Recently, I tricked my friends. I asked them what the one beauty product they couldn't live without was — then told them to ditch it for a week, in the name of journalism. You know the product I'm talking about — the answer to the "If you were stranded on a desert island..." question. That one product that we think does our face so much justice that we wouldn't dare leaving home without.
For me, that product is contour powder. I can go without mascara, glossed lips, or even being blushed, but going out in public without a bit of definition to my cheekbones is, as far as I'm concerned, like parading through Time's Square butt naked. No thank you.
When I realized how dependant I was on my contour kit, it got me thinking of what I looked like before Kimmy K made contouring a world-wide phenomenon. I know I went out in public. I'm pretty sure I was happy with how I looked. What changed?
I decided to embark on a seven day journey to rediscover my contour-less self and wanted to find three friends to ditch their "deserted island" products with me to track the ups and downs of our cosmetic addictions. Let me tell you, it was not an easy feat. These are the kinds of responses I got:
Out of the six girls that I asked, two of them were servers at restaurants and said that they did not feel comfortable going to work without makeup on either because they thought it could negatively affect their tips or because they were worried their managers would not think it was appropriate. One girl even said that during her orientation she was told not to look like she "rolled out of bed" before she showed up for a shift, which means having put together hair and makeup at all times. We can talk about how lame that is at another time.
However, my favorite reaction of all:
When I was finally on the verge of roping three ladies in, the first thing we did was cut down the seven days to five days. Truthfully, we weren't off to a very good start. For whatever reason, cutting those two days off made all three women way more willing to participate. Once I got their signatures in red lipstick, I asked Charlyne, Julia, and Daniella to send me selfies of themselves with their "desert island" products, then without as they continued with the weeklong challenge.
Charlyne's go-to item was eyeliner, Julia couldn't go a day without powder, and Daniella was addicted to blush.
Krystal: Day 1 was the absolute worst. I hid my contour kit so that it wouldn't tempt me while I was putting my face on... out of sight, out of mind, right? I kept trying to find ways to compensate because I felt like my makeup routine was unfinished. I added a bit of extra blush, spent an obscene amount of time putting eyeliner on, and even rouged my lips. I still felt like I was missing something.
Charlyne: Charlyne spent her day at home and said she felt super comfortable in her own skin because she was surrounded by close family and friends. "I did have the pleasure of asking my boyfriend if he noticed anything different about me," she says. "And without hesitation he said no. Whether he meant it or was just trying not to offend me, he earned brownie points!"
Julia: Julia also spent day in the comfort of her own home. She said that while at home she rarely ever puts makeup on so this day was not any different than most.
Daniella: Day one for Daniella was quite a bit different. She started her journey on a Friday and ended up going out to a bar with friends. "I was having conversations with people but not even listening to what they were saying because I was wondering what they were thinking about my face."
Krystal: On the second day of the experiment, I tried to rationalize other ways that I could use my contour kit other than for contouring. I think I may have been going a bit nutty. I thought I could use it for eyeshadow but deemed that that would be cheating. I continued to overcompensate with other products to make myself feel better about not contouring, but for some reason it didn't seem to work. I spent my day working on-site for a 500 hundred-person forum and was told on countless occasions that I looked too young to be working there. A coworker suggested that I should add a blazer to my outfit to look more mature.
Charlyne: On day two for Charlyne, she ventured to work without her eyeliner and she too said that she felt like she was missing something. Charlyne told me that she started to forget that she wasn't wearing eyeliner part way through her day but was reminded on two separate occasions by female co-workers:
“Oh Char… Monday morning got ya, didn’t it? Didn’t have time to do your makeup today, eh?”
"Is everything okay?"
Julia: Julia spent the weekend running errands, praying she wouldn't run into anyone she knew, and dreading having to go sans-powder at school in a few days.
Daniella: Daniella got a compliment from a friend on day two! “Your makeup looks different today! But I like it.”
Krystal: By day three I was in a funk. While no one directly commented on my lack of cheekbones, I did receive tons of remarks about my young look. After thinking about this for a while, I realized that "you look young" is really not the worst thing a person could say to me and that I would probably appreciate that sentiment on my upcoming birthday. This realization gave me a mini confidence boost and I decided to venture out without my contouring AND without my go-to add ons like eyeliner and lipstick. Again, not a single person noticed — or if they did they didn't say anything about it. Not. One. Comment. Not even about my age.
Charlyne: Charlyne spent day three itching to swipe even a stitch of liner onto her lids. The reality of going without liner was clearly sinking in.
Julia: On day three, Julia said that spent all day noticing each and every "imperfection" on her skin in preparation for going to school without her favorite item the next day.
Daniella: Daniella said that she felt as though she was getting over her product addiction.
Krystal: When I woke up on day four, I didn't feel different at all. Everything seemed the same - I woke up, brushed my teeth, and washed my face. However, when I did my makeup, I didn't even think about my contour kit! It wasn't until later on in the day that I realized I had been walking around without my cheeks defined and by that time I didn't even care. I had a super important meeting that afternoon and am happy to report that I was taken very seriously, even without my cheekbones.
Charlyne: Charlyne, on the other hand, was feeling the pressure of the non-liner days and decided to give herself a pick-me-up by getting her eyebrows done and her nails manicured which she said made her feel "a bit more refreshed, cleaned up, and prettier."
Julia: This day was probably the most traumatizing for Julia. It was her first day at school without her powder and she pulled the classic overcompensating-with-other-makeup-move. "So I’ve done what I hate doing: worn heavier make up in order to mask those imperfections," she laments.
Daniella: Daniella spent her day prepping for a job interview and said confidently, "wearing blush should not dictate whether I get the job or not." Right on.
Krystal: Although this was supposed to be the last day of the experiment, I'm proud to say that I have gone much longer than 5 days without contour! Woo-hoo! I feel super empowered by saying I did it but am also OK with saying that I know my contour-wearing days are not over. If I want to wear it, I certainly will.
Charlyne: Charlyne had a celebration on the night of her fifth day, asking, "Am I allowed to be happy that this ‘no eyeliner social experiment’ is almost over?"
Julia: Julia also celebrating that the experiment was over by texting "LAST DAY! HOORAY!" to me.
Daniella: Daniella felt the same way as me and stated, "I feel a LITTLE less attached to wearing it, but maybe once I add it back into my routine, I’ll remember how much I LOVE it and regret this comment".
While all four of us had very different journeys during this five day experiment, we all seemed to find ways to cope without our desert island products. Whether we wore more makeup to compensate for our favorite product, kept ourselves busy so that we wouldn't notice our lack of it, or reminded ourselves that it was only for five days, we all came out of it with a better understanding of why we were so attached to the product in the first place, whether or not we plan to ditch it entirely.
For me, finishing my face with a bit of contour powder signified that I was finished my makeup routine. But, why couldn't I be complete at the mascara stage or even the face cream stage?
I think it is important to realize that a lot of how we think other people will see us is wrapped up in our own minds. The saying "you are your worst critic" completely applies.
Images: Krystal D'Souza