How safe is your makeup bag?

Melissa Jenna Godsey Beauty CounterSo if you’ve known me for a while, you know that I’ve had a love/hate relationship with skin care and makeup for years. You’ve seen me go through my product-whore phase (back when I was hosting at iFixit), then I went through my no. makeup. EVER. phase (because I was ashamed of my troublesome skin, and I was skeeved out by the ingredients), and now we enter a third (and I think final) phase: the “holy grail” phase. It’s like this: I’ve found Beautycounter, and I love it, and it loves me. (We’re in love, you see.)

If you love the play factor of makeup, but don’t want to slather untested grossness on your face, you’re in a bit if a bind here in the USA (the United States hasn’t passed a law regulating the cosmetics industry since 1938). And if you have difficult skin, you’re probably using a lot of different products to cover it up, and you don’t have skin that you’re proud to walk around barefaced in. I was both of those.

But then an angel appeared to me in a dream and shared Beautycounter with me, and I swooned, and now here I am with peachy keen skin, and a makeup collection I’d feel comfortable sharing with my daughter. (Actually the angel is my friend Susan, and she appeared to me at barre, but whatever, that’s not the point.)

Here’s the point: Beautycounter’s has a list they call the “Never List,” which is full of the untested stuff I didn’t want to put on my skin. They’re committed to putting clean personal care products in everyone’s hands, and I just love that. It makes my heart sing. You CAN have awesome, high-perfoming makeup/skin care/sunscreen without the sketchiness. And it. is. AWESOME.

So here’s what I suggest: replace one thing at a time. Next time you run out of cleanser, swap it for something clean. If you’re feeling iffy, I have a complete set of the skincare line that I will happily give you to try for a few days (if you’re local). Same goes for the makeup. My collection is your collection.

I would love love love to chat with any of you about how you can clean up your skin care routine, create a safe makeup collection, and perhaps even start a little Beautycounter shop of your own. Direct sales companies usually make me very uncomfortable, but what can I say? I love my new skin, and how could I not want to share that with people I love? If you’re interested in trying any products, playing with the makeup, or learning more about how you could be making safer choices in this realm, please don’t hesitate to reach out and let me know! You can reach me here in the comments, or via email at melissagbeautycounter -at- gmail -dot- com.

And if you feel like learning what makes Beautycounter wonderful and different, click through to read more about their mission and their products.

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Learn to Love Your Naturally Wavy Hair! Episode 2: Quit Brushing You Hair

Before I get into the specific techniques I use to style my hair, I thought it’d be best to go over some of the habits you’ll want to unlearn, that are more suited for caring for naturally straight hair. The first straight-hair-only habit that you’ll want to quit, is brushing your hair. You read that right. You absolutely do not need to brush your hair (though for those with naturally straight hair, it could be beneficial). Don’t you worry: the video talks about how to handle those inevitable tangles.

As always, if you have any questions, requests, etc, just let me know!

Oh, and here’s a link to the book “Curly Girl” that I mentioned in the video. It’s THE resource for those of us with naturally curly or wavy hair.

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Let’s be friends!

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Learn to Love Your Naturally Wavy Hair! Episode 1: Why Go Natural?

If you’re anything like me, you’ve fought your hair’s natural texture your whole life. If you’re curly/wavy, you straightened it, and if you’re straight, you curled (or permed!) it. One of the awesome things about motherhood is that it’s encouraged me to accept myself the way I am, inside and out. And once I had Ellie, my time became far more precious. Rather than spend an hour straightening my hair (yes, it used to take me an hour), I learned to embrace my hair’s natural texture, and after learning a lot about caring for wavy hair, I’ve grown to love it!  The best part is that my hair “routine” takes all of 4 minutes, and because I’m no longer heat-styling it, it’s in better condition than ever.

So, this is the first episode in a series of videos I’m producing about how to care for (and love!) your naturally wavy hair. Like I said, I’ve learned a lot over the past few years, and I can’t wait to share all my tips and tricks with you wavy ladies. If you have any questions/requests/etc, please let me know!

And just a bit of background, so you know where I’m coming from: I HATED my hair texture. I have really thick hair, and tons of it, and if I ever tried to wear it naturally, it would pouf out and frizz all crazy-like. That’s because I didn’t know that wavy hair needs to be treated differently that straight hair. Most people don’t know. It’s not our fault, it’s just not something that gets passed down from mother to daughter, because most mothers don’t even know, themselves. With a few small changes in your routine, you can save hours of primping and fighting your hair, and tons of money in unnecessary products and tools.

