Bespectacled and makeup-less — or, how I got through a Friday

Lip products


On Friday, I swept into work without makeup . . .

. . . and in my glasses.

A decade ago, friends, this would have been unfathomable. Atrocious. Awful. Embarrassing. To be blunt, if I couldn’t wear concealer and Chapstick at a bare minimum, I might have called in sick. Wish I were joking.

But let’s back up.

Though far from a beauty maven, I’ve worn some combination of cosmetics daily since I was the awkward 10-year-old try to mask her first acne break-out. I lived in fear that my fellow fifth-graders would notice the spots, so Mom took pity on me and bought me my first bottle of liquid concealer. I tried dismissing the marks as “mosquito bites” on my chin and cheeks, but . . . eh, you know no one bought that nonsense.

Indoctrinated into the world of makeup, I became reliant on its life-changing abilities. It became a way of life.

From my early dalliances with concealer to a new love affair with blush, I eventually begged my mom to buy me my first tube of mascara after seeing friends experiment with full lashes at a sleepover. On a related note, who didn’t learn the rites of womanhood from giggling with classmates at 3 a.m.? Everything I learned about being a girly girl probably stems from those early parties — and coveting Seventeen‘s how-to articles as a teen.

But I digress.

Once I started wearing eyeliner, there was really no going back. I don’t go thick — a thin black line around the upper and lower lid is all I need — but I do, without fail, wear it. Daily. But it’s subtle, I think. I’m all about a natural look and, though I take care with my face and have perfected my beauty routines, I don’t think it’s too much.

For proof of this, a coworker recently asked me why I don’t wear makeup. And I was like, ????

To be fair, my beauty routine is pretty minimal. My oily skin means most of my “daring” eye products are pooled on my cheeks by lunchtime, so it’s not really worth the bother. Once I’m showered, doing my face can take less than five minutes. On goes my concealer, followed by blush; then I move on to dark brown eyeliner and a swipe of sheer shadow across the eyelids. Some sort of lip product (usually a butter), mascara and — poof! Instant Meg. Just add coffee.

When I woke up Friday, I went about my routine like any other day. Before Spence was off, I went to put in my contacts and dig around for something business-casual. Unlike every other morning, however, my right eyeball suddenly erupted as though dissolved by dragon’s breath. It felt like a hive of bees had descended on my cornea, and I was left cursing and flailing and weeping crocodile tears from the injured organ.

It sucked.

I’ve worn contacts since I was 15 and have never, ever had pain like that. Once I pried my lens from the eye (harder than it sounds), I couldn’t believe how much it burned. After cracking a lid open and finding no eyelash or hellspawn or detectable grit, I thoroughly rinsed the contact to try again and . . . NOPE.

For only the second time in my adult life (the first being when I had pink eye — glergh), I wore my glasses to work.

And for the first time in my adult life, I just shunned makeup completely.

It felt weird at first . . . and uncomfortable. Not wanting to be late for work but not yet resigned to wearing my glasses all day, I toyed with the idea of packing my contacts or rinsing my eye again or doing something — anything! — to avoid having to go to work looking like a bedraggled, one-eyed monster, but there was nothing to do.

I saw an eye doctor on my lunch break and was informed my eye was “perfect,” just irritated, so no serious damage done . . . probably just the result of not thoroughly rinsing all the soap from my hands before I touched my eye, or something torn on the contact. No big. But walking around makeup-less and bespectacled, well . . . it was what it was.

And you know what?

It didn’t matter.

If anyone was looking at my mascara-less lashes, I didn’t notice. Or really care. Not just because my eye felt like a flaming orb from a devil-controlled volcano . . . I just, meh. Because I’m a married lady now, maybe? And I’m just not really out to impress anyone? It’s not that I don’t like looking and feeling good . . . I do, of course. But on this particular Friday, with nothing to do but put my head down and work on a series of sections at work, I was just . . . whatever.

It was kind of great.

Thirteen-year-old me — she of the blue eyeliner and pink lipstick, mind — would have been horrified by my plain appearance, but 28-year-old me was content to look a little crazy for one day of her life.

And I did powder my nose, at least.


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14 thoughts on “Bespectacled and makeup-less — or, how I got through a Friday

  1. Weird! This exact scenario happened to me yesterday! I also had an eye thing so wore glasses and no eye makeup (which I’m always self conscious about, since my eyelashes are super light). We get used to certain routines to feel awake and done, but it was kinda nice to keep it simple and easy, wasn’t it? Also, glasses are pretty cool these days. You should get a pair that you really enjoy wearing! I find it pretty necessary to give my eyes time to breathe from contacts a few times a week. I love mine from Warby Parker, and always get a lot of compliments on them.

  2. We sound exactly the same when it comes to our history with makeup…I just started getting comfortable the past few years with leaving the house “unmasked”. Good for you-it’s amazing how much something as simple as makeup can really affect our confidence.

  3. Oh I remember those sleepover days! I was the lazy tomboy. A ponytail and some Noxzema and I was set! Hahaha.. (Truth be known at 38 it is much the same…Hahahaha)

  4. My make-up routine is minimal as well. I get a virus in my eyes so haven’t worn any eye make-up in years. Going completely without make-up can be very liberating!

  5. Have your lenses professionally polished – I suffered a corneal abrasion six years ago, and I still remember the intense pain! Bobbie Brown once made a great eye kit for ladies (like us) who wear glasses. Since everything is magnified behind your lenses, subtle shading makes a huge difference.

  6. I work really early (6:30am early), so I usually do my makeup at work. Just a little mineral powder, blush and mascara. Nothing fancy. But a few weeks ago we were so busy that I totally forgot to put makeup on. And…no one noticed. At least, they didn’t say anything.

    Guess we should take it as a compliment that we’re just natural beauties : )

  7. When I started waiting tables, I rolled out of bed at 5:45 am and was on the floor by 6am. I must have looked terrifying. My makeup has (fortunately) evolved from that, but there have been a few times I had to go to work with only concealer hiding the circles under my eyes. Totally understand.

  8. Wow! This sounds so like me, but opposite. Recently I have been making sure to put on a little make-up every day because my pain level is increased beccause of my arthritis flairing. I decided – if I can’t feel good I may as well look as pretty as I can. Today I haven’t put on any make-up…yet…and feel just a little self-conscious. And I am a lot older than you my sweet! So proud of you. It took me years to return to the idea of putting on make-up despite what I was feeling like. For you to discover you are beautiful as you are is just splendid and shows a confidence in yourself in all things.

  9. I’m so glad the obsessive teen years are long behind me. Today, no eye makeup doesn’t bother me too much as long as I can still put some powder on my nose but no contacts… eeek! I’ve been wearing contact lenses since I was thirteen, which was many, many years ago. The worst part is the eye strain I get from wearing glasses. I think my eyes are addicted to contacts after 40 years.

  10. I had to recently go to work in glasses – for the first time ever. I had been wearing contacts since I was 15 and since then, I only wore glasses at home or Sundays. Even though quite a few people have told me that glasses suit me better, I preferred contacts. So what do you know – people at work tell me the same thing and that annoyed me! But I haven’t had the non-makeup day yet. I commend you for taking it well!

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