I Gave Up Mascara for 27 Days and Lived to Tell the Tale

Dacy Knight

Dacy Knight

Everyone has their desert-island beauty product. The one thing they feel naked leaving home without. For me, it's mascara. Unless I'm forgoing makeup entirely—for special occasions such as running errands, exercising, or lounging around in solitude—mascara is a must if I'm wearing even an ounce of makeup. To skip mascara on my made-up face is, for me, the visual equivalent of the chalkboard noise. When a mascara-less me looks in the mirror, my eyes look dead, my face looks pallid, and no amount of bold lip can save the situation. I'd much sooner skip foundation, even on a bad skin day, than head out into the world with naked, undefined lashes. There's something about mascara that I feel totally transforms my face and hence, a made-up face complete with some generous swipes of mascara has become the version of myself with which I'm most comfortable. So the idea of renouncing (even temporarily) my holy grail beauty product for as many days as humanly possible (I aimed for a month and allowed for—and added on—some exceptions) was nerve-racking, to say the least.

Read on to see how I survived 27 days (more or less) without mascara.

Day 1

Day one was undoubtedly the most difficult. First came the challenge of getting made up that morning. My plan was to give up mascara, not live my life entirely barefaced. Yet I have one way of doing my makeup—with the occasional swap of lipstick or eyeshadow shade—and the look is certainly meant for mascara. On the first day, I completed my typical face and simply forewent my usual swipe of mascara at the end. The beauty look was definitely off—too loud and heavy when paired with bare lashes. Throughout the day I was self-conscious that I must look drastically different than my usual self.

Day 5

By day five I had navigated makeup application minus mascara, finding that it was best if I ditched eyeliner as well and took it down a notch with the eyeshadow. Instead of focusing on the eyes I paid special attention to creating a glow with my skin, spending extra time experimenting with bronzer and highlighter. As someone who's spent most of her adult years working the same beauty look with little variation, it was fun to be challenged to switch it up. Skincare, while always important to me, became even more decisive as I felt it wasn't as easy to draw attention away from imperfections without defined, pumped up lashes.

Day 9

My biggest hesitation when beginning the challenge was the reactions of others. Would people I interacted with on a daily basis notice how different my face looked deprived of mascara? After about a week, it was pretty clear that no one even noticed I had ditched my favourite beauty product. Though I didn't feel like myself, I appeared to be myself to others. It was certainly reassuring—especially in a world where I'm using to getting asked "are you sick?" or told "you look tired" every time I work a fresh face around people (particularly men) who usually see me in makeup.

Day 17

When I first began the challenge, I envisioned that I'd have thick, lush, gorgeous, healthy lashes by the end of it. After all, hasn't it always been touted that mascara is the culprit behind eyelash thinning and loss? But three weeks into the experiment, without warning, four to five clustered lashes bit the dust with the clamp of an eyelash curler. I had a legitimate bald spot on my lash line. I was horrified and also confused. I had sacrificed one major eyelash stressor I otherwise apply to my lashes almost daily, yet this is when my lashes became their worst. I did consider that perhaps it was my eyelash curling technique (or lack there of) that had caused the trauma to my lash line. But giving up mascara and forfeiting curling my eyelashes is a challenge I'm not yet ready for.

Day 22

After the eyelash-loss incident, my motivation to continue the challenge quickly waned. If giving up mascara wasn't enough to ensure my lashes at least stayed in place (as they were evidently neither growing thicker nor more gorgeous), then what really was the motivation to ditch something so dear to me? I began making more and more exceptions for when it was ok to cheat with mascara. I was visiting friends and family back in New York and didn't want the stress, self-consciousness, and subpar selfies that come with living a mascara-free life to impede on my time back home. I'd skip makeup during the day, but graduation parties, bar-hopping, and a New Kids on the Block concert ultimately called for a bit of mascara to finish off the look.

Day 27

I'll come clean and admit that 27 is a rough number. As described above, last few days of the challenge were punctuated by (increasingly more lax) exceptions when I'd allow myself a little mascara when I thought it appropriate. When I finally accepted the fact that my mascara-free daylight hours hardly counted as giving up mascara, I called the challenge off. Satisfied with my making it nearly one month, I ordered myself a fresh tube and happily returned to my mascara-wearing ways.

What's your desert-island beauty product and would you ever try living without it? Let us know if you're up for the challenge in the comments.

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