I hope you enjoy the series, and your gorgeous, natural hair!

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Let’s be friends!

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Introducing “Color Crush!” In Which I Share Drugstore Makeup Favorites

In an effort to be more frugal, I’ve been experimenting with drugstore brand makeup. And since I’m a compulsive sharer of information, how could I not video blog my experience? Introducing episode 1 of what I hope will be a long-running feature, in which I explore my favorite (and perhaps least favorite) drugstore makeup finds. For now I’m calling it “Color Crush,” but I’m totally open to suggestions. Next up is mascara, then onto BB Creams. Holler if you want to see something specific!

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Let’s be friends!

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Is Clarisonic Worth It?

I’ve gotten some great questions regarding the makeup fast, and how it effected my skincare routine, so I figured I’d sit down and share my “secret” with you all.

I bought my Clarisonic from Amazon for about $110, and I’ve been using it for about a month. It’s super easy to use, and my only tip to you is this: use it once a day, like it says on the box. It feels great, and you’ll want to use it twice a day. Resist that urge! Over cleansing will make your skin flip-out.

Do you use a Clarisonic? Have any tips or tricks? Share ’em in the comments! And as usual, if you have any questions, I am here to answer them.

xoxo,

mj

(Also, I was not compensated in any way for this post, but I did use my Amazon affiliates account to link the Clarisonic, in case you feel like buying one for yourself.)

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Let’s be friends!

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Makeup Fast: Days 8-10 of 40 (I Have Yogurt on My Face)

Day 10 of 40. Naked face + Naked Baby!

You know what stinks? Going to a party while you’re fasting from makeup. That’s what we did on the 4th of July, which was day 8 of the fast. It’s just that people tend to try and look nice at parties, and there I was, looking as if I had just woken up (it’s the blonde eyelashes). At least no one wanted to commemorate the holiday with a picture. Dodged a bullet on that one.

Nothing worth noting with regards to the fast occurred on day 9, so we’ll just skip it. Today was day 10, however, and I had a realization: just because I’m fasting from makeup doesn’t mean that I can’t indulge in a little at-home facial-action. So I hopped onto Crunchy Betty (AMAZING website full of DIY beauty treatments using stuff you probably have at home, in your fridge), and refreshed my memory on how to mix-up a yogurt mask. (Turns out it’s just yogurt.) So I slathered some greek yogurt all over my face (read about the benefits of greek yogurt on your face here), made a cup of tea, and plunked myself down in bed to moderate comments and answer emails.

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To be honest, all of this sudden interest in my blog is cool and all, but, well…I’m not writing as much as I was before that one post blew up. And that’s the whole point, right? Writing? I haven’t done any research for my book (which I’m hesitant to even call a book, because I don’t even have an agent yet) at all in the past four days, and I don’t like how administrative tasks are eating up all of my actual writing time. So while I’m enjoying engaging with so many people ( well over 1,000 comments in that thread so far), I do look forward to getting back to my regular schedule. There’s no book if I don’t write it.

Oh also, we’re moving. In three weeks. And Ellie’s birthday? Also three weeks away.

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And the only way any of that is related to the makeup fast is that all of the stress (good stress and bad stress) is seriously effecting my skin. Hence the yogurt mask. If you’ve never been to Crunchy Betty, and you’re into DIY beauty recipes, then head over. You’ll love her, I promise.

Spiritually, I haven’t felt much movement on the “loving what God gave me” front, but boy have I been strong in the Spirit. I have a feeling the “loving what God gave me” will come slowly and naturally, and that the margin created by the fast is what made my big-time post possible. Regardless, I’m grateful to be used for a purpose, and to see so many people talking about God as a result of that post. It’s incredible.

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You won’t hear from me about the makeup fast again until Monday, so until then, have an excellent weekend!

Melissa

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For details on the “Fresh-Faced for 40 Days” makeup fast, check out this post.

Please join me! You can participate as passively as cheering me along (I will need lots of encouragement), or as actively as joining me in fasting from makeup for the full 40 days. I would love to have some ladies on this journey with me! If you’re interested in joining me, I’ve made a Facebook group where we can keep each other updated on our progress, post links to our blog posts, and generally hold each other accountable. Obviously, we’ll all be starting on different days, so it’ll be fun to cheer each other on through the different stages.

