#ThisIs40: I Didn’t Wake Up Like This

I was sent a line of products to review (stay tuned for the post), and this time had the smarts to take a “before” photo. I applied my first use of the product, turned the camera to face me on my phone, and shot a picture.

no makeup makeup look 40 year old womanWow. That's a tough sight to see before my first cup of coffee… but it's reality.  I moved on to my dressing table to, in the words of my mom, “put on my face.” Primer. Foundation. Concealer under the eyes, between the brows, under the nose. A bit of Banana Powder over the concealer. Brows filled in.  A touch of bronzer. A touch of blush. Beigey-taupe shadow. Lashes curled. Mascara. A bit of gloss. My summertime “no makeup makeup” face.  Same mirror, same lighting, same angle, just a few minutes later.

I know how much product, time, and practice was needed to create this effect.  However, this “face” will still have my boss ask if I'm feeling okay. It will still cause coworkers to ask if I woke up late and forgot to put on makeup, and have casual acquaintances say they wish they had skin like mine, good enough to go without makeup.

It makes me think of this skit from Inside Amy Schumer when people think I naturally have skin like this.  That when I choose to go without the liner and contour shadow and powder and highlighter people think I'm tired or sick or that “I woke up like this.”  I personally love the ritual of applying makeup every morning.  I love turning on my makeup mirror light, opening the drawer, and pulling the the pots, palettes, and powders for that day's look.  I have two jars of brushes and take joy in choosing the right one for that certain product or certain effect.  However, the older I get the more my process is about creating this “no makeup makeup” look.  Not about trying to look younger or different, but just trying to not have people ask if I have the flu.  I don't have the flu, I'm just a normal 40 year old woman and no way did I wake up like this!

Do you wear makeup?  Do people comment when you choose to go without makeup or less makeup than usual?  What's your “no makeup makeup” routine?  To be honest, I didn't have a huge point with these “before and after” photos, but it got me thinking, and I know many of you likely have the same thoughts and experiences. Would love to read them!

26 Comments

  1. Letícia Tatsch
    August 27, 2015 / 8:36 am

    My makeup routine: sunscreen. I think it’s ok if you think you need it, but I really do not care to spend half an hour everyday smearing stuff into my face. I can do it for parties and for photos, and I will, sometimes. I did wear makeup to most of my job interviews – not to be rejected by the lack of it. But I do think it is unfair to women the time, money and effort expected of us just to be “presentable”. I own my monobrow, my dark circles and don’t ever apply a lipstick just so it can be removed by the next cigarete.

  2. August 24, 2015 / 5:30 am

    Thanks for sharing. I’m in exactly the same place as I’m getting older with an age spot on my cheek, dark circles and still getting pimples which leave scars for months (no fair!). I really don’t feel comfy leaving the house without at least a dab of concealer.

    My minimum tends to be: concealer, powder, blusher on cheeks, under jaw and eyelids (it’s a browny shade), mascara and a tinted lip balm applied during the day. I might fill in my eyebrows if I’m feeling keen.

    I’m really not pleased with how I’m feeling about myself but I’m not sure how to fix it. I do find regularly going to the gym makes me feel much perkier day to day, stronger and proud of myself. As soon as I’m through this cold I’ll get back into it.

    • August 25, 2015 / 9:32 am

      I find my physical health and mental outlook are far more closely tied the older I get. When I feel depressed, self-doubting, or critical of my appearance a session of yoga or time at the pool seems to help alleviate the feelings. And yes to pimples leaving scars for months; I remember when I was younger it would disappear after a day! So no fair!

