For me, makeup means I’m ready for my day. It’s part of my ritualistic daily routine. If I don’t have makeup on, it means that I am not leaving the house. And even if I am planning to stay home all day, I don’t feel put together or “on my game" without makeup on. For me, it's a given.
Over the years, I’ve learned that many women don’t wear makeup on the daily. Many don’t even wear makeup to work. I spoke to seven women about why they don't wear makeup to work. Here are some of the most common reasons they shared:
1. Sleep is more important.
Many women mentioned that with kids at home to get ready, fed and off to school in the morning, applying a full face of makeup means less precious time to do what they need to do most: sleep. Nancy, one mom I spoke to, said that if doing her makeup means losing an extra 30, 20 or even 5 minutes of sleep, she will gladly skip the concealer and hit the snooze button.
2. When you work at home, you don’t see anyone anyway.
Many women mentioned it was pointless to spend time applying “their face” because working from home meant they don’t encounter the public. For women like Ashley, one professional I spoke to, doing their makeup was more for the people looking at them than for their own self-esteem.
3. For some, makeup does the opposite of its purpose and makes you feel LESS confident.
One woman I spoke to, Beth, said that learning how to apply makeup wasn’t one of her life lessons growing up. She shared that her mom never gave her the tips and tricks on eye shadow or mascara because her mom didn't wear makeup either. For Beth, applying cosmetics makes her more self-conscious throughout the day. She chooses to stay au-natural in the name of personal comfort.
4. Hard labor gets in the way of having products on your face.
Laura, who works in construction, mentioned that having a job that involves labor, dust, and getting overheated means that makeup doesn’t last long. She’d rather skip the step than waste the time on something that isn’t going to stay on throughout the day.
5. Some will only wear it if they are going to be around clients.
Similar to those working from home, many women said the only time they worry about applying a stroke of blush or swipe of eyeshadow is if they plan to see clients that day. If they know they will be spending the day in the office, they forgo the extra work in the morning and opt for extra minutes of sleep instead.
6. Some say they choose not to wear makeup to break through society’s gender norms.
Dee McCord from The Shapiro Ballroom in Chicago says that being in an industry where society’s beauty standards are important means that choosing not to wear makeup brings no shortage of comments throughout the day. She’s consistently asked about why she chooses to abstain from the posh beauty norms of her high-profile clientele. For her, non-conforming proves a point.
7. It brings them too much attention.
A handful of women mentioned that they didn't appreciate the extra attention they received from others when they wear makeup — mainly unwanted advances from men. One woman, Kelly, shared that working in a restaurant/bar means that patrons are frequently drinking and for her, the sexual comments have made her decide to opt out of any beauty rituals before heading in to work. This is a shame. Women shouldn't feel they have to change their routine to tailor to others, especially in their place of work.
As a woman who wears makeup on more days that not, it came as a surprise to me how many women feel empowered enough to not cover up their blemishes and aging with cosmetics and concealers before they head out the door every day. It got me thinking that maybe I have been using makeup as a way to prove something to others, when I should be considering if it’s really helping me. Because, let’s be honest, makeup isn’t cheap — and I could use the extra sleep myself most mornings.
Nicole is a realtor, divorced mom of three, and ally to the transgender community. As a mom who achieved her graduate degree alongside growing her family, she understands the importance of finding a work/life balance. Follow her on her blog where she focuses on family, parenting, divorce, and experiences of raising a young transgender child.