Also, feel free to use the button I’ve made (in the left sidebar, on the top) to link-back to the original post, so you don’t have to do all of the ‘splaining to your friends if you don’t want to.

Or, you can just subscribe to my blog over there in the sidebar, or follow me on twitter @melissajenna.

If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to share them. I always love hearing what you guys have to say.

Makeup Fast: Day 6 of 40 (I’m a Cheater)

(Written on Monday, July 2)

Today was supposed to be day 6 of my makeup-fast, but I’m declaring today AND tomorrow a do-over. Allow me to explain myself.

If you’re new here, I work, part-timeish, as a writer and host for iFixit.com, and when I’m hosting, I appear on camera, and when I appear on camera, I must wear makeup. That makes fasting from makeup hard, and presents some unique challenges.

Last week, when I went in for filming, I arrived at the office barefaced, applied my makep, filmed my segment, and then promptly washed my makeup off. Today was different, because today there was a film-crew from France in the office, capturing interviews and maybe some b-roll, and I was NOT ABOUT TO BE CAUGHT ON FRENCH NATIONAL TV BAREFACED, Y’ALL. Hate on me if you want to, but in all seriousness, I might use some of that footage in my demo-reel, and I cannot be looking like a wildebeest in my demo-reel, OKAY? Okay. Glad we’re clear.

So I arrived at the office this morning in full makeup, and because I forgot to also pack my face-wash and moisturizer, I couldn’t wash my makeup off before I left. Because of all of this, I am declaring today a do-over. And tomorrow? Tomorrow I’m filming alllllll day, and the French crew will still be around, so I’m preemptively declaring tomorrow a do-over, also. This all means that I’m adding two makeup-free days to my calendar, making my new ending date August 8, 2012, because I am nothing if not committed.

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So today, when I arrived home, the first thing I wanted to do was wash my face. Can you believe it? Like I mentioned a few days ago, I’m in a weird spot where I don’t really like my bare-face, and I don’t really like my makeup-face anymore either, so the only option is a paper-bag, right? Or maybe, like, a fancy mask with feathers? (Someone get on that.)

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Last thing, I promise. I’m beginning to notice that lots of women don’t wear much makeup. I mean, basically everyone I see wears some makeup, but many ladies only have on mascara and lipgloss. Was I the ONLY one applying my makeup with such regimental zeal? How come none of you told me this, huh? Isn’t that what friends are for? To tell you when you’re being a complete moron? Please, friends, I invite you to tell me I’m being a moron, if, in fact, I am being a moron.

xoxo, mj

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For details on the “Fresh-Faced for 40 Days” makeup fast, check out this post.

Please join me! You can participate as passively as cheering me along (I will need lots of encouragement), or as actively as joining me in fasting from makeup for the full 40 days. I would love to have some ladies on this journey with me! If you’re interested in joining me, I’ve made a Facebook group where we can keep each other updated on our progress, post links to our blog posts, and generally hold each other accountable. Obviously, we’ll all be starting on different days, so it’ll be fun to cheer each other on through the different stages.

Also, feel free to use the button I’ve made (in the left sidebar, on the top) to link-back to the original post, so you don’t have to do all of the ‘splaining to your friends if you don’t want to.

Or, you can just subscribe to my blog over there in the sidebar, or follow me on twitter @melissajenna.

If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to share them. I always love hearing what you guys have to say.

Makeup Fast: Day 2 of 40 (I’m a Showoff)

(Written on Thursday, June 28, 2012)

In the shower this morning, I was thinking about my decision to avoid eating lunch in public yesterday, and something about it was really bothering me. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I wasn’t avoiding seeing people I know just because I am ashamed of my naked face. There was more to it than that, but I wasn’t sure what.

After I finished drying my hair, I got to thinking about where I would go to do the morning-part of my work. (I work best when there is food and coffee readily available.) Usually I go to Sally Loos, because the coffee and food is BOMB, and I like the atmosphere. But today, I decided to stay in (again), and that’s when I got to thinking: how much of where I go is determined by what I look like? On the flip-side of hiding from people I know because I don’t like my face, there’s this: am I going out in public because my face looks pretty? Am I showing off or something? Yikes.