  3. Marianne Downing
    August 23, 2015 / 8:42 am

    I’m a woman who just turned 50 this year, and I can tell you waking up is a unique experience – can be either puffy or washed out or, more common, “drawn”. I found that from 40 to 50 a lot of the fullness left my face, especially under the eyes. though folks tell me I look more “early 40’s” than 50. My hair and coloring is very similar to yours but maybe a shade darker overall. My “no makeup” routine this summer really is little to “no” actual makeup – Maybelline beauty balm cream in Medium, topped by a swish of whatever pressed powder I have handy just to keep it from getting shiny on hot days. I then take an all in one stick like Maybelline Master Glaze in make a mauve and rub on my lips (which fortunately have a very similar and just slightly lighter natural tint) and dab on cheeks for blush, then rub in, even on eyelids (not up to brow, though). I then take my NYX micro brow pencil in Brunette and fill in my brows. This is just the bare minimum with which I won’d leave the house (plus, of course, anti-perspirant, brushing teeth/hair, and a swish of a pretty body spray). My winter “no makeup” routine is almost identical except I switch to the BB in light to medium, and favor the Nars Orgasm all in one stick on my cheeks (which I can use on eyelids, too). For a more polished but natural look, I line my upper lids with thin line of Lancome Artliner in Black, Navy or Aubergine (after all these years I’m an expert at liquid eyeliner), as my eyes really need definition as I get older, plus they are deep set and a bit hooded, so I need something all day to stand out. I will use more foundation where I need it, like CG Aquasmooth in Buff, under eye concealer by MAC, and whatever eye shadow I’m in the mood for (seldom brown, often Bobbie Brown in Bone on the browbone and something mauve-ish on the bottom, from whoever — still looks very natural). Lips are where I have my fun — like you, I like red, and also plum, hot pink, etc. I have full lips and large white teeth, my best features, so I play them up. Lastly curling lashes with Shiseido curler is a must, followed by black waterproof mascara – Great Lash or L’oreal Voluminous (still mourning Max Factor 2000 calorie Aqualash, discontinued 6 years ago but still the best). My lashes are very straight and point down and won’t hold a curl unless I use waterproof.

  4. Emily
    August 23, 2015 / 7:03 am

    This is a great post! Also worth noting is that the “no makeup” makeup look cost you over $250, if you add up all of the prices in the links. The societal expectations for women to just look “normal” are insane!

    I feel conflicted about this. On one hand I feel like we, as women, should reject these expectations and all go out in the world showing our real faces to stop pretending that women naturally wake up looking like we’re ready for tv. However, I too enjoy applying makeup sometimes and most days I wear brow filler (since I have blond brows) and some lip balm stain. And if I could put my makeup on in a way that gave me a “natural” look as nice looking as yours, I probably would. I just find that other than the two products I mentioned (and concealer on a blemish if I have one), I really don’t look any better with makeup, just more “madeup,” (so I guess I fail at the natural makeup abilities).

    I also realized about a year ago when I asked a relative if she was tired and she responded “no, I just haven’t put on my makeup yet,” that this was a question that I should never ask women.

    • August 25, 2015 / 9:17 am

      Such good points, Emily! I do feel I should embrace my bare natural face, but I like putting on makeup, just as I like doing my hair, wearing a dress, getting my nails done, putting on a fab pair of shoes. I rack it up to my hobby, my creative outlet just like gardening or scrapbooking.

  5. DC Celine
    August 23, 2015 / 6:28 am

    I’ve been wearing less and less, too. I use key components daily (under eye concealer, color corrector, sometimes powder, all Bobbi Brown; BB cream, Bobbi’s stick to even out redness around my nose/chin, mascara, and blush…sounds like a lot when I type it out), but often go makeup free on weekends. I love putting on a fab face, though, and add to my armor when I need to kick ass.

    This post struck me, as I just took my 80yo MIL to get new makeup yesterday. She’s been using old products and habits (major drawn in eyebrows), and has amazing skin, so it was long overdue. With simple steps, light foundation applied with a brush, under eye concealer (for age spots, too), mascara, and for fancy nights, a little eye shadow (she has olive skin, so her eyes are already well-pigmented), she looks like a new woman, alive and bright.

    She still wears lipstick to the mailbox. Power of a little makeup…just a little. That generation knows what it’s doing 🙂

    • August 25, 2015 / 9:14 am

      I do think the older we get the more makeup we wear can make us look even older. I do go sans makeup more often now than I did a decade ago, but now there’s a big difference between my done face and my bare face!

  6. Dee
    August 23, 2015 / 6:07 am

    I don’t wear makeup to the gym but sometimes apply a little concealer to dark circles just so I don’t look so tired. I completely agree the no-makeup actually takes a little to achieve. For me it means evening out my skin tone with concealer and BB cream, light mascara, a whisper of blush and lip balm. it makes me feel pulled together and look not so “haggard”. And yes, this face worn to work, people will tell me I look tired.

