Pretty, Unmade-Up You: 17 Women Take It Off

There’s been much ado about whether we should or shouldn’t wear makeup, and what meaning that decision holds. So we asked our beautiful contributors and colleagues to snap photos of themselves fresh-faced and share their own points of view on how much, how little and when and why they make themselves up.



Teresa Misagal, 46, Photographer and Founder of Dailola Granola

“You can totally change how you look with just a little lipstick. And I always wear lip color, especially something deep and dark, preferably with good moisture. When you reach a certain age — or any age for that matter — less is more. Cover up and powder, when it’s used beyond blotting, will make one look more aged. The more natural, the better. Men don’t like a mask — they wanna know what they’re getting into.”



Kim O’Donnel, 47, Cookbook Author

“For all of my adult life, lipstick has been my one and only makeup mainstay.  Foundation, blush and all the other doo-dads have remained the stuff of mystery, like a language I’m curious to learn but obviously not that curious. In recent years, I’ve learned the practical benefits of “priming” my face for television appearances but it’s not nearly as fun as painting my lips before walking out the door.”



Suzanne Rust, Lifestyle Editor, Family Circle

Too much makeup can make a woman look like Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, but not wearing any? Why wouldn’t I want to look a little better? It takes me less than two minutes to use a dab of concealer under my eyes, a few swipes of mascara on my lashes, a dash of blush on my cheeks and a touch of lip gloss. I am happy for the improvements that a little makeup provides!”



Margit Detweiler, 46, Founder & Editor of TueNight

“Probably like most of us, I’m a bit bipolar about it. I toggle between fancy days and plain Jane days; buttoned-up meetings and Saturday errands; girly-girl interest in face paint and WTF-I’m-a-Feminist disinterest. I love the way a manicure looks but getting one is about as fun and interesting to me as watching paint dry — oh wait, that’s what it is.”



Amy Barr, 53, Writer, New York

“This selfie was snapped at 7:00 am in Central Park during my daily walk with my terrier, Lucy. It’s most definitely a no-makeup time of day. The rest of the time, I’m a less-is-more kind of gal, though I do acknowledge a deep and abiding sense of gratitude for the genius who invented mascara.”



Pavia Rosati, 40s, CEO/Founder of Fathom

“Applying my everyday makeup takes me 90 seconds. I know because I timed it to write this. (The Sonicare toothbrush, please note, takes longer.) I wear makeup every day. I don’t leave the house without it, not even when I’m just dashing to the corner for a pint of emergency milk. Some might say my curled eyelashes (Shu Uemura), mascara (Maybelline, though never Great Lash, which I think is a giant con), and eyeshadows (only and always Mac) are barely noticeable, and I won’t argue with that. I notice, and that’s all I care about. I wear make up every day unless I’m spending the day on a beach, on a hike, or on a plane.”


selfie_Deanna Zammit

Deanna Zammit, 37, Director, Digiday Content Studio

“In high school I had a friend who spent at least 40 minutes getting ready to go out on the weekends. I thought this was crazy. First she showered and blew out her hair, then spent 20 minutes perfecting concealer, lip liner, matte lipstick (hello 1993!), mascara and more. I ran a comb threw my hair, threw on some blush and was out the door. I called it the natural look. Lots of people called it messy.

This is still my approach. As I near 40, I find myself reaching for some of those tools, but not all of them. And I don’t use them every day. In fact, I’ve declared Saturday mornings entirely make-up free. What’s the result of this relaxed approach to cosmetics? When I do make myself up, I’m told I ‘clean up well,’ or in one particularly backhanded compliment — “You look great! I didn’t recognize you.” Those comments haven’t inspired me yet to change my ways. After all, make up’s job is enhance your best features, not create them from scratch.”



Amy Choi, 34, Co-Founder, The Mash-Up Americans

“I’m willing to invest time and money into face-related things that make me feel prettier, like facials and toners and masks and serums and night creams and night eye creams and day creams and day eye creams and whatever, but makeup has never been my thing.

I had a kid a year ago, and I have become even lazier about cosmetics. It’s argan oil, some moisturizer with SPF, and I’m out the door. Part of it is time constraints, but mostly I got really freaky about chemicals and product near my baby. I really have no problem with them on my face, but I didn’t want them anywhere near that perfect baby skin, but *I* want to be near that perfect baby skin all the time! Which includes rubbing my face all over him and nuzzling into all the nooks and crannies, and you can’t really do that with eyeliner and a cream blush on. I went through a phase (okay I’m still in the phase) when I wanted everything on him and me to be organic food grade — there is a lot of moisturizing with cold-pressed sunflower seed, almond and coconut oils in my house. You ever need to dress a salad, come over by me.

