Six Ways Giving Up Makeup Brought Me Closer to Christ
My name is Sophia, and I am a makeup-holic. A lover of mascara and soft pink blush, I look forward to my morning routine when I can pop on some tunes and intricately apply my favorite shades of color on my skin. Last year though, for six weeks, I completely quit this favorite habit of mine.
It started when I went barefaced in front of my schoolmates one day and was surprised to find how uncomfortable it made me. While no one even noticed the change, my thoughts were filled with insecurity. Disturbed at how dependent I had become on having a perfectly painted face every morning, I decided that with Lent, the Christian season of Easter preparation, approaching it was the perfect time to break away from the hold that makeup had on me. The next six weeks that followed, while at times they felt painfully uncomfortable, were a much needed period of spiritual growth.
Here are the top six ways taking a break from makeup brought me closer to Christ:
1. Less makeup means more time: One of the many benefits of giving up makeup is time. Before, 15 minutes of my morning was spent blending in the perfect shade of eyeshadow and carefully applying liquid eyeliner (you ladies know how tricky that can be). However, when makeup was taken off the morning “to-do,” I was left with a new portion of time to devote to something more meaningful. For me this was prayer. Prior to this, my morning prayer consisted of halfway paying attention to God and the other half was constantly wondering what time it was. With a built-in additional 15 minutes, I was able to approach prayer with a much more calm and centered disposition. I wasn’t rushed and, with God’s grace, my prayer life improved. God blesses us with so much time on earth…He certainly deserves some of that time for Himself.
Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. -James 4:8
2. Practicing detachment from trivial things trains us to detach from stronger worldly forces: Being an avid lover of makeup, there were many mornings when I kicked myself for choosing makeup to fast from. Countless times, I defeatedly stared in the mirror at my tired face, glanced at my makeup, stared at the mirror, and glanced back at my makeup, struggling not to sneak a little color on my face.
You might be thinking “It’s not like makeup is evil, who cares? Why make a big deal of it if it’s not even bad to begin with?” These are questions I often asked myself. The answer lies in this important concept: fasting is not an end itself, but rather a means to an end. The goal of fasting is to train our will to choose the good. When we can tell our inner selves “no” when we really want to say “yes,” we strengthen our self-control. When self-control is stronger, our aversion to sin will be stronger as well.
In the same way I desire makeup, I also desire pride, lust, anger, greed, etc. Giving up makeup is like pre-season training. It’s an exercise that gets us ready for the real deal… and the opponent we will continuously face in this life is the very convincing temptation to sin. If I can say no to mascara when I want it, then I have a better chance of saying no to sin when I really want that too.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. -Romans 12:2
3. It's an exercise in vulnerability: The initial moments of being barefaced were filled with insecurity. When talking to friends, I thought to myself, “They must notice that I look completely different today. Do they think I look ugly? This feels so uncomfortable.” I felt vulnerable. This experience required me to literally be seen as my true self, without my mask of makeup to guard me.
Just like detachment from sin, taking down my wall of makeup and being exposed as my imperfect self trains me for something higher: emotional vulnerability. We are our most courageous and truest selves when we can approach someone we love in vulnerability… sharing with them all sides of ourselves.
In the same way, we must approach God in total vulnerability. He desires our vulnerable selves. He wants all parts of us: the sinful and the holy. He knows our beauty and cherishes it, but He also knows our fallen nature and aches to heal it. In order to accept that healing, we must take down our walls and approach our Lord naked, exposed, and vulnerable.
If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. -2 Chronicles 7:14
4. Embracing my imperfect face helps me embrace my imperfect soul: When wearing makeup, it is easy to forget that underneath the seemingly flawless skin are many hidden blemishes. When the makeup is taken off, you are reminded once again of your scars, red splotches, acne, etc. With the mask off, you can see your true self.
In the same way, when we hide our imperfect faces from the world, we too can try to hide our imperfect souls from God. When I have failed to be my best self, I often avoid God. I feel uncomfortable confessing my sins ,so I ignore them. But just as concealing our blemishes forever would only make them worse (talk about clogged pores), concealing our sins will only dig our souls deeper into despair. Exposing our sins is a healthy practice that allows us to make amends and allows God to cleanse us. Know that God is waiting for us to dive into His endless mercy. We are imperfect, but God’s love conquers all sin.
Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the Lord! -Lamentations 3:40
5. You are able to focus more on others: I don't know about you, but I find that when I feel like I am looking good, I tend to look in the mirror more. My focus tends to be more on myself and how to keep myself looking good throughout the day than on what is going on around me.
When I was without makeup, though, I didn’t feel that need to keep checking the mirror anymore. I wasn’t gripped by the desire to look perfect. I knew I didn’t look perfect, and in quiet acceptance of that, I got on with my day and started paying more attention to those in front of me than the reflection staring back at me in the bathroom mirror.
This is My commandment: that you love one another as I have loved you. -John 15:12
6. It reminds you what is really important in life: The overall lesson I learned from giving up makeup was that while looking good feels good, it is not everything. We are made in God’s image, so it comes as no surprise that He made us beautiful. While it is not wrong to desire to be beautiful, we have to order our priorities properly. At the end of our lives, the only thing that will matter is how we loved God and how we loved others. The beauty of your face means nothing to the beauty of your soul. Let us always remember to put the beautification of our eternal souls before our earthly bodies.
Do not let your adornment be merely outward--arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel--rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God . -1 Peter 3:3-4
Think about your own life for a moment. Do you have a crutch in your life? Are you dependent on something that might be getting in the way of your best self?
Maybe it’s something like alcohol or social media. They may not be inherently bad but, just like makeup, can be used to hide ourselves from the world. If you have something like this in your life, I invite you to enter into a period of fasting. See what happens when you let go of this thing for a little while. God will surely use this time to teach you many lessons through your sacrifice and in doing so will bring you closer to Him. Blessings to you on your journey back to Christ!