Would YOU show the world your morning face We challenged some of our bravest writers to do just that. So what do they think of their puffy, pillow-crinkled portraits
Would you be brave enough to show the whole world your morning face
A website, xojane.com, where women can post pictures of their pillow-creased, puffy, make-up-free morning faces has caused a stir in Britain and around the world, not least because we rarely let anyone but our nearest and dearest see us before applying a full face of make-up.
Supermodel Cindy Crawford once said: ‘I don’t wake up looking like Cindy Crawford.’ As recent pictures have shown, even A-listers such as Katy Perry and Teri Hatcher look far from glamorous au naturel.
So what chance do real women stand To find out, we challenged six of our favourite writers to bare all and reveal how these intimate and far from flattering portraits made them feel:
Daring to bare all: Jenni Murray minutes after waking up, left, and after applying make-up
Jenni Murray, 61, lives in the Peak District with her partner David and dogs Butch and Frida. She says:
Letting myself be seen like this is not something of which I make a habit. The reason, as evidenced by the photo, is blindingly obvious. My Auntie Mary taught me long ago that I should never allow anyone to clap eyes on me before cleansing, moisturising, styling my hair and applying basic make-up of eye liner, mascara and blusher.
I even prefer not to take too close a look at my morning face, usually staggering to the bathroom and into the shower before catching sight of myself in the mirror. On the strength of this picture, I fear Auntie Mary may have been right.
What I see is a cross between Jedward and a rather chubby version of rock god Alice Cooper. The hair has a life of its own and seems to want to stick out in every direction, and my eyes, usually neatly defined, have disappeared altogether, apart from the baggy, dark smudges beneath them, which reveal the inadequacy of my bedtime cleansing routine.
I have no doubt this project has merit, given our over-emphasis on perfection, but I’ve no intention of foregoing the routine that emphasises what few good points I possess. Bring on the shampoo, hairdryer, eyeliner and something to conceal those blotchy cheeks!
Liz Jones, 53, lives in Somerset. She says:
This is why I don’t live with a man. I look like a corpse that has been left too long in the hot sun. Any man unfortunate enough to wake up next to this is likely to place a mirror in front of my mouth to check for vapours.
In my head, I believe I resemble Jennifer Connolly. In reality, having looked at the photo I took on my iPhone moments after waking, I resemble a blow fish.
No one's perfect: Despite a face lift and an extensive pre-bed beauty regime, Liz Jones still hates her appearance in the morning, left
In theory, because of all my nocturnal rules and rituals, I shouldn’t look like this. I always remove make-up before I go to bed and apply three skin creams (eye, night and lip), as well as gloopy cream rubbed into hands, feet, knees and elbows.
I drink organic rainwater before I go to sleep, and am propped up by four pillows (John Lewis, top of the range), like a Victorian consumptive. This is supposed to stop me becoming puffy, as fluid should drain towards my feet.
I use only bedlinen with an 800-plus thread count: cheap sheets can be as bad for your skin as the sun because they are abrasive. I sleep with a window open, even in mid-winter, as this, too, is supposed to be good for your skin. And I lay on my back: laying on my side is bad for the filler in my face and can cause wrinkles.
Seven months ago, I had a facelift — but look at me! Blotchy skin and a mouth like an ancient tortoise: I have morphed into Ralph Fiennes in The English Patient. After the plane crash.
Take heart, all ye who believe Rachel Weisz really looks like her L’Oreal advert. No one looks like that. It’s important you know this. That is why I had this picture taken. Not to frighten small children, but to let young girls know no one’s perfect.
Lucy Cavendish, 43, lives in Oxfordshire and has four children, Raymond, 15, Leonard, nine, Jerry, seven, and Ottoline, four. She says:
Usually, I don’t look at myself in the mirror in the morning for at least an hour. I’m so busy getting the children up and making breakfast and packed lunches that I get around to looking in the mirror only once I’ve waved them off on to the school bus.
Even then, a full hour in, it’s a shock. It’s almost as if I’m looking at someone I sort of recognise but wonder if I actually know. Who is this old-looking lady with grey, greasy skin, puffy eyes and sticking-up hair Why is this woman’s face so droopy, so care-worn Why is her hair so messy
'Terrible version of me': Lucy Cavendish is shocked by her morning look, left
It’s obviously me. I can see that, but what a terrible version of me. I look ancient, twice my age. I don’t usually wear make-up and often see my face bare, so I’m aware of the tone of my skin, the bags under my eyes — but I’m shocked at how much worse it is first thing. My skin is crumpled, the pattern of the creased sheets and pillow are imprinted on my cheeks.
I know that some celebrities who have posted ‘morning’ pictures of themselves on social networking sites have found it a refreshing experience. I’m not sure if that’s true.
On the one hand, it’s great to see that celebrities don’t look fantastic all the time. On the other hand, it’s a stark reminder that, as we age, none of us look that great first thing.
