Makeup Free for 40 Days: 5 Things I Learned

what i learned when i gave up makeup for lent

It was late February and Lent was quickly approaching. 

Lent is a season of fasting and deep reflection that mirrors Jesus' 40 days spent fasting in the desert in anticipation of the hardest test of his time on earth: his radical, self-sacrificial death on the cross. For many Christians, the practice of giving something up is meant both to remind us of the immensity of Christ's sacrifice and to keep us rooted in spiritual disciplines that help us let go of material things and focus on what matters.

I had been feeling guilty about a few recent expensive makeup purchases and had some eye irritation as the result of a new eyeshadow, so makeup was on my mind. It seemed like the natural thing to give up. I've never worn a lot of makeup, not because of any moral stance but more out of a sense of lazy-ness. I also have easily irritated eyes, so heavy eye makeup is out of the question. When I told a few friends I had given up makeup for Lent, the response was mostly: "Do you even wear makeup?"

But see, this test wasn't about others' perceptions of me. It was about my perception of myself, right down to the core of my identity.

What I Learned When I Gave Up Makeup for Lent

1. Makeup is a security blanket

One of my friends, an older woman named Mary, passed away a few weeks ago. When I got the phone call, the first thing I thought was "I wish I was wearing makeup." The shock of grief hit me square in the face and I just wanted to wrap myself up in something and feel safe. Before that moment, it had never occurred to me that makeup was about security, but I guess I felt like, if everything else was going to be wrong in the world, at least my pores would look small. It sounds trivial, but I can see how it's mixed up in lots of legitimate emotions.

2. People don't notice your flaws the way you do

Aside from one rather observant - and absurdly critical - volunteer, no one commented on my face at all. If I mentioned to a friend that I had gone makeup-free, they would universally tell me that they hadn't noticed a change. Of course, I could see the minor differences, but that eventually stopped bothering me as time wore on.

3. Flaws are human, and I shouldn't have to apologize for them

When I was a teenager, I remember reading an article in a fashion magazine on the topic of the best concealers. The author measured the efficacy of the product by how "awake" she looked in meetings after a long night of work the day before. It occurred to me then that the burden shouldn't fall on her to look perfect if she was being overworked. If you're tired, why aren't you allowed to look tired?

Seeing my skin without makeup made me acutely aware of the way my skin reddens when I'm nervous, the largeness of the pores around my nose, and the dark circles I get when I haven't slept well. It was oddly freeing to accept my skin in that state, to call it good.

4. My body tells me what it needs

On a related note, being able to see the sunburns and pimples and dark circles made me want to do right by my skin by treating my whole body better. I focused on getting rest, drinking water, and using nourishing skincare products to improve my skin rather than covering up the issues. I also tackled some recurring health concerns by making sure I was getting enough protein and taking probiotics. I feel much better because I learned to pay attention.

5. It's ok to have rituals

One of the things I missed the most about my daily makeup application was the ritual. I liked being able to focus in on my skin, paying attention to the nooks and crannies of my face as I applied powder and blush, carefully curling my lashes before applying mascara, and tracing my lips with tinted balm. But I got my tattoo about a week into Lent, so the process of caring for it became a new ritual.

Framing my routine as a ritual made me more observant of the other little things that help me start and end my days, like boiling water for pour-overs and herbal tea, applying lotion, even shaving my legs. These tactile things we do add a great deal of meaning even when they mostly go unnoticed.

what i learned when i gave up makeup for lent

So what's the game plan now?

I wore makeup on Easter morning and it felt weird. I had expected to love the return to normalcy, but I actually felt less like myself with makeup on after all of those days without it. For now, I've eliminated tinted moisturizer, powder, and eyeshadow completely. I've reintegrated light blush and my beloved Glossier Boy Brow. I've found that my lashes stay curled all day if I don't add any mascara, so I've said goodbye to mascara, as well.

It's really satisfying to have arrived at this place of confidence and renewed self awareness. Until the last week of Lent, I was still complaining about going makeup-free, but now I feel good in my own skin. And, though I know it shouldn't be about others, it's satisfying to know that people who care about you really don't care if you're wearing makeup or not.



