why we need to take off our concealer

Although I’ve grown up, my skin has not. Some days, I look in the mirror and see the pimple-speckled skin of someone 10 years my junior. Acne isn’t exactly a plague for me, but it is a problem. A real, daily problem.

And so I begin every morning with a flesh-toned ritual: concealer. I’m not a big makeup girl, but concealer I apply daily and liberally. Each flaw, scar, pimple, blemish, don’t-know-where-I-got-it red mark . . . muted with that tube of concealer. I breathe a heavy sigh of relief as the redness dims and the scar fades.

In a matter of moments, that which I dislike is camouflaged with just a dab of concealer.

It’s a matter of professionalism, I tell myself. Of wanting to look like an adult worthy of the jobs I take on. Or it’s a matter of decorum, I tell myself. Of wanting to look like I care enough about where I’m headed that day.

This is not an anthem against makeup; this is not a call to surrender the mascara wands and lipstick tubes. But it is a call to quit the concealing in our relationships.

No matter the state of our faces, we all wear emotional concealer.

In our friendships, in our relationships, in our marriages, in all our connections . . . we unabashedly slap it on, layer after layer. And in doing so, we hide. We fake. We embellish. We put on this face that’s a glorified version of reality, a dressed-up, fixed-up, jazzed-up version of reality.

Nothing wrong with sharing our victories. Nothing wrong with being our best selves. But in being our best selves, have we lost our real selves?

When I fake, when I conceal, when I hide . . . I build a relationship where the other person must do so too. I build a relationship where we’re keeping up not with the Joneses, but with each other. And the heavier I layer the concealer, the less of the real me you can see.

In order to stop the concealing, we must first recognize that which we’re hiding. (And it’s easier to hide an acne scar than a full-out breakout, right, ladies?) We must acknowledge our struggles, however messy, so we can share honestly.

It’s okay to be honest. It’s admirable, good, redeeming to stop pretending we have it all together. Because, really, no one does. We’re all broken and messy; some of us just use too much concealer.

When we conceal, we do a disservice to those we love. When I conceal, I tell my sweet friend that she has to measure up to the standard I’ve set. When I conceal, I tell my newest acquaintance that he cannot be honest with me. When I conceal, I tell Mr. S. that he is not safe to share his struggles with me.

To unveil ourselves is to love our communities.

Removing the concealer — or better yet, not putting it on at all — is a daily struggle. But the first time is the hardest. And the more of ourselves we reveal, the easier it becomes. The more of ourselves we reveal, the more joyful it becomes.

There is joy in letting down our guard. There is joy in our messiest. There is joy in being our working-striving-everyday selves.

Facing conflict? Be real.
Facing brokenness? Be real.
Facing unmet expectations? Be real.
Facing dark days? Be real.
Facing illness, physical or mental? Be real.
Facing difficulty of any kind? Be real.

And don’t freeze up for fear of being Debbie Downer. In being honest, we give those who love us the chance to build us up. We give those who love us the chance to encourage us, to help us, to hug us, to say I’ve-been-there.

(Oh, and if the one you tell does not at least appreciate your honesty and your attempt to connect? Not a true friend. Period.)

In sparing the constant glamour, we can find ourselves, really find ourselves. We can identify far better with each other when we reveal what’s behind the concealer. We can identify with our communities.

For where there is imperfection and authenticity, there is connection.

Where there is imperfection and honesty, there is life.


So what are you facing these days? Can I love you through it, pray for you through it, encourage you through it? Take off your concealer.

(Photo credit: my makeup bag and concealer.)


29 thoughts on “why we need to take off our concealer

  1. Fantastic! I love this! (Hi, I’m here through “Write It, Girl”) I have been trying to live real for a while now. Honestly? My friendships have never been better! Best of all, I believe taking off our concealer brings glory to the grace of God. Thanks for the encouragement!

    • Tereasa, thank you so much for visiting! So glad to hear that you have experienced the same joy from being real in our relationships.

  2. love this “In sparing the constant glamour, we can find ourselves, really find ourselves.”

    That pursuit of constant glamour is exhausting. Why do we strive so hard?

    Thanks friend for linking up to Write It, Girl!

    • Stacey, glad to have you visit the blog today! We strive so hard and get so tired, don’t we? Maybe that’s why it’s all the more redeeming when we live genuine lives and get out from behind our masks.

  3. Yep, and amen to all of it. When women ask me what it is like to be pastors wife, I say its no different than being myself. When we are true to who we are, we are truly glorifying God. After all, He made us the way we are for a reason, well many of them. I don’t have any makeup on today and it feels great!

