5 Reasons Why I Don’t Wear Makeup (Money Is Only One Reason)

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I don’t wear makeup, and I don’t have a makeup kit.

The second and last makeup kit I bought was at an airport in Japan in 2009. I got it for about $100.

It included an eyeliner, some lipstick, and other basic cosmetic items any girl would need.

Back then, I thought I needed to get good makeup that wouldn’t leave any side effects. I used it three times and let it expire.

By the time I realized I’d had it for more than three years, I knew I just couldn’t keep it anymore.

Fast forward to the present, I now use only facial moisturizer twice every day: one in the morning after I wash my face and one in the evening after I shower.

The closest thing to makeup that I currently have is a tinted lip balm which I use when I go out on the weekends. It gives some rosy color to my lips, so I really like it.

Sometimes people ask me why I don’t wear makeup.

I have thought about it and tried putting on makeup a couple of times.

In the end, I decided not to for the following reasons.

1. Upbringing

When I was living with my parents, my mom forbid me to wear makeup to school or on any occasion. She herself didn’t wear makeup.

It wasn’t until much later in her life that my mom bought some foundation and a lipstick for special occasions (i.e. weddings, important meetings). Other than that, she just went barefaced every day.

My mom always told me about the toxic chemicals in makeup that can ruin my skin in the future. She believed in nurturing the skin from inside out: eating lots of fruit and veggies. And that idea is still stuck with me until today.

I think she didn’t want to spend money on cosmetics also because it wasn’t a necessity for her. We were struggling financially, and she wanted to save money for the family.

2. Lack of makeup skills

When I got into college and was away from home, I tried experimenting with lipstick, foundation, and eyeliner. I wanted to look beautiful, especially on special occasions.

I tried putting on makeup a couple of times and even had my friends do that for me. But when I looked in the mirror, I just didn’t like what I saw. I looked older and even worse than being barefaced.

There was a phase in my life when I was obsessed with makeup tutorials on YouTube. It was mesmerizing to watch all the beauty gurus transform their looks with the help of a few basic cosmetic items. It was like a work of art.

But those videos didn’t help me one bit because I never put those tips to practice. I was too cheap to invest in a proper makeup kit since I was afraid it’d go to waste again.

One time I asked my sister to put on some makeup for me. She wore makeup often and wanted to teach me some skills. After she was done, both of us just couldn’t stop laughing.

She said I looked like I was going to a Halloween party. When I looked at myself in the mirror, I had to agree with her. What was worse was that it took me a while to wash off all the eyeliner. It was just painful trying to wash the substance off of my eyelashes.

After a couple of trials, I gave up.

3. Fear of side effects

Reading about the harm of makeup in the media, I know what my mom said it’s not something she made up to scare me.

The EU has banned more than 1,300 chemicals from personal care products since they’re linked to cancer, birth defects and reproductive harm. The FDA, however, only bans 11.

The average woman puts 515 synthetic chemicals on herself, 60% of which is absorbed into their body.

When I think about what toxic chemicals might be in those beautiful lipsticks or eye shadows, it makes me not want to learn how to put on makeup properly. I don’t want to look beautiful at the expense of my skin and my health.

4. Save money

I once was so worried about the dark circles under my eyes that I went to Sephora and bought a concealer for $32 six years ago. It ended up not blending in with my skin tone and didn’t look good on me at all, so I returned it.

From that point on, I have never bought any other beauty products. Sometimes I just can’t believe I was willing to spend that much money on a concealer.

I know I can buy inexpensive products (i.e. Elf sells a lot of cosmetics for $1-3). But it brings me back to point #3 above: cosmetics contain a lot of harmful chemicals.

An average woman in the US spends $300,000 on beauty products during her life time (or $8/day), according to a survey conducted by SkinStore. The survey included 3,000 women aged 16 to 75.

With $300,000 one can buy a house or max out their retirement account to be financially secure when they retire. $8/day also equates an average of $240/month, a moderate food budget for a female aged 12 and above, according to the USDA.

I know that we shouldn’t convert everything into money, and that looking good and confident is sometimes priceless.

I just wanted to include the numbers to put into perspective how much makeup can cost us over our life time. I do a lot of things that I enjoy but might cost me an early retirement as well (i.e. eating out).

5. The nature of my job

I work at a nonprofit where the majority of my co-workers either go barefaced or wear minimal makeup to work every day. Anyone who wears excessive makeup will get some stares from others.

