Marissa Esquibel, LMFT

Since I started my practice, I’ve made observations with my clients who wear make-up. What I’ve found is that it’s like a battle: make-up versus therapy…and usually, therapy wins.

Here’s some context: the majority of my client are young adults, 20 and 30 somethings, who are full-time students, young professionals, and polished peeps. They come in for sessions maybe in the morning (before class/work), midday (during lunch), or in the evening (after a long day of class or work). Sometimes they come in all dolled up, other times they come in with no make-up and their #iwokeuplikethis face.

Session after session (tissue after tissue and sniffle after sniffle), I’ve concluded that clients (whether male, female, or non-binary) should not wear make-up to therapy.


It gets messed up! My clients come in and we are talking about some heavy stuff: their family of origin (meaning their nuclear family), limiting beliefs, self-hatred, etc. I’m asking thoughtful and thought-provoking questions that typically lead them to feel sad, tear up, and full on cry.

If clients have make-up on, they are then doing their best to stop the tears by fanning their eyes, wiping them away with tissues, and take deep breaths to calm themselves down. These actions are all to be avoided because that takes away from the emotion… the feeling which is of utmost importance to feel and bring awareness around in therapy. I’ve had countless clients who come in looking amazing and who leave with all those eye shadows, mascaras, blushes, lashes, and foundations wiped away.

So, if you’re going to end up with a clean face thanks to all those tears, how about not wearing make-up in the first place?

Ways around washing your face away in therapy sessions:

  1. Don’t’ wear make-up.

    To reiterate my point: it gets in the way. I’ve seen clients and also been that client who is trying their damndest not to cry in order to preserve their make-up and it doesn’t help. Feelings are meant to be felt, and tears are meant to be cried. Full disclosure: I’ll admit I was worried what my therapist would think of me without make-up…but I’m already being all vulnerable with my feelings so why not be vulnerable with my looks?

  2. Bring Kleenex.

    Your therapist likely will have some so just be aware and mindful of where tissues are located.

  3. Schedule your session according.

    Is it better for you to have therapy at the beginning of the day, during lunch, or after work? With a former therapist, I changed my schedule around slightly, so I had time after my 9am session in the morning to get ready for work afterwards. That way, I had full permission to boo-hoo cry and get all my feelings out. You can also schedule it at a time when you are able to “touch up” after before you continue on with your busy day.

  4. Speaking of touch up – bring your make-up bag with you to put on after.
  5. Make sure your therapist has a mirror.

    Or, make sure you have access to a bathroom nearby. I have a mirror right next to my office door for this specific purpose – it allows my clients to wipe away any mascara, tear trails, etc. once the session is done.

  6. Embrace your crying face and be prepared for people to say, “Oh my God. Are you okay?” for the rest of the day after you come out of therapy. It’s cool – be proud that you went to therapy and now you can show off, literally, all the hard work you are putting into it.