Now, don’t misunderstand me on this one: I’m certainly not getting super dolled-up every day, just to go to all my favorite local haunts preening in front of strangers and acquaintances. I’m no Kardashian. If you know me at all, you know that my standard makeup MO is to appear as natural as possible. I’ve never been one of those ladies who looks like she’s wearing a lot of makeup. But, isn’t that a little bit worse? A little more deceptive? Diligently applying makeup in order to give the appearance that I’m naturally poreless? Kinda sketchy now that I look back on it (you know, with a whole TWO DAYS worth of hindsight and wisdom and perspective).

So no, I wasn’t showing-off in a show-offy way, but in a somewhat more pathetic, somewhat more self-satisfied way. I’m pretty sure one of the reasons I do so much of my work outside the office is because I like to be seen looking nice. And it pains me to say that in public. I care so much about how other people see me, even strangers, and I’ve placed so much of my value in being recognized as pretty. It’s really humbling to stare so directly at my flaws, both character and physical, and it’s hard to not feel compelled to cover them up.

I’m glad that putting some much-needed distance between me and my makeup bag is already revealing some handicaps in my character, but I’m not going to lie: I’d rather you all didn’t know I’m so shallow.

Even now, after recognizing that I care way too much how people see me, my primary concern is that people don’t think I’m too shallow. When will I stop caring how people see me? And where is God in all of this? Why can’t I look to him first, like, ever? Why is it so natural for me to seek first the approval of others? I really, really want that to change.

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We did some filming at work today, so I had to “put my face on,” and a funny thing happened: I really didn’t like my “made-up” face. It just looked…wrong. Like I was trying too hard. So, when I was done shooting, I went into the bathroom and washed off the makeup (just like I promised I would, y’all!), and it was actually somewhat relieving to get that stuff off of my face. Not that I like my naked face any better, because I don’t. But still. Washing it off felt good.

2 days down, 38 to go! Have any of you started going makeup-less? Tell me all about it!

xoxo,

mj

Day 2 of 40

Day 2 of 40

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For details on the “Fresh-Faced for 40 Days” makeup fast, check out this post.

Please join me! You can participate as passively as cheering me along (I will need lots of encouragement), or as actively as joining me in fasting from makeup for the full 40 days. I would love to have some ladies on this journey with me! If you’re interested in joining me, I’ve made a Facebook group where we can keep each other updated on our progress, post links to our blog posts, and generally hold each other accountable. Obviously, we’ll all be starting on different days, so it’ll be fun to cheer each other on through the different stages.

Also, feel free to use the button I’ve made (in the left sidebar, on the top) to link-back to the original post, so you don’t have to do all of the ‘splaining to your friends if you don’t want to.

Or, you can just subscribe to my blog over there in the sidebar, or follow me on twitter @melissajenna.

If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to share them. I always love hearing what you guys have to say.

Makeup Fast: Day 1 of 40 (I am a Coward)

Written on Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Let’s start out on a cheerful note, with a list of things that I don’t like about my face:

  • I have really large pores
  • My skin gets very oily
  • Forehead wrinkles
  • My under-eye area is a little baggy, and is getting wrinkly
  • Blemishes (this is a big one around certain times of the month)
  • Uneven skintone
  • My eyelashes are so blonde, they might as well be invisible

I don’t know why I started this fast today. This is the worst time of the month for this kind of thing, on account of my crazy hormones giving me the skin of an adolescent girl. I was getting Ellie ready to go to her Nana’s, and I brought my makeup along with me, and just never ended up putting it on. (I was in a hurry.) Then I drove to work, parked, and stared at my makeup bag for the better part of a minute. Normal-me would have put my makeup on in the car (I’ve done it countless times), but today I just knew that it was the beginning of the fast. So I grabbed my makeup bag (not unlike a security blanket?), and snuck, barefaced, into the office.

I’ve been planning on doing this fast for a couple of months now, but could never muster the courage to actually begin. But today, during my staring-contest with my makeup bag, something snapped, and I decided it was go-time. I didn’t even consult my calendar for conflicts, I just did it. (This is crazy behavior for me. I don’t just do things. I’m a planner, you see.)