One time my employer hired a professional photographer to take photos of each of the staff. The photographer was very puzzled as to why most women at my job didn’t wear any makeup and felt uncomfortable even with some eyeliner on.

I know many professions (implicitly) require their female employees to put on makeup. Those occupations often involve frequent interaction with clients or customers. For those working at big magazines or fashion companies, I think makeup might be a must.

A 2011 study finds that women who wear makeup appear more likable, competent, and trustworthy. The research was sponsored by Procter & Gamble, a company sells CoverGirl and Dolce & Gabbana makeup, and the sample size was small (25 female subjects). That casts some doubt on the validity of the findings.

However, if I were working at a job where I need to look more presentable and professional, I might come under pressure to put on makeup at work every day.


I think it’s great that cosmetics can help many women look more beautiful and feel more confident. I also know that it is important for women to wear makeup every day in certain industries.

At my job, most of my female workers don’t put on makeup. I’ve gotten so comfortable with being barefaced, even to work, that it’s become part of me and my lifestyle.

And I’m glad this lifestyle has also helped me save a lot of money and time.

How about you? What are your thoughts on makeup?


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28 thoughts on “5 Reasons Why I Don’t Wear Makeup (Money Is Only One Reason)”

  • Those are my reasons too! #6 for just pure lazy. It saves time as well as money. One of my biggest reasons is the side effects. I don’t want that stuff sitting on my face all day. Reading the ingredients on those…ugh!! I wear Pur Minerals and other natural make-up when I do need a little pick me up.

    My makeup skills are last century though. I don’t know how to put on eyeshadow and look like an Instagram queen. I’ve watched 100+ tutorials but when I do it, it comes out ugly/smudged/sloppy.

    • I think Lily has got a great #6 here. I commute to work on a passenger train every morning and I see at least two ladies taking about half an hour to put on their makeup. That’s about 180 hours per year spent putting on makeup. That’s almost one whole week in a year and that’s spent putting on makeup.

      I have two reasons for not wearing makeup. Reason #1: it’s not in my budget. Reason #2: my wife said I look prettier without makeup.

      • Haha I’d probably agree with your wife too. Mr. FAF is hesitant to even put on some chapstick in the winter when his skin is too dry. I have to convince him that it’s ok for men to put on some chapstick. It’s medicinal @_@

    • Ahhh #6 is true for me too! Laziness triumphs makeup @_@ I saw the Pure Mineral ad on TV too and wanted to try it. But at the end of the day, my wallet said no @_@. Hopefully one day I will get a sample somewhere and know what it actually feels like on my skin hehe. My skills are right there with yours. Twins!

  • I am with you guys. #1- I still don’t know how to put that stuff on! #2 – I can’t be bothered with the extra time it takes and #3 – It cost a fortune!!! My only problem is that, unlike you, I just turned 50 and it is starting to show:(

    • Putting on makeup is definitely time-consuming and can be costly. I just turned 30, but it’s starting to show too. Sometimes I do wonder if I should try to cover my sun spots and wrinkles with concealer, but at the end of the day, I tend to get lazy. My colleagues definitely don’t care or pay attention since they don’t really wear makeup either. It does make me feel better about not having any peer pressure! 😀

  • I definitely agree with all of these plus Lily’s #6 too!

    I leave for work at 6 am and frankly dont want to get up any earlier than I have too. I also am the only woman in an office of middle aged men, I am pretty sure none of them notice a difference if I wore makeup or not (actually make that a definite since it took 2 weeks for them to notice when I cut 7 inches off my hair).

    I think it also makes it easier for women to go makeup-less now with some of the mainstream trends towards being your natural self.

  • I’m absolutely with you! I wear makeup only on the rare occasion (weddings, big celebrations… basically 3x/year) and I have the same makeup kit I bought 6 years ago because I haven’t used it all yet!!!

    I grew up without a desire to wear makeup. My mom is very outdoorsy and active and I followed suit. I saw makeup as a waste of time and money (plus one more thing to stress over) in high school and college, and now I just don’t even bother 🙂 Oh, and I’m totally with adding #6, I’m lazy (Lily- I’m so glad you added that!)

    Honestly- no makeup makes my life easier so I have yet to find a solid reason to change my makeup-free habit… and I’m glad I’m not the only one!

