The day after my latest trip to Sephora, when I was testing out my new uber-mascaraed look, my boyfriend said, “Why do you have so much makeup on? Did you have lunch with Valeria or something?”
And then we proceeded to discuss how much makeup was “too much.”
According to him, anything more than the absolute basics is too much. Which means more than one coat of mascara, definitely blush, heavy eyeliner, etc. He says that men don’t really want to see all that stuff on our faces.
I don’t think that’s true. I think makeup was created so that women could look better for men. Even though women have come a long way in terms of the choices open to us for how we can live our lives, we still wear makeup partly because we think men might be looking, and they like us to wear it even if they are modern, non-sexist men.
As our reader Rebeka says, “I could talk about this for hours. So many issues!”
I think that, for every man out there saying “no makeup”, you will find at least one or more bemoaning that his female SO isn’t doing enough to highlight their beauty. Just like there are men who are minimal in their own self-care routine (shower, shave, clip nails), there are many who are much more elaborate. So, I think it’s a matter of individual preference.
I do believe that men don’t like (or feel intimidated by) excessive “war paint” on women’s faces, and to be fair, if you like to touch or kiss someone, it’s preferable that you don’t walk away wearing part of their makeup. The funny thing is, a lot of men like the idea of a minimal look, but at the same time they don’t realize how much work that “minimal”, fresh look involves. They like the idea of us being beautiful, but have a hard time facing the reality that beauty often takes work.
This is why I think, makeup, like style, should be for you, more than anyone else. I love makeup for two reasons: it minimizes my flaws and it highlights my attractions. I never abuse it, but I use enough to maintain a polished and attractive look. It’s extremely important to know just how much makeup you can wear. Some women (especially those of lighter coloring) can get away with ridiculously little and look fantastic. Some need more color and more dramatic applications to help the makeup stand up to the quality of their features. I know for a fact that the “natural” is not my best look. Besides, my SO will see enough of my natural face at home. I like the idea of my made-up persona being slightly more colorful and enhanced than me without makeup, but (and this is important), when I wash away the makeup I don’t look different, I look the same, just more relaxed. I think this is a good comparison: think in terms of clothing colors versus body colors. Body colors (the colors of your skin, hair and eyes) will always be a bit muted, and if you wear your body colors in clothing, the effect will be restful, comfortable and soothing. Body colors in makeup equal a bare face. Now, if you wear your body colors all the time, you will be relaxed and soothed, but in the outside world, you will be at a disadvantage since you won’t be able to match the energy of it. Outside of your home, you wear color to make statements, and to support the outward movement you are making. In this case, the use of colors in clothing equals the use of makeup. You are still yourself; you are simply running in a different mode.
Generally, my husband doesn’t notice makeup unless it’s too heavy, and then he wrinkles his nose in distaste. He HATES perfume on me…calls it “toxic warfare”
There are billions of men, and they have centillions of opinions. What do YOU like? How do YOU want to look? Did you dislike your mascara before your boyfriend commented, or did he make you self-conscious? Do you dress or groom differently when you’re single than when coupled?
One boyfriend told me point blank that he preferred my face with makeup (ouch!), while another said he’d rather I didn’t wear it (tough luck, dude). We all want to look nice for our partners, and I’m always interested in feedback from mine… but no one gets to veto my style choices. Therefore, my boyfriend has seen me through several more piercings and buzz cuts than he would have preferred. Separates the men from the boys, I tell ya!
“Even though women have come a long way in terms of the choices open to us for how we can live our lives, we still wear makeup partly because we think men might be looking, and they like us to wear it even if they are modern, non-sexist men.”
I’m not sure I see it that way. I worked with all women last year, and I still felt more “polished” in makeup. Most of the time I can’t be bothered to look polished, let alone made-up…. but I’m thinking about changing that, which is why I’m suddenly fascinated by your site. The “Make It Real” challenge in particular struck a chord with me, though I came along too late to jump in.
ANYWAY! There’s also the point that not all men know a lot about makeup, and may easily mistake subtle makeup for No makeup. How many guys think they hate blush when really they hate blatant blush? How many think Angelina Jolie’s just put on a little eyeliner and dashed out the door?
My boyfriend just pointed out that time of day and occasion effect makeup’s appropriateness and appeal. He’s as analytical as I am, ha! Our conversation informed me that he likes red lipstick, which I never knew.
Ladies, I may have to write you a reply via blog post.
One of the reason’s I wrote two posts in a row about makeup is because I find it interesting. Like all style topics. Really the reason I wanted to do this blog is because I wanted to be able to discuss issues that I found interesting, and style is definitely one of them.
For the sake of finishing my post I may have come across as a little more worried about the opinions of others than I really am. I do care what my bf thinks about my makeup but I definitely am not going to change what I do because of him if I don’t agree. I was more collecting opinions about the whole thing. It’s interesting how differently people react.
“For the sake of finishing my post I may have come across as a little more worried about the opinions of others than I really am.”
Understood. One can never cover every angle of something in a mere blog post. That goes for comments, too— I hope I didn’t come off as rude; I think you and Valeria are great. Again, so many issues!
Jenny, I feel like we’re in a similar place, style-wise; wanting to present a certain bold, polished look to the world, but balking a little at the time involved or the implications of having to “fix our faces.” Or maybe that’s just me.
Also, my questions weren’t intended to be confrontational, I just want to hear you talk more about your opinions. I can’t always figure out what I like, and I worried MUCH more about style when I was single.
Not that I’ve stopped trying to look nice… but when I was single and seeking, I was afraid that if I failed to communicate my personality and interests through my appearance, the right guy would never find me.
I think these issues just require much more than a blog post or two to fully discuss. Frankly sometimes I care about looking good and sometimes I just really don’t. I wish I were consistent, but I’m not. Today I have makeup on, but it took me so long to put it on that it annoyed me, but I finished putting it all on. I guess I feel better about my look today than I do some days. Will I always put this much on? No. The thing is, I know blush makes me look younger, but…I’m not that young anymore so maybe I shouldn’t even look that young, and why do we all have to look young anyway? I don’t want to necessarily be someone I’m not. Aren’t we allowed to get old and look it? If someone over 40 (or even older) gives me a solid reason for wearing blush I may take it a little more seriously than I do when I see these young 20ish women in makeup commercials telling me I need blush. Like they need blush? The bottom line is I feel like we wear makeup to pretend we’re not aging, but we are, and we can’t stop it, so sometimes I feel like a fraud for pretending.
Basic makeup, IMO, isn’t to make us look *younger*, but to make us look healthy. (There is dramatic makeup, etc. that is a whole different story, but I’m talking about a little bit of mascara, blush, lip gloss-type look.) When we are fresh out of the shower with circulation going, or have just finished exercising – THAT’S what I want to replicate all day with my blush and lip gloss.
Oops. I seem to have clicked on the wrong reply button. That was a reply to Jenny’s last comment. 🙂
I think that our features and coloring make a big difference, as well. Lots of very fair blonde women wear black eyeliner and mascara that, frankly, makes them look way overdone. The same eye makeup on a not-quite-as-fair woman with nearly black eyelashes might be hardly noticeable.
Likewise, those with dramatic eyes can probably get away with more dramatic eye makeup without looking overdone, and those with naturally lush lips can probably draw attention to them with lip color without looking overdone as quickly.