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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?

Unfortunately society poses us to look our best and me putting makeup on is just one of the many things that society has an impact on. I'm my own person and think for myself in alot of situations but living in today's society does influence my thinking and I'm sure it does alot of other people also.I also put it on because it just makes me feel better in general.

Re: Why do we put on make up?

I agree. I just recently started getting into makeup (hardcore) when I had my son. I rarely get out of the house so getting dolled up makes me feel pretty. Plus it's fun to try out new colors and products! I think I would feel sad for someone that absolutely HAD TO HAVE makeup on to feel good about themselves. However this is what the product is marketed for. Makeup isn't a new invention though I mean even Cleopatra and women before her time wore makeup, maybe it's in our DNA Smiley Wink

Re: Why do we put on make up?

Great personal insight! I enjoy reading stories and people's opinions. I understand where you're coming from with guys liking minimal to even bare faced skin. The true beauty of a woman's confidence comes out when they go bare, and IMO that's one of the main aspects that men are attracted to. A woman's confidence. People that have skin issues like acne, roscacea, uneven skin tones, scars, etc. are more prone to using makeup as a cover up, but with good cause. When I have a breakout here or there, of course I would want to treat it then cover it. Who doesn't? I think the "minimal" makeup look is very pleasant, and boyfriend approved. Let's face it, no man wants makeup smeared across his face unless he's into that sort of thing o.O Depends on one's personality with makeup. While some may like bright + bold colors, some like the neutrals, some both. It all depends on what look they're going for and what makes them who they are I suppose. It's nice to let the skin breathe from time to time though. 



Re: Why do we put on make up?

I wear makeup because I enjoy it - it makes me feel better about myself.   It is in the same category as brushing my hair and not wearing wrinkled clothes out and about.  Wearing makeup is no different than every woman out there wearing jeans that flatter her rear (everyone does the "butt check" before they buy a new pair.)  I don't think it's anti-feminist at all to do things that make you look or feel prettier.


I don't watch reality tv like the Housewives or Kardashian whatever, but I'd be willing to bet that's where the "alternative and aesthetically oriented community of individuals who take clothing and make up tremendously seriously" idea you mentioned comes from.  Some people will always have a "keeping up with the Joneses" attitude about life whether they always have to have the newest car, best clothes, or highest video game score.  The sooner you realize that it is their issue and not yours, the sooner you will stop feeling like you're conforming to unrealistic ideals. 

Re: Why do we put on make up?

To me it's more like a war paint, every day is a battle to get things done, and I find that in social situations that the makeup is a great aid, I guess you could say it adds to my "diplomacy" skill.  Besides, it's interesting to see how different items can change the face to be more open and friendly or more intimidating.


It just feels right, and it beats throwing on actual war paint with my fingers, it just seems appropriate for whatever reason, proper makeup is definitely the version accepted best by this society.  Smiley Tongue

Re: Why do we put on make up?

Love the analogy of "War paint" Smiley Happy It is very true that different makeup can really help you

Re: Why do we put on make up?

Great topic! I think this is one of those issues that there can be no real answer for, it's definitely a gray area. Makeup does serve to conform us to society's ideals and certainly can cover-up one's insecurities  But on the other hand, makeup really does become an art form and a way to express yourself.


Obviously makeup does serve to enhance your appearance to conform to notions of what is beautiful, and can nurse insecurities. We as a society and human beings are aware of and concerned with appearances, and those who say they are not, are often just trying to fool themselves.


On a more personal note, my makeup use DID stem from insecurities. As no one in my family wore makeup I didn't know much about it, and when I entered junior high, I couldn't understand why other girls had such beautiful skin and I didn't. This is when I discovered the world of makeup, and realized that  everyone else isn't actually that perfect. But after a few years makeup was less about covering up and more about self-expression. Now I like to have fun with makeup, and I actually enjoy the process of putting on makeup and find it relaxing in the morning. Because I ended up looking at my face so much and "working" on it, it actually ending up making me appreciate my appearance, and the little things that make me unique! I don't really wear makeup for others, but for me.


I find makeup tends to get a bad rap, for being a crutch for unrealistic ideals fueling insecurities, I think this is actually more on society as whole, while makeup is a tool that can be used (just like clothing etc.). I find this topic so complex and full of gray area it is really hard to come up with an answer, but I think it is best just to not judge those that don't wear makeup or those that do.Smiley Happy

Re: Why do we put on make up?

I also find that those who tend to be anti-makeup, don't truly "understand" makeup. For example when men say they like women "natural", this is not true they like women who look natural... but still have nice skin, glowing complexion, perfect hair, etc. A bit of a generalization, but you get the idea. Or sometimes I see pictures of celebrities with "no makeup", but I can see she is wearing mascara, eyebrows filled, probably with a tinted moisturizer or something. Not that these women aren't naturally gorgeous (every woman is!), but I think it just isn't realistic. And it irks me when women make a big deal about "freeing" themselves from makeup, which made them conform to ideals. If that was the reason you wore makeup you shouldn't have been wearing makeup (or that much) in the first place, and it tends to just give makeup a bad rap in general.