    • My mom was the opposite, she spent a fortune on make-up and a lot of her time too. It was a real turn off for both my sister and I. But like I said as I am getting older, I may see some value in some basic make up.

  • Another vote for #6- laziness! I deliberated whether to wear mascara on my wedding day but concluded I would feel more ‘me’ without it.

    I was once given a free makeover by a friend on a beauty course. The difference between my normal choice of eye shadow for special occasions compared to a heavy face felt like I was wearing an actual, heavy mask and brought me out in a load of angry spots. Lesson learned!

    Its nice to find a little community for whom a no-makeup selfie is just a selfie 😉

  • I’d say #3 and Lily’s #6 would be my biggest reasons. I’m always so worried about what is in all of that crap that we put all over our faces and our bodies.

    I wear minimal makeup to work because I work in a corporate environment and feel like I need to look more put together. However, on evenings and weekends, I don’t wear makeup unless I’m going to a special event such as a wedding. My husband prefers when I don’t wear make up and gets thrown off when I put on some for an event.

  • I don’t usually give in to peer pressure. I just came back from a trip home (I usually go back every two or three years) where I spend a lot of time with cousins who are in my age group. As mentioned , I don’t wear make up at all. One evening, they all (5 of them) were on my case on how I should use make up so I wouldn’t look so plain (nice family!) They proceeded with buying me a bunch of make up stuff for my birthday!!! If let all the stuff there. I don’t care what they think. They don’t really look that much better than I do and I am way closer to financial freedom than they are from all the savings:)

  • I wear a lot less makeup than I used to but I still feel like it’s an essential for me. I used to put on makeup before I would go pretty much anywhere but now I rarely wear it on the weekends unless we have an event.
    I always wear at least some makeup to work, but nothing crazy. It helps me feel more confident and professional. I also enjoy the process of putting on makeup and trying out new products. That $300,000 price tag scares me though, I figure I’m probably pretty typical!

  • To be honest, I love makeup, it is one of my biggest indulgences. I love the way it makes me look and feel, and I love experimenting with colors and products. That said, it is an occasional indulgence for me, maybe when I go out somewhere special or to a wedding. I don’t understand women who cannot go out of their house without makeup..who has the time and patience? I also believe in letting my skin breathe. I am makeup-free maybe around 80% of the time, which makes it all the more special when I do wear it.

  • It’s not part of my lifestyle but I think make up is lovely when done well, and I always admire the skill of women who are able to do it.

    My mom never forbade me makeup but she warned me not to depend on it because you never want to be in a position where you don’t like your own bare face, and also because some makeup can contain dangerous ingredients that harm your skin. Those were good enough reasons to consider it just a fun hobby if I ever got into it, but I really didn’t. For special occasions, I had my best friend’s girlfriend make me up but I never truly got the hang of it.

    Several years ago, maybe 2-3, I had to wear some basic makeup to look older when I held a demanding job with lots of reports and needed the mental boost that looking older than 12 gave, but after my reputation was fully established, the foundation went into a drawer and only came out a couple weeks ago when we packed up the bathroom!

    I’m happy with my moisturizer and lip balm routine now, and I hope that I’ll age gracefully enough not to want more than that in future years.

    • I hear you! I graduated college a year early (at 20) and got really good at makeup for job interviews! I ended up with a job teaching high school so I wore makeup for a little while to make sure nobody mistook me for a student, but a few months, I stopped. I’m glad I have the skill because it comes in very handy for job interviews and job fairs…but that’s about it. I’m happy to know how to do a sharp and even cat eye. But a sharp and even cat eye, a cut crease, some blush and lipstick is as far as I go. Foundation looks makes my skin look HORRIBLE, worse than my regular skin.

      Typically, I just wear lanolin on my lips because they are very dry, but I got my makeup done at the MAC counter for my sister’s wedding (I was a bridesmaid) and got a lipstick, a lipgloss and lip conditioner. I have found them to be very fun! The lipstick is pink and the lipgloss is very pigmented but fades nicely instead of leaving a ring. It only takes like 30 seconds to put on so it’s not adding such a horrible step to my morning routine to add this.

  • So I’m not Asian… I’m Caucasian… one of the pale ones. Without a bit a mascara, my blonde lashes seemingly retract into my lids. I recognize that a touch of makeup is something that helps me feel slightly more polished. However… I’m usually bare-faced!

