Hi, dear Readers,
How are you? Here’s all good, the sun has finally arrived and I’ve been enjoying it with all my soul.
Last weekend I was talking to a friend of mine about makeup and what we use when we need some coverage. We are both always in a hurry so she normally wears makeup on the eyes only, while I’m the kind of person that only wears a good base instead. She generally opts for mascara and kajal, while I prefer to grab a BB cream, concealer, blush, a little bit of powder and a highlighter. Or, if I’m late, just some BB cream and a lipstick, that’s it. I’d say we both stand in the middle of two extremes: those who feel like they need to wear a full face makeup every day and those who don’t even own a lipstick. But why is there such a difference in how women use makeup and is it really just a question of confidence or are there other factors involved?
The first thing that came to my mind is habits. We normally grow up following the example of other women such as our mom, a friend, a YouTuber that teach us how they use makeup. With time, we learn from them and start performing the same ritual every morning. If you fast-forward a couple of years, we are still performing the same actions without giving it too much thought – we’ve developed a habit now, a number of actions we perform almost automatically and that is very difficult to break. I assume that what we consider the basic makeup we wear before stepping our feet out of the house depends on this morning habit we’ve developed through the years. If I think about myself, my mom would rarely wear makeup and when she did, she used a very natural bronzer that came in a small terracotta vase, full of little colourful pearls (similar to the famous Guerlain powder).
However, it can also be that our environment determines what is the minimum makeup standard we should wear. If every single woman at your workplace wears a full makeup look, then it’s highly probable you’ll do the same within a few months time. It’s part of being humans, that is, social animals who live and interact in societies. We need to make friends to be happy and productive, we are also most likely to make friends to people who are similar to us and our brains know that so we try to fit in hoping those around us will like us more. When I was in Australia, all I would wear was a solar cream because that was all I needed to make friends on the beach, while in Italy I would normally go for a nice base and a light eyeshadow.
Another factor I’ve only started to consider recently is age. I myself have started to see my skin is not as beautiful, soft and hydrated as it was a couple of years ago. Thanks to all those filters we use nowadays on photos
and here I’m guilty as charged we are way more conscious about it so we try to add a gentle touch of makeup to still look what in our minds is defined as good. It would be interesting to understand who is it that provides us with a definition of what is a good look and what it is not. Is it us, women? Is it Instagram? Is it our environment? Is it men? I’d say women and in particular those we interact with.
A colleague of mine mentioned she thinks we dress up and makeup for other women to like us, maybe that’s true and we are all judges to some extent.
At a psychological level, I don’t think we wear makeup just to feel more confident. My assumption would be that by now we know we are more powerful when we wear it. Some years ago a girl carried out a very interesting experiment: she asked merchants to give her what they were selling for free with the excuse she wasn’t carrying any money on her and she tried with and without wearing makeup. The results reflected how wearing makeup made a huge difference: merchants were more likely to give her their products for free if she was wearing makeup. If you do a quick search on YouTube, you’ll find several experiments have been conducted to prove this point.
It’s not a mystery that people will find us more successful, nice or powerful if we wear makeup and I believe we do use this piece of information accordingly. I remember my art teacher in high school told us she used to wear makeup when she was angry at someone because it made her feel stronger. I wear makeup for important events as well as when I want to feel more confident. In my case I’d say I enjoy a double effect: I feel more powerful and I’m perceived as such, it would be interesting to know whether I am perceived as powerful because I act differently as I’m feeling stronger or the other way around.
My last point here is related to boundaries and limits. There is no makeup standard for everyone but we can all tell when someone has gone too far down the line or when they could have used some more. I assume we all judge on the basis of our experience and background, but if there was a golden rule, what would that be? On the one side, we have a positive psychological effect: we feel better, stronger and people like us more. On the other side, the damage that makeup can cause to the skin tissues is undeniable and serious. Our skins can’t just soak makeup products every day like a sponge, though when our favourite influencer shows us the long list of makeup products she uses, we all feel we need some more. I’d say I try to use natural products during the week and only wear a full makeup for special events and parties as a general rule – and apply masks and creams afterwards. Do you have a golden rule as well?
In conclusion, makeup can be a daunting topic of conversation and understanding the reasons why we use it is extremely interesting as it can tell us a lot about the person we are talking to. I’d be curious to know what are your thoughts about it and why do you use it as well!