I Stopped Wearing Makeup For A Week & Here's What Happened — PHOTOS

Goodbyes have always been hard for me. Tears are often shed — and there goes my mascara. This time around, I bid farewell to my beauty cabinet and pledged to go makeup free for one week. Everything from my holy grail eyeliner to foundation was strictly off-limits. Here I was, about to embark on a mission to go all natural, blemishes and imperfections permitted. Was I nervous? Absolutely.

In this day and age, bare faces are not entirely a foreign concept. On Instagram, there is the influx of #NoMakeup selfies from celebrities and regular folks alike. Tutorials for the "no makeup" makeup flood every corner of the web. Brands such as Glossier are picking up cult followings thanks to its no-frills mantra and refreshingly real products (having recently tried their new Milky Jelly Cleanser, I can attest that this saved my skin throughout a makeup-less week).

For me, makeup is an added security blanket. An extra coat of mascara may not mean much to a girl genetically blessed with falsies, but it does mean the world in my book. Like everyone else, I too suffer from the inevitable combo of breakouts and skin discoloration, and foundation and concealer have always been there to save the day. But all of my precious beauty weapons had to go on the chopping block — for seven days, anyway. I would need to do what I normally do — show up to class, brunch with friends, take the metro, grocery shop — all with a completely naked face.

And what did I learn? The no-makeup journey is much more complex than I would have ever expected.

1. My Skin (Miraculously) Cleared Up

This should come at no surprise: the moment you summon the courage to abandon your trusty makeup routine, the universe rewards with you new and improved skin. Skipping out on the complete package — primer, foundation, concealer, just to name a few — means that your skin will get some much needed R&R. As a player on team full-face makeup, this meant that my skin was absorbing more chemicals every time I picked up that bronzer and beyond.

Enter seven days of bare, unpainted skin. My pores could take a breather, my breakouts could heal, and my general complexion could simply cruise on autopilot mode. At first, I didn't notice much of a change with my skin — the discoloration was, tragically, still apparent, and even more pronounced thanks to no cover-up. On about day four, the magic (somewhat) kicked in. I suddenly didn't mind stepping outside foundation-less because my skin appeared clearer than before. Also bonuses: less breakouts and one natural glow.

2. Mornings Had A New Meaning

You haven't experienced separation anxiety until you and your eyebrow powder have been apart for seven days.

Yes, I am that kind of girl who will wake up a good two hours before class just to do makeup (even for an 8 AM lecture because I am actually insane). The routine is forever ingrained: pop on a podcast, adjust mirror, wet Beauty Blender, get to work. But when you decide to go au naturel, something beautiful happens: you discover the wonders of sleeping in. During my week sans makeup, I was able to catch a few extra zzz's in the morning — a truly blissful feeling that cannot compare to any eyeshadow palette or perfectly curled lashes. Strangely enough, I also no longer had to race against the clock to ace my winged eyeliner.

My new AM ritual? Cleanse, moisturize, sunscreen, caffeine, and voilà. So straightforward that it almost seems wrong.

3. My Stress Just... Disappeared?

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I didn't realize it at first, but as much as I treasure my Sephora VIB status and my trove of carefully researched mascaras (S/O to Makeup Alley), maintaining a beauty routine is rather stressful. Eyeshadows too muddy? Uneven eyeliner? A serious case of raccoon eyes? Overdosing on the blush? I've been plagued by all of these problems, and it is certainly no walk in the park to fix.

Once I surrendered my skin over to the natural forces, the obstacles vanished. I accepted my face for what it was every morning — redness or no redness. It felt oddly liberating to forget about my flaws and instead focus my worry on other important matters, like Googling images of Oscar Isaac (but that doesn't mean I'll be giving up that VIB status anytime soon).

4. I Devoted More Attention To My Hair

Not pictured: unusual amounts of hairspray, one minor burn

The moment you stop wearing makeup is the moment your curling wand begins fearing for its life. A naked face meant I could devote more time to taming my tresses. Usually I attempt to multi-task both scenarios — heating up my hair tools in the bathroom, whipping out the palettes and powders in the bedroom. But when you all you need to apply is moisturizer and sunscreen, that leaves ample room for experimenting with your hair. Mermaid-approved beach waves? Yes please!

5. What To Wear Became A Challenge

Who knew beauty and fashion would be so co-dependent? If you're anything like me, you will begin to grow aware of how abnormal it feels to pair an over-the-top ensemble with a makeup-less face. One day, I'll want to break out tights and a dress, only to discover how it feels incomplete without mascara, filled-in brows, and all the works. I've forever associated the "no make-up" style with certain getups, like sweats and tees for lounging at home or bikinis at the beach.

But hey, I managed to make it work in the end. I kept my outfits casual for the most part — think denim jackets stolen from your mother's closet, relaxed knits, street-cool sneakers. Of course, a bare face meant I could also rock my yoga uniform a lot more (and because no one wants to be sweating off their foundation mid chair-pose).

6. People Didn't Treat Me Any Differently

I'm a firm believer that feeling good about your physical appearances translates to a certain level of confidence. Perhaps you're having an off-day when it comes that cat eye flick, and in turn, that may affect how you present yourself to the outside world. In reverse, think about the moment when you've finally nailed the ultimate lip combo and crafted the lashes of your dreams — your makeup has never looked better and you feel like a million bucks.

In the beginning, I was terribly self-conscious of how I would appear to other people when I left the house without an ounce of makeup on. What would my barista think of my sudden zombie aesthetic? My friends who always saw me fully dressed in contoured cheekbones? Would I appear less put-together to the general public? The answer: in NYC anyway, no one seemed to care. Not one lash was batted at my lack of concealer and extreme dark circles — or, if there were any offenders, I didn't notice.

7. I Discovered That I Could Never Do This Challenge Again

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The whole "I Went For A Week Without Wearing Makeup" ordeal has been tackled countless times on the web. It is a challenge that many brave individuals undergo, but what differs is everyone's end result. While some discover the enlightenment of natural beauty, others — namely me — realize that while it was fun to give it a go, no makeup cannot be a permanent situation.

I learned and I endured, but I still love my Shu Uemura and my Stila too dearly to ever discard it in the trash bin. It was entertaining while it lasted, but the next time you'll find me sans makeup? Most likely either a) en route to the airport or b) at home, in pajamas, binge-watching the latest hyped Netflix series.

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Images: Kelsey Nguyen/Bustle (6), Giphy (2)