[See: How Safe Are Your Cosmetics?]
Indeed, Hyde, who majored in cultural anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, had long battled beauty demons. She remembers drinking so many chocolate diet shakes that she became constipated, and breaking in a pair of uncomfortable heels by wearing them with hiking socks and jogging around a parking lot. When her baby weight didn't come off as quickly as she hoped, she wore a spandex corset for five hours a day. "I carried with me a very teenage sense of insecurity because I had been slightly overweight as a teenager," she says. "And I always had that feeling of, 'Oh, if only I could fix that, everything else would be OK.'"
Hyde and her family moved back to the United States in 2009, and today, nearly six years post-experiment, she spends about 10 minutes getting ready in the morning. Since she no longer fusses over her looks, she doesn't obsess over them, either. She enjoys dressing up sometimes and wears "fun earrings" when she goes out with friends. But that nagging voice, the self-critical one telling her she doesn't look good enough, is gone – reprogrammed through a lot of work. "It was a real catfight all the way through," she says. "It was bloody. But there was a change, and I think it had to do with writing – with actually looking at the issues underneath the beauty and thinking about them."
Now, Hyde is confident she can teach her two children, ages 6 and 3, to believe in inner beauty – she can show them by example. And she hopes other women learn from her experiment too. "I hope they get a laugh, and maybe some compassionate mindfulness," she says. "When our habits make us miserable, it's great to take a step back and look at them. Frankly, I can't say makeup is good or bad for self-esteem. It's a really personal thing. But I do think there's a power in not doing something. Sometimes things that feel like a requirement are actually choices, and those choices can be very powerful ones."