Pretty Obsessed: On the Beauty of a Bare Face


While natural beauty is not in itself an oxymoron, most bare-face beauty looks require the application of product after product, rendering the “no-makeup” moniker laughable. Which, in fact, is always something that happened when I thought of natural beauty: I laughed. Because, really, who cares about looking natural? Isn’t all of civilization, in a sense, a celebration of artifice and construct? Why should anyone—particularly women—be asked to cede power over one of her most influential instruments—herself? And when these natural looks take as much—or more—effort to obtain as do more obviously unnatural ones, then why not err on the side of looking polished? Of looking complete? Perfect? For me, the rest of life is more often than not chaotic, so I like to be composed and in control when and where I can. The “real” me is whoever I want it to be; the real me is my own creation.

And yet. Lately I’ve become more and more certain that—beyond the fact that maybe I’ve been overthinking the whole thing—there’s something uniquely appealing about letting flaws shine through. Oh, not because I have become a convert to the whole 23-steps-to-a makeup-free-look school of beauty. Rather, it’s because I have begun to approach my beauty routine from the inside out, which has in turn allowed me to use less on my outside. Key to this transformation has been experimenting with do-it-yourself masks and scrubs from skincare line S.W. Basics’ Adina Grigore’s book Skin Cleanse, which treats your body as less a problem to be solved than a beautiful thing to be revealed. A skin-toning mix of tomato, apple cider vinegar, and vodka (yes, like a bloody mary for the face) leaves me clear and glowing—and not eager to cover up.

All of which is why I’ve turned to ultra-sheer products that blur my skin’s imperfections, rather than cover them. My favorite has to be the Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint, a few drops of which I spread over my skin in the morning and sort of marvel at the fact that it’s still my skin. The transformation is subtle—if I have dark circles under my eyes from staying out late the night before, those dark circles remain, though are muted—but still has an impact. And because it lets the natural flush of my cheeks and the sprinkling of freckles across the bridge of my nose come through, I find myself not needing to use much of anything else to liven up my look. Plus, it’s liberating not to care so much about looking—or feeling—finished, and, in fact, to feel like you’re not so much creating yourself as you are revealing yourself, just, you know, a more glowing (glossier!) self. And if you want to finish off this barely there look with a swipe of bright coral J Train Journeys lipstick from Alchemy? Well, then, all the better. Dare to bare as much or as little as you want, after all. That’s the real beauty of a bare look; it’s all in your hands.

Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen


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