My Boyfriend Has No Idea How Much Effort Goes Into Looking ‘Effortless’

My boyfriend has no idea my 'effortless' beauty takes a ton of effort.

The first time my boyfriend of two years spent the night, I woke up at 7 am consumed with fear that the man beside me would see my makeup-less face and run for the hills. Having not been blessed with anything close to flawless skin I feared his reaction to the torrent of bumps, blotches and acne scars that was my face. So, just like an all-too familiar romantic comedy scene, I snuck out from under his arms and gathered the necessary tools to hopefully transform from groggy, baggy-eyed earwig to “I woke up like this” effortless goddess.

The goal wasn’t to look like I had ever left the sheets but rather that I was just naturally good looking, even after a night of little to no sleep (insert winky emoji).

I started with a primer infused with shimmer to replace the glow that had long been drained from my pores by dint of no exposure to sunlight. Then, to cover the mini volcanoes and craters on my cheeks, I layered on bb cream. I covered the ever-persistent why-won’t-you-go-away black circles under my eyes with concealer and a touch of white eye shadow. And after, for that perfectly flushed, rosy glow I brushed on blush from the apples of my cheeks to my ears. I curled my eyelashes but skipped on the mascara, as even I couldn’t convince myself that what mascara did for my eyelashes looked natural.

My hair, which was doing all the wrong types of post-sleep things things, was flat on one side and frizzy. Contrary to what the name suggests, that perfectly full, tousled hairstyle seen on the likes of models and style icons and playfully coined “bed head,” is not achieved by waking up and walking out the door. Rather, it took brushing my hair through then using a concoction of salt spray and dry shampoo to make it look anything even remotely comparable to the likes of Kate Moss’ or Alexa Chung’s sexy styles.

After a spritz of perfume and a swipe of lip balm I returned to my room and carefully slipped back under the weight of his arm, my hair artfully naturally fanned across the pillow. And sure enough, he woke up an hour later and told me I looked beautiful…he even said he loved how I looked “without makeup on.”

We’ve been together for almost two years now. And still to this day he swears he can’t tell the difference between my face with makeup and sans makeup, despite my having long retired the habit of creeping to the bathroom in the morning. However, now I often find his obliviousness to the effort I put into getting ready to be frustrating. Sweet, yes, but a little frustrating all the same.

How can I look the same pre-date night as I do post-shower, do you not see how much bigger my eyes look and how much smaller my pores are? (Like I no longer resemble an earwig, can we acknowledge my return to humanity?) Just the other day I prodded for a compliment on my blowout for twenty minutes to no avail. When I finally pointed it out, he said that although my hair looked pretty, it always looked pretty in its big messy kind of way and that he saw no difference.

For a moment, I found that kind of irritating (I just spent $45 on something he didn’t even notice), but then I realized two things: all the makeup and the hair curling and the brow plucking, that is all for me. Those are things that make me feel more confident and more attractive. I could roll out of bed and leave my house without touching my face or hair, and I do–just ask the baristas at the Starbucks on 50th and 8th–but doing my makeup and blowing out my hair are my “me moments” that make me feel better and more capable of taking on the day.

And second, didn’t I want him not to notice, just like he didn’t notice that morning two years ago? Wasn’t that the point? To look as effortless and natural as possible, like you possess that certain je ne sais quoi? So that I can say yes, “I woke up like this,” (at least the second time.)

You can reach this post's author, Tara Dalbow, on twitter.
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    • Lindsey Conklin

      I really love this! so true how it evolves as the relationship does, but in the beginning you’re so afraid to be “naked” = makeup-less. and that’s so annoying when they dont notice a new hairstyle or when youre dressed up hahaah

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    • anna

      I feel I’m lucky I got into my relationship young, and didn’t wear a lot of makeup in college. I’m going through old pictures of a road trip we took where I had zero makeup on. I forgot it all at home. And you know what? I can’t tell just by looking. I just remember forgetting it.

    • Chuck

      Blaming men for your insecurities. I wonder do women realize the efforts to maintain a six pack abdominal….effortless?!

      • red__raven

        Yes, all women think that men just naturally have six packs… because women *never* work out and therefore have no idea how difficult it is to be fit, right? *rolls eyes* Thanks for your inspired insight into this article, Chuck.

      • Chuck

        Yet, women seem to think the same about women appearance. When will we stop holding the entire gender accountable for the few ignorance. P.s., you’re welcome. I can eye roll too.

      • Nerdy Lucy

        “all the makeup and the hair curling and the brow plucking, that is all for me.”

        If, by the end, she says that it’s all for her, how is she blaming men for her insecurities?

      • Chuck

        Then, what’s the premise of the article? Why is her boyfriend mentioned multiple times? If its only about her?

      • Nerdy Lucy

        While both short and casual, it’s a multiple-dimensional piece with a self-discovery revelation. Why WOULDN’T any of that be discussed? It’s sort of the backbone for the epiphany.

      • Chuck

        Around her boyfriend for being clueless about her make-up!
        Yet, I bet she’s clueless about things about him, but no….he doesn’t notice my make-up.

      • Nerdy Lucy

        I would agree that she may be clueless about thing about him.
        I’m not sure that discredits any of this though.

        Of course, I would agree because my husband and I are still pretty clueless about things about each other, hygiene rituals included.

        I think we all have our “things.”

      • Chuck

        IMO, this would have been a better article, if she left her boyfriend out. It comes across like she’s doing all this beauty product and he is clueless. Most men pick their words wisely when it come to women weight, hair, new make-up/or lack of make-up. This goes back to my initial statement…damn if you do and damn if you don’t.

        I have a feeling if he would have said something, she’s would have over analyst his words…augment pursue. I always call selfish when you point out someone problems, but negate their problems.

      • Nerdy Lucy

        “It comes across like she’s doing all this beauty product and he is clueless.”

        I agree, but then again, I don’t really see an element of true blame. I think a statement is being made about her boyfriend’s lack of experience with such beauty products, but I don’t think it goes any further. I also see some of this as tongue in cheek.

        Is my husband clueless about beauty and hygiene rituals I do? Of course he is, but then I am equally clueless about his own rituals. I don’t think we blame each other, as there’s not really anything to blame. We simply don’t have the same experiences.

        Having said all of that, I appreciate the serious discussion. I do think you and I may simply have to agree to disagree about the element of blame and whether it’s present or not.

      • Chuck

        Agreed. Plus I don’t imagine you would write those same words about your husband. Without including things you may be clueless about.

    • Faerie

      Ha, I was just having this discussion with my boyfriend. I wear a shit tonne of make-up and he said “It doesn’t look like you are”. I was happy with that. The art of subtlety.

    • Samantha Escobar

      I’ve probably already told you this, but my ex-boyfriend used to call it “whore up” instead of makeup because I thought that would make me stop wearing it. He thought he was being progressive rather than controlling, which is sadder. So, while yours is a little oblivious sometimes about makeup and stuff, it is good that he and you are both positive about it :)