What I learned from not wearing lipstick for a week

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A few months ago, I noticed a small, dark spot on my bottom lip. I assumed I’d bitten my lip and it was bruised. I am always hurting myself, getting bruised and having no idea how it happened. But the spot never went away. So when I was at my checkup with my doctor, I mentioned it. He referred me to a dermatologist to have it checked.

So last Tuesday afternoon, I went to the dermatology office. The doctor couldn’t be positive that it wasn’t precancerous, so he wanted to remove it. I’m not about to argue with that and agreed. After the quick procedure was finished, the nurse was telling me what to do. I need to keep Vasoline or Aquaphor on it for 10-14 days. After then, it should be healed enough that I can resume using my usual lip stuff. BUT, that also means I can’t wear lipstick for 10-14 days. (And no worries; the biopsy results came back completely benign.)

I’ve had a love affair with makeup for as long as I can remember. I once got in trouble for finding some makeup samples in the drug store and applying them all over my face when I was maybe 6. When I was in third grade, a friend brought in some of her sister’s makeup on picture day. Again, I found myself in trouble when my parents got my photos that included blue eye shadow smeared up to my eyebrows. (It was the 1980s; makeup was far from subtle back then!) So, makeup and I are old friends. I put it on daily, even when I’m not leaving the house. My mom is the same way.

I don’t necessarily feel like I’m need makeup to impress anyone, but I feel better with it on. And I think lipstick more than anything makes me feel good. I love the lipstick I use because it really does stay on all day. (Shout out to CoverGirl Outlast lipstick!) I still tend to check it out and make sure it doesn’t need a touch-up before heading off to pick up the kids from school or take them to an evening class. It’s just habit. Heck, I even wear makeup going fishing with my dad.

I maybe didn’t realize how much it was going to bother me not wearing lipstick. I was paranoid when I made a quick stop by Walmart after my appointment. Of course, that was also because the corner of my bottom lip was bright white and a bit swollen then. The next day, I took my kids to school, feeling a bit embarrassed by not having on lipstick. For almost every activity this past week, not being able to wear lipstick has crossed my mind. First Sunday at church with no lipstick. Doctor’s appointment with no lipstick. Meeting our new neighbor with no lipstick. Going to my daughter’s gymnastic class with no lipstick. Making a vlog post with no lipstick (scroll down to see my first debut on video without lipstick).

I have a bit of an issue, don’t I? And I realized whether it’s literal makeup or figurative, we all have a face we put on for the outside world. For me, it usually includes Covergirl Wine-to-Five lipstick. I haven’t stopped wearing my other makeup, but having one chink in my face has made me feel more exposed. While I feel more exposed, I’m not sure that I actually am more exposed. Nobody seems to have noticed I’m not wearing lipstick. Only my parents and husband even know about me not being able to wear lipstick. But no one has said a word. No one has gasped in horror at my lips without color on them either!

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with makeup. I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with the face we put on for the outside world. Not everyone needs to know the full us and all the details of what is going on in our lives. But, we do need to have people with whom we can take off our makeup and be our real selves. You know where I haven’t thought of not wearing lipstick? At home with my family. Hanging out with my husband and kids doesn’t have me feeling exposed. They see me without makeup. They look beyond the surface and see the real me. It also hasn’t crossed my mind when I’m spending time with God. He sees way more of me than anyone, even myself!

We need that. We need safe places to take off our faces and just relax into who we truly are with those we love and those who love us. Our families can be that safe place. God is always that safe place. What damage we can do to our relationships if we get so focused on having our faces on just right that we forget to actually connect with those who love us!

Will I go back to wearing lipstick when I’m able to? Absolutely. I enjoy it and feel better with it. Have I learned from this experience? Absolutely. Lipstick and makeup don’t define who I am. They don’t define my beauty or worth. But I will appreciate all the more the relationships I have that aren’t impacted by whether I’m wearing my makeup or have on my face for the world. I will relax and just be me — with and without lipstick.

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