Let's face it, as much as we pretend to our other halves that we 'barely wear any makeup', we're secretly trying really hard, and using an armory of beauty products, to get that 'natural flawless look'. So when we heard about the latest trend storming the beauty world, the Face 5:2 (yup, that's two days completely makeup free), InStyle's Beauty Assistant and resident guinea pig George Driver had to give it a go. Cue a pastey complexion, a little bit of panic and a whole lot of hoping this was worth the horrified looks from friends and loved ones. The aim? To have younger, healthier looking skin by the end of the week. Here goes…
With recent research commissioned by Escentual.com revealing that two thirds of women in the UK wear makeup everyday and thus three quarters of them get serious breakouts, I've decided avoiding my makeup bag for two days might actually be a good idea. So in a vote of overconfidence in my natural beauty, I'm committing two days in a row to braving the world barefaced.
Day one and it's off to meet my sister for Sunday brunch, Clapham style. Going makeup free, it's nothing but a slick of factor 30 and some Carmex lip balm for me. A rare (and forgiving) appearance from the sun means I'm able to cover up half my face with giant sunglasses, which might just be a god send as half of South London has descended upon the common to eat their poached eggs and avocado. Attempting to look like I might just be a bit hungover, rather than afflicted with some terrible disease, I'm slowly starting to feel liberated rather than totally gross. The weird feeling of not trying at all (somehow my hair routine got neglected as well as my makeup) is strangely empowering. This is before I spot my reflection in the coffee shop toilet which reveals a pastey, blotchy face with patchy eyebrows and eyes so small even I'm surprised I can see out of them. Damn. Naturally glowing skin may still be a little way off.
I decide to take a more active approach to baring all. Thus ensues a military operation I'm determined will make my skin glow from the inside out. A thorough cleanse with Elizabeth Arden's Skin Balancing Exfoliating Cleanser is followed by a sweep of toner to tighten my pores and a slathering of Olay's Total Effects SPF enriched day cream. As I've got a few hours to kill, I smooth on a clarifying clay mask and steam it off using a bowl of hot water and a linen cloth for good measure. As keen as I am to hibernate until the two days are up, a stroll in the sun with the boyfriend is on the cards. Not entirely convinced I look any different after my skin perfecting efforts (and in an attempt not to end up single by the end of the day) I apply a sneaky bit of Vaseline to keep my eyebrows in check and add a little shine to my lips. Surely now he'll realise how youthful and radiant I look, right? Well, no. But he also didn't recoil in horror. A semi-win I'd say, and proof that men genuinely don't notice if you're wearing MAC's latest mascara or not.
It's back to makeup and I'm feeling pretty happy about it. Saying that, my skin is clearly better for its brief beauty hiatus. All the work I put in yesterday has left my skin smoother and less blotchy meaning I'm actually wearing less foundation today than I would have before. Better skin and improved cost per use? Yes please. And the results aren't just skin deep. Having braved my own makeup free reflection for two days I've become more used to my face sans blemish concealing base which means I'm less inclined to slather it on now I'm back on the bad stuff. Instead of instantly throwing myself into a beauty binge, I'm taking a more pared back approach to my morning routine. Brushed eyebrows, mascara and a tinted moisturiser give me the same confidence boost that took an entire arsenal of products before. Turns out facing people (literally), without anyone shrieking in horror, has made me less reliant on contouring and concealer and happier in my own skin. Who knew?
So what do the experts think?
Superstar international facialist and global treatment ambassador for Liz Earle, Abigail James, reckons we're onto a winner. 'I think the 5:2 face trend is just what we all need. Makeup free for two days of the week will allow the skin to breath, have a break from cocktails of ingredients and function on its own. The skin is an organ, for example, the liver works fine, it does its job day in, day out but if we clean up our diet the liver can function more efficiently. Its exactly the same for the skin. Expect brighter, fresher, happier, more radiant skin which is what we all want. You will also find the days you do wear makeup it will feel more special rather than routine. You may even find you begin to wear less makeup as you get used to seeing your self in the day makeup free more often.'
Slightly confidence denting at first but clearer, fresher skin and a reduced reliance on your beauty kit. The Face 5:2 is here to stay!
By George Driver