Like many people, my fashion sense has been an important part of my identity ever since I was young. I enjoyed mixing and matching my outfits, even if it took me more time than necessary figuring out what I was going to wear. As I grew older, I craved more: I wanted to wear makeup. With countless celebrities and YouTubers who promote such usage, I was drawn into a lifestyle sparkled by makeup, beauty tutorials, and things that I wished could help me hide my insecurities.

Frustration kicked in when I wasn’t allowed to do so, at least not until much, much later. But by 18, I had already gone through 8 years of acne, a period which attacked my self-esteem constantly. Besides being the first to have acne in my grade, I was also one of the few that had it bad all throughout middle and high school. My acne is partly genetic and partly hormonal, and at that young age I couldn’t really do much besides trying out a few different (and expensive) face products.

By the time I bought my first few makeup items at 17, however, I no longer felt the need to hide my face. From then till now (at 19), I’ve only worn it during more formal events, such as parties, reunions and my music performances. Gradually, as my acne cleared and I came to the realization that – to some extent – makeup was just makeup, my focus shifted. I like how a layer of foundation, blush and eye makeup can make my face look sparkler. But washing my face off after a day of makeup, and letting my skin breathe has made me appreciate my natural face much more.

Don’t get me wrong – I still like makeup, and can’t help but eye the beauty section curiously at times, but I no longer deem them as necessary to make me look beautiful. I can feel beautiful when I sleep, eat and exercise well. I can look beautiful when I take care of my skin with a good skin care routine. I can dress nicely and style my hair in ways that can change my appearance without changing who I physically am.

But makeup? That’s the last thing on my list. I’m tired of constantly looking at people, whether on ads, TV or real life, that make us believe our skin could be better, shinier, and more ‘beautiful’ with that product. This feeling of inadequacy and dissatisfaction is an unnecessary burden, and there’s no reason why any of us have to fall into the trap if we’re happy with my our own body and self.

However, I can also see how many people delve into the makeup world because they truly enjoy it – our face is a canvas, and makeup is the tool with which we paint on it. We can make our face differently each time, an ephemeral form of art that washes out at the end of the day. It’s an aesthetic mask that you’re choosing to wear. Whether it reflects the true you or not, that’s something that only you know, after all. But as much as you mask who you are, you can never hide from yourself.

After all, true beauty comes from the inside and shines on the outside. By taking care of your body and skin, your glowing image will radiate to those around you. The way you nurture and take care of yourself shape how you feel, which in turn shapes your personality respectively. Anything and everything else is a layer that you can choose to wear, but don’t need in your life.

-Michelle

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