  • I don’t wear makeup for most of the reasons you shared… I’m very “natural/organic” and only use Andalou products (organic, fair trade, etc). I do wear a chapstick like you as well, but other than that, i’d feel “fake” in make-up honestly. It’s just not me, I prefer my natural healthy skin and am told all the time how young I look, so not wearing makeup isn’t doing me any harm. *wink*

  • Interesting topic! I’m a bit middle ground. I’ve found I wear a bit more makeup now that I’m older. When I worked in tech, given its casual nature, usually just had concealer and mascara. Now, normally don’t wear makeup. But when I do go out, color corrector + concealer + mascara and some tinted lip balm are musts thanks to sun spots and super dark under-eye circles.

  • Fun post and discussion! Those are all valid reasons not to wear makeup. My preference is to use organic products and I found a brand I love. My daily go-to is a mineral face powder, lip gloss, and mascara made with all natural and organic ingredients. Just enough to enhance what’s there already. The mascara, especially, is a priority – it makes me look more awake than I feel!

  • My face feels like it’s suffocating when I have make-up on, it can’t breathe! Every time I put it on for a special occasion, I feel fake, like I’m not representing my truest self. I also have naturally curly hair that looks horrible when brushed or has product in it. So I just stick with the natural look 🙂

    • I wore a full face of makeup to my sister’s wedding (I was a bridesmaid) and definitely recognize the feeling you are describing. I didn’t feel “not like myself” but I definitely felt like I had a mask on. I kept in mind that it shows up better in pictures and that I was wearing it for the pictures and not to actually look better in the moment, which is fleeting. I bet on the red carpet or in films, the makeup IRL looks waxy and bad…but you have to keep in mind, is this for the moment or for the image?

  • I used to not wear makeup to work for a few years, but now I wear make up pretty regularly unless I’m not planning to go out. I always wear sunscreen on my face too. I don’t wear much make up, just concealer (have to hide the bags under my eyes from the sleep deprivation), eyeliner, eye shadow, and some lip balm. When I had my make up done for my wedding, I loved it, but it was a bit too much, it took quite a while to wash it all off!

  • I agree with all of your reasons. I also don’t wear make up because I don’t want to set that as an expectation for what I am supposed to look like. I don’t want to have to worry about running into people when I don’t have make up on. Sometimes people who always wear make up look kind of strange without it. I figure I would rather just always look a little strange;)

  • Well, a guy like me would prefer a woman who doesn’t wear makeup often. Natural beauty is still the best. Save more money instead for anything that would help you take care of yourself from the inside like proper diet, exercise and getting enough sleep.

  • I am quite near sighted so I don’t wear make up with my glasses, it’s not worth the extra time to do makeup, put glasses on, take them off add more, back on to check etc. I didn’t wear make up today and had a coworker say ‘so you didn’t sleep well last night?’ *sigh* Another day I forgot to put make up on and 3! people asked if I was sick. I do a little eye line at least, and a copper eyeshadow. Maybe a smidge of color at the crease. It works for me…for now. I’m glad you are comfortable with your choice. You have great reasons and you tried it and it’s not for you, and that’s ok! 🙂

  • A friend used to work at the Body Shop and they were required to wear a certain number of products every day and some had to be make up … no way could I do that!

    I’m lazy and unskilled and the only thing I swipe on is some lipstick. My skin is super sensitive and I put as little on it as possible, I literally wash with water and moisturise. I’d love to have picture perfect skin (and most women at my work wear foundation and more and I’m the only one who goes barefaced in my team I think) but that would add so much to my routine and possibly irritate my skin.

    I used to wear contacts frequently and that basically meant I had to wear eye makeup because I just looked weird otherwise. But I have oily, hooded lids so I’d be smudge city after a couple of hours. Nowadays I only wear glasses and don’t bother with eyeliner or shadow.

    (Saving money is just a bonus!)

  • I agree with all of these. I went through a brief period as a teenager where I wore minimal makeup. By the time I hit my early 20’s I was totally over it. It’s not good for you. I honestly feel gross with it on, no beautiful. On the flip side, I’m ok with women who do enjoy it. I think we should all do our own thing, proudly. I just didn’t get the hair and makeup gene lol. Plus, I like the added bonuses of saving time and money. I’d much rather spend the makeup fund on travel. I really enjoyed and agree with your perspective. Thanks for sharing.

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