Bare Faced Cheek: Makeup-Free Selfies For Charity Take Internet By Storm

By Kitty | March 24 2014 | 56 Comments

Over the last few days, Facebook has become wall-to-wall makeup free selfies. You can’t move for all the bare faces staring out at you.

And I must admit that when it first started gaining traction on Irish Facebook pages, I couldn’t help rolling my eyes and thinking how pointless it was. Especially as the first ones I came across were just a photo and an update saying that they were raising awareness for cancer, but no mention of any donation or details about how to do so.

It just didn’t seem particularly helpful, as charities need money, not selfies, and it all seemed about as useful as “liking” a photo to end world hunger.


Clockwise: Síle Seoige, Katherine Jenkins, Kym Marsh, Amanda Brunker and Sadie Frost all bared their faces online.
Photos via Instagram and Twitter

However, once people started pointing out that fact, the trend had evolved within hours into a selfie accompanied by a screenshot of a text donation receipt, a simple “text PINK to 50300”, or a handy diagram that showed how to check your breasts for anything suspect.

So while the beginning of the movement wasn’t exactly ideal, these developments were something that I could definitely get on board with. According to the Irish Independent, in just 48 hours over €500,000 was raised in Ireland. And over in the UK, £2 million was raised for Cancer Research UK, despite the fact that they didn’t actually start the campaign.

The campaign has had its critics and it’s been argued that the whole notion of women being lauded as brave for going without makeup is problematic. And sure, I can see where they’re coming from, but as long as the people getting involved are donating, then I think it’s all in good fun.


Zooey Deschanel and Modern Family’s Julie Bowen makeup-free in People Magazine.
Photos via

After all, the whole “no makeup” idea is exactly the sort of thing that goes viral and is quite often used to sell magazines. We love seeing celebrities stripped back to their natural state – we’re just so accustomed to only seeing their faces after a team of makeup artists have worked their magic on them.

The selfies have also moved on to guys posting photos of themselves with a full face of slap as a way to get involved. And women who’d rather not post a photo have been sharing their text donation receipts, which is just as good as the charity is still being supported. If you think of all the money that has been raised so far, all out of a campaign that grew organically out of social media, then I’m all for the no makeup and donations movement.

In fact, here’s mine:


#nomakeup #nofilter #werkingit

Did you post a no makeup selfie online? And what do you think of the whole campaign?

To donate €4 to the Irish Cancer Society, text “PINK” to 50300, or pick up a daffodil pin on Daffodil Day, 28th March.

Beauty, Makeup, Life, Celebrity Watch , , , , , , ,

56 Replies to "Bare Faced Cheek: Makeup-Free Selfies For Charity Take Internet By Storm"

  • mummypupper says:

    Okay,I was the first person to cheer with joy for all the money raised by this initiative…..and I still am….but Holy Mother of God,they are NOT no make up selfies…….most of those ‘slebs are wearing make up…..and if they’re not then they have very shiny lips….I’m looking at you Sile Seoige and you Katherine Jenkins.

    • A says:

      Ya for a charity to raise that kind of money in a few days is just a great thing but the photos with lipgloss, mascara, lashes …. Whatever, people just look like idiots. Like how much of a gobshite would you be to try to pretend you’ve no makeup on?

  • Cici says:

    As anyone on the blather the last week will know I am starting to take serious issues with these selfies!

    A younger friend of mine who is very pretty but has very very bad skin posted up a donation text in response to her nomination last week but has been harassed and berated since for not putting up a no makeup picture – in the end last night she posted up the picture just to stop the abuse she was getting. This is vile yet some people posted underneath it saying that the harassment is justified because money is being raised for cancer.

    Another friend posted up a donation text and said here is the text but no picture and immediately got comments saying ‘post up your picture where is it’. Its getting to the stage (on my feed anyway) that your donation is not valid without an accompanying picture.

    In my opinion vilifying people and hassling people to put up a picture with no makeup on is not justified by the money it is raising for cancer.

    I also find it interesting as to why a donation text picture would not be sufficient to start this trend – it says something interesting about how nosiness/vanity/narcissism has the ability to motivate people to donate and I don’t think that overall that is a good aspect of our society.

