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Post in Besides Beauty

Why do we put on make up?

Sephora Beauty Talk has a really vibrant and encouraging make up, skincare and hair care community of thoughtful individuals. I've been asking myself this question as soon as it occured to me to put make up on, and I've been doing it on and off for years. And it just occured to me to pose the question the community. My regime has stabilized in the past few years, and I'm not racked with the guilt that I once was when I was in art school in Montreal, and wondered if I was participating in an anti-feminist attempt to conform to an unrealistic ideal for female beauty that disempowers us.

I no longer feel that way, but I'm unsure as to how I feel. My friends and I regularly joke, when we shop for make up or clothing together, about how our boyfriends and husbands don't like certain things we buy and wear. We say "Yes, but this ____[insert highlighter yellow nailpolish, tangerine lipstick, black and white checkered pants, etc. here]____ is for girls, not for boys." I feel as though there is an alternative and aesthetically oriented community of individuals who take clothing and make up tremendously seriously, not because they're trying to make themselves look more like a disempowering ideal of Photoshoped beauty, but because they are a part of an alternative community that takes this seriously and competitively in the same way that one might take videogames, basketball, or politics seriously (but of course, this doesn't bar us from taking any or all of those seriously as well!).

For me, sometimes make up does become an unhealthy way of labouring over a dismorphic notion that my undereye bags are crippling. Sometimes it's a way of making myself conform to unrealistic ideals I have for how my skin or my hair should look. It does give me confidence, but does that confidence simply steel me against my own sense that I only inadequately match up to ideals of beauty that I didn't contribute to or create? More positively, I often feel that I wear make up because I enjoy it, it spices up my day in a way that isn't related to beauty or ideals or confidence, and I'm not doing it to be a more spicey sexual object, but for purely aesthetic purposes.

Well... that was rambling. What do you all think?

Re: Why do we put on make up?

I like this a lot. I think it's easy somehow to say that you wear make up because you lack confidence, but I don't think it operates that way necessarily. I don't feel like I use it to hide parts of myself. When I was at my least confident, I didn't wear make up because I didn't want to draw attention to myself, and wasn't even confident I could apply it well anyways. It exacerbated my lack of self confidence.

I feel as though, as I become more confident, I become more willing to experiment with how I look, and that includes make up. Make up is another part of my arsenal of how I play with my appearance and enjoy myself. My confidence hasn't been going up because I wear make up. I think it's the other way around...

Re: Why do we put on make up?

To keep small children from running screaming to their mothers...


Seriously, I'm 45 so I've been at this for a while.  I do not wear make-up to draw attention to myself.  I wear make-up (mostly understated/elegant/natural-type looks) so that I shine through.  I do not want my appearance - whether it's blemishes or redness or wrinkles - to be a stumbling block (either real or imagined) to someone paying attention to what is important.  (Think of when you're talking to someone and they have something green in their teeth - it's just hard to get past it!)


I worked at a shelter for abused/abandoned/neglected children for 5 years.  "Matthew" was an abused boy with cerebral palsey confined to a wheelchair.  We were having a birthday party for another resident.  Most of them had never had one before so it was normal for us to explain that you make a wish when you blow out the candles.  When we asked Matthew (trying to draw him into the party) when it's your turn, what will you ask for?  His answer:  I would wish that when people look at me, they see me, not what's wrong with me.  Broke my heart.  Changed my life. 


See me.  Hear me.  Look past my skin, past that dry patch, past that pimple and see the woman inside.  That's why I do it.

Re: Why do we put on make up?

Oh my goodness... that is a really beautiful story. I completely understand your point Smiley Happy

Re: Why do we put on make up?

Being a woman who is 50 something, there is nothing I could do to reach that perfect standard of beauty that many people buy into.  I now have a list of things that would be considered "mortal sins" against beauty.  As time has marched on I have developed fine lines and certain parts of my body live further south than they did years ago.  Skin in certain areas like my eyelids has become darker and my jawline has become a little softer.  There are other things, but we don't have to go there. I have battled health issues including cancer that have left their mark.  Still, much to my amazement, I accept and love myself more than I did when I was young and somewhat pretty.  I know who I am and I am very comfortable about being real.    I have always enjoyed  hair, makeup, fragrance, skincare, and accessories.  These things let me play up my strong points and and give me an opportunity to outwardly show some of my personality. If I need to rush out the door, I am not ashamed to walk out and not be totally made up.   I am married for 32 years and I love my husband dearly.  That said, I don't do things just to please him.  I wear what I like because it makes me happy.  When I am happy and confident that makes me more attractive to him.  I try to be the best me I can be-physically, spiritually, intellectually and socially.  If some people don't like me I can live with that because, quite frankly, I don't like everyone  either.  My wish is that young woman would accept themselves more and not waste time "wishing" they had different features. Enjoy makeup as a means of self expression, not a mask to hide what you see as your imperfections.  You are just who you are supposed to be, so be the best you that you can be!  Smiley Happy   This will give you an inner peace that translates into true beauty no matter what you look like. 

