Thursday, September 23, 2010

No Makeup Week-- Day Four

No Makeup Week is going quite smoothly.  The world hasn’t ended and I am not a social leper.  I am learning things about myself and reading blogs about others’ experiences with makeup has been enlightening and empowering.

Part of this experiment has been to reflect on why we wear makeup.  I have mentioned earlier that I use makeup as mask to hide behind as well as something to get me noticed.  Noticed by whom?


Being a bit spazzy and socially awkward, I am always curious about what men find attractive.  So for this experiment, I went straight to the source: real live boys.

The responses I got when probing the minds of fellas this week were similar to what I have heard from every boyfriend I’ve ever had: guys prefer a girl with a simple, clean-looking face.  This has always confused me and typically, I assume that guys are lying to me make me feel better about myself.  No Makeup Week is allowing me to realize that the guys are right.  My face has so much worth and beauty without makeup.  I talked to my boyfriend, Justin, about this last night, even though I already know what he thinks.  He adores me, makeup or no.  He loves more than just my face, although he thinks my face is beautiful.

I’m a bit tired and lazy, so I’m just going to list some of the comments I got from guys.

- The general consensus amongst guys is that the thick, cakey, over-the-top makeup is so not attractive.  If a guy can feel the makeup on your face, he is not a fan.
- My boyfriend loathes lipstick.  Why?  “Because I can’t kiss you.”
- Makeup is a nice bonus for enhancing features that are already beautiful, but it is not a necessity.
- Guys seems to understand that, socially, there is a time and a place for certain makeup, like a fancy event, but wearing a full face every day seems silly.  Guys can also rationalize a woman wearing makeup when she is out at night, looking for a mate.  In a relationship, makeup is unnecessary.
- Justin mentioned feeling almost intimidated when we’re out and I have a full face of makeup on, and other guys I talked to felt similarly.  Men seem to be uncomfortable when their woman looks too good.
- A friend of mine talked about an ex-girlfriend who caked on makeup every single day.  He said that he “appreciated” the days when she went light on the makeup.
- For all the women who wake up early to put on makeup before their partner wakes up: guys really don’t care.  Seeing you without makeup isn’t going to make a man feel any different about you.
- A comment on the last post: “I prefer a girl without makeup simply because she isn’t hiding anything and to me that shows courage and i find that attractive.”

The most interesting (and touching) thing I heard in my discussions came from a member of my Forensics Team.  This is a guy who has an extremely conservative view of politics, can talk your ear off for hours about Firefly, and enjoys making anti-feminist jokes simply to get a rise out of me.  So imagine my shock when he started telling me about the women he sees at work.  He works in a shoe repair shop and most of the female clients that come in are "older."  He sees these women with their makeup caked on and their hair dyed and overdone and spending so much money on high-end clothing and shoes and he just doesn’t get it.  This is what he said that blew me away:

“I think the most beautiful thing a woman can do is to age naturally.”

I just thought that was the sweetest thing ever and I think it says a lot.  While makeup has been present in cultures all over the globe for an inconceivably long time, men love what is natural about a woman.  Yes, makeup can enhance the beauty of a woman’s face, but a man who has feelings for that woman sees through the makeup.  He knows the beautiful, vibrant creature underneath the powder and the lip gloss.  He doesn’t need the makeup to remind him to love her; she does that all on her own.

 Justin and I, love love love

For more factual information about the male perception of makeup, check out Rachel Rabbit White’s chat with an evolutionary psychologist.


  1. I totally agree with the lipstick comment. I am so (visibly) disappointed whenever Rachel wear's lipstick when we go out. No kissing...what a bum out.

    Also, women totally think men are lying to them. It took over a year for me to convince Rachel that I really do think she is (perhaps most?) beautiful fresh faced first thing in the morning. Why do you think nobody believes us? is it because it is so counter intuitive to hear that it just sounds like crazy talk?

    One of the biggest ah ha moments for me to come out of this project has been helping to upload the image gallery and observing that not only are all the women great looking, but that they are all so unique looking! Make up, even the more extreme looks, makes women all kind of look the same... i just really enjoy thinking about that so I thought i'd share.

    love the new blog, keep up the good work :-)

  2. honestly? I think women wear makeup more to impress other women. I know I don't care if my bf sees me without makeup, but I feel like if other girls see me looking "rough" then I'll feel terrible. I wear more makeup to hang out with my friends than to go on a date. idk what it means, but I'm fascinated by this whole thing, and I admire you for being cool with your natural badass self.

  3. My mother never leaves the house without putting her face on, and, even though I never learned how to apply make-up, I get it. After all, it's not like I leave my house without putting a face on too. My version doesn't happen to require the application of cosmetics, but it's the same concept.

  4. Laura- I totally agree that there is definitely a sort of competetive element to wearing makeup. Like, having the best makeup and looking the prettiest makes you the alpha female in the room. It's totally primal and animalistic.

    Gwenn- LOVE the comment that "putting on a face" doesn't have to include makeup. We definitely all do that, I think, to some extent without even realizing it.

    And, as always, thank to all for reading and commenting. :-)

  5. I really agree with Laura that often makeup, like fashion, is more to impress other women - certainly in situations like the office. Like you say, subtly enhancing your features using makeup can be appealing to men (probably because that's how they're used to seeing women marked as desirable!) but I think most men are put off by really thick makeup.

    I was talking to my boyfriend about this, and he said he finds really obvious makeup intimidating, like a physical barrier. I reckon men that do go for that look are often attracted to it because it is such an obvious 'performance' of femininity and of sexual attraction.