    • EvieM says:

      I’m not a fan of the selfie either due to the attached bullying. I am delighted about all the donations though. My man had breast cancer, she got the all clear last year. I donate regularly to breast cancer research and had no intention of doing a selfie, but was tagged by someone who, like Cici’s friend above, would have made a big stinking deal about it, so I caved and did it. As for the “no makeup” thing, there’s plenty of people out there who thinking everyone else is blind and can’t see the makeup they’re wearing in the pic. Ridiculous, if you’re going to do it, do it. If not, then, well why bother. People aren’t complete idiots. It’s great to see the men getting in on it though.

      • Cici says:

        Eviem sorry I didn’t mean to completely disregard the donations it has raised and indeed I had no idea how to donate and now I know how easy it is I will do so more often. I guess my issue is more despairing of society that we can’t all be nice to each other and have some kind of donation text picture to make the thing go viral or even accept that not posting up a picture doesn’t mean that person doesn’t care about cancer awareness. I also had to find out myself how to donate – if you remember you told me how, as all the photos on my facebook just said to donate but didn’t say how. Any money raised is great – its just a pity that the nastier side of it is emerging.

      • EvieM says:

        You’ve nothing to be sorry about hun, the photos on their own with no donation and no info gave me the rage too. Between that, the people blatantly wearing makeup, and the bullying, it’s not an entirely positive endeavour. But after all that, there is great money being raised so that’s a good outcome.

    • Kitty says:

      Oh no Cici, that’s terrible. There’s no justification for bullying people and it’s awful that your friend was hassled like that. A donation text is absolutely sufficient and pretty much the whole point really, I think the selfie thing is just a hook and makes it more likely to catch on and I’ve seen people post up funny photos instead, like zombies or Ma Fratelli from the Goonies. People who berate others for not putting up a photo are missing the point entirely and clearly not real friends.

    • Clare says:

      Well said! hear hear!

  • Nurse Fancy Pants says:

    I was one of the people giving out about this to start with, purely because, like you Kitty I kept seeing just selfies with no mention of donating or how to check for lumps. That seemed completely pointless to me and actually those ones with just “here’s my no make up selfie, now it’s your turn girls!” (And that’s it) are still popping up on my timeline. I got tagged to do it and having seen how much money it’s raised I decided to do it with a screen grab of my text donation and a visual for how to check for lumps, which I would urge anyone else doing it to do the same. Otherwise it’s a bit pointless really.

  • PinkPanther says:

    Not a fan of this. Almost feels like people are using cancer as an excuse to indulge in narcissism. Most of the girls I’ve seen on facebook are defo wearing makeup and invariably use clever lighting so they look good. Get over yourselves!!

    • Aisling says:

      Sile Seoige has a full face of slap on.

      When this trend started there was no intention to raise money for charity. The UK cancer charities had to hijack the hashtag to get people to start donating and post pix of their donations.

      I like your selfie the best Kitty! Now there’s some natural beauty. In fact I think there should be a alpaca in EVERY post

      • candi says:

        yeah who does Sile think she is kidding! False eyelashes or mascara, definitely lipgloss.
        I did it cos I was nominated and I admit I took a load of selfies to get one I would be ok with posting, maybe to do with my bad photography skills and also my total inability to look natural in a photo ;)

  • ~Thalia~ says:

    I did this. Without being tagged. I also posted the receipt of my donation.
    It’s just fun and it’s raised a LOT of money for a very worthy cause.
    Anyone that harasses or bullies any of their friends into doing something they’re not comfortable with is a complete dick in my opinion and would be unfollowed/de friended quick smart.
    On the flip side personally I think anyone who has an issue with this from a feminism perspective is really scraping the bottom of the barrel for something to be bothered about and probably needs a dose of perspective.
    Well done to anyone who donated pic or no pic :)

    • miffyonline says:

      I’m the same as you, Thalia. Wasn’t tagged, donated and put up a photo and I hate photos of myself, even with full slap on! €500k + is not to be sneezed at and is an example of social media doing some good (as opposed to that awful drink tagging thing recently).

      Harmless and a good way to raise money for a deserving charity. My mum is also recovering from breast cancer and I have just had my first mammogram today.

