How much make up do you own?
Does the thought of leaving the house without a slick or mascara or a dusting of bronzer leave you petrified, or does the notion of facing the world sans-make up seem oddly appealing?
On days when your under eye area is sporting bags large enough to carry a week’s shopping or those annoying patches of t-zone shine have your nearest and dearest reaching for their sunnies (or so you think), it’s easy to elevate the importance of make up to that of basics such as food, water and oxygen.
Don't conceal, reveal
In fact, although it might well sound like a cliché, going without make up can be positively liberating. Generally, the ability to feel comfortable in your own skin is seriously underestimated as a character trait. However, without sounding hypocritical, common sense states that feeling comfortable in your own skin is going to be significantly easier if said skin looks as healthy as possible, and if it’s been covered in an inch-thick layer of foundation for the majority of its life, it’s highly likely to be in dire need of some TLC.
So, before we look at the other factors which allow us to dare to bare, it's worth going back to basics, because if your skin's in good condition, you won't only rely on make up so heavily but you'll quickly realise the importance of natural beauty, too.
“If skin is hydrated and bright, there is little to no need for make-up,” points out Anna Dawson, spa manager at Danesfield House Hotel & Spa in Buckinghamshire. “With the fast pace of everyday life the key to bare-skinned confidence is beautiful skin. A great face oil, such as Aromatherapy Associates Intensive skin treatment oil, offers quick results. Used overnight it repairs, restores and firms a stressed complexion, as well as minimising the pores which so many of us wish to hide.”
Remember that going without make up doesn't mean sacrificing your skincare staples, and we're not going to pretend that chapped lips or wild, busy brows won't look more prominent in the absence of make-up bag basics. If you're ditching the slap, grab the opportunity to offer up some TLC to the areas you might normally conceal or transform with make-up. Treat yourself to an ultra-hydrating lip gloss, and think about your other features, too. Does your eyebrow shape suit your face shape? Does your hairstyle need an upgrade? The right hair cut or eyebrow arch can transform a face just as quickly as a layer of foundation. When you're piling on the make up, it's easy to forget how to make the most of your best assets.
So, that's the artificial stuff out of the way. All too often, our confidence relies on a protective coat of bronzer, concealer and foundation, when it should actually come from within - no matter how trite that sounds. "Confidence really is an inner quality," says Fiona Clark, qualified career and confidence coach and Founder of Inspired Mums.
"No amount of make up will solve your confidence problem. I encourage people who are lacking in confidence to 'silence the critic within'. I often hear people talking to themselves in a much more harsh way than they would talk to their friends. So, be kind to yourself. Get out of the habit of talking yourself down or under-estimating your accomplishments. Here is a simple technique for thinking more positively: at the end of each day, think about what you have achieved – and give yourself a pat on the back - rather than bemoaning all the things you haven't managed to achieve in a day.”
Finally, remember that make up should be something which is fun and can be used to create different effects at different times. But it should never be relied upon. Obsessing about any so-called flaws will only shatter your confidence and make them seem more real - even though in reality, they probably don't even exist. And, if you do go make up-free, don't fall into the trap of wondering how your colleagues or friends carry off the natural look so well - because the chances are that their look is probably anything but.