Maybe She’s Born With It

I stopped wearing nail polish almost a year and a half ago. The last time I painted my nails was for my interview with my current job. I recently threw away the last of my nail polish colors and nail polish remover and it felt good to unload some “stuff” that has some questionable ingredients and smells pretty strongly.

I stopped getting my eyebrows done at the same time. I got them threaded for the same interview, and maybe once after, but then I stopped. My brows have always been thin and light so all they really needed was a bit of shaping. I loved the salon near my last apartment in New York and would visit them about once every six weeks as a mini luxury, but in my new town I found few salons offered threading and the price was much steeper. It wasn’t worth it to me. I could handle the small amount of shaping my sparse brows needed and forego the time and effort.

I very rarely (1-2x/year) get a glaze put in the bottom part of my hair to help old dyed color blend in with my natural color while I grow it out. I haven’t full-on dyed my hair in over three years. I loved the darker color and how it looked against my skin, but wasn’t a fan of the waste and questionable chemicals I was always using. Also, it’s not cheap to dye thick hair that you can literally tuck into your pants. Plus, I think the grays I’m getting look kind of cool. I love seeing older women with long, beautiful, silver hair, and I would be totally cool with that look as I age.

What am I getting at here? This isn’t just a list of “stuff Sarah doesn’t do anymore.” It’s about making conscious decisions when it comes to what I put in, on, and around what my body. Choosing how to spend my money and time. Learning to love myself just as I naturally am.

That last one is pretty huge.

I spent my childhood wishing I had green eyes, black hair, and pale skin. Instead, I had light golden brown (my stylist considers it blond) hair, blueish eyes, and yellowish skin.

Then I discovered hair dye and staying indoors, and my eye color fully developed into – surprise! – green. I spent my 20s black-haired, pale, and green-eyed. I was thrilled to finally look the way I’d wanted to look my whole life. People saw me the way I wanted to see myself. I projected confidence and happiness…until I’d visit friends or family and realize I’d forgotten to bring my makeup, or my un-dyed roots got out of control. I loved feeling “pretty” but I was still insecure with my “mask.”

Once I started weaning myself off the mask, starting with the hair dye, it snowballed into a slow unveiling of confidence in my true self. It helped to have an extremely supportive partner who prefers me to not wear makeup (nor anything unnatural) and actually means it. He doesn’t mean he prefers the no-makeup look, he genuinely doesn’t like makeup (or hair dye, or nail polish, or cologne, etc).

The hair dye, nail polish, and eyebrows were small in comparison to the makeup. I never wore much makeup to begin with. I only wore foundation/powder for photos or special events. My daily routine included eyeliner, eye shadow, mascara, and lip stain. Over the last two years, while I learned more about the ingredients in cosmetics, I started to get “lazy” and cut out the eye shadow. Down to the liner, mascara, and lip stain, but I wasn’t happy with the way my eyes looked with the liner. Some colors were too dark and others made my eyes red so I’d look like I was crying. Finally, I cut out the liner too – down to just mascara and lip stain.

About six months ago I decided to try a “safer” mascara and see if I liked it. I’d recently purchased reusable cotton rounds for witch hazel/makeup removing purposes. On the first day of wear, when I tried to remove the mascara at the end of the day, it stained the cotton rounds (permanently, although it wasn’t waterproof mascara) and was so hard to remove, I lost a couple eyelashes. Sadly, the “safer” mascara had an unintended effect: instead of choosing a safer mascara, I ended up choosing not to wear any at all. It’s been sitting in my (now-tiny) makeup bag for special occasions only. I’ve now worn eye makeup exactly twice in 2017, both for professional events.

I still wear lip stain as I feel that pop of color does really brighten my face, but I’ve switched to a handmade tube from Etsy with natural, recognizable ingredients. It gives me more of a natural flush than a vivid lip, and that’s okay with me. It helps me look a bit more alive as my lips are naturally super-pale. I feel, at least in professional settings, it’s important to look like I respect my appearance and take time to look professional, and it’s perfect. I don’t feel like I need to look like anybody else, but I don’t want to look unkempt or sloppy simply because I’m choosing a more natural lifestyle.

That said, last weekend was one of the two occasions on which I wore makeup. When I looked in the mirror my eyes seemed red and I felt like I was made up for photos or the stage. Although it was barely any makeup (eyeliner and mascara) I felt I looked much different, and not necessarily better – what a change in perspective!

Over the last few years, I’ve learned to love myself for who I am, to appreciate my appearance as well as what’s within my flesh-and-bone walls. Taking off the mask has allowed me to see more of myself and gain strength. I now focus more on what’s important to me to do, and less on how I look whilst doing it.

Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it comes from a box, or a tube, or a salon, or a brush, or a wand, or a bottle.

Maybe it’s not what’s on the outside that matters.

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