Beauty Investigation: Why Do We Wear Makeup?

Makeup is a wonderful thing; since the dawn of time women have slapped mud on their eyebrows, berry juice on their lips and elongated their eyelashes with the help of charcoal. It’s a multi-billion pound worldwide industry that shows no signs of slowing down, with new brands launching every month and offering us something new. You only have to walk into your local Boots, step inside the doors of House of Fraser or dare to spend the afternoon in Selfridges to see the passion of women for that little bullet of colour or brand new limited edition eyeshadow palette. Considering so many of us wear the stuff, I still find it incredible how it’s perceived to be anti-feminist and a reflection of our own self-indulgence – or even worse, worn simply for the benefit of men. I can safely say when I apply my mascara in the morning I’m not thinking “I really hope the dude at the train ticket office falls in love with my flutter.” It’s not 1952. So the question is, why *do* we wear makeup?

I’ve had a long standing relationship with makeup, having applied bright blue eyeshadow and bold pink lipstick from the age of five. I was a child ballerina who spent her youth on the stage in various colours of tutus, using Rimmel and Collection 2000 to help ‘make my features stand out against the bright stage lighting’ – or so my mother told me. I had my own little collection of slap and a favourite palette (probably from Argos) that made me feel like a million bucks. I loved playing around with it and making my lips look all ‘grown up and pouty’, although I would never leave the house with anything other than a brush of my mother’s face powder. As I got older I started wearing concealer to cover blemishes, clear mascara to define my lashes and a touch of lipgloss to make me feel sassy. It wasn’t about being sexualised, it wasn’t about appealing to men – it was about how it made me feel.

Moving into my teenage years I started to experiment more with makeup, but still wasn’t much good at it: the 90’s were really not a good time to grow up. Heather Shimmer lipstick and hair mascara replaced blue mascara, later to be again replaced with an obsession with white eyeshadow – but all the time it was about having fun, making myself feel good and boosting my confidence. As I became a ‘proper grown-up’ I started to actually take a bit more care with my techniques, started investing in foundation and eventually (after getting a job with a makeup brand) even started to fill in my eyebrows. Oh what a difference a decent brow and a lined eye can make to one’s face. Now, as a 32 year old woman, makeup gives me the confidence I need to get on with my daily life without worrying the man at the Starbucks counter is thinking “she really could do with a great nights sleep and some under-eye concealer.”

I love transforming myself on a Saturday night and stepping out the door with kick-ass smokey eyes. I love getting on the train with a bright red lip and feeling like I can take on the world. I love contouring and adding a touch of colour to my cheeks, making me feel like I’m healthy and glowing even when I’m feeling like utter poop. I don’t have a problem revealing my naked, blemished, slightly ageing face (hey, I was on a Google Hangout with five other people this week in a Care Bear onesie and nothing on my face but a load of moisturiser,) but it makes me feel good when I’ve spent time creating a slightly more perfected look. I genuinely enjoy the process too, spending far too much time creating eye looks that appear to have been jabbed on in thirty seconds, and revel in my morning routine when I can take time out and pamper myself just a little bit. I adore the texture and feel of makeup, how it can do so many different things and that it appeals to my inner magpie – for some people it’s bird watching or stamp collection, for me it’s eyeshadows and lipsticks.

Because I wanted to know why other women wore makeup, I asked my twitter followers that very question. The results were unsurprising and quite universal – it makes us feel good and it allows our creative streak to shine. All of the comments I received could be placed within two main circles of thought, so here’s a snapshot of what you had to say:

Frazzledbeauty: Without it I have zero confidence! I don’t feel human without makeup!
To improve the appearance of my skin/face, to make me feel more
confident/better presented and because I like it.
Ngorlly: To hide insecurities and to emphasise good features. Also because it’s fun, I love spending time doing myself up 🙂
LuciEvetts: Confidence is the biggest thing for me… I don’t want to run
and hide if I see someone I know in Tesco when I’ve not got my face on!
Lizzieibbo: Hiding dark circles and making me look more awake! But also accentuating my features and boosting my confidence 🙂
MeganJaneLillie: To feel badass when I’m having a crappy day.
Girlwithmakeup: Because it gives me SO much confidence that I just don’t have otherwise
MsMakeupMagpie: To make me a better, more polished version of myself 🙂
_love_cat: To make myself feel more confident as it presents the best version of me.
LayItBareBlog: As long as I’ve got eyeliner and mascara on, I’m ready
to take on the world. They’re my sources of confidence and my mask
Elliesteadman: Because honestly I look much better with it than without, it gives me confidence and it’s fun! X

Caron_BWPR: I really enjoy the process, especially trying new products!
Gleepface: I love creating different looks! It is to me what drawing or painting is to artists I suppose.
CanzMUA: I like being creative, and being able to change my look day to day with my mood. It puts me in a certain mind set!
SallyAkins: I enjoy shopping for make up, spending time putting it on. It gives me a confidence boost; it’s fun.
Thelovecatsinc: Because I like seeing what different looks I can create. Plus red lipstick makes me feel fierce *snaps*
Natashareilly_x: I like expressing my moods & my feelings with different looks, and because makeup can compliment an outfit or certain style!
Lisahh_Jayne: Because I like to be able to experiment and change my look depending on what products I feel like using.
Inthelifeofhan: I like how creative & artistic you can be with it. It also makes me feel that little bit more confident.
Ceejayell: I love putting it on! I can go without make up, but like taking the time to do my face! Except winged liner… That’s a stresser.
I enjoy putting on my makeup in the morning. It makes me feel awake and
calm, especially after a couple makeup-free days.

So, why do you wear makeup? I’d love to know!

