What happens when you go on a date with no makeup on? For the sake of research, I went on two dates – one where I was wearing makeup and one where I was bare-faced – and here’s what happened to my self-esteem after. For some context, this is the filtered version of Sophie that guys see on my dating profile:


More from CLEO:

Dating Diaries: We Try making Perfumes For Our Dates
Dating Diaries: I Went Running With A CLEO Bachelor And Almost Died
Dating Diaries: This CLEO Bachelor Took My Breathe Away – Literally

With makeup


The prep: While I sometimes rock up to work with a bare face, I always have makeup on when I go on a date because, well, we’re all trying to project the best versions of ourselves when we meet someone new, right? I went to work with a full face – base, eyeliner, blush and lipstick – so by the time my 8pm date rolled around, I had to do a little touch-up with some concealer, and a fresh coat of blush and lipstick.

The date: It was a low-key date in a very casual setting where we had a few beers and some chit-chat. I don’t want to humblebrag, but my date realised by the end of the night that we had just been sitting there and chatting for three hours, which he said was “intense”. As luck would have it, when I called for my Uber at around 11pm, lightning struck very dramatically and the clap of thunder brought a torrential downpour with it. There was no shelter from the bar to the pickup point, so my date very helpfully suggested that we wait in his car, which was parked nearby. One mad dash later, we were both soaking wet and my mascara and eyeliner smudged. I think he definitely noticed, because he handed me tissues to dry off.

The follow-up: When I got home, I texted him “WTF, it’s completely dry in the east”. This led to a text exchange for a while, then radio silence as he went on a holiday over the long weekend. He did eventually ask about a second date after he got back.


Without makeup


The prep: A wise man once told me that if a guy doesn’t like you, it won’t matter if you have makeup on. Conversely, if a guy likes you, having no makeup on won’t make a damn difference. Unfortunately, modern love is all about first impressions and actually looking like your profile pictures. So, in a bid to not become someone else’s Tinder horror story, I masked up with eye patches and a moisturising sheet mask just before heading out. For good measure, I added a spritz of facial mist too.

The date: Phew, my date recognised me immediately – although it might have something to do with my distinctly coloured hair rather than an actual resemblance to my filtered pictures. Still, he didn’t seem too shocked when he first laid eyes on me, so I took that as a good sign. We spent most of the date in a darkened theatre, which was a relief. I might have been a little self-conscious at the start of the date, but after the movie was over and I stepped into the light once more in all my bare-faced glory, I was surprised to find that all of that had dissipated.

The follow-up: Considering there wasn’t much spark during our date, I half-expected him to ghost. But surprise, surprise – he texted me again soon after. No word on that second date, but it’s nice to know my no-makeup face didn’t send anyone running. Still, curiosity got the better of me and I asked if he noticed that I had zero makeup on. “Erm, nope?” was the reply.