The No-Makeup Fast

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I got my certification for makeup artistry this year so it’s safe to say that I live and breathe makeup. I’m one of those people that will go FULL glam as much as I can, even if it’s to go somewhere like the dentist’s office.

The act of putting makeup on is one of my favorite things, it’s therapeutic for me to stipple on my foundation, flick my liner to get the perfect cat eye, and get my contour angle juuuuuust right. But I always kept questioning WHY it made me feel so good. Was it because I was using makeup to adhere to societys standards about looking a certain way? Or because I actually, genuinely like the way I feel when I use makeup or have makeup on?

The more articles I read on makeup and society, the more I started questioning my reasoning for loving makeup as much as I do now. This led me to an experiment: for the month of Ramadan, I will not wear any makeup whatsoever. I’d go out barefaced every day and focus on my improving my skincare habits rather than covering up with foundation and concealer and whatnot. Here’s how I broke it down:

Why I’m doing this:

  1. I have had problems with acne and scarring and all that fun stuff since I was 12 and I was never ok with it. I really need to learn to be ok with it. I need to be able to not be affected when random people in grocery stores approach me and tell me to take care of my skin.
  2. It gives me a chance to focus more on being nice to my skin rather than hiding behind foundation. I have a very lengthy but very beneficial skincare routine that I haven’t really been following as well as I should, so this will give me a chance to do so.
  3. I want to reflect and see exactly WHY I need makeup in my life so badly, whether it’s for societal reasons or for my own personal happiness.
  4. It gives me a chance to prep my skin to be a glowing goddess on Eid.

My Hypothesis:

I went into this thinking that 30 days will transform my skin. That I’d be pimple free with no hyper pigmentation, my dark circles will fade, and I’d have that natural glow that everyone longs for. Clearly, I was expecting a lot.

My Process:

I would wear absolutely NO makeup for the month of Ramadan. Why Ramadan? Because it is supposed to be a time for reflection for Muslims, I’d figure I’d take advantage of all the reflecting and throw this aspect of self reflection in as well. I’d go through my skincare routine twice a day and do a DIY facial once a week. I’d take a selfie on Day 1, Day 15, and Day 30 of the experiment to track progress.

The Experiment:

Day 1:

Senna Ahmad Day 1

Well, here’s my bare face in all it’s glory on day 1. I was SO uncomfortable while taking this photo, to the point where I was unsure if I wanted to actually go through and write about this. Did I really want people all over the internet seeing my naked face? I felt like I was catfishing the world and this was the photo that would reveal what I actually am. It was this exact reason that I needed to go through with this experiment. I have a lot of problem areas that I wanted to focus on: hyper-pigmentation on my cheeks, acne scarring, acne on my chin and cheeks, dark circles, uneven texture, the list goes on.

Walking out bare-faced the first couple days was very tough for me. I constantly kept looking at myself in the mirror, only to be disappointed with what I saw I had friends and family members tell me that I look exhausted. Oddly enough, looking at myself with no makeup on where I looked like I got less than an hour of sleep, made me feel more exhausted that I usually would. I kind of started taking on this personality of a lazy bum, all based on my looks.

Day 15:

Day 15

UM. WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON. Is my skin getting worse? My acne is starting to hurt and my skin feels more oily than ever and I never ever ever want to go outside. This is exactly what’s NOT supposed to happen. Can you tell in my photo that I am internally screaming?

At this point, I missed makeup. A LOT. I see all my products on my dresser whispering my name, begging me to use them. I think about how much fun I have when I’m blasting music, pretending I’m in a chick flick getting-ready-to-look-super-stunner scene, putting makeup on. It’s just so FUN.

On Day 16, I caved. And it felt damn good:

Senna Ahmad Day 16

I had a fancy Iftar party to go to so I had an excuse to dress up and look good. I spent about 2 hours doing makeup this day, because I wanted to soak in that self-care feeling for as long as possible. I did everything I possibly could. I tried new makeup methods, I contoured everything that could be contoured, I went HAM on the lipstick and my god I felt FABULOUS this night. I felt like myself, my typical, bubbly, outgoing happy self bursting with energy. Hey, if people on diets get cheat days, I can do the same right?

I woke up on Day 17 guilt ridden and shameful for cheating, so I decided to go the extra mile with my skincare to make up for it:

Senna Ahmad Day 17

Here I am, cleansing myself of the sins I committed.

The masks and regular facials did seem to help a little bit with some of my problems, but I never felt like it was enough. Perhaps I was just really impatient.

Day 30:

Senna Ahmad Day 30

The last day of my experiment.

No huge transformation, no goddess like clear skin, no faded scars, and no disappearance of acne. Oddly, I was ok with it. I felt like I had this glowy-ness to me that I didn’t have before. I started looking at the postive aspects of my face rather than the negatives. For example. I love the shape of my eyes and my lips and my skin tone…if my skin wasn’t perfect, so what?

The conclusion:

The biggest change I found with this whole process came within myself. I went from being self conscious and insecure about my skin to accepting my flaws and focusing on my positive features. It’s ok if my pores aren’t invisible or if my scars won’t disappear. I can still feel gorgeous and good about myself regardless.

I still missed makeup a lot. I found that I saved a whole lot of time when i ditched makeup but I still missed the feeling of putting it on and feeling great. Maybe I won’t feel the need to contour for the grocery store, but it will still very much be an every day part of my life. I don’t see why I have to stop it.

I also learned that to see any improvements in your skin, you are going to have to be very, very patient. As you can see, 30 days of intense skincare is not enough to transform your skin. Aspects such as exercise and nutrition have a major effect on your skin. I didn’t do much of either during Ramadan, which made me realize that good skin is just an aspect of good health — it’s a lifestyle change and you have to be really dedicated to your body for it to transform.

Makeup will always be one of my favorite things to do and I don’t think I’ll be letting go of it completely any time soon, but I think that as long as I’m comfortable with my flaws and learn to ignore what others say about my face, I’ll be ok.

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