  • ~Thalia~ says:

    Pink panther – if narcissism translates to donations though, I’m sure the Irish cancer society won’t care that their €500k donations were borne out of a sense of vanity :)

  • Andrea says:

    If the money is being raised, that is all I care about. I haven’t posted a pic but I have donated.
    Also, Kitty, just quietly, I think you have a bit of, eh, drool, hanging off your chin. It’s ok, I don’t think anyone else has noticed.

  • loulouk says:

    I did post a ‘selfie’ cringe at the word selfie its so self obsessed IMO. I have a lot of family members/friends who have been affected by cancer so would do just about anything to raise money in the hope that some day a cure might be found.

  • anez says:

    It’s a great cause, but it bothers me that people are being guilted into any part of this. These donations should come because people want to support the cause, not because they feel harassed and publicly shamed by being called out if they don’t participate. The pressure to attach a “no makeup” photo along with it is even worse, though, because there is no good cause behind that part at all, only peer pressure and bullying.

    Maybe this should be followed up by a “My Face, My Choice” campaign where people donate to an anti-bullying charity voluntarily, and encourage others to do the same (without demanding they do so), after which they can feel free to attach any kind of photo they want.

    I don’t know, I have rather stupidly strong feelings about this, because I hate seeing people use a good cause to get away with pressuring and shaming others for not participating, and especially for not participating exactly the way they’re “supposed” to. I don’t even bother wearing makeup most days, but if someone doesn’t feel comfortable showing their face without their makeup “armour”, nobody should try to harass them into doing so on the pretext of supporting a worthy cause. It cheapens the campaign, and the end result is a lot of people with a sour taste in their mouths.

    • Cici says:

      You said exactly what I thought!! I also don’t like people saying well who cares if money is being raised. Money being donated to cancer does not excuse the behaviour I’ve seen on Facebook over the last week!!

      • anez says:

        Absolutely. It is wonderful that so much has been raised, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that people have behaved very badly in doing so. No, that doesn’t reduce the value of the donations in practical terms (which is good, because every penny of that money is needed), but it does mean that people are left feeling badly, which is the exact opposite of what every charity campaign should do in terms of non-practical feeling.

        If you’re going to do a good thing, do a good thing. Don’t sully it by being horrible while doing it.

    • Carrie says:

      Anez, I have seen other cases of this bandwagon jumping too. A rumour went around a few years ago that tents were collected from the campsites after Electric Picnic and donated to charity. Whether this was true or not (and not to detract from any good that such donations might do), as an avid camper, I was taking my tent home with me after the festival. A drunk guy who saw me packing away my tent stood over me and abused me the whole time for ‘stealing from charity’. He couldn’t name the charity in question, but felt justified in giving me an earfull on their behalf!

  • Brass Neck says:

    There’s a lot of vanity and narcissism around this, and as someone who saw this sprout up early online, my conclusion is that the only reason people are even donating is because they were shamed into it by others. The first swathe of these were as useless as those stupid-ass “change your Facebook status to something incomprehensible to everyone to raise awareness for cancer” trends. But once people starting calling out the absurdity of it, the donation element had to creep in. It’s good that money is raised and all that. But to be honest this is just yet another excuse for narcissistic online self-display.

  • peachgirl says:

    Yes to donations, no to the whole “you can only be serious if you avoid all vain habits such as makeup!” The shaming of “girly” interests such as makeup, nail polish, fashion is disturbing; let people enjoy and explore whatever they like without bashing! I contribute to a few charities that are close to my heart; I wear the pink ribbon for October (and the red ribbon Dec 1st, goes without saying!) but I wear my regular face too.

    • anez says:

      I completely agree with you on how disturbing that is. Having “shallow” interests or preoccupations does not make anyone less worthwhile as a person, and to make that assumption is one of the most shallow opinions a person can hold. It’s the people doing the shaming here who should be ashamed of themselves.

  • Karen (Beating Myself Into a Dress) says:

    Like you Kitty the first few of these I saw had no mention of donations on them. Just ‘take a selfie to raise awareness’ and then lots of people posting their pic saying [paraphrasing here] ‘There you go, there’s my pic, I’ve done my bit for cancer’.