Review: Nourish Organic Night Cream + Recovery Serum

100% USDA Organic Skincare

A few weeks ago, I received an email from Nourish Organic asking me if I'd like to sample two of their products. I'm always on the hunt for organic, ethically sourced skincare that won't irritate my skin, so I happily said yes. They sent me their Restorative Night Cream and Overnight Recovery Serum, valued at $25.00 each, to try. All Nourish Organic products are 100% organic, packaged in at least 25% post-consumer recycled content, and cruelty free. Their factory uses renewable energy and their warehouse is underground to reduce utilities waste.

I've been using both products for about two weeks now and I'm happy to say there's been minimal irritation and evident results...

Nourish Organic Skincare serum review
The first thing I noticed about both products (besides their lovely package design) was their heavenly fragrance, comprised of essential oils and other organic fragrances. Since my skin is quite sensitive, I generally shy away from scented products, so it felt like a spa-like indulgence to breathe in the floral and citrus fragrance as I gently layered the serum and moisturizer on my face.

I can feel the potency of these products as soon as they're applied, so I've done my best to adapt my routine to the path of least irritation.

Restorative Night Cream

The night cream is primarily comprised of aloe and shea butter, so the consistency is relatively thin while being quite moisturizing. Since using this product, I have seen a reduction in flaky skin and fine lines around my eyes. I don't need to exfoliate as often throughout the week and I haven't seen an increase in acne or irritation.

My Grade: A

Overnight Recovery Serum

The serum is a blend of safflower, argan, evening primrose, jasmine, sweet orange, avocado, and pomegranate seed oils. The fragrance is really lovely and the application is smooth (I generally use two pumps). I have to be careful with essential oils because their potency often irritates my skin, so I apply this over, rather than under, the moisturizer, because it feels like the small barrier of moisturizer reduces irritation, and I only use it every other day. Paired with the night cream, I have noticed a reduction in fine lines and flakiness. I apply a little more in areas that tend toward extra dryness. I have noticed minor irritation and have had some trouble keeping the serum from migrating to my eye area - it stings if it gets in my eyes. I also avoid using serum in the morning because the oil tends to smudge my mascara.

My Grade: B

Keep in mind that these are personal preferences based on my particularly sensitive skin. I am really impressed with the products overall and think they're priced fairly competitively for their market.

The packaging: My samples were packaged in a cardboard box. The plastic containers were each packaged in small, cardboard display boxes. Nourish is committed to using at least 25% post-consumer recycled content in their packaging, though I can't say which parts were recycled.

I'm thinking about trying the deodorant in Lavender Mint.


Shop Nourish Organic here. 

platinum no more: how to get rid of the blonde at home

how to dye blonde hair brown at homeMy hair has been through a lot this year.

I had my hair professionally bleached and dyed to platinum blonde back in April for a fashion show. I was able to keep the look up for several months thanks to a touch-up I received as payment for a styled shoot I did in June. But then things started growing out and I knew I didn't want to pay $70.00+ every couple of months to maintain a color so distant from my natural one.

I decided to dye my hair darker at home. The only hitch was that home dyes are made to go over hair with pigment in it and my hair had been bleached out. With nothing for the dye to hold onto, it was inevitable that my at home hair color would fade back to blonde or, even worse, turn a weird color. After consulting with several local stylists and doing some online research, I came up with a plan. And it worked!

dyeing your hair at home

What you'll need:

  • Warm Red semi-permanent dye

  • Warm Dark Blonde/Light Brown semi-permanent dye

  • Permanent dye in the color of your choice


Follow instructions on box to dye your hair a warm red tone, concentrating more color at the roots than on the ends, as bleached hair is more absorbent than your natural roots. I waited a couple weeks before doing the next step, but you could do this all on the same day, if desired.

Next, follow instructions on box to dye your hair a warm dark blonde or light golden brown no more than 2-3 shades lighter than your desired final color. It is imperative that the dye you choose is listed as a Warm tone, as you really need to get the brown-red base of a natural hair color back in your hair before permanent dye can adhere to it.

After both semi-permanent dyes have been applied, dry your hair and apply permanent hair color in the Neutral or Warm tone of your choice (I used a neutral medium brown). You're finished!

As hair fades, it will have a natural base to hold onto, so you won't end up with pink or green hair. Dyeing your hair using this at-home method will save you $50.00 or more.