life that needs my attention. It is not that I need my make up but it is a joy to confirm and highlight the beauty of my eyes, my skin, my lips. It feels like caring and nurturing myself.

  13. There are two distinct ways to live life: to cover up and make do, to soldier on and push through or to know the truth about yourself and the universe and celebrate love in what you do. Both ways can look the same but are miles apart.

  14. Very cool to read how your relationship with make up has shifted as your relationship with you has deepened. How and why we wear make up, clothes, jewellery etc – all a reflection of how we are with ourselves.

  15. I love how much my relationship with make-up has changed, something i now enjoy every day rather than being a rushed part of my morning to make myself feel more presentable

  16. How on earth we as women can live not feeling good enough? This is a draining way of being that compromise and harms our body. It puts it under a pressure that is not natural. Living trying, covering, hidding, pretending is not a loving way of being with ourselves. Instead of that we can claim back our beauty just accepting the amazing women we already are, just as we are.

  17. In my teenage years I started to apply make up. I did it because I didn’t like my face. It was too oval, too thin, my eyes too big…there was not a moment of a loving self-talk in my life. So I decided to apply make up to cover my flaws. I would apply eye liner in my eyes in order to look more tough as I also saw myself too delicate – feeling even shame about it – to survive in the high school environment where the coolest thing to do were smoking, drinking and meeting boys. Since some years ago I’ve started to appreciate more the curve lines of my face, the shape of my eyes…and how delicate I feel with no shame anymore. I’m accepting who I am from within and that’s what makes me feel really beautiful. The days to feel like a strange in my body have gone and yes, feels awesome embracing the real me with flaws and all.

  18. Reading this reminds me how we can go through cycles with things and not to get stuck in a set way of doing (or not doing!) something as our relationship with it can change and evolve, like it felt great to you at the time to have a break from wearing make-up but then to go back to it later in a different way…

    1. Yep, it feels like as we develop and deepen our relationship with ourselves, ie what it really feels like to be ourselves all of the time, so our relationship with everything else changes too. How we express ourselves (including our make up, hair, the way we dress and what we wear) becomes an outward expression of the inner connection, instead of a mask to hide behind.

  19. Up until a year or two ago, the thought of going out without makeup would have not even been there as an option. I was fine to go out without eye makeup or mascara on because I didn’t usually wear that anyway, but not having some foundation or power and lipstick on was not something I was going to try. Over the last few years I have come to love my skin and my hair, and I equate that with loving myself more deeply, seeing that gorgeous playful twinkle in my eyes and smile when I look at myself in the mirror and not zoning in on imperfections from judgement. The other day I went to work with no foundation on at all and just lipstick, something I have never ever done in my adult life and it was a non-event. I wanted to see my skin tone and not the artificial tone my foundation colours me with. Time for a more truer colour foundation for me.

  20. When I was younger, I used make up as a mask for what i saw a wrong with me, and sometimes I can tell I do it now as well, but more often I have found how to express myself with makeup, highlighting my eyes or just having fun

  21. We are enough just as we are. No matter what we see reflected back there is an anchor within us. Every day in all of our experiences, Life is offering us these lessons on deepening this connection with our anchor to want to reveal back to us that our worth is deep within and it has always been there since day 1.

  22. It is inspiring to feel how you re-imprinted the way you use make up to appreciate the fullness of you rather than as something to hide behind and how you took your time to feel what was true for you rather than to follow the crowd with either wearing lots of make up or none at all.

  23. Putting makeup on to be in full celebration, honouring and appreciation of oneself is a beautiful way to be in the world.

  24. Everything in life corresponds to this law you have outlined Julie – it’s not the task or action that matters per se but the quality we choose to live with that counts. Knowing our divinity is the greatest beauty enhancer we will ever find.

    1. So true Joseph and connecting to our divinity allows us to feel our beauty whatever we choose to wear.

  25. This is a beautiful celebration of you, ‘It felt so amazing to use makeup simply as a celebration of the beautiful woman that I am’.

  26. There are make-up companies at the moment that advertise their products based on the fact that they provide a mask for women to hide their flaws behind, which shows the need that many women feel to cover their face and to hide their perceived flaws. One could say it is the advertising agencies that make women think that they have these flaws in the first place, creating a substantial market for themselves to profit from, but that would negate the power of women. We are not so easily tricked. Each woman has the freedom to choose why she wears make-up – regardless of what the media is telling us.

    1. Exactly Shami. As I can see make up advertising uses to show us unreal and photoshopped faces of women who in their private lifes, are just the same, like us. But media puts a lot of effort in glorifying certain models to sell their products. The messages that leaves us with is ‘you have to be perfect or reach this beauty standard to be beautiful’ But what is being sold if it’s all part of a process of covering the real beautiful face of a woman? It seems that we have created a world based on the outside, in the external appearance, when we have all within. So it’s a responsibility to change these kind of messages just by being who we really are. We can be like a living new beauty advertising just by walking and joyfully appreciating how gorgeous we are!

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