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Want to hear something embarrassing and stupid I did today? (Of course you do.) I was at the iFixit office (none of them said a WORD about my hideous face, by the way. Such gentleman, those guys.), and when it came time to go to lunch, instead of going to lunch in public, like a normal person would, I was so self-concious that I drove home to eat lunch by myself.

And I never went back to the office.

Fortunately for me, I can write from anywhere, so I ate my lunch on my own, and then plunked myself down at my desk to begin working on scripts for upcoming projects. On the upside, I saved myself 7ish dollars on lunch. On the downside, I am so ashamed of my naked face that I’m actually avoiding contact with other people. Wowza.

Usually, I would have went to a place called Kreuzberg for lunch, because the food is okay, and there’s wifi, and the atmosphere is conducive for iFixit-script-writing. BUT there is a chance that I would see somebody I KNOW at Kreuzberg, and what if they saw my face? Don’t ask me how I’m going to make it out to do my grocery shopping, or take Ellie to the pool, or go to church of all places, because I just don’t know. When writing the rules, I should have also forbidden the wearing of ski-masks, because I’m seriously considering picking one up. (You know, to wear to church. Can you image that?)

Tomorrow we’re going to do some filming at work, which means I’ll have to “put my face on,” and it is going to take every shred of will-power I have to wash that stuff off when I’m through shooting.

To say that I’m eager for a change to take place is an understatement. I am so totally and completely uncomfortable in my own skin, it’s pathetic. Oh, and I took a picture to commemorate this awful day.

Why did I do this to me?

I kept my glasses on for the picture, because they kind of make up for my invisibly-blonde eyelashes. I’m so cowardly. :/

xoxo,

mj

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For details on the “Fresh-Faced for 40 Days” makeup fast, check out this post.

Please join me! You can participate as passively as cheering me along (I will need lots of encouragement), or as actively as joining me in fasting from makeup for the full 40 days. I would love to have some ladies on this journey with me! If you’re interested in joining me, I’ve made a Facebook group where we can keep each other updated on our progress, post links to our blog posts, and generally hold each other accountable. Obviously, we’ll all be starting on different days, so it’ll be fun to cheer each other on through the different stages.

Also, feel free to use the button I’ve made (in the left sidebar, on the top) to link-back to the original post, so you don’t have to do all of the ‘splaining to your friends if you don’t want to.

Or, you can just subscribe to my blog over there in the sidebar, or follow me on twitter @melissajenna.

If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to share them. I always love hearing what you guys have to say.

Fresh-Faced for 40 Days: Because You Should Love What You Look Like Naked

Fresh-Faced For 40 Days Icon

Feel free to share this button to link back to the challenge!

First, the point: I am quitting makeup for 40 days. I began today.

(Actually, I’m calling it a fast, but for those of you who do not subscribe to a set of spiritual beliefs that engages in fasting, you can just think of it as quitting, and that’s fine by me.)

Next, the ugly truth: I do not like my naked face. I think it is ugly. Showing my naked face in public terrifies me, and that makes me sad, and I think that is a problem.

And finally, the rules: I will not wear anything that alters or obscures the natural appearance of my face for 40 days. (June 27, 2012 – August 6, 2012)

  • This includes all standard makeup products, but also tinted moisturizer, tinted lip-balm, and pore-reducing or anti-shine lotions and potions. If it feels like cheating, it probably is.
  • This does not include: my standard moisturizer or regular old chapstick. A girl’s gotta stay hydrated, am I right?
  • On days where I am to appear on camera at work: I will arrive to work barefaced, apply my makeup just before filming, and wash it off once we’re through. (Washing it off will take every last ounce of my will power. God help me.)
  • I will not avoid having my picture taken while barefaced, and I will continue to video-blog, au naturale.

Okay, that’s basically the gist of it. The rest of this is supporting exposition that I’d love it if you read, and I insist that you read before you make any sort of comment whatsoever.

The rest of this is the story behind this insanity.

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Lies.

We all tell little lies. The biggest lie I tell every day is my face. My face says I’m well-rested (I’m not), that I’m well-hydrated (I’m not), and that I am poreless, and without blemishes (I most certainly am not). My face says I’ve got it all together (I don’t), that I’m not aging (I am), and that being pretty is effortless (it isn’t. Well, it isn’t for me.). I put so much time and energy into telling lies with my face, that it’s making me sick. What a complete waste of time and money, and what a terrible example to set for the women who know me. And what an affront to the God who created me. (N.B. You and I might not subscribe to the same spiritual beliefs, and that’s completely cool. Please do not let my spiritual beliefs stand in the way of you, perhaps, learning to love your naked face a bit more than you do now. Deal? Read on, friend, read on.)