    • Shelly, I always appreciate your wisdom here! And I am sure that your congregation treasures you for being yourself! I’ve seen many pastors’ wives hide and that makes the ones who are genuine that much more of a treasure!

  4. This is great!! I’m so tired of the charade. Of trying to hide my own flaws, and trying to wade through everyone else’s concealer to find the truth. Here’s to living real!!

    • Amen, sister. Thanks again for visiting today! Love getting to know you through the world of blogging!

  5. This is something I struggle with all the time. I don’t want to seem like a whiner, or that I’m not appreciating all the blessings I do have, so I try to put a positive spin on everything. Sometimes though, I’m just hiding what’s really going on, and I haven’t figured out how to find the right balance.

    • Sheila, thanks for your honest thoughts here. You’ve really made me think and I want to give your comment the time it deserves. Considering a follow-up post as an answer to your comment . . . stay tuned! Grateful that you visited today!

  6. beautiful words… love this

    “For where there is imperfection and authenticity, there is connection.
    Where there is imperfection and honesty, there is life.”

    I’m in desperate need of connection and life, but so scared to be imperfect and authentic!

    • Julie Anne, thank you so much for your kind words! It is so scary to be imperfect and authentic. I find that the more I practice imperfection (and it does take practice!) in safe places, it comes naturally. Planning a follow-up piece to this soon! Stay tuned.

  7. Oh, this is good!

    “There is joy in our messiest.”

    I totally agree with this. Especially as social media tempts us to reveal only the best of ourselves, there is such freedom to be found in sharing the mess in our relationships. Of course there’s balance, and as you said, there’s nothing wrong with sharing victories, but hiding the rest builds a wall that almost prohibits the fullness of just doing life together.

  8. “And the more of ourselves we reveal, the easier it becomes.”
    I sure hope you’re right, Sarah. I’m still waiting for it to get easier.
    but am striving to not even put on the concealer…for love of community. for love of Him. for love of me….
    beautiful post. convicting words. encouraging thoughts. Thank you for this!
    All for Him,

    • Nikki, thank you. It’s tough tough tough and yet easier with some circles than others. Hoping to do a follow-up post soon . . . Grateful for your kind words and honest thoughts.

  9. “When I conceal, I tell my sweet friend that she has to measure up to the standard I’ve set.” What a great point I’ve never thought of before. Great post!

    I’m here from Write It, Girl, and just followed you on Twitter. Thanks for visiting my blog today!
    In Christ,
    Twitter: @LauraJRath

  10. Oh my goodness, I have found this to be so true! I have found such freedom in being authentic and taking off my mask this week. I never thought about how people feel like they have to live up to my standard, when really, we are all sinful. What am I gaining by concealing the truth? Nothing encouraging, that’s for sure. Thanks, Sarah!

  11. This is so good! I love it. Especially this.
    “For where there is imperfection and authenticity, there is connection.

    Where there is imperfection and honesty, there is life.”

    Keeping the concealer on seems easier and for the better but it is so exhausting to keep it on.
    Happy I found you through Write it girl!

  12. Clearly, you’re a hit today, my dear!

    This is an issue that I (“Obviously,” scoffs my now-personified blog) have been dealing with as of late. I think the big danger is that when you wear make up all the time, you start to fool yourself into thinking that it’s the real you! Then when you remember who you are without the makeup, it’s a big surprise to everyone around you. At least, that’s how it went for me for a while.

    My favorite part of your blog today is the “harsh truth,” as I shall henceforth refer to it.

    –>(Oh, and if the one you tell does not at least appreciate your honesty and your attempt to connect? Not a true friend. Period.)<–

    It's not the easiest lesson to learn (actually it's been one of the hardest ever), but it's definitely a valuable one. Thanks for loving the real me (oh, and I love the real you, too).

  13. Sarah, I really want to believe this right now. I used to. I was one of the most “confessional” people I knew. I was its biggest fan. I encouraged it in others and created a safe place for others as well. I got so badly burned recently that I don’t even know who to talk to. I’m just shutting down. Now, I’m truly struggling to believe in the benefits of vulnerability and openness. I’m just being honest:)

  14. Sarah, this is awesome. As a redhead, I have plenty of freckles–giving me plenty of temptation to smother them with concealer. 🙂

    I echo your heart in these words. I desire to live truthfully with everyone around me, and everyone in this online space, daring to live without the relational concealer.

    Awesome post.

  15. Sarah, this is so wonderful. It is simply put and offers a solid challenge for us to be real with one another. I pray Brew1024 becomes exactly that for us!

  16. An,nRmousoye your comment about balance: I agree with your sentiment but I think the mainstream media provides plenty of contrary opinion and balance. And the link to the article was there. Cheers, Haggis

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