By Meda Kessler
Illustration by Caya Crum
“I think there is a big difference between wearing absolutely NO makeup and not caring about how you look at all. There’s the woman who chooses to go au naturale, but really does care about how she looks. I think I would refer to that as the ‘groomed’ face.” Professional makeup artist Gary Parson
We’re comfortable going bare.
For many women, leaving the house without wearing any makeup is beyond conceivable.
Even a quick run to the grocery store meant taking the time to put on their “face.”
For the past weeks, staying home due to the pandemic changed the rules when it came to style and beauty. The jokes ran fast and furious about how this eliminated the need to brush our hair, curl our eyelashes and wear anything but sweats. But a scheduled Zoom meeting with co-workers had women reaching for their makeup bag. Meanwhile, many guys appeared comfortable on computer screens with face stubble and unruly (and uncut) hair. Our thoughts were that everyone needed better lighting.
A quick search of the internet on how to achieve a natural, no-makeup look turned up many stories listing these essential products: makeup primer, corrector cream, concealer, illuminator, eyeshadow primer, cream eyeshadow, eyeliner, cream blush, brow gel and mascara. Which led us to wonder how long the list would be for a full-makeup look.
But just as the natural world has rebounded with an abundance of wildlife sightings, clearer skies and cleaner waters, we wanted to take back our face. We have already embraced our natural hair color and, until we are comfortable visiting a salon again, are stocked up on hair ties and barrettes.
Given that we had a lot of time on our hands, we took stock of the many skin care products and moisturizers in our bathroom, including all the freebie samples acquired from visits to beauty emporiums. We also raided the fridge and pantry for DIY projects, such as a skin brightening facial mask made of papaya, honey and whipped egg white.
And then we sloughed, scrubbed and moisturized daily, sometimes twice in a day. We also looked at our face closely in a magnifying mirror, which can be a scary thing when you’re older. But we’ve come to accept the wrinkles, the lines and even the age spots that we were no longer trying to mask with foundation. And it might have been wishful thinking, but on certain days, the ones we spent outside in fresh air and drank lots of water, we detected a bit of a glow that didn’t come from a $50 tube of brightener.
We messaged a professional makeup artist friend to get his thoughts on the naked face. Gary Parson has been in the business of making women look beautiful for years. Parson is represented by the Kim Dawson Agency in Dallas and has worked with celebrities and professional models, along with mere mortals.
His initial response was what I expected. “No makeup? But I’m a makeup artist. That goes again my entire being … just kidding. Or am I?”
Then, he helped define this story. “I think there is a big difference between wearing absolutely NO makeup and not caring about how you look at all. There’s the woman who chooses to go au naturel but really does care about how she looks. I think I would refer to that as the ‘groomed’ face.”
We agree that clean, glowing skin is attractive at any age. It makes us long for vacations at the beach when we got a little sun on our face and the humid air gave us a dewy look.
He continues. “It makes me think of Alicia Keys. She recently has chosen to go without makeup, but she still looks polished.”
And yes, nutrition is part of it. “A lot of your ‘exterior’ comes from your ‘interior.’ Drinking lots of water, eating a healthy and well-balanced diet and avoiding bad habits such as smoking and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol,” Parson says. “A well-rounded lifestyle also is key.”
Of course, product is a big part of Parson’s life as a professional makeup artist. He recommends the regular use of a replenishing moisturizer and a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. His favorites? Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream. For use under makeup, he swears by Chanel Hydra Beauty Flash.
Granted, there are more pressing issues in the world, but we think everyone should be allowed a little self-care, especially now. We might not be able to solve the big issues of the day, but we know can face them without mascara.