Makeup and Julia Gillard

Makeup and Julia Gillard

“750 hours over the course of her prime ministership that the most powerful woman in Australia spent having someone colour in her face”.


No Makeup Week – going without and realising a lot.


The debate between feminism and makeup is not new, but we are seeing more of an active stand against the media’s proliferation of beauty ideals that demean women. Women themselves are becoming more aware of their relationship with makeup as well. Rachel Rabbit White, freelancer and activist, started “No Makeup Week” in 2010, which saw over 500 people participate in. Women sent in photos of their bare face to the group’s Facebook page and attempted to change how they feel about not wearing makeup.

Here at FreeUp we have always advocated CHOICE, we think there are both positives and negatives to makeup wear but our primary goal is for women to self-reflect, ‘free up’ and for society to get over its archaic understandings of beauty and demeaning social constructions that judge women who don’t wear makeup. No Makeup Week and most campaigns, which encourage the same thing, do not judge women who wear makeup – that would be against what we are all about.

Feminism and makeup are often at ends with each other, some feminist ideas identify makeup as a tool of patriarchy historically. Others reclaim makeup as form of expression and empowerment. However, feminism is essentially about exploring the personal choices we make – what motivates us to make those choices? Pro make-up feminism is about understanding how makeup affects you and establishing a healthy relationship with it. In this vein, No Makeup Week sought to explore and re-assess the relationship women have with makeup.

White explains it like this, “It’s just about exploring your relationship to make-up, whether it’s through writing or taking a photo or going a day or a week without it. But, for me, wearing make-up didn’t feel like a choice. It became a ‘have to’”.

So, what else made her start ‘No Makeup Week’?

“What I don’t like about make-up is how we are expected to wear it, how toxic most of it is, and personally, that voice inside that tells me I look bad without it. And No Make-up Week is about getting curious to all of these things, even that voice! Where does this voice come from? What is it trying to do?”

And how did she go with no makeup?

“The one thing I was scared of with this experiment was going sans eye brow pencil. This week, I’ve realized it’s okay. There isn’t actually something wrong with my eyebrows. After these first three days I feel a lot more free. And actually, more attractive. Something hit me today, and it was this realization that not wearing make-up is a form of self-care. I am doing something nice for my face by not slathering it with chemicals. And with that knowledge I can look at my naked-face in the mirror and think, self-love, self-care, this is good. Rather than “argh I look awful.”

How did women who took part respond?

“It’s been positive, but not an easy experiment for most. Everyone seems really excited and upbeat, but then they will share these heart-wrenching stories about how they felt about their faces as teens and the messages they got from friends and family. I think it’s been therapeutic and freeing for many.” 

We think there is a lot to take from this message. What are your thoughts?

Fore more on White and No Makeup Week:

The Free Up team

Alternative Cosmetics – LIPS, EYES, SKIN


One of our favourite websites is, launched in 2004, they aim to protect the health of consumers and workers by securing the ‘corporate, regulatory and legislative reform necessary to eliminate dangerous chemicals from cosmetics and personal care products’. It’s a tough and long battle but they are doing a fantastic job in raising awareness and lobbying. Check them out on Facebook and Twitter. If you want to take a stand for your health, well being, and for the environment, there are simple changes and choices you can make in your beauty routine.

Here’s a handy list to make safer cosmetic choices, including natural alternatives.


Pomegranate Seeds for natural lip colour

Lots of things can have an affect on our lip health and excessively darken or lighten the pigment in our lips. A lot of the time a change in lip colour and lip health in general is due to wearing lipstick daily for a long period of time. A scrub made from pomegranate seeds is a natural alternative to healing your lips and restoring some natural colour. For a healing ointment, crush pomegranate seeds and mix them with milk – apply liberally to your lips for a few days. For a scrub, you can combine the crushed pomegranate seeds with sugar and olive oil and use the paste to gently scrub your lips.


INIKA Powder Foundation

INIKA makeup products are guaranteed to be free from harsh petrochemicals, parabens, pthalates and a lot of other nasties we’ve mentioned in previous blog posts. Half of their range is actually ‘certified organic’ and the other half is classified as ‘100% pure mineral makeup’. Plus, all their products are vegan and certified cruelty free – better for you, better for animals and better for the environment.


Organic Glam Natural Mascara

Five years in the making this mascara has organic Aloe and beeswax as well as vitamins A, E and C. At 60% organic, this mascara still curls, lengthens and conditions all in one. Great for sensitive eyes. Free Up TIP: remember, mascara is a breeding ground for bacteria, never use a bottle or brush for more than 3 months. You don’t want those germs in your eyes.

Free Up Favorite Product Tip:


A pure and organic Makeup line developed by Rose-Marie Smith which uses only the safest ingredients in all their products. Essential oils and minerals are used throughout the line, it is also Gluten, GMO,  Soy and Nano free. Plus, they don’t test on animals.

Leave us a comment for more tips and alternatives.

The Free Up team.

Tips To Avoid The Worst Products


Cosmetics sold in Australia are regulated by the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS), a division of the Department of Health and Ageing. Head to for a run-down on the chemicals, cosmetics and regulation. Here are some take-home points that you can employ to ‘Free Up’ that little bit more.