I know, I know, you’re thinking that I’m being too hard on myself. “It’s JUST MAKEUP” you’re saying. “We ALL do it.” Trust me, I hear you. Really, I do. But something inside me has snapped, and there’s no going back to the way things were.

I Love Makeup.

I LOVE makeup. I’m a makeup-aholic. Is there anything more fun than taking the time to do your makeup really well? Sephora is my favorite store of all of the stores, and every time I walk in there I get giddy with the excitement of hunting out a new product and sampling all of the goodies. I love the artsy quality of makeup. I love what can be communicated by makeup: how you can be a blushing, natural-looking girl-next-door one day, and a smoldering femme fatale the next, just with some smudges of highlighter or blush, or some well-placed lashes. I enjoy makeup for many of the same reasons that I enjoy fashion. Many of you already get me on this point, so I’ll leave it at that.

Applying my makeup in the morning, while enjoying a cup of coffee, used to be one of my favorite parts of the day. It was fun, and somewhat artistic, and who doesn’t enjoy looking lovely? But at a certain point, I can’t really pinpoint when, I began putting on makeup not because it was a mode of self-expression, but because I felt that I needed to cover things up, because I wasn’t proud of my face the way it naturally looked. It became less and less about choosing to put “my best face forward,” and more and more about keeping up appearances (and yes, I can appreciate the irony of this). Rather than making an informed and empowered decision, I had become a slave to my daily makeup routine; I watched as hundreds of dollars slowly dripped out of my checking account, and hours were lost in front of my bathroom mirror, painting over my blemishes and accenting my best features. I’m not sure when it happened, but eventually I lost sight of all of the good and healthy reasons why women use makeup, and I had become dependent on it, maybe even addicted to it. It became so that I could not see myself as pretty when I wasn’t wearing makeup, and that’s where I’m writing from today. (Of course none of you have this problem, right? Riiiight.)

I think makeup is an amazing tool that women have at their disposal, and it can be used to increase confidence, but at some point I traded my actual confidence for my makeup bag. I’m not sure why it never bothered me before; maybe I was really good at justifying my makeup use to myself, but when I think about how much I dislike my naked face, and how scared I am to be seen in public without makeup, I get really really angry. Who is this unconfident, sad little woman? And why is she so afraid to bear the face God gave her? Does she really think she can improve upon the creation of God? It’s a terrible comparison, but I keep imagining somebody walking up to the Mona Lisa and gluing on some false eyelashes, or increasing the size of David’s “manhood.” Am I saying that I am unique, and beautiful, and artfully created by the Master of Creators? Well…Yeah. (Aren’t we all?) So why can’t I look at my face in the mirror, and thank God for it, and tell him I like what I see? (Something in my head is broken, that’s why.)

Confronting My Fears

Nowadays, the idea of leaving the house without makeup is (literally) terrifying. And this is a big, ridiculous problem. For perspective: Looking back through my photos, I can’t find a single picture since junior high where I wasn’t wearing makeup. Summer camp, 12 hour dance rehearsals in the heat of the Texas summer, doing missionary work in rural Mexico, I’m wearing makeup in every single picture. The photos taken during the labor and delivery of my child? I’m totally wearing foundation, bronzer and mascara. (I remember applying it before my contractions got too painful to concentrate.) It’s the bronzer-whilst-birthing that makes me realize I have a serious mental-problem.

I remember my reasoning for applying makeup before I gave birth to Ellie: “these pictures are going to be around for who knows how long” I told myself. “They define this moment of my life. Why not have an even skin-tone and pretty eyelashes?” It all sounds harmless enough, but if a woman can’t feel at ease with her face while she’s giving birth to a child, what hope does she have for feeling at ease with her face in any other circumstance in life?

Are You Like Me?

