22/03/2017 11:26 GMT | Updated 23/03/2018 05:12 GMT

Why I Rarely Wear Make-Up

I rarely wear make-up.

I'd like to think it's because I don't need it. But alas, while the Nordic climate (lack of sun) was kind to me and I've inherited decent genes (my mum passes for twenty years younger), that's not why.

I'm 34. I have two half eyebrows, tiny upper lip and chubby cheeks. I've seen myself with professional make-up. When it came off, Jekyll and Hyde happened.

I'd like to think it's because I'm too brazen to agonise over my appearance. I'm against airbrushing models in magazines, and what else is make-up than real-life photoshopping? But then, I highlight my hair and just spent £40 on an under-eye serum.

I don't live in an eco-commune in Wales but east London.

I'm not a yoga teacher but work in advertising.

My friends are all stupidly beautiful and know their concealers from their primers.

On paper, I should love make-up.


(Photo: Iiris Heikka)

I'm not against it, at all. I own a mascara and a blusher. I love how bright red lipstick can instantly lift your mood. I fiercely advocate for all women, men and everyone in between to do exactly as they please with their faces.

But when a certain type of behaviour is only expected from about 51% of the population, and they all happen to be women, I start to wonder whether it's more about necessity than pleasure?

If priming your skin, applying foundation, covering spots and circles, contouring cheekbones, dusting translucent powder on your t-zone, priming eyelids, shadowing eyelids, highlighting eyelids, evening out the eyeliner with a smudging tool, drawing eyebrows, curling lashes, sketching lip line and painting lips every god given morning is purely joyous, why aren't men doing it?


(Photo: Iiris Heikka)

Actually, could you ever even imagine men religiously preparing their faces for the outside world, with similar precision - every morning?

Me neither. Most men I know find this routine slightly amusing. And while one probably shouldn't obtain essential life skills from WikiHow, the fact that their 'Everyday Make-Up Tutorial' includes 15 steps, is indeed a little amusing.

Instead, I know too many women who still feel the need to do it before leaving the house. Women, who feel genuinely uncomfortable to be seen without make up. Fabulous, wise and confident women of all ages, who somehow feel they must earn the right for their faces to be in public.

This isn't amusing. It's terrifying.


(Photo: Iiris Heikka)

Personally, I'm terrified of losing the habit of carelessly rushing back to work after a lunchtime spin class and a hasty shower, or have that extra 20 minutes in bed in the morning. I'm terrified of experiencing the Jekyll and Hyde moment every day (I'm still traumatised). I'm terrified of becoming terrified of facing the world without putting on a face first.

Life's short and I'm lazy.

But I'm most terrified of 51% of us not feeling it's alright to just 'be'. To take our space, speak loudly or look tired - to be heard or seen without filters. As we are, or however we want to be.

Make-up might seem like a small thing but our relationship with it represents something much more important. While lipstick is fun and sky-high cheekbones maybe even empowering, the everyday necessity for either is ancient and unfair.

It's also a cultural construct we can change.

So, Kanye, I'm looking at you. Let your new unisex make-up range bring joy to men, not pressure. And let that rub off on us women, too. Not the other way around.

Alicia Keys, I bloody love you.


(Photo: Iiris Heikka)

And you? I dare you.

If you get more pleasure from your morning make-up routine than a lie-in, brilliant - I'll shut up.

But if you would, in all honesty, rather stay in bed for that twenty minutes, I dare you: put your puffy, pale, fresh, colourful, asymmetric, blemished, gorgeous face out there, in all its naked glory.

The more we see bare female faces, the more normal they become. And maybe one day, we don't need hashtags or charity campaigns as excuses.

To top it all off, you'd be progressing a little bit of gender equality by simply lying in bed.

What's not to love.

(Iris Heikka is a Finnish photographer. She photographed sixty women for her series 'Fuck It', without make-up and retouching. The brief was simple: just do whatever you want, or 'be' however you want.)


(Photo: Iiris Heikka)


(Photo: Iiris Heikka)


(Photo: Iiris Heikka)


(Photo: Iiris Heikka)


(Photo: Iiris Heikka)