Re: Why do we put on make up?

Haha, I agree completely. I finally got my boyfriend to admit, after a few years, that he did also find me pretty with make up on. But I also really respect the fact that he knew that my relationship with make up was a private one... that it wasn't for him, and it wasn't for him to judge. He only jumps in when I wear neon lipstick Smiley Wink But I still wear it anyways!

But ya, I find that with other guys (my very wise love of my life excepted, in this case), they either knowingly or unknowingly gravitate to "natural" make up looks. Guys preferring a natural face is certainly mostly fictional, I think.

Re: Why do we put on make up?

I like your response! I as well had no one in the family that wore makeup when going into junior high except my mom's super dark mauve lipstick (not the look for a girl just discovering herself through makeup haha) Learning from one's own mistakes can sometimes lead a person to be better at a subject, this one being makeup. I recently discovered Sephora and the world of high end makeup products a little over a year ago. Now I'm hooked. Going thru high school with nobody to look up to as far as hair, makeup and skincare really sucked! I think it's important that the younger generation has a place to go to "experiment" with makeup and I'm glad there are forums online like this, stores that let you swatch, etc. 

Re: Why do we put on make up?

I know what you mean, the only makeup in my house was some old stuff from when I did dance when I was really young, which was super bright stuff my mom picked out.


I first learned about makeup from Carmindy (on What Not to Wear), since it was before beauty was such a big thing online. It ended up being a LOT of personal experimentation, since that was all I had then. Fortunately I tried to make my makeup look natural (of course it didn't always work out), so I wouldn't get in trouble Smiley Happy I wish there had been more resources like this forum when I was learning about makeup! (this makes me sound really old, but it was probably only about 8 years ago)

Re: Why do we put on make up?

About 8 years for me as well! Haha we're not old, we're just wiser Smiley Wink

Re: Why do we put on make up?

@SeraK I completely agree! It took many years to achieve the perfect look for myself. It takes a lot of experimentation to find what works with your skin type, your skin tone, and your personal style. So many failed attempts! (foundation in particular, is a very tricky product)


@Spyski Definitely much wiser. No more orange foundation for me!

Re: Why do we put on make up?

You know, I wish more people would talk about how much experimentation it takes to get to a suitable look! I think people tend to downplay how much work it takes to get to a "daily look," but that could totally just be me.

Re: Why do we put on make up?

What a great question to ask!


I don't wear make up every day; hardly at all, truth be told. I have no problem with admitting that for the most part I'm too lazy to wake up the x amount of time needed to prepare my face. I come from a long line of women who wear minimal, if any make up, on a regular bases as well. My mother always told me that if you took care of your skin, you won't really need to wear makeup. So, skin care is where most of my money goes.


One thing I also wanted to point out here - I'm black. A lot of the make up that's out there, I've found, when I do want to experiment, doesn't look good or match my skin tone at all, or that a lot of the looks that I see that are meant to look "naked" require a ton of steps and products to achieve it. My mom is an old school fan of Fashion Fair, and to see how cakey it is and how far off it is from the vividness of my mother's skin color was a little depressing. She's long since switched to hardly any coverage at all, but I run into the same thing if I'm looking for the lightest of coverage - everything mattes out my skin and dulls my color. 


There are things that I would like to try, but I get personally daunted at how drastic a change it would be in my daily schedule and how little it really matters. Whenever I do venture into a make up store for a consult, I'm usually often sort of "chased off" by the attitude that I shouldn't set foot in these stores without knowing everything about everything! Where do you even learn from? My husband, who is white, barely notices the few times I do manage to wear eyeliner. Since there isn't much of a difference for me, I wonder why bother. I think for me, the idea would be to create something noticeably different and appealing, but that seems counterintuitive to how I work, which is pretty low-key. I think, for me, the idea is that since I'm wearing makeup, the occasion needs to be huge and special and showstopping when it really isn't. 


Sometimes, when I look at myself in the mirror and I'm having a break out or I just look generally haggard from one too many late nights of studying, I think, "Man, I should probably do something about that," but I end up not doing it. I also can't get used to the fact that if I do choose to wear makeup, so long to actually being able to touch my face without getting brown powder or foundation everywhere. 


My experience is totally different from everyone who's posted, but I've honestly enjoyed reading what people have written. It's empowering to see why other women do it. It really seems that it's less for men and more about they feel, which is ultimately what matters! 

Re: Why do we put on make up?

I'm with you, no sense in using an unnatural makeup to cover up your beautiful skin!

Re: Why do we put on make up?

There's that, but there's also the desire to want to experiment and learn and toy and grow, like adding a new tool to your awesome arsenal! Smiley Happy 

Re: Why do we put on make up? takes more effort (restraint) to create of a natural look than a dramatic/ heavy one.

Re: Why do we put on make up?

Very good point. I believe Calvin Klein has a quote that goes along the lines of, it takes work to look natural... definitely agree with that! It way easier to go dramatic be swiping on red lipstick or a sweep of dark shadow, rather than natural.

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.  

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