If you’re not getting me yet, here’s a fun little exercise: if you’re a woman, close your eyes, and imagine yourself as a man (maybe your husband, or your father, or your brother, or even a coworker). Now imagine yourself getting out of bed, and getting ready to go to work. What do you do? You probably shower, shave your face, brush your teeth, apply some deodorant, and fiddle with your hair (if you have any) for about seven seconds. If you’re fancy, you splash on a bit of cologne. Then you get dressed, and leave for work. You don’t think to yourself, “my eyelashes are so light, they’re practically nonexistent!” You don’t inspect your pores thinking “if only I could make them smaller.” You certainly don’t apply that lip-gloss that makes your lips sting because of its “plumping agent.” Doesn’t that minimalist morning routine sound absolutely liberating? (And to you women out there who already have very minimal morning routines: I salute you. I also hate you a little bit, because I envy your confidence and grace, but it’s a loving kind of hate, if that makes sense.)

I feel like I need to repeat myself again, because someone out there is not hearing me: I love makeup. I love being pretty. I love making a good impression. I love “going the extra mile” and polishing my appearance. I love that with a few products from my makeup bag, I can stack-up against the likes of hollywood starlets. I’m a die-hard makeup fanatic; I get all of the reasons why makeup is awesome, and I am not judging you, or your relationship with makeup. But my reliance on makeup not just to feel beautiful, but to feel acceptable to be seen in public, is crushing my heart, and is preventing me from seeing myself the way God sees me. The only way I am going to break free is to give up makeup cold-turkey. Not for forever, but for long enough that my vanity can be completely uprooted, and a healthy appreciation and respect for the face that God gave me can grow in its place. I approximate that this will take (at least) 40 days.

Why 40 Days?

Surely a week or so would be good enough, right?

I have a couple of reasons for setting 40 days as the minimum duration of my makeup-fast.

  1. I am stubborn, and it takes me a bit longer than some other people to get over things.
  2. Most research says that habits can be broken or formed in 21 days, and since 40 days is roughly double that, I feel confident that real, lasting change can occur.
  3. In the Bible, a 40-something time period, whether days, months, or years is always a period of testing, trial, probation, or chastisement (but not judgment) and ends with a period of restoration, revival or renewal (for example, Jesus 40 days spent in the desert, fasting and being tempted by the devil). There is a lot of hocus-pocus-ey sounding stuff on the Internet regarding the significance of the number 40 in the Bible. Honestly, a great deal of it sounds superstitious to me, and I am not an adherent to any kind of superstition, but, if Jesus chose to fast for 40 days, I see no problem with mimicking him.
  4. But mostly numbers 1 and 2.

The Seed

For several months I’ve prayed that I would grow to love my naked face more than my “made-up” face. And guess what? God has not blessed me with an appreciation for my naked face, which comes as no surprise to me, because that’s not really how God works. What God did do, however, was push Jen Hatmaker and her book “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excessacross my path, and slap me in the face with this question: “What, in my life, if taken away, would alter my value and my identity?” Yikes.

And you know, at first, the only things I could come up with as an answer to this question were 1. My husband, and 2. My daughter. (Then I gave myself a mental-high-five for being so level-headed, and so in-tune with God’s priorities for my life.) But then, later, as I was putting on makeup to take Ellie to the pool (yes, I’m that mom), it hit me: I am the most vain person I know. That is not an exaggeration. I don’t think I’m the hottest lady on the block or anything, but I place so much of my value in the fact that, when made-up, I can be very pretty. My identity? When made-up, I am a Pretty Lady. What kind of crap identity is that? And temporary, to boot. Once I realized this, I might have shame-spiraled a bit, and sought comfort in my guys Ben & Jerry. (Don’t ask me why I’m confessing this to you. I guess when I start telling the truth, it just all comes out.)

So that’s the seed that sprouted this whole insane, scary, exercise in self-torture. Jen’s book “7” inspired me in many, many other ways, but the only thing that actually scared me was the idea of going makeup-less. I know how trivial of a problem this might sound to some of you, and I get that. I get how trivial and petty and self-absorbed I sound. “Privileged white-girl from beautiful Coastal California chooses to fast from her makeup collection that probably costs more than some people’s cars.” Please believe me when I tell you that I know this exercise epitomizes the expression “first-world problem.” But I also know that each little step I take is valuable, and just because other people might think it’s silly doesn’t mean it’s not important. I need to get over my vanity. I need to get over myself.

