I don’t know about you, but I prefer to put on my face before facing the world – don’t want to scare babies and small animals.
It’s a sight for sore eyes – a look that we strictly reserve for the viewing (dis)pleasure of our nearest and dearest, only.
But now, photos of women wearing their ‘first thing in the morning faces’ have become the unlikely hit of a new online project, calling for bare-faced honesty at the most ruffled, unkempt and unprepared time of the day. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the results of XO Jane’s Show Us Your Morning Faces project are refreshingly candid: No Photoshop, no layers of disguise, no perfectly straightened hair or black-bag lightening concealer. From blotchy cheeks to half-closed eyes, greasy hair and pimply chins – it’s all laid bare in the series of 75 photos of the brave women and men.
Each is accompanied by a short, self-penned introduction to the rise-and-shine subject’s life, including who they are, their location and what they did the night before. It makes for compulsive reading – a people-watcher’s gallery of unhurried, unpolished and unaffected life, with pictures sent from across the U.S., Canada and the UK.
Rachel McPhadden, from Chicago, writes: ‘Today I obvs have to wash my hair, but I will leave the house with wet, combed hair in a heartbeat. My make-up is a two-minute deal, most days I leave without it. *I will note this is about the fourth pic I took because I couldn’t hold my eyes open in the first three. Also, I thought I was smiling in this picture. And roots, I know.’
Another, Dana, says she got up at 7:40, ‘after a futile half-hour of trying to fall back asleep. Had to get out of bed for the pic since my room was dark and el boyfriend was still snoozin’. (I did attempt to take a pic in bed with the flash, but I couldn’t keep my eyes open in even one of them.)’
There is a notable absence of smiles, absolutely no hair-dos – besides the ubiquitous bed heads – and a large proportion of grumpy expressions. An unimpressed-looking Leah – snapped at 6:30 am in Dallas/Fort Worth takes a side-ways snap while Sinnae wins our award for best morning hair. She writes that as a glassblower, she ‘crashed early because [she] spent the whole afternoon in the hotshop.’ She goes on: ‘I didn’t even shower. I’m covered in salt crystals from sweating.’
Julie, who says that she has two daughters and lives outside of Boston, says: ‘It takes me verrry little time to get ready in the morning, mainly because I put such little effort into it. I save my coiffing for the weekends. ;) I can be ready in 15 minutes. That said, I have never gone to work without make up on in my life. You can take the girl out of the South, but … I’m turning 41 years old next month. I look it in this picture. I might be getting too old for long hair? But probably not.’
It all makes a change from the made-up clad girl we see so often on TV and in magazines – not to mention on lifestyle and beauty blogs the world over – and gives a glimpse into very private worlds.
The series of photos is the brainchild of the lifestyle site’s Jane Pratt, former editor of Jane magazine. As an introduction to the Show Us Your Morning Faces project, the editor explains the motivations behind the idea: ‘I’ve always been a big fan of the way people look. Which also means the way they look without artifice. Commonly known as ‘the natural look’ (why didn’t I just come right out and say that? oh, because people have co-opted the expression ‘the natural look’ to mean something that you used a lot of time and products to achieve, when I mean Really Actually Natural).’
After brave members of the public’s snaps flooded in, she wrote that the call-out had been a ‘solidarity/curiosity kind of thing. Truly, I wanted to see how beautiful you are just as you are. And guess what? You are!!’
The site’s staff have even been involved in the bare-all experiment – with photos charting the team’s daily start from around 6am to close to 10am. Descriptions of their usual make-up routines are included with the frank and light-hearted shots.
XO Jane are champions of the ‘makeunder’ – as first brought the world by its predecessor, Jane magazine – a series of makeovers that re-imagines celebrities without their warpaint.
The results are stunning – from a naturally gorgeous cardigan-clad Sammi Sweetheart from Jersey Shore to the edgy, street style of a T-shirted Tinsley Mortimer, the famous girls look fresh-faced and beautiful without the layers of flash-bulb-ready foundation and eye liner we are so used to seeing.
I love how a bit of make-up can make me feel and look good. But don’t you also love the honesty of this idea?
Written by Daisy Dumas and Tamara Abraham, this article originally appeared in the Daily Mail