Re: Why do we put on make up?

I am 52, and just started with wearing makeup every day. I am a caretaker for my disabled husband, have been for the past 4 years, I decided that I had better figure out how to wear makeup as in today's society, no matter if you think it is right or not, first impressions can "let you in" or  "keep you out". Yesterday, the visiting nurse came to check on the husband, usually she comes first thing in the morning, but this time she arrived at 3:30. First thing she said to me was, you look great, where are you going? I told her my story, thanked her for the compliment, and it made my day. This also told me that there was a big difference between me with make up and me without! 

Just that one comment re affirmed the money I have spent, and the investment into a good lighted mirror. Now, I have to learn how to do the make up in 10 min or less Smiley Happy I am glad I made the decision to learn (btw You Tube has some great make up artists doing tutorials, try Pixiwoo)



Re: Why do we put on make up?

Fantastic! That's a wonderful story!

I also struggle with keeping my morning beauty routine down, lol. At this point, I've split it up into 'rush make up' and 'non rush make up' where there are just things I skip for one and not the other (lipstick, curling my eyelashes, etc.)

Re: Why do we put on make up?

I put on light powder and concealer, in addition to a lip tint. I've never been a make-up person. For bold lips, I reserve that for interviews and special occasions. I think the minute you go that route of putting on a full face, you have to buy more products. Ok, so you line your eyes and put mascara on. Now, you have to invest in a makeup remover or wipes. If you put on heavy foundation, you need a good primer. Wait, no. There's not just simple primer. There's eyeshadow primer. I'm 24 years old, and my biggest problem is getting my acne under control, and that alone is a boat load of money, but that's for health reasons. Of course, I totally respect those who can commit to looking flawless because it does take skills, but I'm sure the general public doesn't care if you looked like an anime character (unless it's part of your job). Bottom line? It's just a matter of priorities. Great question! I swear it feels like a women's studies and gender class!

Re: Why do we put on make up?

Lol sorry about that. I'm doing my PhD in Art History and its greatly impedes my ability to function :s lol

Re: Why do we put on make up?

It was actually refreshing to see a question from an educated perspective and not the usual product placement Q&A's. Smiley Happy

Re: Why do we put on make up?

Thanks! That's very sweet of you!

Re: Why do we put on make up?

Sometimes I feel like I'll never be pretty enough. Everything I am being sold is to cover up a problem, or make me look different from the natural me. But then I realize there are a ton of things that just say hey ladies, you're gorgeous...let's highlight that cute thing about you for the world to see. At the end of the day it's for me, not one other person. I put on makeup when I am home alone and playing videogames in sweats. It just makes ME feel good, so why not?


Re: Why do we put on make up?

That's a really interesting question to think about.


It's true that everything I buy from Sephora is for aesthetic purposes.  But for me I think it's more about enhancing what is there than it is about trying to make drastic changes.


Sure, I use undereye concealer and make an attempt to even out my skin tone, but most of the other products I use are with the intent to highlight what's there.  I don't think that that's something to feel bad about.  


Could we all live without it?  Sure.  But like another commentor said, I play around with makeup (and fashion) mostly to have fun, express myself, and highlight what I consider to be my good features.


I dont know if that really answered your question, but you definitely got me thinking about it.   Smiley Happy

Re: Why do we put on make up?

My personal opinion is that makeup should be used to enhance your features and make you feel more confident in yourself. 

Re: Why do we put on make up?

this is a very good question, for me I don't put makeup on ever day because I think that god gave you this amazing face/body and it doesn't matter what size or shape color or ethnicity god doesn't make ugly people so you should never have to feel that you have to cover up what is yours. I do wear makeup on occasions to enhance my features like glossy guru said but I don't believe in covering up and giving your self a whole new face.

Re: Why do we put on make up?

I have always put on make up, for the longest time. Never missed a day.
Even on sick days I put it on.
For me, I think I have to, I am too pale and dead looking, without it, people
would think I am zombie. I like it and well it's routine for me.
It's a necessity. Smiley Happy

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