Saying good-bye to make-up!

October is Free Being Me Month and here our new Communications Chair, Vera O’Riordan, writes about her experience of saying good-bye to a decade-long habit of wearing make-up:

The best way to not pollute the earth with chemical products and their plastic containers is simply not to use them at all. It was this simple philosophy, along with the restricted budget of a college student that encouraged me to kiss good-bye to a habit that spanned the breadth of my teenage years.

Fragrance Direct ( has a basic calculator where you can count up your annual spend on make-up. A research commissioned by Superdrug found that the average yearly make-up spend for a female was €332.06. Depending on your tastes, you could be spending far more than that amount. Furthermore, females between 16 and 24 spent the most money on cosmetics … shout out to our Senior Branchers: this is for you!

As a quick experiment, I did an inventory of all the cosmetic products I purchased in the past year –

Product  Quantity Cost Per Unit  
Tan 3  €    10.00  €     30.00
Foundation 2  €    50.00  €   100.00
Finishing Powder 2  €       8.00  €     16.00
Blush 1  €    20.00  €     20.00
Mascara 3  €    13.00  €     39.00
Eyebrow filler 1  €    25.00  €     25.00
Eyebrow brush 1  €    20.00  €     20.00
Baby wipes 7  €       2.00  €     14.00
Make-up remover 3  €       4.00  €     12.00
Cotton Pads 5  €       2.00  €     10.00
Moisturiser 4  €       4.00  €     16.00
Anti-wrinkle cream 1  €    30.00  €     30.00
Tanning Mitt 1  €    12.00  €     12.00
Hairspray 1  €       6.00  €        6.00
Lipstick/gloss 3  €       7.00  €     21.00
Nail Polish 1  €       4.00  €        4.00
Toner 2  €       4.00  €        8.00
       €   383.00

As you can see – the quick math guessing game came in €50 above the average spending bill of €332.06! One key discovery in my calculation was that the purchase of one make-up item led to another. You need a brush to put foundation on properly, and then to add insult to injury, you need a special make-up remover to take it off properly! With the purchase of nail polish, you need nail polish remover and cotton pads … it can all add up to real money very quickly.

The decision not to wear tan and make-up in the college party scene where I am from in Cork is almost taboo. It took spending a year attending university in California to realise how unusually excessive Irish women’s consumption of beauty products had become. In California the weather was normally too warm to wear make-up and, even on cold days, the females there had no incentive to build up the inventory to have readily available so they went without.

Mornings preparing for college were blissful – I was no longer rushing out the door, trying to catch my reflection, double-checking for an eyebrow mishap (they’re sisters, not twins)! Evenings were even better again: I no longer had nightmare moments of catching my reflection only to see that my make-up had faded or smudged oddly in the daily chaos of classes and projects and I no longer had the embarrassment of waking up after a late night with mascara smudges across my pillow and tan stains along my bed!

Ever since I decided to stop wearing make-up, the benefits of not constantly applying products to my face – only to remove them again – has led to a reduction in redness and spots from dirty make-up clogged pores. Now my everyday routine consists of simply cleansing, toning and moisturising my face and my skin has never felt healthier. So unshackle your bank account, let your skin breathe and join the many women – and nearly all the men – who have the confidence every day to go make-up free!

Bonus Question: What two Guide Laws apply to my decision to go make-up free? Hint: check out the underlined parts!