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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've seen black women -- usually employees at Sephora -- who add beautiful pops of bright color that highlight their beautiful dark skin. Definitely the same looks that work on light-skinned women will not work on dark-skinned women, but dark skin is such a wonderful base for so many different looks.

Re: Why do we put on make up?

I watched a makeup tutorial by pixiwoo not too long ago, and Nic put foundation on 3 different models. On the woman that had a dark skintone (45-50 in the mac foundation) Nic actually pointed out that most dark-deep skintones actually have 2 different skintones/shades to their complexion. The center of the face (middle of forehead, nose, cheeks, chin) is lighter than the outside of the face, so she actually used 2 different colored foundations on that particular skintone and it looked flawless. It covered and enhanced her natural tones without washing out her complexion by just using one color all over the face. I have fair to light skin that's the same skintone all over so I can wear just one foundation and add color to my face by using bronzer and blush. But I just thought that it was so interesting how foundation techniques differ from skintone to skintone. I would post the link but BT doesn't allow outside links.

Re: Why do we put on make up?

I've worked for Sephora since 2003, and as I've gotten older I've started wearing less and less makeup (I never take an hour to get ready anymore!). I'm turning 31 in May...I care more about taking care of my skin. I used to do makeup (mainly portfolio building stuff, some paid, but I always thought it was more worth my time to get great photos/ work with an inspiring team)...while I still love makeup, my true interest is in ingredients (which relates more to skincare).


On a daily basis I just wear Peter Thomas Roth's new CC (just a bit, to cover redness on my cheeks, a little under the eyes), YSL Bronzer and a little blush (YSL most often). And mascara. My friend makes an amazing skincare oil that complements the CC perfectly...and if I get shiny I set w/ Clinique's redness powder.


This just makes me feel awake, somewhat polished, but still very natural...I really just want to show off my skin! Totally for me, but of course I want to look attractive to my husband and presentable to my colleagues/ the world. I wear glasses now which camouflage my dark circles for the most part (which of course have gotten worse with age). The more sleep I get, less alcohol/ stress/ allergies I experience, the better I feel about my dark circles. A client of mine (back in 2001 when I was working at an Origins counter) reminded me that those of us with dark circles also have natural eye shadow-- we can get away with not wearing it.


When I did makeup for other people/ any special occasion I was a serious perfectionist, layering multiple products to get the effects I wanted, but I always kept skin looking like skin. I hate the look of heavy photoshop and plastic skin.


I also used to pluck too much and pencilled in my eyebrows. Now I don't, and I love the more natural look. I do feel that with a heavier smokey eye you should define the brows a bit, but I can't stand obviously shaped brows.


The last time I went out it honestly felt weird to have on a little more makeup...liner and and a bit of shadow and red lipstick definitely made me feel pretty/ enhanced, but it still took some getting used to.


Haha rambling also.

Re: Why do we put on make up?

And also re: male makeup v. female makeup, my absolute favorite model to work with (who is a sweetheart and true professional) was a man...we'd do high fashion looks or more natural definition, and it made me so happy that he always loved what I did.

Re: Why do we put on make up?

I put on makeup to cover my acne, redness, etc.  

Re: Why do we put on make up?

Makeup is the only artistic ability that I have, and I love trying new looks and reading about new items and beauty blogs and watching youtube tutorials/reviews etc. Its what I do for ME. Not for the world, not to impress a boy, not to look like a model in a magazine, but for me. No one pushed me into makeup, no one forced me to wear it, its something that I grew to love on my own which is one of the reasons I love it so much. I also find that when I Iook my best, I *feel* my best, and when I feel my best I feel more confident and when I have my confidence I feel like I can do anything. Smiley Very Happy





Re: Why do we put on make up?

Ya I completely agree with you.

I can actually date my return to make up to fit within that kind of narrative also. I did my undergrad in Fine Arts and continue to study Art History, but within about a year of slowing down my artistic production, I started experimenting with make up. And I know I didn't do it for my boyfriend. When he met me for the first time (3 years before I started wearing make up again) he thought I was an anarchist... 

It does make me feel sexier and more confident, but I wonder if that's because I'm conforming to an ideal of beauty or if I'm happy with my 'creation'. Y'know?

Re: Why do we put on make up?

I couldn't have worded it any better <3

Re: Why do we put on make up?

Mmmm....that was deeper than I am willing ponder, but basically, it's an industry so there is a dedicated group, but that's just a very specific/narrow population. Some people put on make up because they want to cover some imperfection (same as how some people chose to dress or act a certain way to disguise their flaws), and it's just a matter of outlet. Others, like me, chose to do it because it looks pretty/fun and I feel like it. When I first start to be obsessed with fashion/make up, I want to buy/collect everything, but then I realized that 1)I am NOT in the industry therefore does not NEED to keep up with the trend or get the newest status item now and 2) I am an escapist where whenever I encounter a difficult/depressing situation or am stressed, I can find five thousand excuse to do something else instead of dealing with the problem, so most of the time it turns into browsing every single products Sephora offers and playing around with my stash. Therefore, I now tell myself "no thanks" whenever somebody (or me) is super excited about this awesome product that I just HAVE to try, and BT is my addiction but I try to limit myself to skincare/non-ATE thread only. that was kind of rambling ish too. o.O

Re: Why do we put on make up?

You are not alone in the escapist world, m'dear! 

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