1. Just because it’s on the shelf doesn’t mean it’s safe

Consumers often trust that if a product is on the shelf, it’s safe- unfortunately this isn’t actually the case. The products that end up on our shelves still contain chemicals deemed harmful in large or small and frequent doses. Many are known carcinogens. Fortunately, many major international brands no longer contain highly hazardous chemicals (check out our favourite – the EWG cosmetics database for an extensive list).

2. Steer away from cheap cosmetics and two-dollar shops

Supermarkets, chemists and two-dollar shops all stock cosmetics made in Australia, Asia and the Middle East that contain chemicals banned or restricted in other countries. Many containing heavy metals like lead and mercury. Your best bet is to buy products from reputable sources with clear labelling and authentic, certified claims. This means cheaper products should be avoided, bargain stores and two-dollar shops cosmetics don’t always include labelling – so it’s probably best to refrain from buying your makeup and cosmetics from them.

 2. Go DIY

It’s cheaper and you know exactly what you’re putting on your skin. Homemade products made from organic and natural ingredients will also save you money and time in the long run. Head to the Daily Green for some fantastic, easy and cheap DIY home treatments.

3. Get Educated is dedicated to naming and shaming companies which haven’t signed up to the Safe Cosmetics Compact or who lie about what’s really in their products. Sign up to their newsletter or follow them on social media to be kept in the loop on what the cosmetics industry is up to. You can also join them in the fight to make our world freer and safer from chemicals intruding our everyday lives. They are taking on the big corps in the hopes of making some big, much-needed changes.

For more tips or questions, leave us a comment.

The Free Up Team

Free Up Video of the Week

Check out this interview with journalists turned activists Siobhan O’Connor and Alexandra Spunt who authored ‘No More Dirty Looks’ after discovering that they were bathing, dabbing, painting and slathering their faces and bodies (unknowingly) with chemicals every day.

“My Boss Told Me My Hair And Makeup Were Holding Me Back”


Rebecca Jane Stokes works in a corporate environment and always presents herself well at her job. Her approach to her hair and makeup is neat and minimal. One day she was called into her supervisor’s office who told her that “we have some complaints about what you’ve been doing with your face and your hair”. Rebecca’s supervisor went on to tell her that “the way in which she styled her hair and make up wasn’t indicative of someone who was concerned with moving ahead”. Rebecca was obviously reeling, “when you reduced the statement to its simplest truths, I’d been told someone at my firm didn’t think I was attractive enough to get promoted.”

“The idea that my physical appearance would be so distasteful to someone that they would potentially deny me a job that would be provide me with much-needed benefits had to be, not only morally wrong, but illegal.”

The HR office at Rebecca’s workplace informed her that her supervisor’s words were not illegal but “well-meant advice”. Against her own will Rebecca started to present herself differently at work.

“If I’d felt like I was wearing a costume to work before, now I felt like I was wearing a mask and a wig as well. My ponytail was replaced with blowouts that cost me an extra hour of sleep; my neutral makeup and glasses were replaced for my contacts and jewel tones. These were things I knew how to do, that I loved doing — but digging this deep into my beauty arsenal to go sit for eight hours? Frankly, that seemed ridiculous to me.”

But, Rebecca got the promotion.

Although, it hasn’t been without regret.  She feels as though she “worked the system” and as a result  she  “can’t shake the feeling that I got where I am by bowing to this warped way of thinking.”

“By accepting this line of thought the way I did, by not flipping the desk (and maybe also the bird) to the company I work for, was I contributing to a culture that was already problematically looks-obsessed?”

Seeing as this would never happen to a man in the office – obviously they aren’t expected to wear makeup (a suit is enough) – this is quite obviously discrimination.

Do you think how you present yourself in the workplace signifies your commitment to the job?

Does not wearing makeup or having perfect hair affect your job prospects?

Have you or someone you know had a similar experience?

Share with us – comment below.

Rebecca’s story at:

4 Great Reasons To Free Up – Part 2


1. More Free Time

The average woman spends 20 minutes applying makeup every day and some even spend up to one hour every morning on their beauty routine. Most don’t enjoy it or feel as though it is a chore. Just think of all the other things you could spend that time doing, that you enjoy and will be more meaningful to your health and life in the long run. Sleeping-in comes to mind!

2. Money

The average woman spends around $300 a year on makeup. If you’re buying ‘cheap’ cosmetics then these are usually poorer quality and contain more nasty ingredients. You could save quite a bit of money each year and buy some great alternative cosmetics, here’s a great list: ( or just spend it on something else.

 3. Animals/Environment

Many cosmetics don’t carry the tag “no animal testing” here is a list of companies that DO test on animals:, (including, Estee Lauder and Clinique) – we highly recommend you avoid them. A lot of common makeup products particular lip products contain animal ingredients including bee’s wax, which is extracted at a rate that is harmful to the environment and bees. Tip: try brands like Organic Wear or Ecco Bella instead.

4. Take A Stand For Women

A man has never been told that he looks “tired or sick” because he isn’t wearing makeup – because he isn’t expected to. On the other hand, society expects women to be beautiful and pleasing to look at, it shouldn’t be a shock when a woman has a bare face – it should be what it is: normal. If wearing makeup isn’t something you feel like doing, then don’t wear it. You’ll feel more content in your own skin and start to change how society understands women ‘should’ look.

We’d love your feedback so please do drop us a comment.

The Free Up team.