I wear lipstick to answer the door for the delivery person. I wear blush to walk to the laundry room. I wear eyeliner to the gym. I wear eyelash extensions to work. I wear all of the above — and more — to bars and clubs. And yet, last week, I went on a date without makeup.
For a beauty-obsessed babe like me, this was risky territory. I had recently met this girl on a dating app. We had fabulous banter via text before she asked me out, which was a satisfying step up from simply getting drinks after a monotonous round of "hey-what's-up-not-much-you." I wore makeup in all of my dating app pictures, but I had already agreed to try this no-makeup experiment when we planned this date. And quite frankly, I wanted to prove to myself that the world wouldn't end if I went out bare-faced.
On the day of our first date, I started getting ready an hour and a half in advance out of habit. Except I was ready in 30 minutes flat. I usually take comfort in my long, drawn-out beauty ritual. It makes me feel confident. In control. I usually make a big show out of laying out my makeup, playing Lana Del Rey, and taking a series of gratuitous selfies once I’m ready. This time, with nothing to do, I felt completely anxious and incomplete. I fidgeted around my apartment, paced back and forth, and considered pouring myself a glass of wine.
I wanted to prove to myself that the world wouldn't end if I went out bare-faced.
I’m used to slowly gliding primer, then foundation, then bronzer (and more bronzer) over my skin. Smudgy black eyeliner and shimmery eyeshadow calm me down. A dewy setting spray is the icing on my femme cake — it's a foolproof recipe that makes me feel ready to slay. Without all that, I flat-ironed my hair over and over again, wondering if I could just dab on a little tinted moisturizer. I figured I could even get away with foundation and nobody would know.
In the past, I've defended my love of makeup by explaining that it's a form of self-expression, like art. I didn't think it had anything to do with insecurities about my looks. But my reluctance to leave the house without makeup made me realize that maybe there was more at stake here. Maybe deep down, makeup has served as my armor all along.
I decided to masturbate because my luxury vibrator was the only thing that could distract me from the collection of Kat Von D liquid lipsticks calling my name. Thirty more minutes passed and I finally left for the bar, fresh-faced with a post-orgasm glow.
I walked into the v trendy tapas bar (nice choice, girl) and had my normal panic of what if we don't recognize each other, what if there aren't two open seats at the bar, what if I black out and forget her name. Anxiety is fun! But when my date got up to hug me, I felt comfortable immediately.
When I sat down, I had another brief moment of she's-so-hot-I'm-so-ugly panic. She was a textbook chapstick lesbian — perfectly clipped fingernails, no makeup (besides a touch of moisturizer and chapstick, duh), naturally sexy AF in jeans and a leather jacket. Swoon. The moment passed and I felt comfortable again.
Perhaps if I had been out with a smoky-eyed femme with highlighter on fleek, I would've compared my face to hers and spiraled. Or maybe I would've been self-conscious about her thinking I didn't know how to do makeup, like when you walk into Sephora bare-faced and the employees try to talk to you like you know nothing about makeup. You want to scream, "B*TCH, I DO," but your splotchy face lends you no credibility.
After my initial moments of fleeting anxiety (which are not uncommon for me on dates, even if I have professionally done makeup) I began to enjoy myself and get lost in talking with her. She effortlessly lead the conversation, only taking breaks to ask the waiter to refill my champagne. Soon enough, I was distracted by all we had in common, how f*cking sexy she looked when she pushed her hair back, and how good of a time I was having. My natural face wasn’t a thought in my mind.
I thought this essay would be about how I had an epiphany. Either I’d realize how beautiful I am without makeup and my date would be my one true love and see the real me... Or I’d be insecure and anxious the whole time and ruin the date. Neither of those things happened. Once I was there, I was so engrossed in my date, I completely forgot I wasn’t wearing makeup. I left the bar with a giddy, stomach-flipping feeling. After she kissed me goodbye, I strutted back to my apartment, floating on champagne bubbles.
And weirdly enough, I was fine without makeup. I was better than fine! I can't believe that something that had worried me so much had no significant bearing on the success of my date.
I can't believe that something that had worried me so much had no significant bearing on the success of my date.
When I got home and eagerly told my roommates about how fab my potential chapstick bae was, I caught a glimpse of myself in the living room mirror, and I looked good. I looked happy.
I'm still excited to show up to our second date dripping in bronzer, eyeshadow, and glitter (f*ck yes, glitter). But I'm glad my date saw me stripped-down and was still attracted to me. If we eventually sleep together, I’ll know that I don’t have to panic about my foundation rubbing off on her sheets or my eyelashes coming unstuck. She liked me without all that stuff. And more importantly, I liked me, too.
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