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  1. Kat @ Cherries In The Snow Beauty Blog
    March 13, 2015 / 2:53 pm

    For me it's confidence, I have terrible acne scars which make me self concious so I use make-up to hide them and I worry less!Kathryn /Cherries in the Snow

  2. The Bookish Reader
    March 13, 2015 / 3:52 pm

    Definitely confidence for me, I like catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror and thinking, you look OK, rather than, oh my god what do you look like.

  3. colleen welsch
    March 13, 2015 / 5:09 pm

    Well it's definitely not for men! I wear it because I enjoy applying it and I like how I look when I wear it. I don't really care what other people think, I just want to feel good when I look in the mirror.COOCOO FOR COCO

  4. Anonymous
    March 13, 2015 / 5:30 pm

    I wear make up to cover a large red port wine stain birthmark on my right cheek. Make up allows people to see the real me – not just a stain on my face. To me, it grants me a sense of normality I might otherwise have not have had.

  5. Elena Doinoff
    March 13, 2015 / 7:28 pm

    Because it can get quite boring living with the same face every day – however beautiful it might be. I need to feel different, it's my adrenaline rush 🙂 And because I love bright colours 😀

  6. Minty
    March 13, 2015 / 8:10 pm

    Because I love make up- it makes me happy. I love to take my time over it & feel good. I don't smoke & drink very little, make up is my indulgence. I have a disabled child & work long hours in a stressful job. Make up is my me time.

  7. Zoe C-B
    March 13, 2015 / 9:03 pm

    I hate when men think we wear makeup for them! So egoistic! I think my passion for makeup is a combination of confidence & creativity. Contouring makes me feel.. Powerful. I also love creating different looks on myself and watch myself transform when I'm bored or just in the mood for a

  8. Katherine L
    March 14, 2015 / 2:53 am

    I really love this post! In high school, and even now at the end of my university career, I still get other girls asking me why I wear makeup, and I always reply "because I like to". It's as simple as that. I don't feel like I have to to uphold some up surd societal perspective, nor do I feel like I need to to attract the opposite sex. I wear makeup because because it makes me happy. Trying out the shades in a new eyeshadow palette, applying a new lipstick for the first time gives me such a thrill. I love how transformative it can be, especially when you are feeling down or insecure about something. Makeup is my thing, and I love it! -Katherine

  9. Louise
    March 14, 2015 / 12:10 pm

    For me it's both confidence and creativity. On a weekday I have no time for anything other than to cover blemishes and whack on some mascara (a sort of 'my face but better' thing) but I LOVE having the time to create a more polished eye makeup look or experiment with bold colours.Louise | Text, Pies and Videotape

  10. Gilly
    March 14, 2015 / 2:46 pm

    I do it for me, no one else. I usually wake up not feeling great & in pain thanks to a chronic illness of 23 yrs and I know this shows on my face. My favourite time of day is those first couple of hours in the morning, having a shower then sitting with coffee and a pile of skincare and make up. I do look better with it than without, though I have good skin for my age and I like to accentuate my eyes and be the best me that I can be. I feel better for having my slap on & feel ready to face the day whatever it may bring.

  11. Anonymous
    March 14, 2015 / 6:17 pm

    What a great post! The comments from other readers were very interesting.I'm transgender, so my relationship with makeup is complicated 🙂 For me, when I put on my makeup, I'm less 'him', and more 'me' if that makes sense. Like other readers, I wear it to cover flaws in my complexion, to make me feel better and I wear it because I like to. As to wearing it for men, since when do they notice your new lippy? 🙂

  12. Lex
    March 18, 2015 / 3:57 pm

    I don't feel like me without make up. I have rosacea and I feel like that's the first thing people see and often can't get past. I feel like when I apply make up I look the way my face would do if I didn't have a skin disease. It gives me confidence and makes me feel happy. I also LOVE applying make up, it makes me feel ready for the day.

  13. Amy Deverson
    March 19, 2015 / 11:15 pm

    For me it's confidence as well. It just makes you feel a little bit better. Putting on a bright lipstick always brightens up a day haha! xAmy | The Perks of Being Amy

  14. Bella Ng
    March 20, 2015 / 11:33 am

    I love how makeup transforms a look. Some day I rock a wing linger, some day I do just eyeshadow and no liner, some day I wear a dark lip and some days I wear a bright, bright lip. the possibilities are endless and it's just so much fun. From contouring to smokey eyes, I love how makeup transforms and a same palette used by different people probably comes out different!

  15. Tolly Dolly Posh
    March 20, 2015 / 6:32 pm

    I'd actually love to see the reverse of this and why some people DON'T wear make-up.I don't, well yet, anyway. I'm allowed to, and I own some but I just don't feel the need. Occasionally I'll perk my face up with lipstick or eyeliner etc, but I don't feel the same wearing foundation… I don't look like me! I think it's a shame that people feel weird without it though… it's sad that not many people feel comfortable in what they have.Great post 🙂 x

  16. Sarah Montgomery
    March 21, 2015 / 11:49 pm

    I posted a comment a few months back on a disqus on a similar topic, which I feel is relevant to post here as it's a topic I feel strongly about:What annoys more than anything is people who are under the assumption that you wear makeup (or dress stylishly) to please a man. You hear it all the time, "men prefer women with more natural makeup". So? I wear makeup for me. And if I want to rock a dark purple lip, I will! Articles written about the time women spend putting their makeup on bugs me too. They don't seem to realise that it's all part of the fun. No one complains about people who spend hours sitting by a river waiting to catch a fish because it's seen as a hobby. Same goes for money. Don 't see articles complaining about the money people spend on their hobbies yet if you spent £30 on a foundation, shame on you!Nosebag NI

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