Why I Said Goodbye to Makeup- The Hidden Costs of Beauty.

Seerat Naaz ✉

Every morning, the process was as ritualistic as it was relentless. My alarm would start at 6:30 AM sharp, not to wake me from my sleep but to signal the beginning of what I had come to view as a necessary labour: my makeup routine.

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This daily ritual involved layers upon layers of products — foundation to smooth out imperfections, concealer to mask the under-eye circles, eyeshadow and eyeliner to define my eyes, and a sweep of mascara to give the illusion of openness and brightness. A light blush for a hint of colour and a swipe of lipstick to complete the visage. Nearly half an hour each morning was dedicated to this process, a significant chunk of my daily preparation spent in front of a vanity mirror.

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It wasn’t until a particularly reflective evening, while I was painstakingly removing the very makeup, I had so carefully applied that morning, that a profound question struck me: Why was I doing this? What was I trying to hide or enhance, and for whom was I doing it? These questions began to unravel the fabric of my understanding of beauty and self-worth, leading me down a path where I decided to confront the hidden costs of this daily ritual — not just for me, but for many others who felt bound by similar routines.

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This article is an exploration and a personal account of saying goodbye to makeup. It delves into the various dimensions of makeup’s impact — financial, health, environmental, psychological, and social. It reflects on the pervasive yet often unacknowledged pressures that shape our beauty practices and how stepping away from them can reveal more than just the natural face underneath.

Financial Costs
The financial burden of beauty, particularly the cost of makeup, is substantial, though often overlooked in daily calculations. According to a survey by SkinStore, the average woman in the U.S. spends about $300,000 on face makeup in her lifetime.

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Break that down annually, and it’s easy to see how the numbers add up quickly, especially with high-end products. But the cost of makeup isn’t limited to just the products themselves. There’s also the expense of makeup removers, brushes, and other applicators, not to mention the skincare products bought to mitigate the effects of regular makeup use such as breakouts or dry skin. These hidden expenses contribute to a much larger financial picture that many don’t consider when they tally up their monthly expenditures.

Health Costs
While the immediate transformation that makeup provides can be striking, the long-term health implications are often less visible and slower to manifest. Regular use of makeup can lead to a variety of skin problems, including acne, dermatitis, and rosacea. Furthermore, concerns about the chemical compositions of many cosmetics remain high; studies have pointed to ingredients like parabens and phthalates, which can disrupt hormonal balances and potentially lead to reproductive issues.

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The European Union has banned over 1,300 chemicals found in cosmetics — substances known or suspected to cause cancer, genetic mutation, reproductive harm, or birth defects — while the U.S. has only banned 11. This stark difference underscores a significant risk associated with products millions of people apply to their skin every day.

Time and Effort

Practically, the amount of time spent applying makeup is substantial. An average makeup routine can take anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes per day, depending on the complexity of the look. Over a year, that adds up to over 91 hours, equivalent to about three and a half days spent solely on applying cosmetics.

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The removal process adds additional time, not to mention the mental effort and physical routine required to maintain this standard of beauty consistently. This daily investment of time and energy is a significant toll that many accept as a normal part of life.

Environmental Impact

The environmental cost of cosmetics is enormous and multifaceted. From the production of makeup which often involves environmentally harmful practices, to the disposal of cosmetic products, the beauty industry has a significant ecological footprint.

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Makeup products are frequently packaged in non-recyclable plastics and can contain harmful chemicals that may leach into the environment after disposal. The glitter in many beauty products, for instance, is made from microplastics, tiny pieces of plastic that can end up in oceans, posing a serious threat to marine life.

Psychological and Social Implications
The psychological impact of makeup is deeply intertwined with social expectations. Many wear makeup to feel acceptable or attractive in the eyes of society, which can deeply affect one’s self-esteem and body image.

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The pressure to adhere to societal beauty standards can lead to a perpetual cycle where one’s self-worth is significantly influenced by appearance. Stepping away from makeup can thus be liberating, though challenging, as it involves confronting these ingrained societal norms and finding confidence in one’s natural appearance.

Personal Journey and Benefits of Going Makeup-Free
Since saying goodbye to makeup, the changes in my life have been profound and multifaceted. My skin’s health has visibly improved, with fewer breakouts and a more even skin tone. Financially, I’ve saved a significant amount of money, which has allowed me to invest in other areas of my life, including my health and hobbies.

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Psychologically, letting go of the crutch that makeup provided has empowered me to rebuild my self-esteem around who I am rather than how I look. This journey has not only been about reclaiming my time and money but also about challenging what it means to feel beautiful.

Reflecting on the hidden costs of makeup has been an eye-opening journey that extends far beyond the surface. It has prompted a deeper evaluation of the way beauty norms dictate not only how we spend our money but also how we view ourselves and our place in the world.

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For those who feel beholden to their beauty routines, I encourage you to consider what lies beneath your practices and whether they bring genuine joy or unnecessary burdens. What could you gain by letting go? As we strive for authenticity in our lives, perhaps it’s time to ask ourselves whether our routines reflect who we truly are or who society dictates we should be.

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