Fashion Quarterly - - Beauty -

Can the av­er­age woman go com­pletely, ut­terly makeup

free? Writer Sarah Mur­ray was up for the chal­lenge

The key is to en­hance your skin and other as­sets so they’re in top con­di­tion, and there’s ac­tu­ally a lot you can do in that


At the end of last year, Kim Kar­dashian West showed up to a Ba­len­ci­aga show at Paris Fash­ion Week wear­ing an off-theshoul­der trench coat with waist-length hair and not a stitch of makeup. We’re not talk­ing a dab of concealer here and there, or the ‘no makeup makeup’ look of 2015. No, we’re talk­ing ab­so­lutely noth­ing ex­cept, per­haps, some mois­turiser.

Need­less to say, it caused a stir. But Kim isn’t alone. Singer Ali­cia Keys has re­cently ditched the warpaint too, claim­ing her de­ci­sion makes her feel “the strong­est, most em­pow­ered, most free and most hon­estly beau­ti­ful that I have ever felt”. Lo­cally, fash­ion blog­ger and influencer Jamie Ridge is known to go about her day with­out makeup, cit­ing a lack of time as the rea­son she chooses a fresh face.

We know Kim et al. are not only ge­net­i­cally blessed but also have the best der­ma­tol­o­gists and skin spe­cial­ists on speed dial. Still, it made us won­der: how re­al­is­tic is it for the av­er­age woman to go makeup free? I put my hand up to find out.

Hav­ing been a beauty ed­i­tor for al­most a decade, makeup and I go hand and hand, and the only place I go with a fresh face is a predawn spin class. I love play­ing with makeup and test­ing it out, and en­joy the rit­ual of ap­ply­ing it to my face. For the long­est time I’ve ded­i­cated about 20 min­utes ev­ery morn­ing to my cos­met­ics regime. Along with a swipe of eye­shadow, I use foun­da­tion to cover hy­per­pig­men­ta­tion, high­lighter to give the il­lu­sion of a glow, brow pow­der to make my brows bolder and mas­cara to lengthen my lashes. When I’m fin­ished, I feel put to­gether, like my ar­mour’s on and I’m ready to face the day.

At first I fret­ted about the idea of go­ing out with­out makeup, but then I started book­ing ap­point­ments. You see, the key to be­ing makeup free is to en­hance your skin and other as­sets so they’re in top con­di­tion, and be­cause tech­nol­ogy is chang­ing so rapidly, there’s ac­tu­ally a lot you can do in that depart­ment. Think of it like a lit­tle cheat sheet. Sure, tech­ni­cally you’re not wear­ing makeup, but you’re util­is­ing ev­ery trick in the book to get you (and keep you) look­ing good. To make things more in­ter­est­ing, I gave my­self a tight time­line of just one month to turn my look around, from full face of makeup to makeup free.

First up was my com­plex­ion. I started at Auck­land’s About Face, sign­ing up for their Clear & Bril­liant treat­ment. Us­ing frac­tion­ated laser tech­nol­ogy, it works to re­ju­ve­nate your skin, erase fine lines around the eyes and re­duce pore size and acne scar­ing. What I liked best, how­ever, was its prom­ise to even out my skin tone and all but erase my hy­per­pig­men­ta­tion.

But, as they say, beauty is pain. The heavy-duty treat­ment starts with a top­i­cal anaes­thetic to numb the skin be­fore the frac­tion­ated laser is used. Imag­ine the feel­ing of a re­ally hot ball­point mov­ing across your face; it’s un­com­fort­able, but bear­able. Af­ter­wards my skin felt hot and looked red, as though I’d spent a lit­tle too much time in the sun. For the fol­low­ing week, my face felt as dry as the Sa­hara desert. It was rough, too, and rather murky-look­ing.

Al­though three treat­ments are rec­om­mended, with my tight time­line I could only fit in two, but I have to say that for me the re­sults were vis­i­ble af­ter just one. When the dry skin sloughed off, my hy­per­pig­men­ta­tion was greatly re­duced and my skin looked fresh, dewy and ra­di­ant.

