Photo: David Yeo


What I learnt from going make-up free

Hannah Banks-Walker started the day reluctantly and ended the day with a lightbulb moment

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By Hannah Banks-Walker on

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I don’t wear a great deal of make-up, but I rarely leave the house without anything on. I tend to need some concealer and bronzer or blusher just to look remotely alive, given how pale I am, and I’m totally, utterly obsessed with mascara. In fact, if you opened my make-up bag to examine the contents, you’d find hundreds – possibly even thousands – of mascaras, all tried, tested, judged and loved. So, the thought of going to work without anything on my face is daunting, to say the least. I wish it weren’t – I don’t, for one second, think that anyone needs to wear make-up but, personally, I worry I look a bit translucent without it. So, a whole work day without it will be a personal challenge.

It usually takes me about half an hour to get ready for work in the morning, give or take a hairwash. My make-up probably takes about 10 minutes usually but, this morning, that gives me some more time to play with. As I leave, all I’m wearing on my face is my usual SPF moisturiser and some tinted lip balm, which took all of seven seconds to apply. So far, I feel very satisfied with the amount of faff that’s already been cut out of my morning routine and, as I walk to the Tube, I completely forget I’m not wearing any make-up. At work, nobody so much as bats an eyelid, confirming my worst fears: I am as self-involved as I think. Or, at least, it’s true that the only person really bothered about your appearance is you.

I have a meeting in the afternoon, which is the first point in the day when I actually worry about what I look like. I reapply the lip balm and hope for the best. This time, a colleague informs me I look “fresh-faced”. This really spurs me on. I have a friend’s birthday in the evening, which heretofore I had genuinely considered avoiding (I know, I’m the worst), knowing how glamorous everyone would look. Instead, that lip balm gets another outing and, again, I’m ready to go in record timing. My friends can’t quite pinpoint what it is that’s different about me, which is both reassuring and alarming – why on earth have I been stockpiling mascaras like they’re going out of fashion?

If I’m honest, I’ve been enchained not by what others think of me but, rather, what I think of myself

The last, and probably most welcome, surprise of my day is the dawning realisation that I don’t need to arse around, taking off my make-up – I can just fall into bed as soon as I’m through the door. I do feel liberated, I have to say. I have more time, I’m actually less concerned with how I look throughout the day and I can only assume that if I spent a few more weeks without a scrap of make-up, I’ll have the skin of a goddess in no time (a girl can dream). I don’t think I’ll ever end my love affair with mascara, but I think this is something I’ll try every week. Because, really, if I’m honest, I’ve been enchained not by what others think of me but, rather, what I think of myself. And to free myself of such niggling insecurities is a very freeing thing indeed.

This blog is part of our Do The Day Differently series where we have asked writers to unfasten and liberate themselves from everyday constraints. The week is brought to you by sloggi, who are making it their mission to free women from uncomfortable bras with their new ZERO Feel range of bodywear, bras so easy to wear they feel like a "second skin". Click here to buy.


Oro dressing table, £475 & velvet cosmetic bag, £15 both available at Oliver Bonas. Methacrylate tumbler, £11.99 available at Zara Home. Container storage jar, £13 available at Twentytwentyone. Prop stylist Stephanie Iles. 

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Photo: David Yeo
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