Last week, I read an article about French women: an article that discussed their natural beauty, their confidence, the general allure that makes them so attractive. While I love the concept of natural beauty, I have many doubts about those that we bestow the title upon.

Inner beauty aside, we usually consider someone a natural beauty when she doesn’t have to wear tons of make-up, when she looks younger than her natural years without looking “fake.” Her skin looks flawless with no caked-on foundation, she exudes that “girl-next-door” look. But as I’ve found over the past month, having skin that looks so good sans make-up is work in and of itself. Yes, I can see definite improvement since I began the 90 Day Challenge. My make-up goes on much more smoothly and I seem to use less of it, not to mention the random compliments I’ll get from people who know me. Week after week people will squint at my face and say “you know, your skin really does look great.”

And it does, no doubt. I can even go out on a Saturday afternoon errand-running mission without foundation. I look…natural. Oh, but the work involved in looking so natural! Aside from the nightly routine, I’m getting chemical peels and trying to stay out of the sun. So while it’s nice that I have a natural look, it’s no more natural than the deep red lipstick I used to live and die by.

And where, exactly, do you draw the line in the natural/fake debate? Many of us curl or straighten our hair, shave or laser our legs, apply deodorant and perfume, scrub and exfoliate and polish and pluck….truly, in the search for beauty and attractiveness, does anyone really prefer “natural?” Or is it just the illusion of natural beauty that proves good enough?

For myself, I’m ok knowing that it’s not easy, that I don’t wake up looking ready for the day. It takes a little effort to get my hair the way I like it and my skin feeling smooth. And that’s fine, because it makes ME happy. And in the end, I think being HAPPY with myself is the key. After all, the French are confident too, right?

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