Make up free days are essential for self-care

I haven’t always been an advocate of the make up-free life. I remember getting a compliment one day at work when I was in my ‘proper’ job. You know, the type of job that your parents are finally happy about. The kind of job that looks good on your CV. The kind of job that has a title and an office, but bears no resemblance to the dreams you had as a kid.The kind of job that gives you a mental breakdown. Or maybe that’s just me.

I was under a lot of pressure on a daily basis. Something that I now know I can’t cope with. On this particular day – the compliment day – I was constantly being pulled between responsibilities. I managed a big catering outlet so on busy days I had to step away from the computer and instead clear tables, supervise staff and do the dishes.

As soon as the lunchtime rush died down I reluctantly got back to my expanding to-do list which should have been completed before 10am that morning. Oops. Then I got a call from the finance department asking me for the end of month figures.

“End of month?” I thought to myself.

I checked my calendar and saw that it was only April 24th, so how could I possibly give her the end of month figures when the month hadn’t even ended yet? Then I realised that she needed the figures for March, not April. I was a month overdue on my paperwork. Oops again.


I stomped upstairs in my awkwardly tight – but flattering – pencil skirt to hand in the requested stats. I slid the the poly pocket onto Kirsty’s desk and tried to escape without too much small talk. She glanced up briefly and murmured “thanks” before doing a double-take. Her eyes widened and she almost jumped up out of her chair to inspect my face.

“Are those false eyelashes?” she asked, with a curious grin on her face.

I laughed and blushed a little, wondering who on earth would have the time or patience to apply false eyelashes at 5am in the morning. “No, I’m wearing the new Benefit mascara” I said, letting her in on the worst-kept beauty secret of the year.

No acceptance speech required

She congratulated me (as though having lengthy eyelashes warranted some sort of Oscar acceptance speech) and vowed to get the mascara herself in time for the weekend. I was so flattered. Getting that confidence boost from another woman made me feel good. So good in fact, that I continued to wear a full face of make up for the next year as my mental health began to crumble in a monumental fashion.

I awoke every morning filled with dread. Ignoring the symptoms of burnout and mental fatigue I insisted on spending 40 minutes applying layers of foundation, painting on a black liquid eyeliner (an anxiety-inducing task at the best of times) and crafting the perfect set of brows.

As I sobbed in the bathroom at work I made sure to wipe away my mascara-tainted tears carefully and do a quick touch up job to cover any signs of distress.

As I look back now I realise the painful truth. I was pretending to be OK and hoping that if I looked ‘put together’ on the outside then maybe no one would notice that I was cracking under the pressure.

Like most people, I wore make up to feel better about myself. I still do. I wear make up when I want to feel sexy, powerful, confident or to express myself creatively. I wear make up to cheer myself up. I wear lipstick to distract from tired eyes and extra mascara to distract from greasy hair. It’s a wonderful thing!

But for me, nothing feels better than reaching for my cleanser at the end of the day and wiping it all off. Washing away the grime and dirt is so soothing, replenishing and helps me feel like ‘me’ again. It reminds me that although I enjoy wearing make up, it’s important to accept myself barefaced too. I’ve learned to love myself ‘au naturale’ in all my imperfect glory.

But going make up-free really that easy?

I know a lot of women can’t fathom leaving the house without any make up on. The thought of going make up-free in the name of self-care doesn’t make sense to them, and I totally get that.

You think you’re skin is too spotty, blotchy and somehow both dry and oily at the same time. It’s not tanned enough and you hate your freckles. You’re eyebrows aren’t symmetrical and bushy like Cara Delevigne’s and your lips need plumping to mimic Kyle Jenner’s.

I know these thoughts probably go through your head everyday, especially after you’ve just lost an hour of your life to Instagram and are now convinced you need a set of arse implants and a 28 day detox plan to be happy.

But what if you worked on taking care of yourself at a more basic level? Forget all the quick-fixes, add ons and lens blurring filters and instead thought about what’s on the inside? What if you worked on showing your physical self some care and attention before you focused on simply covering up, manipulating or correcting your so-called flaws?