    I posted on my own Facebook page asking friends who were taking part to please consider donating along with their selfie. My Dad died from cancer last year and the help and support he got from the Hospice and the Irish Cancer Society was incredible. The night nursing alone was such a comfort to my Mam, when he was dying. I posted that people with cancer don’t want a picture of your mug, they want your cold hard cash. I think some of my friends were a bit offended by what I posted as they had been posting from a place of goodness, they wanted to help. And I get that. But awareness alone doesn’t help, money does. After I posted I saw a huge amount of my friends starting to donate along with their selfie and I thought this was amazing. The money raised is incredible and trust me, it will really really help some poor family out there.

    I didn’t post a selfie myself, not because I always need a full face of make up to get my photo taken, anyone who follows me on Twitter will have seen loads of silly pics of me pointing out my spots with a horrified expression on my face. But just because I didn’t see the point. I donated instead and actually this will be the third time this year I’ve donated to the cancer society, our family does so regularly.

    I will however be taking a selfie on March 28, Daffodil Day, of me with my Daffodil in memory of my Dad. I’ll be asking my friends to buy a Daffodil if they can at all and to take a selfie to remind others that it’s Daffodil Day.

    This is quite a long rambly comment, sorry, this issue makes me a bit emotional.

    • Cici says:

      I love daffodil day. It’s a really positive way to support. I always buy a few bunches of the fresh flowers. I don’t mind the cost as it’s for a good cause and then have lovely flowers for the day. Sorry to hear about your dad. Will buy extra this year with that in mind. The hospices do excellent work.

    • witchgirl26 says:

      Karen – sorry to hear about your dad. As I said, I lost mine 6 years ago and it still makes me emotional so don’t apologise about that. The night nurse thing is incredible isn’t it?! We would have been lost without it! I love your idea of a selfie with your daffodil too.

  • Clare says:

    I agree that it is great that’s it has raised money for cancer research and care (only after being hijacked by cancer research UK mind), but I don’t see the need for it to be gendered i.e. breast cancer, and I know that men have joined in which is great but to begin with it was very much a female orientated “campaign” . I don’t understand the point of the no make-up selfie to be honest, it seems like another way in which media reduces women’s worth to appearance only.
    Anyway, I’m not very good at articulating my thoughts on this but this article really rang true for me:
    I was one of the people who just donated and didn’t post a selfie and I have to say I didn’t get any harassment which I’m grateful for (very sorry to hear that some people’s so called friends were so mean to them for not posting one), that might have something to do with the fact that I don’t wear make-up very often anyway and I pledged to shave my head next year during shave or dye.

  • mummypupper says:

    Majella O’Donnell just posted her no make up selfie……she is an amazing woman,my heart got a little stab looking at it,I think it’s on twitter

  • *LEIGH* says:

    I was very wary of this at the start, all “selfie” pics but no mention of donations, as some of you have already said. But now it seems girls are posting the 2 pics, the selfie and the screen shot of their donation. So at least we know it’s legit. Most of my friends have done it at this stage, i was tagged to do it by my sister in law but i’m very critical of pics of myself and would never willingly let a photo go on FB of myself without any makeup so i posted my donation screen shot and a jokey-like comment about not having my ugly mug on the internet for all to see! So far, nobody has said anything bad to me about it, luckily!

  • Claire says:

    I literally just posted about this on Facebook. I’m just going to copy the text.

    My two cents on the #nomakeupselfie thing:

    Since it started I’ve thought it’s a great idea, gimmicky but money is being raised so happy days! We could all just donate all the time anyway but we don’t…so we need a hook and social media do…es that well…

    I did it, lots of people did it…grand.

    There’s a fair amount of people saying yay – money for charity but boo hiss – not awful selfies…and then other people are calling them nay-sayers…lots of opinions, and now one more – delightful! I don’t think the gripes are about the quality of the pics but more about the honesty surrounding them.

    The way I see it nobody is earning Oscars here…so nobody is obliged to ugly up for the cause. The problem for me lies in false modesty – totally does bug me when people post photos and say “Oh god, look awful, blah blah blah” when clearly they don’t (this isn’t limited to this craze – generally it’s just annoying). I don’t care if you used a professional lighting rig to sort yourself out, so long as you don’t complain about it after the fact.

    Full disclosure: I’m not inclined to post absolutely awful photos of me on the Internet – vanity thy name is Claire – so I took five pictures. One in woeful (though extremely forgiving light), two with my hair up and two with it down, then I picked the one I liked best…that’s pretty much what happens anytime I post a photo of myself – I do the whole positive image crafting thing that (I assume) we all do…and I don’t hate my pic, I wouldn’t have posted it if I did.

