“Are you sick today?” asked a colleague at work one day. I had left home in a rush (because I had woken up late) and arrived at work in crinkled pants and barely any makeup. “No,” I replied and went about my business. A few hours later I was in the office washroom staring at myself in the mirror. It was shocking how much my skin had changed in the past five years. I was 22 back then, and when I looked into the mirror, I saw a 30-something woman stare back at me.
If your current thoughts are along the lines of “what’s the big deal about looking older?” you must know that not only was I a 22-year-old, I was also a virgin with raging hormones that were going to waste. Boys didn’t just think I was older, for some reason, most of them thought of me as an older cousin. How I wish they knew the kind of thoughts going through this older cousin’s very dirty mind.
My misery didn’t just stop there. The dark circles around my eyes were even more alarming. I usually wore foundation, kajal and lip gloss to work, but that day, I’d skipped the kajal due to lack of time. How could one product make such a big difference to how I looked? Is that how dependant I’d become on makeup to look good? It was then that I decided it was time for change.
I showed up at work the next day with just a base and lip gloss. It was a start and a step in the right direction. I got asked the same question. I replied with the same answer. It was a bit amusing how the lack of one product on my face determined my well-being and health. I felt kajal emphasized my eyes because I have small eyes. On the contrary, kajal just became a part of my personality and the lack of it made people feel that there was something missing in me. No ma’am, what’s missing in my life is a cure for my raging hormones and, more importantly, a boy.
When I went back home that day, I carried out the first part of my post-work unwinding ritual - getting rid of all the makeup. I picked up a cleansing tissue off my dresser and started to wipe all the makeup off my face. On regular days, when I’d wear kajal, the tissue would turn out black and full of soot. This time, the tissue was comparatively cleaner. It was time to step my game up.
The next day, I skipped wearing kajal again and was met with a few more alarmed expressions and concerned questions. My answer remained the same - “I am not sick.” I was simply on a makeup detox. Every day after that, I went home with less grime on my face. All the makeup would make dirt stick to my face. Moreover, not wearing kajal made my under eye area seem less shadowy and I didn’t have to bother with smudged kajal and constantly wiping it off. Over time, I started to look my age again. Not that I’m not looking forward to turning 30, they say your sex drive goes up many notches. Just that at 22, I hated the idea of boys my age thinking of me as an older cousin. I had raging hormones and I thought maybe it was my look that wasn’t cutting it with the boys.
I don’t know if any of you have experienced the same phenomenon but getting rid of makeup liberated me. I didn’t let my dependence on kajal bring me down. And now that I have stopped using it, I am completely at peace with myself. A lot of us never leave home without it, but I would seriously recommend trying that. You might get a few comments that upset you at first, but over time, you won’t feel the need for it.
Even when I go for weddings now, I only apply a light base and some lipstick. No kajal, no heavy eyeliner or mascara. The best part is that I don’t have to deal with smudging, dark circles and poking myself in the eye when I’m in a hurry. And to be honest, that’s a major win for my eyes. I kinda need them.