Right before the holidays, I met a girlfriend for an impromptu happy hour. She’d texted me at 4 PM asking if I could meet her at 4:30 at a nearby restaurant with a great menu of Bar Bites. I agreed. Because no matter how much I like having a plan, I know that sometimes, loving yourself means being spontaneous.

She blew in like a storm: wild-eyed, windblown, and frazzled. Before we’d even ordered appetizers, she told me how crazy things were at work. And by the time our drinks had arrived, she had confessed what a hot mess her marriage was becoming. Then she took a deep breath and asked me how I managed to look so pulled together on such short notice.

Compliments are always nice to hear so I smiled and thanked her.

But the truth was, I didn’t do anything special. I was dressed like I do most days: jeans, a simple black t-shirt, and beloved jewelry that has a sense of bling. That wasn’t it, though. Still, do you want to know my secret for looking pulled together at the last minute? My favorite lipstick: Scarlet Spell by Charlotte Tilbury. A nice pop of color on my lips always gives me a boost of confidence.

Then she tilted her head and asked why, since I work at home, I bother wearing with makeup.

“Unless there are students in the building, I don’t bother with makeup to the office. And I sure don’t bother when I work from home. No one sees me.” She’s a corporate trainer that does week-long intensive classes for professionals.

I took a good look at my friend. Really looked in her eyes and saw the emotional chaos behind her frayed edges. Then I told her the lesson I had to learn the hard way about myself.

“I know no one else sees me on an average day. But I see me.”

I’ve worked exclusively from home for the last decade. And I know that it can seem easier to just throw on some sweats and go about my day. I’ve tried that approach before. And you want to know what suffers? My productivity. But what really suffers is my confidence and my own self-worth. So, when I go into the bathroom or pass any shiny surface, if the woman looking back at me has taken a tiny bit of effort  in her appearance, I feel better about myself.

I was brought up to never leave the house without makeup or clean underwear, yet it isn’t just my old-fashioned southern upbringing that comes into play. There’s a lot of research behind why putting on your makeup can be an act of loving yourself. A study by Harvard found that women who wore lipstick performed better on tests because it gave them a boost of confidence. And it isn’t just about the lipstick. A 2011 study on Neurobiology and Reward found that 90% of women felt more confident wearing perfume verses the women who don’t.

Sure, there are days when I don’t do my full makeup. But I’ve discovered my days are better when I do. Which is one of the reasons why, when it comes to my Non-Negotiable Standards for Crappy Days includes wearing my favorite perfume, real clothes, earrings, and a slash of lipstick or lip-gloss.

If you’re feel challenged in the confidence department and loving yourself, try putting on your makeup.

Yes, you read that right. In the name of loving yourself, I’m asking you to put your makeup on. Not just on days you are meeting with special clients. Or going out to on date night. On your ordinary, average days.

Before you begin to protest and tell me the dozens of reasons (aka excuses) why you don’t wear makeup on days where nothing special is happening, let’s be real here for a minute. Yes, I know that you’re busy, my dear. And, yes, I know that doing your makeup means getting up earlier, and you need your sleep. Or, you think it doesn’t matter what you look like today or tomorrow. Because, like my dear friend, no one “important” will see you.

Sweet darling, those are all excuses. I know they can seem like very logical reasons why you don’t have time. Or you may even become very sanctimonious with me thinking that I sound very anti-feminist with me telling you that you “need” makeup.

This is about loving yourself, not adhering to some external expectations of beauty from the outside world. Putting on your makeup is about taking five to ten minutes to tend yourself.

I’m not asking you to add new makeup you’d never wear. If you’re idea of putting on makeup is tinted moisturizer, mascara, and lip gloss, then that’s all I’m suggesting that you do. Or, maybe, take your game up a notch. And look at experimenting with new-to-you makeup as play.

As to time, I found that doing my entire makeup routine takes me eight minutes to ten minutes. I begin with moisturizer, eye cream, and sunscreen. And then it’s the fun stuff. I personally wear: primer, foundation, bronzer, eye-shadow, eye-liner, eyebrow gel, blush, and lipstick. (I’m not a fan of mascara.) While some days feel a little harried, I have to remind myself that I am always in choice. And I choose to love myself enough to put on my makeup most days.

Because I know that when I do this, I have a little more pep in my step. Taking that eight minutes reminds me that I am worth the love of myself.

And there’s something else, my darling, that I want you to know about loving yourself by putting on your makeup: you are invited to really look at yourself.

I know how tempting it can be to look in the mirror and criticize the woman looking back at you. The grey hairs, the age spots, the wrinkles, and the bags under your eyes. You pick yourself apart because of your weight or the way your smile just doesn’t have that same sparkle that it used to have.

What I’ve discovered after putting on my makeup day-after-day and month-after-month, is that I have begun to really like the woman in the mirror a little more each day. The time I make for putting on my makeup allows me a precious eight minutes of looking into my own eyes.

An invitation to see the brilliant, loving, and fun woman I am. And admire the woman I am becoming.

When you look in the mirror, it can be transformed into an act of loving yourself. An opportunity to to say kind things to the woman looking back at you.

If you want to find a way to love yourself and your life even a little bit more, putting on your makeup can become a haven of kindness and love to the person who will always be with you: yourself. A moment to be grateful for your life or even say some daily affirmations while gazing at the wonderful human being you are.

I have no time for negativity in my life. And neither, my darling, do you. So, do yourself a favor and put on your makeup as an act of loving yourself enough to care how you look and feel about yourself.

I have no time for negativity in my life. And neither, my darling, do you. So, do yourself a favor and put on your makeup as an act of loving yourself enough to care how you look and feel about yourself.

“You can look in the mirror and find a million things wrong with yourself. Or you can look in the mirror and think, ‘I feel good, I have my health, and I’m so blessed.’ That’s the way I choose to look at it.”
–Isla Fisher


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