How Not Wearing Makeup In Lockdown Cleared My Skin & Cured My 10-Year Toxic Relationship With It

I’ve been wearing makeup since my first day of Year 7. It was also the same day that a bunch of girls laughed at my head-to-toe Target outfit, and I knew from that day on I would try to desperately fit in with my peers (which included wearing makeup every day).

Ever since then, makeup has been part of my morning ritual. I would sacrifice sleep, so that I could wake up early and put makeup on. I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t survive without a beat face, girls would literally line up at the school bathroom mirrors to retouch their face.

Keep in mind, this was 2010 when Wet & Wild foundation was considered good, and smearing your whole eye with kohl eyeliner was also a hot look. We all looked collectively hideous. It was also around that same time, boys started saying “I prefer a natural-looking girl.” But what they really meant to say was, “I prefer a girl who applies a light layer of BB cream, and wears mascara.”

2010 (Year 7): No those aren’t eye bags, that is just really badly drawn on eyeliner.

2011: Apologies for the low quality, I took these on a 4th gen iPod Touch.

For 10 years, I kept my morning ritual. I didn’t think anything of it. I didn’t realise that it was 1) destroying my skin and 2) destroying my soul.

This year, we were all forced into a lockdown due to COVID. As a Melburnian, I was kept in lockdown longer than most. A hidden benefit of being locked down is that many people stopped wearing makeup, because there was no point.

It was the first time in my life that I realised I didn’t need to wear makeup to feel like a person. I also realised that I didn’t look like a hideous she-demon with no makeup on. In fact, I just looked the same.

So lets start with how it was absolutely horrible for my skin.

At the beginning of this year, I developed adult acne. I had never had acne my entire life and suddenly at the age of 22 it started appearing and I couldn’t control it. I was also wearing makeup every day, going out until 5am and then passing out with my makeup still on. I was getting no sleep and not eating the right foods, so my late diagnosis definitely made sense.

I was told by my GP that in order to clear my skin, I needed to stop wearing makeup and just let my skin breathe (she also prescribed me medication). So I replaced my makeup ritual with a skin-care ritual, and yes, I became one of those skin-care freaks. Love you Hyram.

The bad skin was definitely a big wake-up call, but the biggest one came from something my GP told me.

At the time I wasn’t wearing any makeup, and she told me that I didn’t need it anyway, I was beautiful either way.

It was such a lovely thing for her to say, but you know what? I didn’t believe it. I was so used to my face with it on, I genuinely thought I looked terrible without it. After that moment, I realised that I really needed to kick my makeup habit to the curb.

Eight months of no makeup later, and my skin is better than ever. I feel confident leaving the house without makeup, and I actually LIKE my face.

I even went on a date sans makeup and it was the most freeing thing I ever did. I never realised how much my relationship with makeup was tied in with how men saw me. My friends could see me without makeup, but to actually go out without it would be a death sentence.

I still wear it whenever I go out, because it’s so fun to put on. But now that I actually look after my skin and my body in general, I really enjoy just letting my skin breathe.

I’m not saying to stop wearing makeup, but I am saying that we need to understand that makeup was created to play on women’s insecurities, so we’d rush to the stores and buy it. We don’t actually need it.

And if I could say something to my insecure, teenage-self it would be: You’re not ugly, you’re literally just dehydrated and exhausted. That extra hour of sleep will make your skin look better than wearing makeup ever could.

2020: Makeup free

Skin-Care Routine

Ok, so here’s my current skin-care routine, because I know that’s what you ladies/gents are gagging for:

(Just fyi I have combination skin and was on antibiotics for my skin for 6 months.)


Wash face with water (works best for me, otherwise my skin gets too oily)

The Ordinary – Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2% (vitamin C) – $17.00

CeraVe Facial Moisturising Lotion PM for my under eyes (yes, eye cream is a myth) – $21.99

PURITO – Centella Green Level Unscented Sunscreen (It’s very moisturising, so I don’t need to use a moisturiser with it) – $21.71


Wash face with hydrating cleanser /or when skin is oily use a foam cleanser.

If I’m wearing makeup, I will need to double cleanse. That means using an oil/balm cleanser followed by a water-based cleanser (pictured below).

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser – $18.99

CeraVe Facial Moisturising Lotion PM (applied all over a wet face) – $21.99

Epiduo* on top of moisturiser (prescribed by my GP and is a combo of benzoyl peroxide and retinoid)

*If my skin is feeling extra dry, I might skip this and use azelaic acid or salicylic acid. Also never combine retinol with acids, it will literally burn your skin.

Azelaic acid 20% – $13.49

Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant – $38

If you’ve made it this far, congrats. Here’s another cringe-pic of me from Year 7 as a little treat.

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