I’m just starting to put on makeup again a little here and there, but only for important meetings and evenings out, when I know there will be no opportunities to snuggle with baby. I’ve invested in a good haircut and figure that’s enough of a beauty regimen for now. My baby still thinks I’m beautiful, and I kind of think so too.”



Stacy Morrison, 40s, Editor in Chief, BlogHer

“I love makeup. Ab-so-lute-ly love it. I worked in magazine publishing for decades, and I will never stop missing those glorious beauty closets. But even though I love makeup I have exactly zero anxiety about being seen without it. Though, for the record, I wear tinted moisturizer, BB balm or base every day, even if I’m just going to be gardening, since I have rosacea and I don’t love how red I can be. See my nose? That’s a 5:45 Friday still-on-conference-calls red nose. And I will put some powder or concealer on it as soon as I get off the phone.”



Rachel Sklar, 41, Founder of Change The Ratio and

I don’t wear much makeup as a sheer function of time – I’ve got it down to whatever I can do in five minutes in the back of a cab – but sometimes it’s that five minutes that makes all the difference. It’s about pulling yourself together to face the world. I could say more, but Hedwig says it better.”



Amy Vernon, 44, Writer and Consultant

“I’ve worn makeup maybe three to four times in my life, and most of those, I wore just lipstick. Because I never wore it as a teen, I never got used to it. It feels funny on my face and, frankly, I’m too lazy to spend that much time getting ready. “



Susan McPherson, 49 ½, Founder, McPherson Strategies

“Makeup to me is like pixie dust. I sprinkle it on to shine, to glisten, and to sparkle. But as I’ve grown older, I also relish the raw and real and take appreciation of just plain me. “



Susan Linney, 39, Writer and Editor-at-Large, TueNight

“I pretty much wear makeup everyday — after moisturizer, I put on a BB cream, a light foundation and a touch of powder bronzer. My face is so pale when it’s bare, I need some kind of color flush so it’s clear that I’m actually alive. Plus I get automatic SPF, and I like the routine of doing makeup as I get ready for the day. Like my mom always said (and still says), in the morning, I like to ‘put on a face.’

That said, if I’m spending a lazy Sunday indoors with no intention of going anywhere, I don’t bother with any of it. Like in this picture — I just woke up, I’m in my pajamas, and I stayed in those pajamas until it was time for bed again. I love those rare days, both for the rest and the 100% natural and a bare face.”



Adrianna Dufay, 42, Studio Director, MacPremo

“As a teenager, I spent hours putting on makeup in the morning. I bought myself a Morgan Fairchild how-to makeup book and learned to sculpt my non-existent cheekbones with three shades of blush. I definitely got harassed, but I thought I looked beautiful, so I didn’t give a rip what people said. By grad school, I was too busy for that much effort. I started doing the 50s face: red lipstick and dark eyeliner. I haven’t changed much since then, although in my old age, I try to remember under eye concealer so people stop asking if I had a long night.”


Savita Iyer, 40s, Writer

On vacation, I never wear make up. I figure no one knows me so it doesn’t matter. Anyway, despite decades of practice — in the early years, with ghastly results — I find myself in my mid 40s sticking pretty much with the basica: Black kohl eyeliner and a bit of powder to take the shine off my nose. Although I truly admire women who are adept with make up and i can easily spend a couple hours drooling at Sephora, the make up regimen I started out with in my teens is still my everyday routine.  I send this sans make up selfie with love from Playa del Carmen, Mexico!



Lauren Young, 46, Wealth Editor, Reuters

“You know that song from Annie about never being fully dressed without a smile? Well, that’s how I feel about makeup. When I go to work or an event, I always have it on. It’s part of my professional/party time uniform. But when I’m hanging out on the weekends or when I’m in vacation mode, I don’t paint my face. And I definitely don’t wear makeup to yoga class. And I always take my make up off before I get into bed.”



Jody Jones, 43, Media Consultant, New York

“Me? Without makeup? Sorry, folks, you’re never gonna see it on camera. I may be pretty, but I’m also pretty sure I look better with some lipstick.”

Tell Us in the Comments

What do you think?

2 Responses

  1. Julie Parr
    julie ann

    This is an odd exposure of my own narcissism, but I’ve noticed that when I take selfies that I almost invariably like them better when I’m not wearing makeup than when I am. It makes me wonder if I should just stop wearing it!? This, combined with my efforts to go grey probably make me a prime candidate for moving to Portland sometime soon.


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