17 Women Share the Reasons They Stopped Wearing Makeup

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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When Pamela Anderson went to Paris Fashion Week without any makeup last October, the internet freaked out. Seeing the beauty icon forgo foundation and eyeliner in front of so many cameras—with a huge smile on her face—was refreshing, to say the least. You don’t see many bare-faced women celebs in general, and especially not ones over 50.

This minimalist attitude is creating a buzz outside of Hollywood, too. On TikTok, for example, #nomakeup has more than 1.6M posts. Of course, many of these videos (ironically) involve putting a lot of effort (and money) into achieving the “no-makeup makeup” look or “clean girl aesthetic.” But there are also plenty of posts from people of all ages proudly showing off their natural skin—no mascara, no blush, no filters.

To wear—or not wear—makeup is completely up to personal preference and comfort, and the reasons behind either choice are different for everyone. Here, 17 former makeup enthusiasts tell SELF what inspired them to ditch their beloved cosmetics.

I got so used to seeing myself without makeup during the pandemic, that it just became the new normal.

I used to always wear makeup whenever I went outside. But while I was quarantining during COVID, I didn’t need to, since I wasn’t seeing anyone or going anywhere. The more I went about my day with my bare face, the more I got used to the way I looked without foundation, mascara, under-eye concealer, and eyeliner. —Katrina Huang, 24

Constantly worrying about how my face looked added unnecessary stress.

Courtesy of Jiamie Pyles

It’s the same reason I also stopped doing my hair: I just don’t have time, nor do I consider it a priority. When I did have makeup on, I’d constantly have to be careful about not touching my eyes in a way that would smear my mascara, or not cleaning it off properly at the end of the night. All that extra stress could be avoided by simply not putting any on in the first place. —Jiamie Pyles, 44

My daughter inspired me to embrace my bare face.

Courtesy of Marissa Kelley

I stopped wearing makeup after admiring my daughter and her natural beauty. I was sort of in limbo at the time, because I’d just cut my long hair off and was struggling with my personal image. Once I noticed that I became dependent on wearing makeup during this stage, I realized that it didn’t feel natural, so I started to focus on what’s beautiful to me. —Marissa Kelley, 32

It was so irritating for my eyes.

Courtesy of Holly Ross

I never really took to wearing proper makeup all the time, but in the last few years, I have given it up completely. My skin (and my eyes in particular) are just far too sensitive. Plus, what am I trying to hide? This is my true skin, wrinkles and all. I’m five years younger than Pamela Anderson, and I think she looks amazing. I applaud her for taking a stand and appearing as herself. —Holly Ross, 52

Somewhere along the way, I realized I shouldn’t wear makeup for external validation.

Growing up, I always loved playing with makeup, and I wore at least a little every day from middle school until my junior year of college (when the pandemic started). Since I was staying home for the most part, I didn’t feel the need to wear makeup, but once I started seeing people again, I noticed that I was motivated by external reasons (namely, to appeal to men).

My initial break from makeup reminded me that it was supposed to be fun and for my own enjoyment—not to impress others—and that wake-up call helped me feel confident in my skin again. I still love a glam moment for special occasions like birthdays and Halloween, though, where I can experiment and get back to the fun of it all! —Simone Afriye, 24

I wanted to look—and feel—like my authentic self.

Courtesy of Virginia Peacock

I realized I like the feeling of clean, clear skin as opposed to wearing makeup. At this stage in my life, the main idea is to look healthy. And of course, there are times when I feel pressured to wear eye makeup with lipstick. But when I do, I remind myself that the goal is to overwhelm others with my grace and intellect. —Virginia Peacock, 65

I was sick of having to wear so much as a former dancer and cheerleader.

Courtesy of Sydney Charles

For so many years, I had to wear tons of blush, eyeshadow, eyeliner, and foundation for dance recitals and cheerleading competitions. The looks were pretty dramatic—to the point where I could barely recognize myself. So when I stopped doing dance and cheer years later, I was finally able to embrace my bare face, which made me feel more comfortable in my own skin. —Sydney Charles, 24

I didn’t want to adhere to sexist beauty standards.

Courtesy of Anna Shkolnikov

For me, makeup is no different than getting charged more for pink razors catered to women. It’s something society expects us to keep paying for and putting up with, and I realized men aren’t obligated to maintain their looks in the same way. That—and maybe I’m too lazy for the upkeep that would be required. —Anna Shkolnikov, 46

To practice self-acceptance, I decided to stop covering my acne.

Courtesy of Pooja Tanjore

I initially got into makeup because I was insecure about my cystic acne. I just wanted to cover up the breakouts, but I realized I was using makeup as a crutch: I couldn’t leave the house without it, and I didn’t feel beautiful either.

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