Olay, What It Taught Me About Skincare and Women:

After walking in an Olay runway show sans makeup, the entirety of my body covered beneath a “SkinVisible” dress, I’m still riding an unexpected high that purportedly stems from healthy skin and the unifying energy of an eclectic, inclusive group of mighty women.

On the heels of New York Fashion Week – which is an experience replete with impenetrable cool girl cliques — my interaction with the women at Olay restored a feeling of unshakable optimism in me that I didn’t realize lain dormant.

Using three of the brand’s best-selling products, the Regenerist Whip Moisturizer, Ultimate Eye Cream and Daily Hydrating Facials, for twenty-eight consecutive days, I prepared to showcase my results alongside of eighteen other women, including, to name a few, a two-time Olympic medalist, a self-made YouTube millionaire and an NFL sports anchor.

Stripped of all makeup, hair pulled away from my face, I could’ve easily felt bare, unprotected, insecure. Although I was impressed with the results of the products, and — as such — I felt comfortable exposing my naked mug to a live audience that included reps from various media outlets, I’d never met any of the other women before. With two full days of rehearsals scheduled, and everyone other than the participants prohibited from entering the space (Olay took the initiative to protect our privacy while we changed into and out of the dresses), I didn’t know if I’d feel confident engaging with so many unfamiliar faces. Cue the feelings of gross inadequacy; cue the social anxiety.

Over the years, I’ve armed myself with a repertoire of tools that have empowered me to present my most confident self to the world and to become something of an extrovert. Without hair, makeup, or an outfit, though, and in a room full of women who were collectively so much more accomplished than me, I easily could’ve walked away from the experience feeling that old familiar pang of intensive self-loathing.

Instead, I found myself interacting with women who were deeply humble — nurturing but strong, powerful but kind; what’s more, we were all genuinely interested in getting to know one another. When I arrived for an eight-hour rehearsal on the second day, I immediately recognized the space as being a safe one.

The show itself was a tremendous success; afterwards, we ran backstage, bear hugging and celebrating one another. I’ve never felt an energy like that before. It was born from authenticity, openness and acceptance.

While I’ll always remain loyal to my trifecta of Olay products, and I’ll never forget the experience of walking in a runway show on the last day of Fashion Week, my greatest takeaway was the affirmation that woman are boundless in their power, that when we’re gentle with each other — we’re beautifully mighty.