Concerns and Expectations

What will people think of me when they see me barefaced? Will people assume that I’m lazy? That I don’t care enough to put effort into my appearance? Can I handle being told I “don’t look so good” every day? Or that I look tired? Or being asked if something is the matter with me? Will people hear about my fast and think I’m some holier-than-thou crazy-lady? Or a militant feminist with an anti-makeup agenda? Will people look at me and think, “Gosh, if she just tried a little, she could be kinda pretty?” Or, “I feel sorry for that uggo’s husband?” It’s my obsession over what others will think about me that really upsets me. My primary concern shouldn’t be what people will think of me, it should be what my Creator thinks of me. This verse keeps coming to mind: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:14) And this lyric by the David Crowder Band: “You make everything glorious, and I am yours. What does that make me?” I know in my head that’s what I should believe, but my heart puts so much value in how others consider me, that this whole idea of simply not putting makeup on has my stomach in knots. It’s ridiculous, and that’s why I have to do something about it.

What do I expect at the end of the 40 days? For one thing, I expect that I’ll be thrilled with how much time I’m saving by abstaining from makeup. And of course I’ll also be saving some money. But bigger than that, I hope I’ll grow to love what I actually look like, without all the cosmetics, and come closer to seeing myself the way God sees me. And I hope that I’ll have more grace for the rare makeup-less women I come across in the world.

And for the record, my husband thinks this is my best idea yet. He thinks it’s crazy that I don’t like my bare face. He’s a keeper, that Mr. Godsey.

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So, for the next 40 days I invite you along with me. You can participate as passively as cheering me along (I will need lots of encouragement), or as actively as joining me in fasting from makeup for the full 40 days. I would love to have some ladies on this journey with me! If you’re interested in joining me, I’ve made a Facebook group where we can keep each other updated on our progress, post links to our blog posts, and generally hold each other accountable. Obviously, we’ll all be starting on different days, so it’ll be fun to cheer each other on through the different stages.

If you’re joining me on this fast, of course you can be as flexible as you want to, but I encourage you to go Full Monty on this one. Also, feel free to use the button  I’ve made (up at the top of this post, or in the sidebar) to link-back to this insanely long post, so you don’t have to do all of the ‘splaining to your friends if you don’t want to.

Or, you can just subscribe to my blog over there in the sidebar, or follow me on twitter @melissajenna.

If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to share them. I always love hearing what you guys have to say.

xoxo,

mj

What is The Functional Purpose of Love?

View from the bottom of a vineyard in Paso Robles

Why are things beautiful? I mean, what’s the functional purpose of beauty? Of a breathtaking sunset? The truth is, in and of themselves, sunsets are not beautiful. So what’s the difference between a real-life sunset, and a picture of a sunset, or a drawing of a sunset? The only real difference (that I can discern), is that real-life sunsets poke a spot in my brain that recognizes beauty. Other things that poke that spot in my brain include: wildflowers, the ocean, fields of tall grass in the wind, Zion National Park, the starry sky when I’m far far away from manmade lights, etc. And I only find them to be “beautiful,” because my brain tells me it thinks they’re beautiful. Makes sense, right? But why? Why do we have a spot in our brain that is excited by beauty? What functional purpose does it serve me as a human that I recognize beauty?

Same goes for love. We certainly don’t need “love” for the purposes of procreation (we can look at the stats on random hookups and pregnancy for that one). As a matter of fact, animals do just fine without love. Why are we capable of love when we could be wired, like animals, to instinctively procreate and nurture our young until they are self-sufficient? What functional purpose does love serve to the survival of the human species?

Same goes for fun. Same goes for pleasure. Same goes for grief, and loneliness, and laughter and tears, and music and dancing and celebration. What functional purpose do any of those serve?

When people ask me to explain my belief in God, I can’t do it. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just that I can’t. Something deep down in me–in my heart, or in my head, or both, I can’t tell–compels me to believe, but I cannot explain why, just like I cannot explain the purpose of beauty, or love, or grief or laughter or tears. We’re endowed with a capacity for feeling life, and an ability and instinctive desire to love others. God is in that. I think that’s a tiny glimpse into the very heart of God, and he’s given it to each of us, freely and abundantly.

I believe that the functional purpose of each of those miraculous gifts is to help us to begin know and understand a God that is so much bigger than ourselves, and so far beyond our understanding. We will never comprehend the fullness of God, but we can comprehend the beauty we are surrounded with, the love we feel for our children, and the love we feel for each other.

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