Af­ter field­ing mul­ti­ple com­pli­ments about my skin, I had the con­fi­dence to stop wear­ing foun­da­tion dur­ing the day. My com­plex­ion had se­ri­ously never looked bet­ter. But the prom­i­nent lines stretch­ing across my fore­head, which I’d or­di­nar­ily try to hide with foun­da­tion, still both­ered me, so I went to The Face Place to see what could be done about it.

Dur­ing my com­pre­hen­sive con­sul­ta­tion, it was de­cided a few jabs of Botox in my fore­head would solve the is­sue. I was in and out of there in just one hour, and over the course of the fol­low­ing week, I grad­u­ally be­gan to no­tice the lines plump out. I felt as if it had taken sev­eral years off my face.

Next stop: lashes. With par­tic­u­larly short and straight eye­lashes, I usu­ally use loads of mas­cara and an eye­lash curler to cre­ate my de­sired ef­fect. But I’d started to sus­pect that re­peated use of the eye­lash curler was ac­tu­ally pulling out and weak­en­ing my lashes. So I went to see Auck­land spe­cial­ists Lash Noir Ink, to find out about their lat­est treat­ment, the Yumi lash lift. Straight out of France, it’s the crème de la crème of lash lifts, curl­ing your lashes as well as lift­ing, dark­en­ing and thick­en­ing them. Best of all, the re­sults can last eight to 10 weeks.

Co-owner Re­becca Hutchin­son took one look at my sparse lashes and warned me they might look even more gappy when curled and lifted. Un­de­terred, I told her to go ahead; my lashes have never been my big­gest beauty as­set, so I fig­ured any­thing that made them even slightly bet­ter would be an im­prove­ment.

The process took about an hour. Re­becca used rounded pads to first curl my lashes, then ap­plied the ker­atin for­mula. Post-treat­ment, my lashes were prop­erly bat-ready. I couldn’t be­lieve the change and vowed at that mo­ment that I’d never use a lash curler again, and would only re­sort to mas­cara on spe­cial oc­ca­sions.

I was dy­ing to get my brows done at Lash Noir Ink too, but the pop­u­lar­ity of feath­er­ing has re­sulted in a long wait-list. Also known as mi­cro blad­ing or brow em­broi­dery, the semi-per­ma­nent feather-touch tech­nique uses a tiny row of nee­dles to scratch care­fully crafted lines into the skin to mimic nat­u­ral hair. It’s a lengthy process and takes a cou­ple of vis­its to fully com­plete your dream brows, with an an­nual touch-up to keep them look­ing on point.

Thwarted, I headed to Ben­e­fit’s Brow Bar for a wax and tint — and the re­sults were stel­lar. The owner of dark brows, I never usu­ally go for a tint, but the staff ex­plained that even the dark­est brows have some lighter hair sprin­kled through them, so a tint is the best way to achieve com­plete cov­er­age. It didn’t give the per­ma­nence of feath­er­ing, but I was very happy with the re­sults.

As the month drew to a close, I found my­self ap­ply­ing less and less makeup — and it felt re­ally good. That said, the prepa­ra­tion re­quired to be­come makeup free was pretty time-con­sum­ing and came with a hefty price tag.

So was it worth it? Ab­so­lutely. Not only does not ap­ply­ing makeup free up much-needed min­utes in the morn­ing, but I feel much more con­fi­dent about my ap­pear­ance — as if I’ve got noth­ing to hide. I still like to wear makeup on spe­cial oc­ca­sions, but over­all I’m pretty con­tent to go with only the skin I’m in — now that it’s been en­hanced to the be best it can be, of course. But the re­sults are writ­ten all over my face.

Sarah Mur­ray, sans makeup.

Sarah up­grades her com­plex­ion with About Face’s Clear & Bril­liant treat­ment.

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