Lydia Slater, 41, lives in London with her husband, two young daughters, a teenage stepson and a cat. She says:
Thank God for Brazilian blow-dries. Why My hair in my morning photo isn’t looking too bed-heady.
Before I discovered my miracle hair treatment (following a tip I heard from Jimmy Choo entrepreneur Tamara Mellon), I would have had a matted halo of frizz to contend with. So one must be thankful for small mercies.
Still, my eyes look as if I’ve gone a few rounds with Mike Tyson; my face is as featureless as a boiled egg (apart from my nose, which seems even bigger than usual); and my skin shines like a teenager’s, thanks to the heavy moisturiser I slathered on the night before.
Fresh-faced: Lydia Slater first thing, left, when she thinks she looks more real and peaceful than when she's wearing make-up, right
In this image-obsessed age, asking any 40-something woman to pose for photographs first thing without brushing her hair or putting on make-up seems to verge on sadism.
‘You’ll look like the living dead,’ prophesied a friend, kindly. ‘Don’t do it!’ But I found the morning face photographs on xojane.com oddly touching, which is why I agreed to do it myself.
And to my surprise, I don’t dislike this photo too much — which is lucky, since this is the face that stares blearily back at me from the bathroom mirror every morning.
All right, my skin is shiny, but it also has a rosy glow. My face is puffy, but my lines seem less prominent.
From the faint smile on my lips, I imagine I had a pleasant dream. Deprived of my war paint, I think I look real, peaceful — and vulnerable.
Kathryn Knight, 40, lives in London with her husband Duncan. She says:
Sadly, like most of us I don’t wake up looking like Cindy Crawford. Or even Kathryn Knight. My face starts to take shape only after a rigorous cleanse-tone-moisturise regime and a robust application of make-up.
Blaming winter: Kathryn Knight is not impressed with how she looks upon waking, left
Even then, it can be hours before my face ‘settles’ (if you don’t understand what this means, you’re under 35 or a man). I’ve found it hard to come to terms with the middle-aged reflection — hair tufted up on one side, fine lines enhanced, skin with a parchment quality to it — that greets me in the bathroom mirror in the morning.
It prompts the same ritual every day, which is formulating an excuse for why it looks that way, from ‘hungover’ and ‘I didn’t sleep very well’ to my failsafe seasonal fall-back: ‘It’s winter, when you never look your best.’
The truth, of course, is that this is just the way my face looks when I’ve woken up. Every day.
I don’t know when it happened — when my morning face became something that prompts mild dismay whenever I see it. Just that, without noticing specifically, there was clearly a tipping point when it did.
As it happens, I didn’t look my worst on the morning this picture was taken — in that I didn’t wake up with a gigantic imprint of my pillow running diagonally across my face, which happens one night in three.
But looking at this picture still makes me want to stage an emergency cosmetic intervention.
Charlotte Kemp, 39, lives with her husband Tom, 40, and three children, Amelia, nine, Beatrix, six, and Martha, two, in Kent. She says:
Usually I avoid looking at myself in the mirror until I’ve had at least two cups of tea.
In recent years, I’ve learned that there’s no point in applying make-up until gravity has drained away all the puffiness, so I put the kettle on and hope caffeine will speed things along.
In need of caffeine: Charlotte Kemp usually avoids looking at her morning face, left, until after two cups of tea
What I have absolutely no inclination to do is get a camera out. The thought of sharing my morning face with anyone other than my husband and children is horrifying.
I would never admit this to my daughters, of course. I want them to grow up to love the skin they’re in.
They’re always bemused when I insist on a quick dab of foundation and a slick of mascara before the school run. ‘But mummy, you look pretty as you are,’ they say.
But the fact is that the older I get, the more haggard I look (and feel) when I wake up. Even if I’ve slept well — and that isn’t often, as my youngest is only two — my face is puffy, my skin blotchy and my lips dry and cracked.
The puffiness doesn’t bother me so much. That usually goes by 10.15am. What I hate are the wrinkles, baggy eyes and broken veins that tell me I am the wrong side of 35. As for my crowning glory, well that seems to sprout more and more grey hairs every night and, unless I tame it with heated rollers and copious products, it’s wiry, dry and totally out of control.
Intriguingly, when I look at my morning face picture, I don’t see myself. I see my mother and it’s a stark reminder that time is pressing on.
Gone are the days when I could get dressed and face the world with only a smile and maybe a little lip gloss.
Now, I rely on a make-up bag crammed full of foundation and brighteners to take the edge off what nature gave me. My only comfort is that my husband doesn’t look so hot in the morning either. Maybe when it comes to morning faces, two’s company.
EVEN STARS DON'T SPARKLE IN THE MORNING…
Teenage dream Katy Perry first thing, left, and red carpet ready
Looking desperate: Teri Hatcher at 6am, left, and more dazzling with make-up on
Helping hand: Demi Moore shields her morning face, left, but is ready for the cameras, right