I Just Threw Away All My Makeup; Here’s Why

Close-up of a bunch of trash. Including banana peels, orange peels and makeup.
Yesterday I wore makeup to make a short video. The consequences reminded me of just how strongly my senses effect everything in my life.

What happened yesterday

Okay, to be fair, it wasn’t a lot of make up, because I rarely ever wear it. Usually just for the occasional special event. Over the last year, I have tried, on a few occasions, to make some videos for you about things that seem like they would be helpful or useful or interesting in regards to autism.

But I’ve had this limiting belief that I have to put on makeup to look good enough for the videos, and every time I have managed to psych myself up for it (which always took weeks, if not months), it felt awful and I hated it and didn’t like how the videos came out, so that’s why you haven’t seen any of them.

I did that again yesterday. I’ve been psyching myself up for a couple of weeks to make a particular video, and finally woke up yesterday feeling in the mood and excited and the lighting was good, so I got the camera set up and put on the makeup and made the video. Here’s what happened.

As soon as I started getting the makeup out, I could feel the tension in my body rising, I started getting snappy and irritable, and I did what I have been teaching myself for the last several years not to do; I pushed through it. Because I had a goal. I wanted this done, and a video would have to look good and it would be a permanent record of whatever I filmed.

So I made the video and then scrubbed the makeup off as best as I could, and then, as I still wanted to claw my face off, I took a shower for good measure.

But what happened next was the most important thing.

The consequences

I started editing the video, but less than 20 minutes went by before I slammed my computer shut and curled up on the couch under heavy blankets and pretty much didn’t do anything else the rest of the day. I was snappy and irritable and in a really crappy mood. Barely verbal, unable to talk most of the time. That’s how I get when I’m super stressed out. 

And then I started questioning whether all the progress I have made over the last six years was any progress at all and whether I had just hit my limit and was approaching another bout of burnout. That is my worst fear.

After a few hours of being curled up on the couch, I did some self coaching, and talked myself through The Work of Byron Katie to dispel those fears and limiting beliefs, and that helped quite a bit. Then I took another shower because I could still feel the residue of the makeup, and went to bed early. 


This morning I woke up feeling almost back to my usual self. I still need another round of scrubbing to get the rest of the make up off. If I had makeup remover, it would probably be a faster process, but since I wear make up about once a year, I never keep it around.

Anyway, this morning I woke up certain that my crappy mood yesterday was not about me hitting a wall, it wasn’t that I had reached my limit, or any of those other fears. It was the makeup. I spent the entire day fighting my sensory experience, which took so much energy out of me that I could not function. It’s been a long time since it has gotten that bad.

The thing I have learned over the last several years is just how much my sensory environment influences the rest of my life. I knew growing up that I was sensitive to lights and sounds and had strong preferences about a few other things, but I never really realized how big of a deal it was. And how much else in my life was affected.

Yesterday was a clear reminder of how strongly a small thing like makeup on my face can affect my mood and how I feel about myself and my ability to contribute to the world. Just two days ago I was excited about new projects that would take more effort from me, and feeling like I could handle them; I was even looking forward to them. And then just one hour of makeup made me start to question everything that I’ve gained over the last six years.

The future

So this morning I ritually threw out all of my make up, and I am hereby swearing off makeup permanently.

The results? Well, we’ll have to see long-term, but I highly suspect that the consequences of this are going to be a lot more videos made, new projects embarked upon, and that you will see me as I actually look, not some made-up pretend version. If that’s something that some people will have an issue with, I invite them to do The Work around their own limiting beliefs that women need makeup to be acceptable.

This is me unmasking. Both figuratively and literally. Creating a life that feels good to me and in which I have the energy to do the things I want to do. That’s worth everything to me.

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One Response

  1. That is so fantastic Heather. Good for YOU for “walking back the cat” as Martha Beck says all the way to the makeup. WELL DONE!

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Picture of Heather Cook

Heather Cook

Hi, I’m Heather. I’m an Autistic writer, advocate, and life coach, and I'm building a life I love. I help other Autistics to build their own autism-positive life. I love reading, jigsaw puzzles, just about every -ology, and Star Trek!

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