    • August 25, 2015 / 9:05 am

      Well meaning people say the craziest things! My boss has no filter and no fashion sense so I kind of like his blunt comments because I know they’re not mean spirited, they’re completely honest and I think he wonders since he knows appearance matters to me. For every “Oh great Alison, do you have the flu?” comment when I don’t wear eyeliner or concealer I do get a, “that’s a really cool dress” or “I didn’t know those two colors could work together but it looks neat.”

  7. Ruth Slavid
    August 23, 2015 / 5:47 am

    If you only look at your ‘naked’ face in the morning, you are seeing it at its very worst. The older one gets, the more puffy one’s face looks first thing. The model Twiggy, who was an icon in the 60s and then started doing some modelling again a few years ago for Marks & Spencer, had it written in her contract that she would only work in the afternoons because having been out of bed for a few hours has the effect of being a ‘natural facelift’. So the morning face gets worse (sorry but I speak from nearly 20 years more experience than you) but the daytime face is not too scary. Anyway I am sticking to that argument as somebody who has never got my head around makeup and really think it is too late to start now. Worst of all of course is the morning face after swimming – puffy eyes AND goggle marks.

    • August 25, 2015 / 9:02 am

      Such a good point, Ruth. And LOL morning after swimming! I went swimming this weekend and while I didn’t wear goggles I looked almost hungover, all puffy yet dehydrated!

  8. MJ
    August 22, 2015 / 7:59 pm

    I recently tried out eyelash extensions, which means I no longer wear mascara. I also only do eye shadow and liner for extra effect. Before the lashes I was always a full face all the time, and yes had that same question if I didn’t line my eyes or wear lipstick.

    • August 25, 2015 / 9:01 am

      I have been so tempted to do eyelash extensions but I already get nails every other week (still do tips because it stops me from chewing) and that takes 2 hours out of my weekend. I think Karl and Emerson would freak if I added any more time. Too bad there’s not a place near my office that does them, that would simplify things. Everyone I know who has gotten them loves them and says they wake up feeling more “done.”

      • MJ
        August 25, 2015 / 6:08 pm

        I for sure agree with the more done feeling!

  9. papergraffiti
    August 22, 2015 / 7:08 pm

    I have been embracing the minimal makeup look a lot lately. I’m very lucky to have really good skin, though sometimes it can be very red, so I don’t want to be caking it on to look more “done.” My best discovery ever was Missha Perfect Cover BB cream…it is SO much better than any American BB cream out there. It actually protects my skin and makes it look better after I take it off, too. If you haven’t tried it I highly recommend it! I’m pretty pale and their second lightest color works great for me. Just a pump of that all over, some blush, mascara and lipgloss and I can be out the door. Best part is that it looks like my skin, not makeup, and nobody asks me the dreaded “are you ok?”

  10. Curvy CEO
    August 22, 2015 / 5:52 pm

    I don’t mean this the way it’s going to sound but it’s amazing what kind of difference makeup makes and how much is needed to create a “no makeup” look. I also looooove putting on makeup. It’s my favorite part of the day–putting on my face and getting my outfit together. I will admit though that I feel like a bit of a phony when I do…because, as I said earlier, makeup makes a difference so I feel like I’m lying about my face *lol*

    • August 25, 2015 / 8:59 am

      Oh no, I equate it with wearing a wrap dress; I’m not changing my figure I’m just enhancing what I’ve got! But yes, makeup is awesome, and even a little bit can have a lot of power!

  11. Lisa Lehman
    August 22, 2015 / 12:29 pm

    I recently had some eye problems and was foregoing eye makeup — which I should mention is just mascara. Now I have very blond lashes and without mascara I look like I have no lashes. I ran into a friend who could tell something was different and finally said my new haircut looked nice!

  12. August 22, 2015 / 10:11 am

    I think when people are used to seeing you with a bright lipstick, they don’t really look past that. Therefore, with just gloss, you suddenly have the no-makeup look! I tried to explain this on my blog a while ago, and someone asked why I wear makeup if I don’t want to look like I’m wearing makeup. Because I want to look sort of halfway okay without looking painted, that’s all! (Also, makeup is fun.)

    • August 25, 2015 / 8:57 am

      So true! Even I feel “undone” now that I have embraced bright lipstick, even if I have a very done rest of face!

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