    In fact, I ended up wearing far less makeup then normal yesterday. My brain’s logic was “ah sure, they’ve seen me now…” and really, I felt grand. So…feeling more comfortable in my own skin – I don’t reckon that’s any bad thing…nor, I guess, is admitting that!

    This has accidentally turned into a bit of a (disjointed) rant when all I intended was a lead-in to this article. Couple of words from someone who will benefit from the cold hard cash regardless of whether you took your pic in cold harsh light.

    I thought maybe it would be worth a read for anybody rolling their eyes at their make-up less friends…

    (then I linked Emma Hannigan’s piece on – not sure etiquette re: doing that here..) Worth a google though.

  • girlnamedgrace says:

    I text the number this morning but am yet to receive a receipt of donation text….anyone else have this problem?

    • ~Thalia~ says:

      Yes, mine took almost a day to receipt. It will arrive though :)

    • Kitty says:

      Yeah, mine took a while to come through as well. I actually thought I had gotten it wrong and texted DAFF as well, in case PINK wasn’t working and ended up donating twice! Not that I minded or anything, the extra few quid is better spent going to charity than on me buying yet another Barry M nail varnish. :)

  • Gracie says:

    Disclaimer: I’m quite involved in breast cancer awareness and research, as my grandmother died of it and my mother is a survivor of it. I choose to donate directly to my choice of research organisations.

    I’m happy that so much money was raised for this cause, no matter how questionable I find the mechanics. (1) The attached bullying is ridiculous. (2) So many of the photos I’ve seen are either photoshopped or have people with make up on (Not only celebrities, but “normal” people as well). Those can go undetected so easily to the untrained eyes, causing people to think “Well sh!t! I don’t look like that w/o make up. Why don’t I look like that?”. So many people already struggle with body issues looking at the magazines with ultra photoshopped perfect-looking celebrities. This is the same thing but in a different context. I only tolerate these, as it raises money for a good cause.

  • Em says:

    I don’t like selfies as a rule, I find them vain and plain stupid. But raising money for charity can’t be a bad thing. My aunt died from breast cancer a few months ago and everyone in the house has still been really affected by it. I’d do anything to bring her back, so really a text and a picture isn’t too much to ask

    • Cici says:

      but the text and nomination is what matters not the picture..the text is the donation and the money and the nomination of other people keeps the donations going and the money coming in. The picture is really the most irrelevant part of it and for people who have bad skin or are very self conscious a picture on a social network that all their extended friends and family will see is a bit much to ask and does nothing to help the cause.

      • Em says:

        Yes the picture is irrelevant but a lot of buzz around fundraising and charity events is just that, buzz. I remember in college we had fundraising days where we allowed ourselves to be pelted with water balloons in the name of charity. Yeah it was irrelevant and had nothing to do with the charity at all but it raised money and created some buzz. Better than sitting around not doing anything at all

      • Cici says:

        The difference is that you didn’t follow people around and harass them to allow themselves to be pelted with water balloons, my issue is with the more nasty side of it such as people saying if you put up a donation ‘ oh shes too shallow I knew she wouldn’t do it’ or ‘why haven’t you done it’ or the worse thing I’ve seen which was a girl who I don’t know but a friend liked the picture who had posted up a no makeup selfie and said she was currently recovering from cancer – she looked well in the photo and was targeted for being a liar etc etc. The next photo my friend liked was a picture showing that she had a mastectomy and her scar just to prove she was a sufferer. This kind of thing is beyond ridiculous and I would argue the nastier aspect to it means that it can’t be compared to a buzz around donating.

        Additionally, the perception seems to be that if you don’t think its great you are somehow against raising money or awareness for cancer. Its possible in my opinion to be happy money is being raised but unhappy with the method.

        If there was a campaign whereby everyone donated money when they kicked someone in the shin I would think more people who come out and say the end doesn’t justify the means – however the more subtle nastiness of this campaign means that alot of people don’t see or haven’t seen the bad side of it. This doesn’t make it right as a method to raise money for a cause.

  • Sunflower Girl says:

    No one can deny that the money raised isn’t great but seriously, people who are posting with lots of make up still on, doing that who fake, oh god, I look awful…… They will be the first to go, come the revolution!

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