Everything I’ve Learned From Not Wearing Makeup For 6 Weeks

It’s 10am on day 39 of lockdown and I’ve already ice-rolled my face, applied fridge-cool eye patches to my under-eyes, spritzed the face mist I keep at my desk approximately 22 times, moisturised, applied SPF, and chosen the sheet mask that I’m going to use – after exfoliation and a clay mask – later today. Lockdown may have killed my social life and workout routine, but it’s worked wonders for my skin – in fact, I haven’t worn makeup once since got the go-ahead to work from home, six weeks ago. 

It’s been a fun experiment for me – I’m a makeup-obsessed beauty editor with a history of acne, so makeup has been a big part of my life since my late teens. I have insecurities about the acne scars on my cheeks (so rarely leave the house without foundation on), I don’t feel myself without mascara and something in my brows, plus a big part of my job is testing products so I nearly always have a new lipstick or blusher on my face. 

The one thing that eclipses my love of makeup however is my love of skincare, and while brainstorming content ideas for articles this month I thought it would be an interesting experiment to skip makeup for the duration of lockdown and see what happened. Reader, it’s been five weeks – the results are in… 

I don’t get as many breakouts

Granted, this one sounds like an obvious one, but as an ex-acne sufferer who is extremely breakout prone, being able to count on one hand the spots I’ve had in the last five weeks is a big deal. In addition, I’ve noticed that the spots I have had have been small, short-lived, and easy to get rid of. The thing about makeup is that it does clog pores, especially if it’s sat on your skin for a long time, and it’s not always as easy to remove as you think… Despite the fact I’m fastidious and use a micellar water before double cleansing to remove makeup, the fact I’ve had less breakouts since cutting out makeup says it all.  

I’m more aware of how my skin adapts to my cycle

Because my skin isn’t covered in its usual mask of makeup, and because (as mentioned above) I’m experiencing fewer makeup-triggered breakouts, I’ve been able to really pick up on any changes in my skin, and have become more aware of how those linked up to my monthly cycle. Glowing skin around ovulation, increased oiliness before my period, a couple of spots threatening to break out on my jaw during my period, and drier skin following my period… All tell-tale signs of the way hormones play into skin’s behaviour, but super useful because I’m more aware now of how to adapt my skincare routine to suit them. 

I notice how my skin behaves after certain products

Similar to the above, because I’ve not been wearing makeup, I’ve been spending more time on my skincare, and have made it a more mindful process. It’s no longer just a routine I follow to prep my skin for makeup or after cleansing, instead I really take time to consider how my skin is looking and feeling before I choose the skincare products I apply. Likewise, because I don’t have makeup on or do my routine right before I roll into bed, I can really pick up on how my skin reacts to the products I used, and notice the benefits of each one. 

It’s easier to look after my skin

Another obvious one, but not wearing makeup and sitting at home all day really does allow for a lot more time to spend on skincare. Ice rolling before breakfast, sheet masks during Zoom calls, eye patches to counteract Monday morning puffiness… skincare has become a ‘round the clock routine and I am not mad about it. 

My pores are less noticeable

Alongside the decreases in breakouts I’ve noticed that my pores are much less obvious – especially where they used to be very visible around my nose. Pores can’t disappear or shrink in size, but the cleaner they are the less obvious they are – that applies to no makeup clogging pores and also less exposure to pollution. I’ve gone from commuting around a busy city to taking one walk a day in a world that’s seeing the environmental benefits of decreased traffic and industry. Win, win. 

I’m more accepting of my skin

I used to be really aware of the difference between my skin with and without makeup on, but now that I’m used to seeing my face without makeup and don’t have that ‘ideal’ to compare it too, I realise I was being way too hard on myself with the pressure to wear makeup everyday. I’ve been showing up to Zoom meetings and after-work drinks and going to the supermarket in nothing but SPF without even thinking about it. 

My lockdown skincare faves