Defining “Natural”: Could You Go a Day Without Makeup?

+ enlarge

It’s somewhat ironic that one of the most recent trends to hit the cosmetics world is called the “natural” look. After all, the word “natural” typically suggests that you’re not wearing any makeup, so why are we paying money to look the way nature intended us to look? And while we’re going there, why do we bother to wear makeup in the first place? Maybe, just maybe, it has something to do with our love affair with makeup.

It’s funny how quickly we become addicted to trends and how, in the curl of an eyelash or the swipe of a lip-gloss, we can quickly forget what life was like before we wore makeup. Before you know it, you’re caking on the shadow, gloss, and liner, and forgetting what “natural beauty” really looks like.

Considering this, it’s pretty surprising that the newest trend to hit the beauty world encourages us to wear makeup that makes us look more “natural.” What’s even more surprising is the growing number of celebs who are forgoing their traditional beauty routines for the camera once in awhile—and in a very public way.

If you’ve been avoiding the newsstands as of late, perhaps you haven’t noticed the new trend in cover girls: beautiful celebs who dare to bare all—from the neck up, that is—to reveal what they really look like, minus the cosmetic enhancement.

Typically, celebs avoid these kind of (non) glamour shots at any cost. So why are so many of them actually choosing to go without makeup? For as long as I can remember, it was all the rage for cover girls to cake on pounds of makeup, but now it seems like plastering your makeup-free face all over the newsstand is en vogue.

What does this trend mean, if anything, for the future of beauty? And does the natural makeup trend have anything to do with this new celebrity movement towards bearing a bare face? Let’s find out.

You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman
If you’re a slave to fashion, you’ve likely heard a variation of the following phrase: When the economy is good, skirt hems go up and when the economy is bad, they go down. And so it seems that the movements popular in the fashion world are often tied to the state of our society and economy.

Could the same be true for trends in beauty? Could the makeup we put on our face actually be a reflection of the goings-on of society? And if one goal of makeup is to look as natural as possible, then why bother with the makeup at all? To find out, Her Campus spoke to two experts: Rona Berg, beauty expert and author, Fast Beauty and Beauty: The New Basics, and Dian Fox, Brandeis University Women and Gender Studies professor.

Why Natural, Why Now?
Natural makeup in neutral tones can help cover up any imperfections—think dark circles, blemishes or red spots—while letting your true beauty shine. And rather than hiding your natural beauty under pounds of cakey makeup, natural makeup lets you feel polished and pretty, but also true to yourself.

“Makeup can be transformative, and its lots of fun to play with makeup to create a ‘look,’ but at the end of the day I believe that most women want to reveal, not conceal, their natural beauty,” Berg says.

According to Berg, the natural makeup trend is in fact a reflection of certain movements in our society. “Looking healthy and natural on the outside fits with the desire to be healthy on the inside right now,” she says. “It’s a reflection of where the culture is heading: We’re eating more organic and locally grown food, we’re staying fit, we’re reading labels on our cleaning products and cosmetics, and we’re concerned about the health of the environment and the quality of the air we breathe.”

Is It Natural to Look Natural?
No matter what trends shift in and out of the beauty culture, women always seem to stay loyal to makeup. So why do women wear makeup in the first place?

“I think a lot of it is generated by the messages we get every day that bombard us from the media, and from our peers, just from society around us,” Fox says. “I think it’s pretty much a social thing and it’s not natural necessarily for women to want to wear makeup.”

Fox says that many factors can influence a woman’s decision to wear any given makeup trend. “[I think] some of the desire for the natural look is determined by class and age also because older women want to look young and older women don’t want to look like they’re trying to look young,” Fox says. “So if you use natural makeup with natural, neutral tones, you’re not going without makeup; you’re being kind of an artist with your face and trying to conceal the artistry.”

Skinny-Dipping for the Face
There’s something about wearing little to no makeup that’s oddly freeing. There’s no pressure to achieve a flawless look, no expectations to fulfill. After having followed the natural trend—from natural makeup looks to celebs really going natural—for a while, I decided to take the plunge and go sans mascara for a day.

As I’ve previously divulged, I feel somewhat naked without my mascara. I know it sounds odd, but it somehow wakes me up in the morning and kick-starts my day. But the day I chose to forgo my morning mascara ritual was hot and humid, so packing on loads of makeup didn’t sound appealing or practical to me anyway. The experience of going sans mascara wasn’t life changing and it didn’t provoke an awakening or anything, so if you’re looking for that kind of story, you should stop reading before you get disappointed.

But I did enjoy the opportunity to go without my mascara for that one day. Typically the only time I do so is if I’m staying home for the entire day, and even then I only do it from time to time. But going without makeup did have its merits: it saved me time in the morning, gave my pores a nice mini vacation, and shaved a few minutes off of my before bed face-washing ritual.

It was refreshing not to make an effort and to just let my eyes speak for themselves for a change. It was just natural me that day, like it or not, world. And while this was a rare occasion for me, it seems like I’m not the only one going nude from the neck up; plenty of celebrities have recently opted to bare all and go in the nude.

Going Sans Makeup: Do You Dare? 
After reading this, perhaps you’re asking yourself why it is that you wear makeup: to enhance your beauty, hide your imperfections, or a little bit of both. Whatever the reason, makeup is a fun part of feeling feminine. It’s amusing to try on different looks and get all dolled up, but at the end of the day, when you wash it all off, it’s just you and the mirror, and maybe it’s time we started to embrace what’s staring back at us.

Although Rona Berg is a beauty expert and author, even she says that when it comes to makeup, less is more. And considering the popularity of the natural makeup trend, maybe this age old phrase is finally making an impression on makeup lovers everywhere. Says Berg, “Elaborate beauty regimens and rituals are a thing of the past. Besides, who has time?”

It seems as if Kim Kardashian would agree, as her views reveal in her Life & Style interview: “Makeup is fun, but it’s just another accessory. I’m happy with myself, and this is who I am. As much as it’s fun to glam up, the most important thing is to be comfortable in your own skin—with or without makeup.”

You know, for all the beatings Kim takes in the press, the gal sure has a point.

By Chrissy Callahan for Her Campus


Loading comments...