The “No Makeup Look” and the Morality of Makeup

Is it morally acceptable to wear makeup? If so, is it only acceptable so long as you don’t LOOK like you’re wearing makeup? Believe it or not, these deep philosophical questions seem to haunt the sleepless nights of internet trolls (and lesser mortals).

No Makeup – What is Natural Enough?

Some people prefer a completely natural appearance and wear no makeup at all. Of course, even most of these people would like to look a little “better”. So the question becomes, what is natural enough? Are you “fake” if you pluck your eyebrows? If you colour your hair? If you wear sunscreen? If you wear lip balm?

Many years ago, I recall there was an episode of Oprah where a woman shared her experience going without makeup. She explained how she never went ANYWHERE without makeup, and was terrified to go without makeup. She found the experience of going without makeup both frightening and liberating.

A lot of women DO feel that they need to wear makeup to be beautiful. And that can feel very oppressive.

But the “tyranny of the natural” isn’t that much fun, either. I don’t consider it liberating to have to rack my brain to decide if I’m being “honest enough” or “natural enough” with my appearance. Which brings us to what is most likely the biggest makeup trend of all time: the “no makeup” look.

The “No Makeup Look”

sexist makeup meme

Fear of fakery is so intense it’s become an internet meme

It’s fascinating to me just how common it is to find “no makeup look” tutorials online. Wouldn’t it be a lot easier to just…not wear makeup? But, you see, the reason the “no makeup look” is popular is because everyone wishes they could look perfect without effort. Hence the tremendous amount of effort put into looking effortless.

Of course, putting a lot of time and effort into looking like you aren’t putting time and effort is a bit…confusing.

Moreover, the anxiety both men and women have around makeup is intriguing. How much makeup should we be wearing? What flaws are acceptable to cover? Are there certain perceived flaws we shouldn’t address?

Of course, this confusion is also understandable. Either subconsciously or consciously, nobody likes feeling that a potential mate might be “fooling them” into thinking they’re more attractive than they actually are.

I also think there’s a perfectly understandable sense in which we want to know what people look like “underneath it all.” But there’s also a sense in which people WANT to be fooled (which I think explains the popularity of the “no makeup look”, especially among men).

I don’t really get into this in the video, but I would contend that many men like the “no makeup look” because it allows them (and their friends and acquaintances) to believe their partner is more desirable than they actually are, without having to go to the trouble of actually attracting a mate who is unusually attractive…which is difficult, and might require that they also be unusually attractive.

My “Makeup-Makeup” Look

I wear what I will call a “makeup -makeup” look. Of course, many days I don’t wear makeup at all. And I feel pretty great either way, which is not because I’m “woke.” It’s because I look pretty good. And that has virtually nothing to do with anything I have ever done. It is pure blind luck. I could look better, I could look worse. It is (as they say) what it is.

But if I want to wear makeup, I wear makeup. And instead of choosing makeup in natural colours, I choose makeup in unnatural colours. It’s purely my bold and colourful personality, but if I am going to put something on my face, I’d rather it be something that isn’t already there.

The result is my overt “makeup-makeup” look, which I’m very aware upsets those who prefer to see me looking naturally flawless (whether by nature or through subtle trickery). The truth? I just honestly can’t justify putting makeup on if I’m going to look exactly the way I did when I rolled out of bed.

You Are Not Your Makeup OR Your Face

You are not your face, or your makeup. (And this is where I will get all “woo” on you, so gird your loins).

Probably the most controversial point, but the one I think is most important, is that you are neither your makeup, nor your face. That’s right. YOU are not YOUR FACE.

Do you think when you roll out of bed in the morning and look in the mirror, that you’re seeing your true face?

Of course, you say. That’s my real face.

What about when you were ten years old and looked in the mirror? Was it the same face staring back at you?

Our looks change throughout our lives. If (heaven forbid) something terrible happened to you, and your face was unrecognizable, would you still be you? Would you have changed because your face did?

Of course not. Who we are doesn’t start at our epidermis. It’s easy to become fixated on our faces. Obviously we see them a lot, so it’s a natural conclusion. But, that doesn’t make it true.

One of the things I like best about makeup is that it allows me to express how I feel inside, and in a strange oxymoronic way, it prevents me from confusing my physical appearance with who I truly am. And, of course, I’m both hopelessly biased (I love colour and makeup) and already taken. So I don’t need to use my appearance to somehow attract a mate (which is a totally legitimate and very human reason for using cosmetics).

Final thoughts

As for makeup itself, the bottom line (to my way of thinking), is that, much like icing on a cake, it’s a matter of personal taste. But please, just don’t confuse anything on your face – your makeup, or even your physical face itself – for who you really are inside.

What do you think? Join the conversation!

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