Self-care starts on the inside

You need to set the foundations with positive thoughts about yourself. Surround yourself with people who love themselves the way they are. I know you’re not in that frame of mind yet and you think you never will be, but how do you think you got to where you are now?

You’ve unknowingly surrounded yourself with people who constantly criticise their physical appearance and do anything possible to change it. Whether it’s celebrities getting ridiculous surgeries to change their body shape or the health industry selling you the next fat-burning secret to success. You’ve spent years or possibly even decades thinking that you’re body is somehow WRONG. I’m here to tell you that it’s not.

How you correct that way of thinking is by replacing all those voices with ones who preach how you want to feel. Read articles by body positive women. Follow women on Instagram who understand how you feel.

Maybe it’s a fitness instructor who prioritises strength and performance over aesthetics. Maybe it’s Brummy Mummy of 2 who shows the funny side of parenting. Maybe it’s Kenzie Brenna who swears cellulite is normal and should be on show for the world to see. Find your tribe and listen to what they have to say, talk to them and ask questions. These people have nothing but love for you and your body image struggles.

Still feeling lost? Read this post which details three practical ways to encourage a more positive body image.

But back to the make up-free manifesto I got going on here. Make up-free days are an essential part of my self-care plan. I truly believe that revealing your naked face is a major step in accepting the skin you’re in, and that’s what self-care is all about.

I really started to go make up-free a few years ago and it’s all because I started a new skin care regime. I’ll be honest, I didn’t have ANY skincare routine until I was 25 years old. I used to got to sleep in my make-up and scrub it off with soap the next day. SOAP. Aaargh if only I could turn back the clock and save my poor skin from all that torture!

Let me make one thing crystal clear. I’m not saying that you NEED a skincare routine to feel good about going make up-free. Absolutely not.

But sometimes we need a nudge in the right direction, and a routine which forces us to think introspectively about ourselves is a good start. How often do you actually take the time to massage your face, gently remove make-up and really give your skin what it needs to function at it’s best? Here are a few reasons why I think a good skincare routine will help instil that feeling of self-care in your mind;

  • You look at your skin everyday
  • Your face expresses how you feel
  • A skincare routine is quick and easy to implement
  • You’ll literally SEE the benefits (point number 1)
  • It can give you the confidence to go make up free

My skincare routine is very simple and it’s all focused around my favourite brand Liz Earle. It’s available online and in most Boots stores, it isn’t ridiculously overpriced and they don’t advocate a zillion different pointless products. My simple routine looks like this:

1.Cleanse & Polish
2.Superskin Eyecream
3.Superskin Face Serum
4.Superskin Moisturiser

Optional extras:

Superskin Concentrate for Night
Brightening Treatment Mask
Superskin Super Lip Balm


Liz Earle is my favourite because the ingredients are kind on my sensitive skin but still really powerful. I’ve found the Superskin Face Serum in particular has made a huge difference to the texture of my skin, evened out redness and has minimised breakouts. I feel like my skin is way more predictable now that I’ve got a routine in place and I only use masks or treatments when I need a little boost.

I’m a firm believer in small tasks adding up to a big result and this is definitely the case with my skincare routine. My routine takes 5 minutes – unless I’m doing a face mask – and just spending that small amount of time each day has led me to this newfound confidence in my skin.

I can now go make up-free with out feeling worried or self-conscious and that’s been a huge benefit to my mental health. When I’ve lost a night’s sleep due to anxiety I can take it slow the next morning, avoid putting any make up on my tired eyes and go barefaced without feeling crap about myself.

Going make up-free is a statement about my strength. It says I’m happy with my flaws. In fact, I barely even see any flaws when I look in the mirror. I just see me. Going make up-free is the ultimate badge of confidence which is almost as comfortable as wearing your pyjamas to the supermarket. Why wouldn’t you do it?

Thanks to all my barefaced beauties who came calling when I asked them to share a make up-free selfie in honour of this post. Go and check their blogs out below!